Napalm Death, "The Code is Red...Long Live the Code"
I can’t believe I’ve been listening to this band since… wow… right after I graduated from high school, which was damn nearly twenty years ago. So here we have it, the latest from Mitch Harris (guitar), the irrepressible Barney Greenway (vocals), Shane Embury (bass) and Danny Herrera (drums), the fourteenth album from the venerable grind masters Napalm Death.
Band members come and go… trends rise and fall… some are born, some die… but Napalm Death just keeps on delivering album after album of quality grind. The songs are a little longer than they used to be but nothing of epic proportions. And as much as I hate to use the word melody when describing a Napalm Death album, I have to admit there’s a bit of that sprinkled about. Barney sounds… well, like Barney. The addition of some guest vocalists (Jello Biafra, Jamey Jasta, Jeff Walker) really doesn’t have much of an impact on the songs other than making me prick up my ears when I hear someone grunting who’s not Barney. Mitch’s guitar playing continues to be pummeling, razor tipped, crushing… in fact, the riffs are flowing out of him as well as ever, but there is a distinct lack of soloing, which might put some people off but has never bothered me… Napalm Death aren’t exactly a platform for shredders to trot out their latest arpeggio finger ballet. Drums and bass are aptly handled, Danny and Shane locked in tight, like on “The Great and the Good”, wherein Shane even lets loose with a cool breakdown. Hell they even slow it down for a bit of groovy grind on “Morale”.
Playing ultra-aggressive music for this long is a feat in and of itself. I know the band as undergone extensive changes over the years, but the idea behind Napalm Death has never cooled off and continues to be a force to be reckoned with. The fifteen songs on “The Code is Red… Long Live the Code” fit right in with the rest of the catalogue. And yeah, this is unabashedly politically charged, as you can tell from the heavily ironic title; and if you’ve been paying attention at all over the years, you know that Napalm Death has never been afraid to say it like they see it.
Fast, brutal, uncompromised… even occasionally melodic and grooving… that’s a recipe for yet another solid outing from these guys. If you liked the last two studio albums (“Order of the Leech” and “Enemy of the Music Business”) you’ll have no quibbles with this one. If you've only heard of Napalm Death and want to give them a try, I’d say this is as good a place as any to start. If you dig ass-kicking, face ripping ear grind, well then crank it up and let it rip. Another winner from a band long in the tooth but still sharp of fang.
The Code is Red... Long Live the Code