The Code Is Red... Long Live the Code
Still grinding after all these years
It’s hard to believe that the first version of Napalm Death started back in 1981! Since those early days as a three piece punk more so than metal band, their line-up has undergone some changes (most of which occurred during those formative years) and as you would expect, they have also evolved musically. It’s been three years since their last studio effort, 2002’s Order Of The Leech, which was also their last release as a five piece after the firing of long time guitarist Jesse Pintado (ex Terrorizer).
Since their inception, we’ve seen this Birmingham (U.K.) based act evolve from their genre defining grindcore origins with the release of Scum (1987) to the death metal influenced Harmony Corruption (1990) through to the more groove oriented Diatribes (1996) and more recently the aforementioned Order Of The Leech. Looking back at Order Of The Leech, it’s predecessor Enemy Of The Music Business and now at their latest effort, The Code Is Red…Long Live The Code, it’s evident that Napalm Death are returning more to their original roots but at the same time, they are maintaining the essential elements of their entire catalogue that sees them still moving forward and not retracing their own footsteps.
Silence Is Deafening is relentless in the sheer aggression it belts out in true Napalm style. Danny Herrera’s blast beats and the alternate vocal attack of Mark ‘Barney’ Greenway and guitarist Mitch Harris signal in no uncertain terms that Napalm Death are still as strong as ever in 2005. If you still have doubts after the opening track, surely the 52 second fury of Right You Are will put them to rest as will the pummeling Diplomatic Immunity. The title track, named as a pun on the phrase ‘the king is dead, long live the king’ eases off on the gas peddle somewhat but is menacing none the less with the double kick work and downward stepping chord pattern.
Climate Control harkens back to the Diatribes and Inside The Torn Apart days and Instruments Of Persuasion is the first of four tracks to feature guest appearances, something Napalm Death haven’t done since Harmony Corruption. Hatebreed’s Jamey Jasta lends his vocal chords to this one (as well as the frantic paced track Sold Short) and outspoken ex-Dead Kennedy front man Jello Biafra steps up to put his own unique twist on The Great And The Good (which also featured on the Tsunami Benefit split single with The Haunted and Heaven Shall Burn).
All Hail The Grey Dawn loads up with straight forward catchy riffs (by Napalm’s standards) right before Vegetative State comes in sounding like it could have been recorded around the time of 1992’s rendition of Unchallenged Hate. The fury continues with Pay For The Privilege Of Breathing and Pledge Yourself To You, the later of which features guest vocals from Carcass’ Jeff Walker marking his reappearance on the scene for the first time in several years. The only complaint here is that his vocals could have been louder in the mix. More catchy riffs are rife amongst Losers and Striding Purposefully Backwards. Both tracks set the scene for the unexpected dark and moody Morale which applies the anchors and slows the pace right down. It’s still chock full of riffing goodness and layered with Godflesh like vocals before Our Pain Is Their Power closes the album with its eerie, almost horror movie like effects towards the end.
Napalm Death are still doing what they’ve always done and no one that can hold a candle to the either their legendary status or their ability to still lead the pack after so many years. The Code Is Red…Long Live The Code is an all encompassing representation of all the elements that we’ve come to expect from these grindcore pioneers. Completely brutal and 100% essential!