Napalm Death. The name is synonymous with violent extremity,with pushing the boundaries. For over 30 years,they have been producing wildly aggressive blasts, regularly defying the law of diminishing returns that should come with an aging band of their genre. This latest release is a compilation of B-Sides and rarities ranging from 2004 to 2016. So, given that we are discussing a band in the latter stages of their career, releasing a compilation of songs that potentially weren’t good enough to get on their original studio releases, you could be forgiven for having relatively low expectations. Fear not.
It is absolutely obscene that a band of Napalm Death’s vintage still sound as venomous as they do across this collection. There is no hint of softening any edges in their older age as Mitch Harris’ guitar still sounds like a chainsaw, Shane Embury’s grumbling bass feels like it is shaking the foundations of the earth, Danny Herrera’s drums blast through your skull, and, well, Barney Greenway still sounds as terrifying as ever. Although, that is not to suggest Napalm are just the noise machine that recorded You Suffer all those years ago, two of the best moments on display here are the experimental numbers Oxygen of Duplicity, cut from their split EP with The Melvins of 2013 and Omnipresent Knife In Your Back, a bonus track from 2006 album Time Waits For No Slave.
This absolutely does not feel like a gratuitous release in any way, everything here deserves to be easily available and heard by any fan of the band. From the razor sharp riffing of What Is Past is Prologue, to the headbanging delight of We Hunt In Packs, to, believe it or not, touches of something approaching melody on No Impediment To Triumph and To Go Off And Things, everything on display here is essential listening. Also, this release runs for over 90 minutes, and even at that length it does not outstay it’s welcome.
So, not only have Napalm Death spent the last 31 years on the cutting edge of heavy music, but they have also proved here that, even off the beaten track of the main studio LPs, they still have better songs than many bands less than half their age.