Napalm Death – Throes Of Joy In The Jaws Of Defeatism
Released: September 18th, 2020
Shane Embury | Bass reverberations, barks and moans, noise-testing everyday objects
Mark ‘Barney’ Greenway | Bawling, shrieking, intermittent baritone
Danny Herrera | Turbulent beat throes
Sixteen albums in, and following the acclaimed Apex Predator – Easy Meat, Napalm Death return with a fresh bag of bludgeoning hammers on Throes of Joy In The Jaws of Defeatism. There’s no epic laments to lost love or prog-rock excursions with layers of synth. This is urgent, primal, unrelenting grind metal, but that doesn’t mean every song sounds the same. Since they codified the genre back in the late 80s, Napalm Death have continued to push the boundaries of snare speed, growls and balls out riffing. ‘Fuck the Factoid’ nails it out of the gate, straight between your eyes. The lyrics remain disgusted at the political and social state of the word, with the first single ‘Backlash Just Because’ really hammering the theme.
Without an active guitarist (Mitch Harris opted out, while live guitarist John Cooke helped out), a lot of the song writing fell to bassist Shane Embury, and you can feel the bass reverberate through songs like ‘That Curse of Being in Thrall’. There is some experimentation, with the last minute or so of ‘Contagion’ leaning into an industrial-style groove. ‘Joi De Ne Pas Vivre’ similarly mixes it up by distorting the vocals, going wild on the drums, and adding sound effects to a great racket that is best described as an audio version of a sadistic trap from the Saw films. ‘Invigorating Clutch’ follows with a throaty, deathly choral opening minute before slamming into a mid paced groove built around Embury’s bass line. It is captivating in its energy and atmospheric without being any less heavy. ‘Zero Gravitas Chamber’ is classic Napalm Death with blast beats and Mark ‘Barney’ Greenway’s gut wrenching bellow demanding your attention, while ‘Fluxing of the Muscle’ actually has slower riffs in between grind and the chorus, creating an epic song that fills its 4:35 with bile.
The album peaks with the mid-paced ‘Amoral’. Built on a riff AC/DC wouldn’t mind, with relatively straight ahead drumming, the band craft a song that is boarding on catchy thanks to Greenway’s huge hooky chorus. Those interested in enlisting with the Gods of Grind should start here. In case you forget where you are, the title track starts with a raspy voice before getting down to the business of grinding hard and will encourage much shouting back at Greenway during future gigs. The brilliantly titled ‘A Bellyful of Salt and Spleen’ closes things out with a progressive excursion into noise, industrial and goth reminiscent of bands like Coil. It is hypnotic with repetitive beats and a range of noises and effects that will get lost in your headphones. It is truly haunting, appropriately ending the horror soundtrack vibe to the album.
Longtime fans will get their fill on this album, no doubt there is enough pure grind to satisfy their taste. But there is enough going on here to show the band are still challenging themselves and are relevant after more than 30 years. Start with ‘Amoral’ and ‘Backlash Just Because’ and decide whether it scratches an itch you didn’t know you had.
Napalm Death – Throes of Joy in the Jaws of Defeatism tracklisting:
- Fuck the Factoid
- Backlash Just Because
- That Curse of Being in Thrall
- Joie De Ne Pas Vivre
- Invigorating Clutch
- Zero Gravitas Chamber
- Fluxing of the Muscle
- Throes of Joy in the Jaws of Defeatism
- Acting in Gouged Faith
- A Bellyful of Salt and Spleen