Album Review: Napalm Death – Resentment Is Always Seismic – A Final Throw of Throes

Napalm Death

Album Review: Napalm Death - Resentment Is Always Seismic - A Final Throw of Throes
Reviewed by Dan Barnes

Imagine, if you will, you are a time-traveller sent back from 2022 to the distant year of 1981. You arrive at a location in the heart of England and see a bunch of anarchistic punks about to plug in their instruments and, unknowingly, set in motion the creation of a new genre of music and the inception of an undisputed national treasure that would be as vital and as fresh more than forty years hence.

Napalm Death need no introduction as it is widely accepted their contribution to the extreme music scene was critical to the gestation of more bands than it’s possible to consider. And, rather than be resting on their laurels, Napalm have continually pushed the boundaries of what most people would determine as being little more than an ungodly racket, but a few of us hear as sweet music.

A few of the band’s albums from the late-nineties saw them losing momentum and their cutting edge felt blunted but, come the millennium and Enemy of the Music Business, balance was restored, and Napalm Death would embark on a twenty-years-and-counting series of stunning releases that makes you wonder whether there’s a painting in Shane’s attic growing old.

In 2020 the Godfathers of Grind did the seemingly impossible and surpassed their sublime 2015 release: Apex Predator – Easy Meat with the even more magnificent and wide-ranging Throes of Joy in the Jaws of Defeatism. And their latest mini-album shows the creative juices were in full flow during the sessions of that record, with eight tracks of experimental extremity that did not make the final cut.

Album Review: Napalm Death – Resentment Is Always Seismic – A Final Throw of Throes

Clocking in at just thirty-minutes, Resentment is Always Seismic is a Napalm Death fan’s dream-come-true as it blends the classic ND sound with the wide-ranging and mind-expanding possibilities of the band.

Playing it as safe as Resentment… gets are By Proxy, Man Bites Dogged and Slaver Through Performance; all of which are built around the familiar Napalm Death sound of blitzkrieg drumming, dirty bass, sharp, stabbing guitar and ire-infused vocals. But, even in walking a more well-trodden path, the band incorporate multiple layers of disparate vocal melodies amid the visceral rage attacks. Choral elements and ethereal chants vie with the barked to defamiliarize the otherwise comfortable.

Opening track Narcissus takes the classic Napalm elements and shoots them through the distorted grooves and sharp, crisp grinds. Napalm have never been shy about the influence of Michael Gira and Swans on their sound and Resentment Always Simmers takes the experimental and adds a sluggish element into the mix.

That track is a companion piece to the climatic: Resentment is Always Seismic, which reiterates the work done by Shane’s ambient and industrial alter-ego, Dark Sky Burial. The longest track on the album, this Resentment… is a dirge built around a repeating heavy, industrial stomp and washed through with discordant and dissonant sounds.

No strangers to a cover-version and Napalm Death have two to offer here: Don’t Need It from Bad Brains, taken from their debut record is a frenzied version with a shredding solo. The other is People Pie the 1988 single from industrial/ alternative duo, SLAB! As a long-time listener and huge Napalm fan, if someone would have played me this track blindly in isolation, I would probably not have guessed who was performing it. Its heavy industrial sound features layered vocals with a female accompaniment, a huge and hefty bass and some undeniably groovy and hook-laden riffs.

All the usual elements are present on Resentment…: Danny’s frenzied whirlwind drumming, Shane’s dirty bass and sharp stabbing guitars (though I’ve not been able to find out whether Mitch or John or both was on six-string duties here).

One element of the Napalm sound that I think is sorely overlooked is the range of Barney’s voice. It’s easy to write him off as just a screamer, but the texture of those screams, alongside the other aspects of his delivery gives the band the edge and allows them musically to explore areas that might otherwise be off-limits.

Lyrically, Barney provided the words for all eight compositions, and they are the usual densely packed poems, filled with the obscure imagery and inventive wordplay we’ve come to expect from Mr Greenway.

Resentment is Always Seismic: A Final Throw of Throes is worthy companion piece to the preceding album and further cements Napalm Death’s status as, not only leaders of the musical scene they created, but as those undisputed national treasures. Makes you wonder what those anarcho-punks, ready to rage against the machine back in 1981, would have made of that.

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