On A New Plane of Existence
Napalm Death
by: Adrian Bromley
A lot can be said about Napalm Death's impact in our world of extreme music. From their beginning, Napalm Death has managed to make a name for themselves while successfully fusing punk, metal and crust into a genre all their own: grindcore. Napalm Death has not only sculpted their music several times over, but have successfully managed to inscribe their moniker up there with the rest of the great genre setting bands.

Since the band's early beginning circa 1981/82 with founding members Justin Broadrick on guitar, drummer Rat, and bassist Nick Bullen, the band has shapeshifted and metamorphosized. Lineups have changed numerous times, other groups have spawned from the ashes of previous incarnations (Bill Steer & Carcass, Lee Dorrian & Cathedral, Justin Broadrick & Godflesh) and yet the band brought to life their own music genre called grindcore, with furious blast beats, crushing riffs, pounding bass lines, and growls of anger and hatred.

In and amongst all of the chaos brewing within Napalm Death, the band released classic grindcore and even traditional death metal albums such as 1987's _Scum_, _From Enslavement To Obliteration_ (1989) and then the band's calling card of perfection, _Mentally Murdered_. As the 90s came about, the band crumbled, becoming divided with both Carcass and Cathedral taking shape. Ex-Benediction vocalist Mark "Barney" Greenway stepped in and helped restructure the band to form its now present line-up, guitarists Mitch Harris and Jesse Pintado, drummer Danny Herrera and bassist Shane Embury.

From that point on the band would remain intact unleashing several albums: _Harmony Corruption_ (1990), _Utopia Banished_ (1992) and 1994's _Fear, Emptiness, Despair_. Now in 1996, Napalm Death are on the war path, throwing our way two releases in a matter of seven weeks, being both the _Greed Killing_ EP and the band's 1996 full length: _Diatribes_.

On the phone from Earache Records' head office in New York, guitarist Mitch Harris is more than excited about all of the push for their latest effort. "I guess the label is trying to build up the release," he says about the amount of press the band is receiving, "The label wanted to do a big promotion thing for the album."

But before any Napalm Death fan can be subjected to the new material, an appetizer in the form of _Greed Killing_ has been served up piping hot. A collection of both live material and two samples of _Diatribes_ tracks, Harris explains the band's reasoning behind releasing the EP prior to the full length record. "The label thought that it would be a good idea to put it out and we said it should be put out cheaply like a single. Plus give the fans who buy the record six tracks which would include a few bonus tracks that won't be on the record." He adds, "In the past most of Napalm Death's stuff has been rushed. We took our time with this record and the label has been very much involved making it apparent that we have a new release coming out. I mean in the past we have been out on tour and nobody even knows that we had an album out," says Harris somewhat annoyed.

The coming year will be a busy year for the band as they plan to embark on an extensive world tour. Explains Harris, "We will do a mini-tour with the EP and then go out for a full-blown tour with the new album. We will be going to Europe, North America, Australia, Japan and South America. There are tons of places we haven't been to and we hope to get to those places."

About the last year or so following the _Fear, Emptiness, Despair_ tour he says, "It has been a slow year for us waiting for the album to be released and we just want to get out. We are looking forward to seeing reactions and see what is really happening with the band. Yeah we are excited!" Any downsides to touring? "It is kind of hard to be too excited about doing the same tour, same venues, same shit, but as long as there are people there that are excited then we are excited. If no one is excited then it is hard to pretend that everything is going great."

One question is on the top of my head throughout the interview: With _Diatribes_ will the band be able to carry on with their sound and direction, living up to their past? "So far we have been very open-minded with what we did. We feel we have done something different and that has worked in our favor. As far as people being into it, seeing that people have grown out of that scene [metal], I think they were expecting the same old shit or something completely different. I think we got a fresher sound with this album. The way we do it is, every time out we try to break new ground on each album. We aren't trying to compete with the last album, rather forgetting about the last album and focus on the album at hand. To step forward," he says.

"As long as we feel we have moved on with this album then we feel like we have achieved a successful development. You are always going to get mixed reactions. I mean one person's favorite album is _Harmony Corruption_ and someone's is _Utopia Banished_. Ours is the record that we just did. You never know what people are going to be into so you just incorporate into your sound what you are into so you enjoy your music rather than worrying about what others think. If there is anything in the back of your head worrying about what others are thinking, then you are never going to grow. You will become stagnant."

And what if the band loses fans? "If we do then they are just not ready to accept what has to be done to survive the fuckin' 90's," says Harris defiantly. "Everyone has their own opinions but if they sit and listen, paying attention to the album, then they will find what they are looking for in the band. I guess people come and go. Some people prefer the older stuff as I said before, and then there are people that dig the new stuff. You have to realize that we are in control of the band. If somebody doesn't like what the band is doing then it is their problem. I mean if they like one record better than the other one then they will always have that record to listen to right?"

The topic turns to the making of the record and what the band tried to accomplish this time around with _Diatribes_. Does Harris think that after so many different directions and stylistic changes that music comes a lot easier? "Yes," he responds, "somehow on the last record we opened a lot of doors and this record came really naturally. From _Utopia Banished_ it was hard to write a record that was radically different. But now that we opened those doors it has become easier and it allows us to focus on what we have done and not focus on the fact that we just did an album that was fast, fast, fast stuff. In a way we are having a much more free feeling and that is why it is coming easier for us. The last album was somehow more critical for us and we were trying to figure out how we were going to move on from there."

Does that mean the band is trying to become more commercially accessible with the new album? Harris answers, "We are trying to be more innovative with our music rather than relying on the stuff that we did in the past. The new stuff has more hooks." Indulging the following bits of info he says, "You learn from playing live what the crowds get into and we did stuff that would be great in a live situation. To get a reaction."

In some form or another, defending the band's growth into sounding a bit more approachable he says, "This wasn't done to attract more people. It was done to further our sound; to look into our future so we can gradually change into another style of music." He adds, "I think the way we have moved on doesn't put us into that death metal category and with what we are doing it puts us more into what is going on right now. It is a mixture of more modern influences rather than just having a limited death metal sound."

Continuing on the sound of the new album he says, "We also wanted to put more guitar noise, more guitar lines that cross over melodies with a heavy riff. We tried to do it on the last album but we found that it takes a couple of records to be able to pull that off and work it out in order to achieve what you want. I think we achieved what we wanted to do but I think there is more room for noise on top of things."

So are there any secrets to how Napalm Death has managed to be able to go from style to style so effortlessly? Are they wary of things to avoid? "I have always looked at the music history with the bands that used to be killer and all of a sudden they try a few things and it goes way off with what they have done before. They sort of wreck everything they have done before that album. I guess some bands grow into different music styles and change whereas, we have tried to mix in what we are into nowadays with what we have done and try to better it for our own personal satisfaction." He goes on to say, "By looking at how bad bands have fucked it up we have always tried to avoid doing that. If we are into something different then we will do a different band. You gotta draw the line somewhere and realize what you are, where you came from and where you want to go."

(article submitted 17/1/1996)


CHATS
1/30/2009 J Smit Napalm Death: Silence the Tyrants
9/12/2006 J Smit Napalm Death: Blunt Against the Cutting Edge
5/13/2005 J Smit Napalm Death: Cause for Alarm
1/10/2001 P Schwarz Napalm Death: Killing Is the Business of Their Enemy
ALBUMS
1/23/2009 J Smit 10 Napalm Death - Time Waits for No Slave
8/22/2006 J Smit 9 Napalm Death - Smear Campaign
4/7/2005 J Smit 9.5 Napalm Death - The Code Is Red... Long Live the Code
7/29/2004 J Smit 8 Napalm Death - Leaders Not Followers 2
6/23/2003 J Smit 9 Napalm Death - Order of the Leech
11/20/2000 P Schwarz 9.5 Napalm Death - Enemy of the Music Business
5/19/1999 A Bromley 8 Napalm Death - Words From the Exit Wound
9/1/1998 A Wasylyk 8 Napalm Death - Bootlegged in Japan
5/13/1997 A Bromley 8 Napalm Death - Inside the Torn Apart
2/5/1997 A Bromley 8 Napalm Death - Breed To Breathe
12/13/1995 G Filicetti 8 Napalm Death - Greed Killing
GIGS
1/16/1999 P Azevedo Cradle of Filth / Napalm Death / Borknagar The Smell of Napalm in the Dark
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