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Long overdue a review in these here parts is Napalm Death's 'difficult' 14th album, "Time Waits For No Slave", another cannon in the arsenal of a truly remarkable and groundbreaking career. Repeating their story is pointless, and anyway, it would take much too long for a review, but do check out Albert Mudrian's "Choosing Death: The Improbable History Of Death Metal And Grindcore" if you come away from this review with an interest in this area of the musical world - it's an excellent and informative read.
Despite being one of the first truly extreme bands I heard when back in 2002 I somehow acquired a promo copy of the-then newly released "Order Of The Leech" LP, Napalm have never piqued my interest. Probably through a combination of a general disinterest in grind (though Napalm have been far more than that since about 1990) and the right moment never having come along, I find myself viewing "Time..." in the same level of interest: having had a few listens I feel I've hit the glass ceiling of appreciation towards this album. With 14 songs in 50 minutes it clearly doesn't conform to grind's one-song-per-minute stereotype but that number of songs does begin to grate after a bit when all are in the mid length category and, with a few exceptions, the tone and sound is similar throughout.
Thankfully it is always obvious whom it is when you hear Napalm blasting out of a stereo - the radioactive guitar sound of Mitch Harris and Barney Greenway's exceptional half-growl/half-bark sitting atop a perfect melting pot of Discharge/GBH inspired crust/punk and extreme metal is only going to mean one thing. Barney's highly thoughtful lyrics concerning politics, capitalism, environmentalism and other topics are always an endearing factor towards Napalm if you ask me (numerous interviews have proven Barney to be a respectable, intelligent man deserving of his opportunity to air personal opinions) and in respect to older records, Barney is more intelligible at times here too. In the musical department, the speed can be described as what would have been 'fast' in the mid-80s; read as blastbeats and speedy crust punk riffs without the overly triggered and unnatural drums that would be the definition of 'fast' today. Highlights include the punkiest of the lot, "Work To Rule", the grindiest of the lot, a Kreator-esque "Feeling Redundant", and opener "Strongarm", whose forthright directness matches the title of the song. However dismissing the eleven other songs would be a fallacy as the consistency throughout is a signifier of a band who have been round the block more than a few times in their career.
At this point in their career, an unimaginable 27 years after the earliest line-up was created Napalm Death are never going to get any bigger or more respected but for a band of such experience their commitment to blasting out with such a real intent is admirable and a lesson to anyone with a passion for an extreme craft. A commendably solid, if unspectacular, release from these legends of the scene.
Originally written for Rockfreaks.net.