Spoiler alert: it's not Scum 2.0. Napalm Death needs no introduction. Having now put out fifteen albums (which is insane), the band is the face of grindcore both past and present and easily the most influential band to ever play the genre. Uncompromising in their sound and always confrontational, Napalm Death has managed to consistently reinvent themselves and stay fresh album to album. If you thought that grindcore has become little more than the same ol', same ol' than you haven't been examining the Napalm Death catalog carefully enough.
Apex Predator – Easy Meat are some of the most fitting words that Napalm Death has penned for an album name. The viciousness of the title cannot be overstated, especially with the implications of simple slaughter. Though that is exactly what Apex Predator – Easy Meat will seem like at first.
The moody introductory title track bangs and slams the listener into shape. The bashing of radiators, kitchen sinks and oil cans with a hammer, along with some bass and cello, while Mark “Barney” Greenway's distorted vocals drone and shout. It's a fitting and tearing introduction to the album. Something that sets everything on an uneasy edge before the paint peeler “Smash a Single Digit.” And it's at this time that Napalm Death absolutely lose it.
Previous albums, specifically Utilitarian and Time Waits For No Slave, have showcased the band writing more experimental material. Time Waits For No Slave shelved itself heavy on thrashy, fast rhythms, while Utilitarian had a surprising turn for more progressive structures. Apex Predator – Easy Meat sometimes walks a fine line between these but brings with itself a backpack a of dynamite. Napalm Death finds themselves writing some of the most complex songs they've ever assembled while simultaneously pushing out blasts that melt even the most jaded faces. It's an album of sheer, rabid, caustic anger, and yet at once it exercises an incredible amount of control.
Instead of being that band that thrash, slashed and dashed out a thousand riffs per minute, Napalm Death manage to capture a frantic immensity that knows its limits. Songs often feel like they're on the cusp of a panic attack. Yet Napalm Death have the know how to focus themselves. To use one of the most overstated, yet perfectly worded, phrases: there's a method to the madness. And mad this album is. Though you probably picked up on that from the album title itself. It's songs like “How the Years Condemn” that harness an incredible amount of rage and, especially in this song's case, sobriety. Something that puts you in the state of the old Latin phrasing: “memento mori.”
Though Apex Predator – Easy Meat has such moments, the album is more politically charged than personal. Napalm Death have hardly ever been a band that focuses on the individual. Rather, the album centers itself around the ideals of corporate greed and how the lives of some are sometimes worth less than others. The least of which, the title track, deals with this. “Dear Slumlord” is also no exception. Taking itself down a more mellow and low path, focusing on heavy slams and heavy guitar bits, as well as leads. It is a piece that serves to break up the incredible momentum that Napalm Death have managed to capture throughout, though no less intense.
Before even reading this you probably knew if this album was for you or not. Napalm Death are one of the greatest musical acts of the modern day and one of the most diverse grindcore acts the scene has ever known. The band has been never relenting and ever progressing. Apex Predator – Easy Meat is an incredible album on every front. Full of blasts, and aggressive sentiments, this is one of the best albums the band has ever written. Start to finish it's amazing that Napalm Death have managed to put together such a vicious and varied beast, but they've done it time and time again. Apex Predator -Easy Meat, even if you're not a grindcore fan, is an absolute must listen. Napalm Death is still at the top of their game and I won't be surprised when they surpass themselves again. Leaders, not followers, they most certainly are.
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