“Scum” by Napalm Death

Not many people would think to compare Grindcore genre figureheads Napalm Death to legendary Classical-music experimenter John Cage, but they do have something in common. John Cage is best known, outside of Classical Avant-Garde circles, for his silence-as-music stunt 4’33”, which leads much of the general public to dismiss him as a mere gimmick musician despite his distinguished body of work as an actual composer. Napalm Death are best known, outside of Extreme Metal circles, for their record-breaking one-second-long song “You Suffer”, which leads much of the general public to dismiss them as a mere gimmick band despite their distinguished body of work as actual musicians. This song is much more representative of Napalm Death’s usual style…it may be abrasive, but it’s real music, and far more sophisticated than most people think of Grindcore as being, with a highly textured sonic background of grinding guitars and brutal drumming that is genuinely interesting as pure sound. And while the lyrics, as on much of this band’s work, may be a bit heavy-handed and clumsy, at least they’re actually attempting to deal with serious subject matter and be constructive rather than merely shocking like so many Extreme Metal bands, and there is a certain primal power to their earnest simplicity. The other Grindcore band whose name is likely to be known by the general public, the notorious Anal Cunt, have perpetuated the stereotype that the genre as a whole is little more than a flippant joke, and the notoriety of “You Suffer” doesn’t really help refute that perception, but Napalm Death are nonetheless the standard-bearers of Grindcore as a legitimate musical genre, and songs like this prove that they deserve more respect than they are generally given.

Verdict: Good.

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