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A Piece of History - 87%

LoveBreedsSuicide, June 18th, 2014

This is one of the most interesting demos I have ever encountered. Demo recordings often depict certain periods of a band's development, when musicians are caught in a process of generating variable ideas and making them work, thus trying to evolve a style, a band becomes synonymous with later. Nowadays, Napalm Death is a big name in the extreme metal field and everybody recalls it once death/grind is mentioned. But this demo is from 1985, recorded by almost completely different line-up, than the one, which would make Napalm Death acknowledged masters of grind-core and death metal in 1988.

The main genre, this demo may be related to, is nihilistic hardcore/crust punk in the vein of Discharge and Amebix, but some tinges separate it from other d-beat bands. It is mainly about guitar work. The fact, that Justin Broadrick (a future founder of the industrial metal pioneering project Godflesh) is an axeman here, explains a lot. This guy adores dissonant styles of playing guitar, which he picked up from Killing Joke and Swans and started using here already, although transforming these influences into far more frenzied methods of letting guitars ring. The first minute of "Abbatoir" with its disjointed plucking intensely reminds of a future Broadrick's incursion into the realms of industrial metal with Godflesh. In other places the way, guitars are played and tuned, is virtually identical to some albums by Burzum. I am referring to "What Man Can Do" in particular with its specific guitar techniques and a general feel of blackness. Broadrick was definitely ahead of his time, playing like this in 85. Emotionally oppressive "So Sad" contains monotonous black metal-like riffs, which, in alliance with minimalistic lyrics and hateful shouts of the vocalist, really give me chills. Honestly, I don’t know any other punk songs from the 80s with a comparable bleak vibe, but there are some modern bands occasionally doing similar stuff, not as blackish though (check out an American band Tragedy and their song called "You are an Experiment"). Also, I can even make connection between "So Sad" and Fear Factory's "Self-Immolation" song. Despite the latter belongs more to death metal camp, coarse vocals and tremolo-picking in both act in nearly equal manner of conjuring the most desperate feeling possible.

Other tracks exhibit more evident inclination toward crust punk like Amebix with a lot of aggressive riffs bordering on thrash metal. Nothing more, nothing less, and anybody into this style won’t be disappointed.

Recommended to everybody, interested in how extreme music had been progressing, before distinct genres obtained their shapes.

An important stepping stone for Napalm Death. - 90%

reimari666, September 29th, 2009

Napalm Death's fifth demo from 1985 was an important recording for Napalm Death being the last of their punk recordings and the first showing the bands transition into more extreme music. The demo has recieved much appreciation since its release and is one of the few Napalm Death demos available still today.

The original cover of the demo seems to be long gone at least from the almighty internet but the cover of the bootleg version in my opinion looks very nice. It really shows you what the demo is all about and what the band was like at that time. A black and white photocopied picture and bearly literable text done with a marker really just glow of the D.I.Y. mentality!

The production on this demo in my opinion is just amazing. It's just so incredibly raw yet with every aspect of the band in perfect balance! There's some background noise/static present but I find that it actually gives to the recording, giving it a very gloomy and notorius feel to it. The guitar sounds a bit like a chainsaw, reminds me of the japanese band Confuse. Even though heavily distorted and smutty you can make out every riff. The drums also sound decent even though the snare drum really is the most audible of the set. There's not much to say about the bass guitar sounds, but theyre there and do what they're supposed to do.

The demo starts out with the song: "What man can do". As soon as I hear the gloomy guitar riff and the tom-tom led drum loops I'm immediately reminded of early Amebix. This influence can be heard throughout the demo, as most of the songs are pretty much anarcho crust with thrash/death metal influence. If I wasn't so sure this is not the case, I could swear I hear some second wave black metal here too at times. None of the songs seem repetitive but still sound like they belong on the same recording. To me, control (also heard on the full length: Scum) is the best song on this demo. I might even go as far as saying it's a better song played like it was punk rather than grindcore.

This demo in my view really was quite important in Napalm Death's career. Not only because it's ice cream to my ears but because it shows the development of Napalm Death's music from anarcho punk to old school crust and finally to grindcore. All in all one of the best recordings of Napalm Death ever.

What Hatred Can Do... - 96%

unksol, January 19th, 2005

(A reviewer's goal principally must be objective explanation of what an musical release is - both the form and content - and to avoid any subjectivism and thus the non-objective praise or criticism. This review is subjective, and it expresses mine own interpretation of this demo, so I appologise for some possible 'strange' inventions posted below...)


This is the strangest release of Napalm Death. Harsh punk gets mixed with some depressive chords and a sound, which reminds me of the Thorns' demos. Imagine Discharge with some Burzum-like moments ('What Man Can Do'), noisy michrophonies and the angriest ever heard cries - that's what 'Hatred Surge' is all about. The oppening riff of my favourite track - 'So Sad' - reminds me of Master's Hammer's (!) 'Vykoupeni', and then appear those more-blackmetallish guitar parts, and the voice of a human being who is completely lost any hope, entrapped in the social 'prison without walls' of oppression and mass ignorance - the dignity and smashed human nature react through these simple riffs and desperate shouts, cursing the rotten world around us.

There are tracks like 'Instinct Of Survival', 'Control', 'Caught... In A Dream', which will be later reworked and heard in the famous 'Scum' release (the birth of grind core). Here in this demo they still sound very punkish (Crass were one of the most influential bands for the early Civil Defence/Napalm Death). 'Cheswick Green' is another punk crusher, recorded live and of course, with a very poor quality. The rest of the tracks are more listenable as a sound, but for those who respect some band, the sound/record quality is the last thing to care of.

Hatred radiates from this demo, both lyrically and musically, so if you want to hear one of the most outright and honest hardcore protest against the modern 'brave new world', find and listen to 'Hatred Surge'. No matter what kind of metal you like at all - true rebellious music is always the righteous fist in the face of lowdirt. Napalm Death have recorded that on a tape.