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Sunday, September 25, 2022

Review: Napalm Death – Throes of Joy in the Jaws of Defeatism

Label: Century Media

Date: September 18th, 2020

Got to hand it to Napalm. Almost four decades in, they still come up with fresh sounding and involving album. Somehow they managed to invent and reinvent grinding hardcore. Especially during the last decade. The predecessor to the record I’m reviewing here had shed a light on what could be expected on “Throes of Joy in the Jaws of Defeatism”. And now that we have the album in our hands it will not come as such a big surprise, though the narrow minded might find it a blasphemy. Almost pissing on their own legacy. However, Napalm Death has made a point long ago of not addressing the narrow minded. They spoke (and still speak) to those who live with eyes wide open to all the shit surrounding them. And they spoke loudly!

A genre that has, over time, lost all the connections to hardcore, Napalm Death openly speak to the angry punks. There’s much more to grind than speed of lightning and inaudible grunts. The Brits prove it again. Versatility of elements minced to create “Throes of Joy in the Jaws of Defeatism” is astonishing. Yes, the old school fans still have something to look up to. There are moments on the record that do reproduce the “Scum” feeling. Actual majority is in the very much recognizable Napalm Death manner. Ultra-fast death metal mixed with New York style hardcore. But the fact that the band has gone for a bit more of an atmospheric approach could come as a shock to those used to crude brutality. Post punk or even some industrial moments are infused on the record. Yet, these somehow make the album richer, instead of mellower. Tracks such as “Amoral” bear traces of old Napalm, but really just traces. Also, the chorus in “Contagion”, which comes inside the brutish hardcore mesh.

Really, from the catchy riffing to blood pumping rhythms, there is nothing a fan of loud, raging and disturbing music can complain about.

Still, real Napalm Death fans are well aware that the band would never have reached the heights they did without their outspoken attitude. Given the themes covered on “Throes of Joy in the Jaws of Defeatism”, there is no doubt the Brits are still conscious of the world they are living in. Very much enraged and dedicated to speaking their minds straight into your unsuspecting face. Like I mentioned above. This is much more than just mindless rambling. There was never room for that on Napalm Death’s releases. No sunshine, lollipops or fairytales were included on this album either. These are unpleasant and hard to swallow truths. Another aspect of Napalm that draws from the punk basics. Sure, music like this is supposed to make you riot, even in the safety of your room. But if you’re not going to think about the message conveyed, you are missing the point completely.

Speaking of that, another shot at the center of the target is the cover artwork. Yet more food for thought by Frode Sylthe.

True to themselves as they ever have been, Napalm Death delivered yet again. However mixed and mashed, they are certainly not ashamed of wide array of their musical taste. Furthermore, they are most certainly not afraid of using them to the fullest. Thus, the band has deployed another blow to the scene they helped create and keep alive all these years.