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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...