The new year gets rolling with another release from a favorite band of mine, the legendary Napalm Death who's legacy and importance in extreme music is undeniable. With a career spanning over 30 years the group are still capable of outputting relevant and impacting extreme music. This, their sixteenth album, is the latest in a string of quality and consistent albums that have established a definitive sound since their groovier experimentation in the 90s. Having digested a lot of this band in recent months I was excited to hear about the release of this album which establishes its theme and inspiration through the album title and cover alone.
It was no surprise to hear the group stick to their guns, theres barely a shift in tone or style from the last few albums and serves as another dose of what most fans are after. The album opens up with a diversely different song to start the record off, vocalist Barney bellows a slow, deep series of lines that drive in the theme this album wants to make very clear. Some tribal, borderline industrial drums chime in as Barney delivers some snarly leads for noisy discordant guitars to rise up alongside the angering percussion. As the song intensifies and ends we are throw right into the pit, fast swirling riffage, blast beats and angry brutal screams unite to burst out into a bombastic groovy riff. Its the formula that works, carnal aggression and energetic brutality leading into a tangent of grooves or "breakout" moments that this album didn't quite have in the quantity of previous records. As a whole the record seemed to focus on the overall intensity of the songs which were relentless and grinding as ever. It saw the groove element pushed to the side in favor of those blasting circle pit riffs that they delivered in quantity.
The aesthetic of this album is chugging and dense, a lot of the mix happens through the midrange giving the kick plenty of room to breathe alongside the bass as the guitars and vocals cram up alongside each other, the design is executed exceptionally well and gives the guitars an aggressive edge in its higher ranges. Its a terrific sound matched by some great brutal music. With a large discography of records and songs Napalm have to compete with them-selfs in some respects, and Apex Predator holds up well in their catalog, which despite its quality wasn't quite what I was hoping for. Having enjoyed a lot of Napalms groovier records my apatite wasn't quite met and my personal enjoyment of this one doesn't really reflect a great record which has a lot to offer anyone in the mood from some intense, pummeling grind.
Favorite Songs: Apex Predator - Easy Meat, Smash A Single Digit, Hierarchies, Adversarial - Copulating Snakes