Archive for the ‘Napalm Death’ Category

Brian Cook’s Top 10 Albums of 2015

Thursday, December 17th, 2015

Brian Cook of Russian Circles and Sumac (among others) kicks off LIFE IS NOISE’s end-of-year countdown with some of his faves from 2015.

There was a lot of good stuff happening in 2015. But whenever I start making these year-end lists I gravitate towards the stuff made by friends and colleagues. My top ten albums for the year should probably include the excellent records made by Metz, Chelsea Wolfe, Deafheaven, Mutoid Man, Marriages and Coliseum, but I wanted to pick albums by artists that I hadn’t toured with, so here’s what I was left with (in no particular order…)

Alcest – Shelter
Alcest shed all vestiges of metal on this album and wound up with the kind of lush melodic record all these new shoegaze bands are trying to make. I know this record was kind of a tough sell for Alcest’s old school fans, but I would think that anyone that dug the Manchester sound of the late 80s/early 90s would eat this up.

Jackson C. Frank – Remastered & Unreleased
Life isn’t fair. And poor Jackson C. Frank was dealt a particularly bad hand. And while a few sad bastard audiophiles have long held his minor hit ‘Blues Run The Game’ close to their hearts, his recording career was pretty much forgotten by the time he passed away in 1999. Childhood trauma, schizophrenia, and poor health plagued his life and kept him from releasing any proper full-length following his debut. Ba Da Bing Records managed to cobble up 67 tracks from his career, from early traditional standards to a set of sparse demos for a comeback album that never materialised. For me, the most engaging songs are from those final demos, where Frank manages to craft a handful of songs out of the same few chords and one fingerpicking pattern. The guitar work across ‘Bull Men’, ‘Maria Spanish Rose’, ‘Singing Sailors’, and ‘(Tumble) In the Wind (Version 2)’ is almost identical, but Frank makes each song heartbreaking in its own way.

Mára – Surfacing
Over the course of several years, Faith Coloccia of Mamiffer recorded piano and vocal demos in her home on Vashon Island when winter storms would knock out all the power on her property. Maybe they were going to turn into Mamiffer songs. Maybe they were just little creative exercises. But after being tucked away for a couple of years, Coloccia dug up the songs and released them under the moniker Mára. Try and listen to ‘Love and Infinity’ and not tear up.

Mount Eerie – Sauna
Phil Elverum’s work has always been an exploration of music that operates on the periphery of pop culture. And yet these eclectic elements always somehow make sense within the context of his soft-spoken experimental folk music. Sauna is a particularly diverse record for Elverum, with nods to drone, black metal, and Terry Riley-esque arpeggios all sitting nicely together.

Napalm Death – Apex Predator – Easy Meat
I stopped following Napalm Death after their 1996 album Diatribes. But I checked out Apex Predator on a whim and was hooked right away. I guess I thought Napalm Death had settled into some fairly safe mid-tempo territory back in the mid-90s, but Apex Predator sounds like the kind of vicious, discordant stuff that could’ve found a home on Hydra Head. Brutal and smart.

Native North America (Volume 1): Aboriginal Folk, Rock, and Country 1966–1985
Back when Myspace was still the primary way musicians were presenting themselves on the internet, I used to investigate bands based on their location. I remember wondering if there were bands in Greenland, and, sure enough, there were a handful of young’uns with electric guitars cranking out some really weird permutation of rock music out in the coastal towns with names I couldn’t pronounce. I’ve always been intrigued by bands that come out of remote or isolated regions. What kind of sound comes out of those cultural bubbles? So when I stumbled across this vinyl boxset compilation, I was intrigued. What exactly was going on in the northernmost inhabited areas of North America? Turns out, there was a lot of Neil Young and CCR worship. But there was also some gloriously sloppy garage rock by some Inuit kids in a band called Sugluk, some devastatingly sad protest music from Willie Dunn, some kitschy surf rock from The Chieftones, and a slew of other strange variants on pop culture. The opening track by Willie Dunn, ‘I Pity The Country’ is worth the cost of the collection alone.

Royal Headache – High
Good songs. No frills. These guys sound like someone else. Maybe it’s The Small Faces? I dunno. I’ve never really delved too deep into The Small Faces catalog, but whenever I hear High, I feel like I’m listening to a classic record from yesteryear. I feel like I should have a really perfect reference point for this band. But they’re not flashy enough for a Stones comparison. They’re more gritty than The Kinks. Maybe that’s what these guys were trying to do—they were trying to fill that gap in rock history, before punk slathered everything in distortion but after all those soulful garage bands started slashing up their speakers.

Thee Oh Sees – Mutilator Defeated At Last
I included this mainly because I think ‘Web’ is one of the best songs of 2015. I mean, the whole record is great, but they could’ve rocked that krautrock beat and psych guitar lead for an entire side of the LP and I would’ve been totally fine with it.

Turnstile – Nonstop Feeling
I should not like this record. Imagine a combination of Snapcase, 311, Gorilla Biscuits, maybe even a little gloomy western twang on ‘Love Lasso’, and filter it through 80s thrash metal production. Then slap some artwork that looks like a Spin Doctors demo on it. It’s so absurd that I kept listening to it. I couldn’t figure it out. What were these kids trying to do? What were they listening to and why did they think these sounds worked together? Granted, there are a few moments where it doesn’t work (I can’t handle the 311 moments in ‘Can’t Deny It’), but as a whole Nonstop Feeling sounds like a bunch of kids who didn’t care what was cool and made something genuinely interesting out of their disparate interests.

Xibalba – Tierra Y Libertad
It sounds like Covenant–era Morbid Angel decided to form a hardcore band. So good.

Wilco – Star Wars
When you’re a band that’s been around as long as Wilco, and you have those records that have entered into the canon of classics, it can be tricky to write a new album that can rival all the warm fuzzy feelings we’ve attached to Summerteeth or Yankee Hotel Foxtrot or A Ghost Is Born. So forget that those records exist for a moment. Now put Star Wars on. Give it a few spins. See? It’s an amazing record. Stick with it long enough and you’ll get all those warm fuzzy feelings whenever you hear ‘Taste The Ceiling’ or ‘Where Do I Begin’ or ‘Magnetized’.

Noiseweek: Tours and Reunions, Le Guess Who?, Miles Brown, Iommi and More

Friday, December 4th, 2015

The sights, sounds and words of the week in noise.


It’s one of those so-crazy-it-has-to-work ideas: British grind legends Napalm Death, Washington sludge pioneers The Melvins and Japanese noise weirdos Melt-Banana teaming up for a six-week, 35-date North America tour, fittingly named the Savage Imperial Death March. The latest iteration of The Melvins will feature Steven McDonald (Redd Kross, OFF!) on bass, with a planned 10? War Pussy in the works ahead of the tour. King Buzzo and Napalm Death’s Shane Embury and Danny Herrera have previously collaborated as Venomous Concept – who’ve just released a new single from forthcoming LP Kick Me Silly; VC3, though without Buzz in the band this time around. Got all that? Good.


With the trademark dysfunction for which they were often known, Texas post-hardcore giants At The Drive In are reportedly reforming for Rock On The Range festival in Columbus, Ohio in May 2016, though original member Jim Ward claims the line-up announcement is the first he’s heard of it. He ran a similar line prior to ATDI’s previous reunion for Coachella in 2012, so there’s hope yet.


A cavalcade of punk icons have pledged support of US presidential candidate Bernie Sanders, with Jello Biafra, Wayne Kramer and Mike Watt all endorsing the the self-proclaimed socialist candidate. A lengthy list of ‘artists and cultural leaders’ have come out in support of the plain-speaking Vermont senator, whose policy platform includes an end to the federal prohibition of marijuana, fairer income distribution and a less-trigger happy US foreign policy agenda. With policies like that, it’s clear the Democrats and US media will never let him get elected, but it’s a nice idea.


Finally, Radio Adelaide – Australia’s oldest community radio station – is seeking support in the form of a petition, after news that licensee the University of Adelaide is considering selling or closing the station. The decision comes after the university sold the CBD property that houses Radio Adelaide’s studios. Show your support by heading to #SaveRadAd


Le Guess Who? Proves That Experimental Music Doesn’t Have To Be Lofty And Joyless | Fact Mag

“The most refreshing thing about Le Guess Who? is how it gives a platform to more experimental strains of music without any of the associated loftiness. Faust were first to marry a challenging approach with humour. Sure, their sound was a heavy, delirious mix of magnificent acoustics punctured by industrial crashes, gas canisters and hurdy-gurdies, but Jean-Hervé Peron was yelling, “Pinochet! Stalin! Kartoffelsalat!” and three women were seated front-and-centre stage, nonchalantly knitting for the entire set.”

The Essence And The Purity: Rob Halford Of Judas Priest’s Favourite LPs | The Quietus

“For over 40 years, Rob Halford has been one of the most singular figures to emerge from the metal scene, and while some of his contemporaries have struggled to age gracefully, Halford is still out-performing many singers a quarter of his age, and his recorded output is as vital now as it has ever been.”

The Sober Proprietor Of A Bar On Avenue B | New York Times
“He started out as a roadie, which eventually turned into a job singing for the Dictators, in 1975. After the band disbanded in the early ’80s, Mr. Manitoba was part of various groups that included various iterations of The Dictators. In the early ’90s, he found himself driving a cab, addicted to heroin. He attended meetings, got clean and ripped up the hack license.”


Miles Brown – ‘Space Cadet’

The first taste of The Night Terrors’ theremin genius Brown’s forthcoming solo debut LP Séance Fiction blends Carpenter-esque gloom with 80s synth-pop sensibilities.

The Rival Mob – ‘Speak With Power’

Boston’s The Rival Mob carrying the mantle of classic Clevo/NYHC on this tape release being put out by Adelaide’s Nopatience Records.


Tommy Iommi talks about his origins as a guitarist and what keeps him on stage after taking out the Q/Gibson Les Paul Guitar Award back a little while ago.

Peaches – ‘Rub’

Probably the most NSFW video since Rammstein’s ‘Pussy’. Enter at your own risk.

Peaches — Rub (Uncensored) from Peaches on Vimeo.

Anger Management: Napalm Death

Wednesday, January 14th, 2015

Every fortnight, we check in with all things heavy on RTRFM’s Critical Mass show.

Where most bands at this phase of their careers (33 years, not out) tend to mature into writing “safe” albums, Napalm Death continue to stay relevant in the world of politically-infused death metal. Apex Predator: Easy Meat is their 15th full length album and follow-up to 2012’s excellent Utilitarian.

AP:EM seethes with an unrelenting voraciousness, reflecting a band who are still pissed off and far from throwing in the towel. Barney’s throaty vocals are as unnerving as ever and Danny’s drumming effortlessly switches from thrashing, to blasting, to supporting beats when the guitars need to do the talking. It’s unapologetic death metal reminiscent of the 90s, yet still modern sounding and refreshing to hear a band of this vintage putting out such consistently great material every few years.

Napalm Death have an uncanny ability to adhere to the musical formula they are known for, yet still put out songs with unpredictable structures, altered tempos and varying vocal styles. There are a few highlights littered throughout; “How the Years Condemn” has a thrash beat throughout, with a powerful chorus complete with “gang” vocals via a Barney/Mitch combo. “Cesspits” starts out as a fairly mid-tempo effort, until about halfway through when it ramps up to a full-on blast beat assault.

While they are arguably not at the top of their respective food chain (as the album title suggests), they’d still give the king of the jungle a hell of a contest.

For fans of Asphyx, Terrorizer, Repulsion, Bolt Thrower.

Critical Mass airs every Wednesday from 9PM (GMT+8) on RTR FM 92.1 in Perth, Australia.