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This is one of the first full length grindcore albums ever made. So what do you expect from it, are you expecting something so legendary that it saw the rise of a whole genre, or do you see the rough draft and blueprints of a genre that is waiting to be perfected? I personally saw this as the latter.
In every way it sticks very closely to its punk roots, in fact the influences of punk outweigh the influences of metal by a considerable margin. The basic simplicity, the pure raw power, many DIY (do it yourself) aspects, the extremely short song lengths. All of these commonly associated with hardcore punk. The whole existence of the music itself can be summed up to trying to blurt out your political views in the loudest and angriest form possible. Any semblance of songwriting comes second to the expression of ideas and emotions. It is however very heavy and that by itself is inevitably going to draw the attention of metalheads.
The vocals are all about this style that is somewhere between a growl and a shout. He rarely ceases to use it, like growling it can be tricky making out what is being said, but for those with the patience or a lyric book you'll find the lyrics are very typical to the hardcore punk scene.
The production is about as muddy as it gets. The guitars are done mostly done in the lower range and have the sole purpose of being heavy and loud. The sound that is generated is very deep and very fast. The riffing is simple. Again very reminiscent of punk. Every once in awhile though they throw in a solo that shows quite a bit of skill, enough so to show that the man has a fair level of instrumental mastery (Parasites).
The bass is mostly drowned out. The tuning on the guitar is low enough that rather then merely rounding out the sound (which it still does) it adds in its own 'melodic' layer (Prison Without Walls). When he pokes his way through the production to a point where he can clearly be heard he fights with the guitarist for your attention and often times he wins.
The drums do better in the production, while still muddied up you can hear it very clearly. It seems as if every strike on the bass, snare and cymbals can be heard pretty easily, can't say as much for the toms but the whole album seems as drum centric as you can get without cutting everything else out. His favorite thing to do are his blast beats which are used almost relentlessly. He doesn't do much double pedal in preference for more punkish beats but when he does use them they are well executed (Moral Crusade).
Typically these songs would seem completely undeveloped, however in the case that these songs are a political idea wrapped in sound you can hear that these tracks are as well developed as they need to be. True its kind of weak to have a 40 second song, never mind having 20 of them, but this music was made for completely different purposes and ideas then metal or even typical music in general. Each song is merely a piece of a longer idea. My best suggestion would be to listen to the album as a whole, nothing on here besides maybe Scum and Siege of Power would work in a stand alone fashion anyway.
I'm not familiar with this genre and these guys are considered on of the founders of grindcore. I'll admit, at first I thought this album was trash. Poor sound quality, short songs, and quite confusing. It is definitely not for everyone. If you don't like this album now, you most likely won't ever like it. I just happened to have a change of heart.
From an Instrumental standpoint, complexity is not their forte. The riffs are extremely basic. This doesn't necessarily make it bad. They're catchy, but if you're driven away by the insane amount of distortion on the guitars, you most likely won't appreciate them, or the whole album. But, if you can look past the sound quality, you'll most likely enjoy the riffs very much. The drumming is very fast, but off beat for the most part. If you're looking for smooth and rhythmic drumming, you won't like this. Again, this album isn't for everyone. In my opinion, the fast, and almost careless, do what you want feel, is what made me love this album.
Lyrically, this album is focused on politics and they make a convincing argument in where, and why they believe what they believe. These lyrics may bore some people, but interest me considering I have a similar opinion. Their lyrics may be the only thing to keep some positive feedback on the people who hate the instrumentals, but agree with them politically. The vocals on the other hand, are pretty much white noise. Beautiful, heavy, and fast white noise. Don't bother matching the lyrics with the vocals. It simply won't happen.
You have to just accept the fact that this album is basic, fast, heavy, and pretty crazy sounding. This is the epitome of grindcore and a great album to introduce you to the genre. I enjoy the commotion created within the album. Overall, I love it. Even though it's basic, it has a great sound,, it's catchy, and contains lyrical genius. I can't stress enough that it is not for everyone. You've been warned.
The static minds of hardcore fans never failed to hold the genre back. What hardcore needed, was evolution, and it seemed that it was going to take something large to finally snap the fan base out of it's purist state. So what album was it that gave them their farming equipment and sent them to more fertile ground? Why this one of course. The flawed and dated masterpiece that we know today as "Scum". Now let's get the details of the album's history and production out of the way before we move on to the music itself. "Scum", is split into two very distinct and very contrasted sides. Side A, was recorded with original singer Nik "Napalm" Bullen. He was also the member that would take on bass duties for the first 12 tracks of the album. Justin Broadrick is our guitar man for this first half of the night. For the B side, Carcass' guitarist and backing vocalist Bill Steer is handing guitar duties. For vocals we have newcomer to the metal scene, Lee Dorrian. Jim Whitely is the one who would work the bass side of things, (loosely might i add). Our only retaining member through both sides, is Mick Harris. Or as we have come to know him "Speedy Beat".
Now for what we all came here for, the music. I will refrain from comparing the two sides of the album until the end of the review, as I do not want to set up a venn diagram for which side i prefer until the final verdict is made. And since this is a grindcore album, I will only single out tracks which I very much enjoy or very strongly loathe. So with that said, let's get on with this review.
However you look at it, the production on this album isn't that bad, but one of my major complaints on the A side is the fuzzy bass. Nik is a fairly good bassist, but when his bass is buried under static, it makes it a bit hard to get into. While no that bad, it can be a bit iffy on my ears. Guitar production sounds like that of a steel factory. I think that is the only way I know how to explain it. A dirty, grimy steel pressing factory. The riffs are sharp in their execution and hold a strong dominance in the production. The A side riffs are mostly described as a mixture of Discharge and Celtic Frost. In fact the track "Scum" fairly blatantly borrows that famous riff from "Dethroned Emperor" from CF's "Morbid Tales" EP. In fact the riffs are my favorite part of the A side. While the mid paced riffs are groovy, catchy, and certainly the most metal influenced of the album, the Discharge shows it's face when things speed up. In fact I think that might be the best way to describe it. The faster riffs are repetitive and chaotic. If you can imagine Anti-Cimex put through the eyes of a British industrial musician.
Drumming is this album's claim to fame. Mick Harris famously used this album as a vessel to ship his brand new invention, "the blastbeat" around the world. But first, let's touch on the production of the drums. The drums might harbor my biggest complaint with side A. And that is how loose they seem. You don't really notice it on the slower and more calculated parts of the album. When things pick up however, things get messy. Though they don't sound BAD by any stretch of the imagination, they certainly aren't as tight as they potentially could be. The cymbals seem to hang in the mix a bit. They are vastly louder than the rest of the drum set. It almost saddens me when the songs speed up. They aren't terrible, but they could have certainly used some work. Now of course, for the drumming style. For the mid paced sections, Mick seems to stick to the traditional D-beat style. He very rarely moves from this, and in all truth these are my favorite parts of the album. You get a simple 1-2 beat every once in a while which keeps the tempo jogging at all times. So overall, the production is a bit of a problem, but all in all the drumming is pretty decent. And of course it was strikingly original for the time.
Vocals are actually pretty awesome. I'm not really sure what it is about Nik that just gives his vocals so much personality. They are very reminiscent of traditional crust punk vocals with small doses of early death metal. The vocals hang somewhere between the guitar and drums in the mix. Not much else to say really. Simple yet effective vocals.
Now before I point out my personal favorites of the A side, I thought i should just say that the reason I didn't touch on the bass guitar too much is because the bass is very undertoned and not very noticeable. Though some tracks emphasize it more, It's subtle at best. Not bad, just underplayed.
My personal favorite tracks on side A are: Scum, Siege of Power, Instinct of survival.
Now it's time that we moved on to side B. The main change in side B, is that it seems to have sucked most of the apparent Celtic Frost influence from the first side out, and replaced it with some sort of strange hybrid between D.R.I and Siege. And that is not a good thing to be perfectly honest. I don't even hear too much classic hardcore punk on this side. Mostly, side B wants to stick to a formula of going as fast as possible on a constant basis. It feels very disjointed and sloppy. So with that said, I think you can tell what I think of side B already, but let's take the time to think out the problems, and what makes this such an atrocious experience.
My first major complaint is the overall production. It is so unbelievably hollow. The guitars are thin and brittle, and the bass is practically non-existent. The subtle bass lines on the A side is closer to Autopsy's "Severed Survival" in comparison. On top of that, it seems that the entire band has taken to making 30 second songs with next to no personality or substance. you can barely headbang to them. They come across as fruitless endeavors in a dick measuring contest of speed.
Guitars on this side are not very good at all. Despite the fact that Bill Steer had just come off of a fantastic demo with Carcass, he seems to be scared to play more than 2 riffs on each song. The guitars feel very restricted and sterile. The tone is more akin to a small beginners amp with a cheap distortion pedal. This gives the guitars a very pathetic and wimpy sound. As for drums, they didn't change very much at all in the crossover to the second side. And that just makes them sound even worse than they did in the first place. In all truth, the tone of all of the instruments is on the spectrum between bad and shitty.
Vocals are....well...how do I explain nicely? Like a disturbed muppet. And angry, coke riddled, angst filled muppet. Which is quite sad, because Lee Dorrian's vocals on the bands sophomore effort are quite good, if not fantastic. And they are one of the worst parts of the album as a whole. There's nothing threatening or menacing about them. I won't say much more, but they make me slightly sick at my stomach.
Favorite tracks on the B side are...well there are a few cool grooves in a few songs, but other than that it's mostly tripe.
So all in all? This is an album that is very polarized for me. Had they only released the A side, I would have most likely given the album an 8/10 or maybe slightly higher. But the B side brought this down a good 40%. Which is truly sad, because this lineup would record the FETO in a small period of a year. And that album is an absolute masterpiece. But the A side is truly worth your time, I still come back to it every once in a while just to hear those sweet proto-grind riffs.
FINAL VERDICT 6/10
This album has already gotten reviewed by "millions" of metal enthusiasts worldwide, but I still feel like I should give my two-cents. Grindcore has always been a hit and miss for me, and although the hype around this album still survives to this very day, more than twenty years after its release, for me, it sounds like total crap.
Granted, the lyrics behind this album possess some real depth, being one of the harshest anti-capitalist critiques in all of music. But does the music possess the same depth, the lyrics so amazingly own? No way. The music is as bland as it can get, it's very simplistic, harsh, and straight to the point. If not provided with some booklet from where to read the lyrics, the feat behind them, becomes insignificant because you can't understand squat, because everything just sounds like a big cluster-fuck, with no real sense of direction.
This album contains the shortest song ever produced, entitled "You suffer" which is basically a one second piece of total crap. I mean, what's the purpose of holding a Guinness world record, when the "song" can't even be enjoyed? If a couple of drum beats, backed by a wall of sound of crappy guitar "melody" can qualify as music, then music's meaning has to be redefined.
Each song on this album is too short to have any real meaning. The listener of this album is surrounded by a huge wall which deprives him from really enjoying the entire album, and make out something of it. A very strange oxymoron if you ask me. The artwork on this one, is very appealing to be completely honest. It perfectly represents the postmodern condition, showing some greedy politicians, above a huge pile of skulls, which symbolize the entire human race. One can really be fooled into expecting some grandeur in this album, if one's opinion is solely based on the artwork.
The copious amount of songs on this album, furthermore enhance its void. Napalm Death's approach towards music can be defined as "quantitative rather than qualitative", sure quantitative does not necessarily mean terrible, but in this case, the bold character that mediocrity possesses is just enormous. The entire musical structure, is quite simplistic, but unfortunately to the inexperienced ear, such void can hide behind a cryptic, complex veil, which is not the case. The number of songs on this album, is definitely one of my main gripes with this album, apart from the number of songs, for it completely destroys any chance the listener has, to enjoy each song individually.
By the end of this album, I was left asking myself the question of why I even bothered giving this album a listen. Probably, it was because of all the hype surrounding this terrible mediocrity. Basically, all I can say is that this album does nothing in conveying some sort of musical experience, although it does send a valuable message to the entire masses out there, to wake up from their dream. The production is passable, or at least, much better than your average grindcore album. I don't really see the reason why this album is considered as a cult in this sub-genre, I guess fortune played an important role.
Scum is an enjoyable, groundbreaking, and revolutionary album in the world of extreme metal. One must be familiar with this album in order to fully understand genres such as Grindcore and Death Metal. Along with the fantastic song writing, the primitive, rough, dirty, fast, and absolutely inaccessible sound of Scum is the original blueprint for Grindcore and Death Metal.
Let’s begin with a brief history overview. In the mid 80’s there were a few active movements pertaining to extreme music. Bands such as Slayer and Venom were already taking metal into a fast and ferocious direction. Simultaneously, deeply underground subcultures such as Crust Punk were creating a sound that conveyed a totally raw, dark, filthy, and angry mindset. The point of Amebix and similar bands was to express an utter disgust with mankind as a whole. This is the environment that bands like Napalm Death and Repulsion were brought up in. The scene was like a time bomb ready to explode, and Scum was the explosion.
Scum is a highly original album in regards to the time in which it was released. It contained a new songwriting formula. The riffs are thrashy, but too fast, dark, and mucky to be labeled “Thrash Metal.” The ultra-bass heavy distortion settings along with the distorted bass add to the grossness of these riffs. The vocals are an intense complement to the music. Lee Dorrian’s vocals are just as bass heavy and filthy as the instrumentation. Over the years, Death Metal vocals have been adjusted and refined in sickening ways, but at the time the vocals on this album were the heaviest thing in extreme metal. They provided the groundwork for the evolution of the low and guttural Death Metal vocals that we all know and love. The lyrics on this album are deep, hateful, and rebellious analogies of society and the human race. That being said, they are relatively incomprehensible and are recited as fast as the actual music. This is another technique that has been perfected in later Grind/Death albums. A profoundly significant component of Scum is the drums. Mick Harris is the father of the blast beat. Blast beats have been around since the early 80’s (check out the band Asocial for instance), but this is the album that demonstrated just how fast they can potentially be played. Along with the ultra-fast crusty thrash beats that make room for head banging grooves, the messy drums in each song always lead into a blast beat section that redefines the word “speed.” The songs are so fast that they can’t possibly be any longer than 2 minutes. Scum is where it all started.
Legacy and impact aside, the songs on Scum are actually good. This album consists of two distinctly different halves. The songs on the first half are good metal songs. They are a nice blend of Grindcore, Hardcore Punk, Old School Death Metal, and Sludge. They are all individually catchy, easily moshable, and fun to play on any instrument. Instinct of Survival, for example, is musically and lyrically one of my favorite songs of all time. It is, therefore, understandable why countless numbers of Grindcore and Death Metal bands have covered these songs over the years. The second half of Scum is an entirely different creature. It consists of pure, 100% Grindcore songs. There are no grooves; these songs are all 30 second long collections of blast beats. This is Grindcore in its unadulterated form: absolutely raw filth. The second half of Scum is not as catchy as the first half, but it is still a good listen. Any Grindcore fan should find the songs intriguing.
As evident in the other reviews, Scum is a commonly disliked album. Some people have even gone as far as to label it “the worst album of all time.” I firmly believe that the reason Scum is so hated is because it is too primitive for most people to handle. Think about it. As metal continues to evolve, bands figure out ways to perfect the sound of previous bands. As a result, over the years, the vocals become more distorted, the music becomes heavier and more technical, the subject matter becomes more morbid, etc. Not to mention, as the formula continues to perfect, the overall quality becomes cleaner – yet still dirty sounding – because people now have greater knowledge of how to effectively record such extreme music. Napalm Death, however, did not have a previous band to build off of. The music on Scum was a completely new sound at the time, so of course it does not meet today’s standards. Furthermore, Napalm Death initially came from the Crust Punk scene. Horrible recording quality is a significant component of Crust Punk because it is a fundamental element of DIY ethics. This is partially a reason why Grindcore and Death Metal are, by nature, such inaccessible genres. The fact that actual fans of these genres hate Scum because of its inaccessibility exemplifies how extreme of an album it is.
One who dislikes the second half of Scum probably dislikes Grindcore in general. That’s understandable because Grindcore is not for everyone. Any fan of Death Metal, however, should at least respect the first half of the album. It is an important piece of Extreme Metal history. As I previously stated, one must be familiar with this album in order to fully understand Grindcore and Death Metal. Respect your roots.
Let me clear something up first. I love Napalm Death so this rant and negative review doesn't reflect hate on the band in general. Quite the opposite really becausae to me they're one of the best bands I've ever listened to in the grindcore genre along with Carcass.
So why am I hating on this album? Well simply put, this album is so distinct from their later stuff, and I honestly can't stand the overall presentation of this record.
To top things off, the production is terrible and is a mess all around. All I can hear is just pure noise coming from every single member in the band at the time. Random Drum beats, and blast beats that don't even flow through any of the songs not to mention the guitars are distorted as hell that I can't even tell if its the riffs from the guitars, or just a random static fuzzy noise going on. This is hell for me I can't stress that enough and not one of those fun hell rides you get from listening to such an awesome album; no, this is one of those hell rides that just pains your ears to death wondering what the fuck you were listening to in the first place. Not even Carcass's first album sounded like this abomination and it was grindcore with people who managed to have a composition and overall flow. Unlike this one.
The one thing that killed this mainly was the vocals. Oh my god of all the worst vocals I've heard in bands this has got to be the worst. Lee Dorian either was too lazy to practice the vocals prior to the release, or he was just a natural born vocalist that doesn't have the feel or ability to do good behind a damn mic. I get a headache listening to his vocals. I'd rather listen to this whole album without the vocals and hell, I'd rather have Barney do vocals on this album as it would've sounded much better.
I respect the contribution this album has had on the grindcore scene, but this was a listening hell ride experience that I never want go back to as it just a random guys at the time sounding like they recorded this whole mediocre attempt in a garage rather then a studio. There's nothing else that needs to be said about this album as it outweights all the pros. Hell, if there is even any pros for that matter, and the reason this gets 12 is because its Napalm Death, and some credit or score has to be given because this is such an influential album that I'd feel bad giving this a zero.
I've heard numerous times that "Scum" is the first pure grindcore album and I almost completely agree. I've also heard that "Scum" is the worst album ever made. I can see the validity in this claim as this album is very repetitive and the production is pretty lousy. Although, the songwriting is solid and for the repetitiveness, isn't all grindcore just a little repetitive?
I'll start with the production. It's not good. The guitars sound like a bad punk sound. They are nothing like Napalm's F.E.T.O. album in terms of amazing production. The drums are the savior of the sound. I really like the drum sound on here: very raw and intense. The bass is heavily distorted and is audible throughout. The vocals are quiet, especially because the drums sound loud.
The songs are like ultra-fast hardcore punk but with that essence of true grindcore attitude. Kind of like "fuck you music" attitude displayed by a lot of punks and grindcore bands. This is really shown throughout. "Multinational Corporations" is the standard atmospheric intro song. "The Kill" is very short and with a very simple riff and structure manages to leave somewhat of an impression of the grindcore attitude. Short and very aggressive. The title track is like something that could be found on their second album. After the heavy intro to the song that actually has a pretty awesome riff, the blasting begins and the heaviness comes back even better than before. Many songs are very similar to "The Kill", short and blasting through just like awesome grindcore should be. "Success" is definitely the best song on here. The awesome drum beat with the amazing riff really stands out among the rest.
I'm not really sure how to talk about the line-up because I know nothing of why the line-up is so strange, but both line-ups do a good job on here, yet the side with Lee and Bill are just slightly better, but that is to be expected from Bill.
The first true grindcore album and it has some pretty significant flaws as with any genre defining album. Don't listen to the people who say this is THE worst album ever. I think that may be a slight exaggeration. Definitely check this out if you love grindcore.
Best tracks - "You Suffer", "Success", "Scum", and "Siege of Power".
Quick, what do you get when you combine British Crust Punk (Doom), American Thrashcore (Siege), and old school American Death Metal (Death), some noise, then throw in a dash of Post-Punk a la Killing Joke? You get classic Grindcore, that's what. And one of the earliest examples of Grind, as well.
Now, this is really a compilation of two EP's, as the two halves were recorded at separate times, even with separate line-ups. This is also evident in the sound of the two halves-the first has more variation in tempo, sounds a bit closer to the Crust Punk scene that spawned it, more cohesive songs as a whole, while the second is more along the lines of pure chaos taking the form of the most extreme punk and metal combining.
Something I love about this (which is true of most Grindcore I listen to) is that its hardcore punk roots are very evident- this has similar riffing and vocal styles to old British Crust Punks, it has the speed and blasting intensity of early American Thrashcore bands- and this also manages to use it's Death metal influence very well, injecting a lot of its atmosphere, while still not letting it overpower the Punk, like many later Grind bands seemed to do.
Of course, historically, this is one of the most important albums in the Grindcore genre, beloved by metalheads and punks allover, as this was one of the earliest real Grindcore albums. Before this, on the metal side, you had Repulsion, and in punk, while you had plenty of precursors to Grind, such as Doom, Electro-Hippies, Siege, and Cryptic Slaughter (though they were metal as well), but Napalm Death really brought it all together-sure, Repulsion had the blasting speed, but they didn't have the Punk attitude and socially aware, political side that Napalm Death brought to the burgeoning genre. This was basically the launching pad for Grindcore, I'd say, and my favorite from Napalm Death.
If for some reason you don't have this yet, buy/download it as soon as possible, but only if you can respect and enjoy extreme punk as well as extreme metal, though frankly, if you can't, you shouldn't be listening to Grindcore anyways, and in my personal opinion there's gotta be something wrong with you haha
I don't like this album very much. I think I'd like it more if most of the albums that came after it weren't exponentially better than this. I realize that 'Scum' is really just a demo with a set of bonus tracks, but it's still sort of overly primitive to me, even as someone who enjoys crust/grind stuff. It seems very unfocused musically compared to even the next album, and while I appreciate its contribution to grindcore as a whole, I can't say I really enjoy listening to it very much.
Side one is substantially better than side two; a lot of people generally agree with that statement. The second half concentrates on noisier bursts of aggression than the first. Side A is much more musical overall with a much greater note from their early hardcore punk days. You could say that side 2 is really where grindcore as we know it begins, albeit in a very chaotic and primordial form. Most of the songs that everyone remembers are on side one, however, including tracks like 'Instinct Of Survival', the title track, and 'Siege Of Power'. There are some really great tracks on this release and it's no wonder that it's as widely lauded as it is, as it is an extremely groundbreaking and crucial release in the scheme of metal as a whole. And yet at the same time I feel no desire to listen to it, really.
I like the tracks on 'Scum' much more on other recordings. The production and playing do a lot to hurt them, honestly. Maybe I'm not a true fan, but I like Napalm Death more when they incorporate at least a little death metal into their sound, and so I prefer tracks from 'Scum' with the tighter instrumentation and more death-oriented vocals that the band later grew into. The production on this record is very weak throughout; it's noisy but the instruments have little punch, particularly because the drums frequently overwhelm the guitars. The playing is not very steady either, with the members of the band often falling in and out of time with each other. It's strange that all these imperfections are something I enjoy in other grindcore bands but find distasteful on this particular record, even when all logic says I should find it MORE acceptable than I ordinarily would.
It's like I can understand that the music itself is of high quality but I can't enjoy it; it's like 'Under The Sign Of Hell' part two. I like the punky/grindy riffs and the dynamic song structures that walk a very tense line between frantic chaos and speedy crust. I enjoy how direct everything is and how a fundamental lack of subtlety is sort of made artistic by the insane brutality of the music on display. The instrumentation is unique and groundbreaking for its time. The overall package is extraordinary and crucial for any serious metal or grind fan to listen to several times if only for historic reasons. But for my personal Napalm Death fix, I'll always go to one of the band's later albums rather than this one. It just lacks the steadiness that I enjoy in the band's later works. If I want straightforward chaotic crust/grind I'll go listen to early Extreme Noise Terror. But for Napalm Death, I like it a bit more grounded.
Obviously this is an entirely mandatory album and I highly recommend you hear it, even if it's not really to my tastes for reasons I don't entirely understand.
What we have here are two separate recordingsessions released as a single album. Also the line-up had changed halfway. So no wonder the A and B side sound quite different.
The first half were recordings from august 1986 when Justin Broadrick and Nik Bullen were still in the band. Justin already had a characteristic way of playing guitar, incorporating an industrial touch at times, a lot of feedback and playing punk riffs in a way you’d expect from Celtic Frosts Tom Warrior. Combined with the more hardcore punk attitude of vocalist/bassist Nik Bullen it gave Napalm Death their own specific sound in 1986.
Drummer Mick Harris and Heresy drummer Steve Charlesworth had been competing with eachother live in terms of playing faster than eachother. As a result Napalm Death in 1986 sounded twice as fast as they did during their “Hatred Surge” days when drummer Miles Ratledge was still in the band. This line-up recorded the A-side of the album which included a lot of their older punk songs but placed at a higher pace than before (for instance 'Instinct Of Survival', 'Control' and 'Sacrificed') and some new, shorter and more brutal tunes.
As a result the A-side can be seen as a transitional period between hardcore punk and grindcore as we know it now. Not only are these songs very enjoyable but from an historical point of view rather experimental and groundbreaking. A Napalm Death fan cannot imagine the band with their all time classics ‘Control’, ‘Siege of Power’, the titletrack and of course the shortest ND song ever, ‘You Suffer’ (Guiness Book Of Records: 1,316 seconds)
There are those who dislike the punk attitude of side-A. Are they having difficulties accepting that grindcore emerged largely from the punkscene? The fact that grindore later on got a life of it’s own within the metal scene doesn’t change that. Please go look for the 1984-1985 recordings of the American band Siege and check out old interviews with grindcore bands about their influences. Without punk there wouldn’t have been grindcore nor even thrash metal for that matter! Live with it. And the influence of punk on grindcore can’t be more obvious than on the first half of this record. It was history in the making.
Due to Nik and Justin leaving, the B-side was a result of Mick Harri’s persistence of continuing the band. With Bill Steer, Lee Dorian and Jim Whitley the ‘new’ group focussed on the fastest elements of the earlier recordings and left punk for what it was. One can hear Dorian and Steer still struggling with getting into this new style and they don’t sound convincing all the time yet (something which became more obvious when the From Enslavement LP was released on which they sounded briliant!). Still the B-side had a lot to offer. It was more consistent than before, faster and some instant classics like ‘Conservative Shithead’, ‘Life?’, ‘Moral Crusade’ and ‘Deceiver’.
For some a lot of songs on this album have too much punk in them. Other find Side-B too montome compared to the variation in styles and pace on the A-side. In the end it’s an album that in itself shows the remarkable evolution of a young band and incidentally influencing metal headsa dn punks all over the world.
To people who grew up with polished (modern) grindcore and find this album not to be brutal enough or too sloppy I can only say: these were a bunch of youngsters, without cash, experimenting and having fun. Don’t expect a 21st century sound nor triggered super tight drums from a 1987 (underground) release. And heavy guitars do not automatically make something ‘brutal’. They just make it… heavy….
Napalm Death weren’t heavy, they were musically structured noise with a message. A buch of youngsters who used to play punk but under the influence of Genocide (Repulsion) and Siege got a whole lot of new ideas about extreme music…
This CD is flat out horrible. I hate every single little aspect about it, the only thing I find semi-tolerable is the drumming. I picked this up at a local store for 20$ and I wish I would have bought something else. It is a complete waste of money. And I wouldn't even download it off LimeWire, because it's not worth the time. Besides that I always buy albums anyway (musicians with talent gotta make money somehow, right?)
Let's start off with the vocals. Monotonous, annoying, talent less, incomprehensible shouting. In the 20th Anniversary Edition of this disk (the one I own) there is a bonus DVD with "The Scum Story". On that DVD, it reveals the vocalist had to be cued in on every single song. How pathetic is that?
The guitars have heavy, yet catchy riffs, I will say that much. However, there is no talent in them at all! This is metal people! It HAS to be to get on the Archives! Metal has talent. Napalm Death does not. That's the simplest way to put it. These riffs are only power chords, that’s it. There is no variation. Now, most of my favorite bands only use power chords for riffs, but they have solos. That’s another thing I can't stand about this release. There are very, very few solos. Of the few that are there, I don't think a single one of them is over 5 seconds in length, and they are very basic.
The bass is completely inaudible, except in tracks like "Scum" which if I remember correctly, has a bass intro. Then the bassist uses very terrible distortion, completely killing the tone. He also uses a pick, destroying the sound even more. What was this guy thinking? The only way distortion sounds good on a bass is if Cliff Burton played it that way.
The drums are probably the best part of this release. Very fast and brutal, nice. This drummer is insane, but not the best I've heard. In the bonus DVD, they show him demonstrating a blast beat. He no longer even owns a kit and had not played for years, and somehow, this guy surpassed what most modern day drummers could do. This is the best part of the album along with the lyrics.
The lyrics are very political and convincing, they get their point across. I just wish I could understand them while the vocalist “sings” them. I have no problem understanding Chris Barnes or George Fisher.
What was this band thinking? Were they trying to make this album as short and terrible as they could? They have one track over three minutes. One of twenty-eight tracks is over three minutes in length! They have a song that one second long and then four seconds of silence. That's ridiculous. I hated this CD and I would never recommend this to anyone. Not even my worst enemy deserves that kind of torture. Whatever you do, do NOT buy this release.
This album is famous for a number of reasons some of which don't actually relate to the music itself. Certainly "Scum" was a forerunner of the grindcore scene and for a time drew public attention to a new generation of underground metal bands in the UK (and it helped that the late UK radio host John Peel was a fan of Napalm Death for a while). The album is also unusual in that two different band line-ups, each featuring people who became famous in other bands after leaving ND, play on the album: Side 1 features a line-up with a future member of Godflesh and Jesu (Justin Broadrick) and the musicians on Side 2 include future members of Carcass (Bill Steer) and Cathedral (Lee Dorrian), plus the only musician to feature on both sides, Mick Harris (or MJ Harris as he prefers to style himself these days) has since made a name for himself in experimental / dub / ambient music. The album cover which depicts reptilian corporate CEOs presiding over social, economic and physical destruction of human beings and the Earth was designed by Bill Steer's Carcass comrade Jeff Walker and the album itself addresses the theme of global domination by octopus-like corporations and the methods they and their friends in government and the commercial media use to keep people down, a theme that perhaps is more relevant to us now than it was 20 years ago when "Scum" was recorded.
Aside from all this interesting background info, what actually emerges in the way of music from "Scum" is a parade of strongly anarchic punk-influenced metal songs most of which are no longer than a minute or two and are hardly more than blasts of guitar anger and guttural roar. Other songs have basic riffs and melodies with maybe slightly more comprehensible lyrics and a rare guitar solo. On Side 1, the early songs go so fast and the singing can be such a blurry mess on most tracks that it's easy to get lost. Drumming consists of Harris mustering as much energy he can at once to bash the skins and foot pedals. Occasionally there'll be a diarrhoea guitar solo. The few recognisable songs include "Multinational Corporations" and everything from and including "Siege of Power" to the end: the singing becomes a lot clearer and the last 5 tracks on Side 1 have stronger and more regular riffs and melodies, though they can still collapse into fits of blast beat chaos. At the very end is the famous one-second wonder "You Suffer" in which everything that has gone before, lyrically speaking, gets pancaked into the short rhetorical question that is spat out in a roar.
The Side 2 songs are just as fast but are slightly different in that they sometimes have a dual vocal approach (Dorrian singing the lyrics and Harris helping out on garbled background vocals and screaming) and the standard of musicianship is a bit better with some songs actually having changes in rhythm and pace and Bll Steer managing to get in a frenzied fat-sounding lead guitar solo suggestive of burgeoning bacteria on "Parasites". Songs like "Success?", "Stigmatized" and "M.A.D." have bouncy, almost danceable rhythms and it's clear from the energy on these tracks that the musicians enjoy each other's company.
Musically the album is short on technical finesse and you could argue that if all the songs had been better written and had some real structure in the way of definite riffs and melodies, then the guys would have something to channel their energy and righteous anger with the result that their message would be more effective and hard-hitting and listeners would feel the anger and aggression coming out of the music. As it is, the emotion seems blocked and all over the place and unfocussed. With the songs being so short, there is not much scope for a guitarist with some talent like Bill Steer to prove his chops. But possibly the idea behind "Scum" was to create something that was anti-capitalistic and anarcho-punk in spirit and that might have meant doing away with "capitalist" music concepts such as melody and pacing and all the other things that make music amenable to listeners' preferences (which sometimes can be pretty narrow), therefore we have "anti-music" as well as "anti-capitalist" music.
Overall the lyrics are more important than the actual music itself and I think this is very much in sync with Napalm Death having been more of an outlet for expressing a particular point of view and ideology about what music should be about, and changing people's perceptions of music composition.
This is obviously one of those recordings where the legend surrounding it is greater than the actual object that spawned it deserves but that's often the way with famous albums. I could take an example of a legendary album like Pink Floyd's "Dark Side of the Moon" which is hugely famous and which a lot of people regard in awe: I find that a lot of the music on that record is really very ordinary, indulgent and forgettable, and the hoopla that's surrounded the album since its 1973 release just seems to get bigger and more out of control.
A lot of things have been said about "Scum" by Napalm Death. Some more true than others, but as it stands, this is a very fine grindcore album, though not deserving of most of the credit or praise it gets.
The music defines the early Earache sound. Exceptionally metallic grindcore (at the time) that has been copied to death, from Japan to the USA. What made the album so revolutionary and different than other music at the time wasn't the fact that it was grindcore (which was played before by punk legends like LÃ¤rm, Cyanamid and Fear Of God), but its mysterious metal crossover appeal.
The production was crap, the vocals were shouted and shrieked and the guitars sound like a muddy mess, with the most of the guitarplaying in mid-speed over the frenzied and well-executed blastbeats. The only break from the insanity are the occasional thrash metal riffs and the slow sludge of the title track's intro.
When it comes down to it, it's a very good record and definitely recommended if you want to widen your horizons in extreme music, but the formula has been done better before and after, even by blatant copy cats such as Insect Warfare or Unholy Grave. However, if this isn't what you're looking for, don't hesitate to look for other grindcore records, the genre has much more and better things to offer than this.
Most everything has already been said, but some of this bears repeating: Scum, albeit incredibly raw, epitomizes everything good about grindcore. This entire album is a work of incredibly fast and aggressive sonic mayhem. The speed and intensity of Napalm Death on this recording (which is actually two separate sessions, one in late '86 and one in early '87) still is rarely matched today by most bands; it puts all of their speedy hardcore punk and thrash contemporaries of the mid-eighties to shame.
Simply playing fast, of course, is not what is amazing about this album; any artist with enough practice can play at fast tempos. The amazing thing is how they manage to weave the speed with their incredibly raw production and instrumental sound (which in my opinion is when grindcore sounds best). The album is not polished, but still very audible, even to picky listeners. The actual instrumental sound is very raw, adding further to the intensity of the music.
Blastbeating drums thud throughout the entire album, which unfortunately sometimes drown out the guitars. Despite this, the heavy insane drumming makes the perfect grindcore atmosphere, complete with frantic riffs and the occasional slowed down parts, such as before the verses in "Scum," or in "Siege of Power."
Overall, this album is a completely amazing work of raw, lightning fast, wild grindcore that has to be listened to to be believed. Amazing, amazing album, 100%.
Okay okay okay! So it's already obvious that Napalm Death's "Scum" is hailed as the first true grindcore release ever... but does that make it so "Godly?"
It seems like many people praise this album as the best grindcore release only because it was the first known grindcore release. I must say that this isn't the best grindcore around; although for it's time, this was extreme but even back then, if I was to hear this album as a raging angst teen in the mid-80's, I'm sure I still would've been kind of turned off to the album. A lot of it has to do with the bands attempt at trying to be the most brutal band of the time and the musicianship.
I do like Napalm Death, but I honestly don't like this CD. It's not really catchy, not so memorable, not spectacular; wait, I take that back; it's spectacular in the sense of actually hearing one of the first attempts at making "schizo" music. Other than that, the production on the first half of the CD reeks of shit (the first half is actually the demo I know but it could've been mastered better) while the other half of the CD has much more decent production but still not the best song writing.
That's the weird about this release, it has two distinct sides. The first half of it is the demo part that Napalm Death recorded and released independently featuring Justin K. Broadrick and Nik Bullen on strings. Justin I know never was a fan of being apart of the "grindcore" movement and despised the word. With this in mind, I must also add that he wasn't the best guitarist for fast paced music; Godflesh is his homecoming because his attempt at playing stellar hardcore punk riffs never worked out. For the most part then, Justin wrote the music with Mick Harris (drums) on the first half of the CD and did I mention how much of a maniac Mick is on drums? For something in the 80's, this was fucking extreme because of his unique drumming style (at the time of course.)
Some songs which could've been good but failed because of musicianship are songs like "Instinct of Survival" because the drumming and attempt at playing fast guitar altogether just didn't seem to work out and Lee Dorian (vocals) sounds more like he's barking with a sore throat rather than barking with a growl sound. Throughout the first half, Lee sounds like this and it's not the best vocal performance either. I like it better when he sounds like he's actually growling rather than half assed sore throat rasps. On the other hand, some standout songs are the immediate showstoppers "The Kill" for it's intensity and sting after it's done within 23 seconds, and also the classic "You Suffer", which has to be one of the most innovative songs played and why you ask? Well, it's no more than 3 seconds long and that should seem retarded to many of you, but think about it: a song that is 3 seconds long? Who would have ever thought? It's definitely not a sing-a-long song (try screaming "You suffer... but why?" fast!) but it's just one of those "wow, what the hell" songs. "Siege of Power" is a song on the album which comes close to being the thrashiest track here as well as probably the longest, spanning over 3 minutes and actually having a chorus line as opposed to every other "blast" of a track and oh yeah, there's no blast beats on this track either. It's not the best song here but it's worth mentioning that it's different from the rest of the whole album.
The other half of this release features Bill Steer (guitar) of the soon to be Carcass fame as well as Jim Whitely (bass) of Ripcord fame. Even though the production is far better on this side of the album, it still isn't so memorable of a listen. Bill was born to play music this fast as opposed to Justin because his riffs are top notch and can play in temp with the blast beats... Justin couldn't really do that so well as I mentioned. The blast beats and guitar playing working hand in hand with one another. Still, the music on this half seems kind of "empty" or it's missing something… it's missing energy! As opposed to the other half of this CD, this side doesn't have such great and raw energy. It sounds very monotonous and bland... but at least the music work is tighter as I mentioned.
Such memorable songs here are "Deceiver", which the opening riff kind of grabs you and leaves you in blast beat oblivion and Lee's (better) vocal performance with his growling. It's a riff playing over and over to a blast beat with Lee's voice echoed through the song like he was some ghost in the studio. I can't think of any other song really worth mentioning from this side because nothing else seems to stand out like "Deceiver" does.
While this may be the first grindcore release ever, it isn't the greatest. Things that begin usually start very rusty and progressively get better. As with most things that start, grindcore as well as Napalm Death would sound and get better and, as with any art, you have to learn to perfect what you're doing. Hence I'm not trying to negatively degrade this album at all but I am pointing out that Napalm Death will get better and this "grindcore" music will become more interesting than the music here. I'm merely saying in short that this is legendary and very novelty to listen to, but it's not recommended for a intro to grindcore music or what Napalm Death sound like.
"Scum" just presents a movement of a new kind within the extreme music world... and its birth date was on this very album... it's just came out prematurely let’s say.
Ear Candy: You Suffer, The Kill, Siege of Power, Deceiver...
"Scum",the first ever grindcore album, is a must have for any fan of grindcore,death metal, hardcore or even punk.
The line up is really archaic, one of the early line ups,(yes there were other members before the band recorded "scum"!)
The production is raw, giving the cd a gritty feel. Elements of punk and hardcore clubbed together to create a sound so raw and brutal, it could change the way you look at the world around you.
The songs mainly deal with socio-political issues such as governments,multi-national corporations, 3rd world nations etc. The album got napalm death noticed because of its ferocious anti-commercial stance. Each song is a furious minute long burst of agonizing guitars and vocals coupled with blast beats and fast punk style drumming.Songs on this cd may come across as short detonations of noise to the untrained ear.
The guitars on the first 13 tracks sounds more punkish. The guitar on the songs after track 13 are more buzzsaw like and "grindcore" sounding, this kind of tuning is what you may hear on most other grindcore bands.
Vocals range anywhere from gruffy shouts to savage screams ("whirlwind screams" as the cd inlay describes it).
Some of the songs are very mosh-able but most are just furious explosions of sonic violence making it very different from later napalm death albums where songs would be around 4 minutes in length and sound more refined and polished.
Its really hard to keep track of the songs without looking at the display on your cd player.Most may not even differentiate between the tracks which all are the same blasts of noise only varying in terms of riffs and drum paterns.
I guess that makes listening to it better. You have to play the entire album from start to finish and just sit back and take the pounding and enjoy all 26 tracks as one unit all together.
Scum would sound very harsh on your ears and devastate your idea of extreme music if your listening to it for the first time but then again, this is how napalm death stormed through the metal world, crushing death metal and thrash metal bands alike.
4 songs youll have to pay attention to are:
Multinational corporations : Composed of guitar noise, with cymbals crashing faintly and a pissed off voice going "multinational corporations, genocide of the starving nations". This is the greatest opening track on any cd.
Instinct of surival : A bizarre mutation of punk metal, has a great vocal pattern. And great opening riff.
Moral crusade : This is on the "second" half of the cd. Boils with angry screams and growls and insane guitarwork.
The most extreme outburst of guitars, drums and vocals ever recorded.
You suffer : Ok, this isnt exactly a song, but just a songlet less than 1 second!!! This holds the world record for shortest song ever released. Probably inspired the trend of releasing really short songs among other grindcore songs.
On an ending note, it should be observed that no ther band -save for Black Sabbath,has achieved what Napalm death have - Inspire a whole new genre of music with just their debut called Grindcore. (which would later spawn several subgenres - noise, crust, goregrind, porngrind, shitcore etc that would eventually flood the category)
Napalm death rises tall above all the bullshit . They are LIVING LEGENDS, probably the last worthy survivor in this genre. The fact that they exist to this day without leaving behind any of the brutality is a standing testament to this fact.Little wonder the name "napalm death" is synonymous with the term "grindcore".
Another interesting point is that two other big bands branched out of the line up on this album: Bill steer(bass) would quit to form carcass, and Lee dorian (vocals) would start cathedral. Both bands gained their own brand of popularity in the metal underground.
A sacred relic to every grindcore fan and a powerhouse of socio-political expression, "scum' is a must buy for any fan of extreme music. Truly, this album is a piece of modern music history.
Well what do we have here?
Only probably THE singlehandedly most extreme reknowned and pioneering albums of the eighties which has influenced countless extreme bands since... all with a debut album.
'Scum' is effectively comprised of two demos which got the band signed with the two different lineup each forming one half of the album. The first, and superior, half contains both the blistering title track that is still a death classic even now, as well as the infamous two-second hyperblast (one of many) that is 'You Suffer'; the latter half with the more familar Embury, Dorrian, Harris lineup.
This music is raw (yet not underproduced to detriment), incendiary, brutal... practically sheer aural carnage. Music to destroy things to. Or more to the point, music to bring down governments /multi-nationals with.
Scum practically invented what would later be termed 'grindcore' even though the band would later evolve into more of a death-grind hybrid with hardcore & punk influences (ie the Dead Kennedy's cover 'Nazi Punks Fuck Off' of later years).
Quite simply if you hate pop-rock and their coiffured MTV-kin, or just want to make your ears bleed, listen to the album that gave heavy metal a shotgut at the base of the neck and cold shiver down the spine.
Grindcore...the very creation of Napalm Death, 'Scum' ended the race for fastest and heaviest in the music world. The original line-ups (yes I said line-ups, because there are essentially two different bands on this album, one per side) combined metal, hardcore, and punk with their own sick, demented, twisted creativity and points of view which evolved into the most brutal music ever made. Mick Harris's technique called the "blast beat", forever changed the genre of death metal. Virtually every death metal band to start after 'Scum' made use of the blast beat. The music on 'Scum' is brutal, fast, and speaks of human nature, and political unrest and world issues. The songs are short, which is why there are 28 tracks crammed on, which equal less than 30 minutes worth of listening. The vocals are all but impossible to decipher, which also had an influence on death metal. The guitars are grinding and pound brutality into your skull like a jackhammer. 'Scum' may have been the album that started grindcore, but the influence that it had on death metal is undeniable. To fully get what the music on 'Scum' is all about I advise that you check it out...NOW! Be open minded, as 'Scum' takes several listens to fully absorb.
Its been a long time since an album literally grabbed me by by neck and pounded the flying shit out of me, but all has changed since i bought this album. On the first spin i was all over the fucking place!!! The album just picked me up and slammed me against the wall.... how can you not get floored? this album is 28 tracks (well 27.... 'Multinational Corporations' is an intro with no real substance, but still good for what it is) of pounding brutality... harsh Vocals, pounding fast as fuck Drums, a peculiar but awesome as hell Muddy Bass Sound, some great Guitar work..., good riffs, wherever there was a solo it was a good one, especially the one contained within 'Siege of Power'.... most songs ran under :50, but thats the unique beauty of Grindcore...
Many would consider this an infuential album, and so do i... this was one of the very first albums to get the Grind movement.. well, moving! And you can't forget the odd story behind this album... as the other reviewer stated, the line up changes on Side A and B and how there are no original members of Napalm Death to this day. A lot of people have had problems with production, i'm one of those people who can listen to something with horrible production and care the slightest bit (like Cracass 'Reek of Putrefaction', production is irrelevant..) But i personally think the production is good!
Overall, if you're a fan of Napalm Death (unless you're into newer ND) or just a fan of Grindcore in general.... listen to it at its best, pick up Napalm Death's 'Scum'.. you won't be disappointed!
Well...this has so many fuckin great speeded up songs that I think I’ll just generalize it... Napalm Death's first record "Scum" is a landmark in grindcore. Probably one of the founding albums of the impressive extreme sound that had as the other godfathers of it, the fantastic...well you know them...Carcass. This one is a festival of average 40 seconds, totally fast, ripping apart and annihilating grind authentic beasts. It terms of comparison, it doesn't have the brutality of "Reek of Putrefaction" from Carcass but it is sure good enough to put your neighbour at your door with a rifle next to your head telling you to shut the fuck up...
This album has a lot of peculiarities inherent to it. The first one is the fact that none of the Napalm Death members that recorded this one is on the actual line up, so, you can call those five guys everything today but not Napalm Death, that's the way it goes...The other interesting peculiarity is the fact the original release had two sides, side A and side B that were played by two completely different line-ups. Probably the first time this ever happened in a metal record (or in any other record!!!). The first line up is the closest to the original Napalm Death that went from punk to an aggressive grindcore and was formed by: Nick Bullen - Bass/Vocals, Justin Broadrick - Guitars and Mick Harris - Drums. These guys recorded the first side of "Scum" that went from "Multinational Corporations" to "You Suffer”. ATTENTION, these guys are not credited on the original release but they actually played that bulk of songs...
The side B of "Scum" was recorded by: Lee Dorrian - Vocals, Bill (yeah, the guy from Carcass) Steer - Guitars, Jim - Bass and Mick Harris - Drums. There's a little difference of sound from one line up to another but the psychological slaughter is practically the same in the two of them, and it goes from "Life" to "Dragnet"
The production is not so good and it could have been a little better if the producer had made them sound more then a garage band recording that was about to record their latest demo.
About the guys, Nick Bullen and Lee Dorrian really throw it out completely in some really brutal kind of singing...no sorry, screaming, Bill Steer's guitar sound could be a little bit better than Justin' sound but it's not bad after all. The bass has practically the same sound for the two guys, a really distorted and grinding low tone that fits like hell on those little demonstrations of pure killing and the drumming by the survivor member Mick Harris is just fucking hyperactive...that guy must have sipped some pretty decent gallons of fuel to play like that...it's so fast that he probably got his arms on fire in the middle of recording...
Shane Embury, the current bassist is now the closest member to be an original one, as he entered Napalm Death after the recording of the B side to join them on tour. Bill Steer recorded this one and the next album with Napalm Death after Carcass were put on hold because of drummer Ken Owen studies. He then left to record permanently with Carcass. The cover art for this album was made by Jeff Walker, the bassist/vocalist from Carcass.
All of the songs, although being very similar, never are enough to get you bored with that brutality and speed. The really remarkable song on this record is the Guinness record for the fastest song ever (something that even S.O.D weren't capable of doing...). "You Suffer" is the fastest and brutal, but really brutal song ever recorded in metal. This one goes in time like this: 00:00:00.10. Well, if you don't believe it, you have to get "Scum" to verify it...
Absolute Grindcore classic...an absolute must have for these three reasons:
1 - Two different line ups
2 - Bill Steer (Carcass) on Guitars, Lee Dorrian (Cathedral) on Vocals and original drummer Mick Harris
3 - 28 Devastating, brutal, vomiting horror classics