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When a good band releases a cover-album, it tends to suck, no matter how good the band is or the songs are. There are only a few cover-albums, which doesn't suck. This one doesn't suck, on the contrary, it's the best cover-album I've heard for a long time.
Napalm Death isn't my favorite, but many of my friends called me a loony when I listened to Enemy of the Music Business-album. Then I suddenly had this one on my hands, I placed it to my record player and the next reaction was something between happiness and getting totally fucked up.
But what the hell does this release contain? All the songs are either hardcore, death metal or thrash metal. Only a few of them are well-known: Kreator, Sepultura, Agnostic Front, Hellhammer and Discharge. The rest of the bands are less-known, bands who never got out of their cellars. Many of these bands released an album or two, some demos, before disappearing. And that's a shame.
Napalm Death adds their brutality to the mix, though the songs could be recognized (if you know the songs, of course). The vocalist Barney Greenway still sounds like an angry goat. The guitarist Mitch Harris screams like he is being tortured with the fork, sending me to change my pants. This album introduced to me many good (and forgotten) bands like Cryptic Slaughter, Wehrmacht and Master, just to name a few. This album belongs to my albums-of-the-year-list.
Very angry package, indeed.
This is the first review I've written on this site, and I wanted to save it for this release. Having first heard Napalm Death a few years ago (and now owning the majority of their discography and claiming them as my favourite band), I soon heard acclaim for their 'Leaders not Followers' ep. Upon further inspection I realised this was a six track ep, on which napalm cover some of their biggest influences in the hardcore, grindcore, punk and death genres, giving each song the odd trademark napalm blast. The only quarrel I had with this ep was its length, clocking in at just under 20 minutes, i was left gasping for more of my personal highlights of 'Nazi Punks Fuck off' (Dead Kennedys) and 'Back From the Dead' (Death). Not long ago I heard news of the release of this album, the follow-up, and a full-length. I bought it on its day of release (the day I am writing this review) and will try my best to give you the low-down.
The album begins with a cover of Cryptic Slaughter's 'Lowlife', a crowd favourite at CS gigs. This song begins with a crazy drum intro, where guitars and bass soon follow suit, with some dizzy riffing spiralling into the verse, where we Barney's trademark gruff growling, suprisingly followed by some awesome second vocals by Mitch (whom, although I've heard do vocals before, never sounding this intense and .... somewhat hardcore, in a strange kind of way). This song is definitely one of the highlights on the album, and the cd even includes a live video of the band playing this song, stick it in your computer and druel. 'Face Down in the Dirt' (The Offenders) is instantly recognisable as old skool hardcore and has a very hostile sound to it. It is a real short sharp shock (though in no way on the same scale as 'you suffer' or 'dead'!). 'Devastation' (Devastation) is a full-on death metal attack, and I love every second of it, taken from a band whom Barney claims are vocally one of his biggest influences, it almost sounds like Napalm could have penned this song themselves (apart from the slow intro). 'Messiah' (Hellhammer) begins with an improvised 'Morbid Tales' intro riff, and then propels into the cover itself, the song is extremely powerful in the capable hands of Napalm Death, and, although being very little like their usual sound, it is played and ‘sung’ very well. There are two Anti Cimex covers on this album, and this first one is very Discharge-esque and would be an awesome sight seen live ( I imagine). Being honest, I’d never heard of Wehrmacht before I got this cd, but upon hearing the cover of this song, I have begun searching for their LPs. Hearing the opening guitar work on this cover of ‘Night of Pain’, I instantly noted the metalling-up of the Halloween movie soundtrack, which sounds fucking awesome here, I’m yet to hear the original of this song, but this cover is nothing short of amazing, in my opinion, and only goes to highlight the musical ability and competence of Napalm Death, I hate to say it but the vocals (although great as ever) are undermined by the awesome music of this song. Next up is the song I was most looking forward to hearing: ‘War’s no fairytale’ (Discharge) and the Napalm boys don’t disappoint, this is quality stuff, simple as that, and makes you want to listen to discharge more than ever. Many may remember Napalm’s cover of Siege’s ‘Walls’ on the BBC sessions, here they cover ‘Conform’, again an excellent cover, but with better production, however, without meaning to knock this song, I personally prefer the ‘Walls’ cover on the BBC sessions. ‘Master’ (Master) is a great tune, bursting with sheer brutality. It’s brilliantly played and ends superbly with “YOU FUCKING WIMP!”. The intro to the next song that follows, Insanity’s ‘Fire Death Fate’ is gripping and immediately grabs your attention if, in the unlikely event, it was wandering. It is great death metal with an almost hardcore catchy chorus, with backing vocals emphasising the hardcore sound. Kreator’s ‘Riot of Violence’ is easily one of the best moments on the album, I can’t decide whether or not I prefer it to the original, I think I do (controversy ensues). The next Anti Cimex cover, ‘Game of the Arseholes’ is a dig at organised religion, hence “Take your fucking cross and stick it up your arse!”, this is the better of the two Anti Cimex covers, it has a more punk, aggressive feel to it and sounds great from start to finish. ‘Clangor of War’ (Massacre) boasts a super brutal intro and keeps up the pace in this death metal gem of a song, with an excellent mosh-inducing riff about halfway through. I’d never heard Attitude Adjustment before, but I definitely will after hearing this song, ‘Dope Fiend’ is brutal, and the sort of song you can’t just sit and listen to, it makes you want to mosh real hard. Die Kruezen’s ‘I’m Tired’ is a short sharp shock of hardcore violence and is a great moment on the record. Ah, the Sepultura cover… this is fucking amazing! From the intro that builds up until Barney has a go at a Brazilian accented “un, dos, tres, cuatro” and the song kicks in and you can do nothing but headbang helplessly. This is definitely one of my favourite moments on the album. ‘Bedtime story’ (The Dayglo Abortions) is hardcore with excellent riffs and speedy verses. ‘Blind Justice’ (Agnostic Front) begins like pure hardcore punk should do, a rumbling bass intro with blasting guitars and drums, this is just over a minute long, but is brilliant from start to finish. The final song ‘Hate, Fear and Power’ (Hirax) is 30 seconds long and is a brilliant abrupt ending to what has been a brilliant album, in my opinion.
The album is the band’s first release on Century Media and the packaging with artwork and general presentation of the CD is the best yet of any Napalm Death release I’ve seen. Now I cant wait for the next Napalm Death album (of originals)!