Biography : Napalm Death
The newly formed Napalm Death release their first LP Scum. The effect is devastating. The speed, brutality and brevity shock and appall those jaded music critics who think they've heard everything.
The politics are pure Crass. The attitude is total Motorhead. But the noise - the noise is all but indescribable.
Ears prick up all over. Napalm is the first band to emerge from the massive, world-wide fanzines 'n' tapes underground of extreme grind-core and into the mainstream. The effect they will have on dozens of other musical genres will be incalculable. Fifteen years later Napalm Death will have undergone so many line up changes that none of the original members will still be in the band. And popular music will have been changed out of all recognition.
FAST FORWARD - screeeeeeeeeeeeeeeeeeeeeeeee - MOSCOW 1991
The Berlin Wall's been smashed to rubble. Russia embraces pornography, McDonalds and organized crime with gusto. Poverty, disillusionment and chaos follow in capitalism's wake and all over the former Warsaw Pact, kids start seeking out music as bitter, confused and as totally fucked-off as they feel. They find it in Napalm Death.
Napalm Death is backstage at a massive sell-out Moscow show. Out front thousands of pissed off kids in bootleg Napalm Death T-shirts are fighting running battles with baton - wielding militia. A kid walks up to Napalm bassist Shane clutching a tape labeled Hitler.
"You called your band Hitler?" snarls Shane.
"Yes we like Hitler because he was against Communism." babbles the kid. Shane takes the tape, stamps on it, pulls it apart, sticks it down the toilet and flushes. The nazi twat freaks, screams abuse, runs from the room, down a corridor, leaps down a stairwell and SPLAT! - falls to his death. Shame.
Years later Napalm Death run into the band who organized that Moscow gig. They've joined and become spokesmen for a far-right, anti-semitic Russian nationalist party. Napalm say - Hi! And then kick the living crap out of them.
Napalm's cover of the Dead Kennedy's song "Nazi Punks Fuck Off' has sold tens of thousands of copies to date. The band's unrelenting anti-fascist stance has also resulted in several of their American gigs being attacked by sub-human nazi Scum.
REWIND - screeeeeeeeeeeeeeeeeeeeeeee ENGLAND 1989
"I joined this band to fuck people off" says new bassist Shane Embury when Napalm release the mind-shattering From Enslavement To Obliteration.
"Uh, 54 tracks on one album!!?" gasp the critics "And some of these so-called 'songs' are only a few seconds long! Are you mad!? Are you like TOTALLY FUCKING INSANE!?!?"
The answer quite clearly is - yes. Musically speaking Napalm Death are madder than a box of tap-dancing frogs munching jam and crackers while barking out their 47 times- table backwards in Swahili ie. very mad. OFFICIAL!.
Some embrace Enslavementt... as the ultimate, illogical conclusion of Heavy Metal. Others see it as blasphemy.
The world at large is utterly confused. Is Napalm Death ultra-intellectual avant-garde art-terrorists? Is it all some weird, sick, anti-musical joke? Napalm themselves are bemused by all the attention. They know what they are. They know where they've come from - from the tape-swapping, fanzine scribbling, pre-internet global web of DIY, anti-music biz underground metal scene. But now everyone wants a piece of them.
Accusations of "sell-out" inevitably result. A group of ultra-extreme anarchovegan grind-core munchkins in Bradford, England declare a punk-fatwah against Napalm.
MEANWHILE IN NEW YORK...
Respected avant-garde musician John Zorn is working hard on the music for a tribute concert to jazz legend John Coltrane. Then he hears Napalm Death - and bins everything. This, he realizes, is the real cutting edge, the genuine avant garde, music that is as out there and revolutionary as modern jazz WAS in the 1940's and 50's. He trains his musicians to ape (as best they can) the blistering, cranium-smashing controlled chaos of the Napalm Death sound.
When the John Coltrane tribute concert is finally staged the audience reaction is mixed. Some of the stuffed-shirt jazz bores scream "FUCKING WHAT!?" and run from the theatre with their hands over their ears. Others scream even less articulate abuse and hurl chairs at the stage. They can't handle it, the wankers.
Napalm Death have this effect on some people.
Mr Zorn then teams up with Napalm's Mick Harris to form the legendary grind -core/jazz combo PAINKILLER. They make two astounding albums - 'Guts Of A Virgin' and 'Buried Secrets'.
FAST FORWARD - screeeeeeeeeeeeeeeeeeeeeeeee SOUTH AFRICA 1993 With backing from the ANC vocalist Barney goes over first, teaching childrens workshops. When the rest of the band joins him, they're attacked by white supremacist wearing brown shirts and swastika armbands.
HANG ON - THIS IS GETTING CONFUSING! What's the problem?
WELL - ISN'T THIS MEANT TO BE, LIKE, A BAND BIOGRAPHY? WHERE ARE ALL THE REALLY INTERESTING NAMES, DATES AND PLACES? Ok trainspotter, take a deep breath......
By the time Napalm release Scum (1987) the band have already undergone many line up changes and the team sheet reads : MICK HARRIS (drums), JUSTIN BROADWICK (guitar), and NICK BULLEN (bass / vocals).
But by the time side 2 of Scum is being recorded, Mr Broadwick buggers of to join Head Of David (and, later Godflesh) and is replaced by BILL STEER. Mr Bullen is replaced by JIM WHITELY and LEE DORRIAN takes over on vocals.
UH, HANG ON! THAT'S LIKE A TOTALLY NEW BAND! THAT'S INSANE! Oh it gets madder. In 1987 Mr Whitely leaves and is replaced by bassist SHANE EMBURY. This line-up records two Peel sessions, contributes to several extreme noise compilations, releases the infamous Napalm/SOB split flexi, tours like bastards and, in August 1989, releases From Enslavement To Obliteration and, a bit later, the 6-track 12" Mentally Murdered.
Then after touring Japan and making their legendary appearance on BBC 2's 'Arena-Heavy Metal Special' (in which Tom Araya of Slayer's claim that music just can't get any heavier or faster than Slayer is followed by a staggering burst of Napalm Death which makes Araya look like a total twat),the band fall apart - AGAIN!
Dorrian leaves (later joining Cathedral) and so does Steer (ending up in Carcass). Mark 'Barney' GREENWAY (ex-Benediction) comes in on vocals and guitarist JESSE PINTADO joins from Terrorizer. The band completes the UK and European Grindcrusher Tour alongside Bolt Thrower, Carcass and Morbid Angel and play their first American show and...
That's right, guitarist MITCH HARRIS joins from Righteous Pigs and, amazingly, no one leaves. This line up records the Harmony Corruption LP and the suffer the children 12" and signals the band's change in emphasis to the Death Metal style.
Then they recorded four new tracks for the Mass Appeal Madness EP which is so fucking heavy that the master tape has to be tethered to four massive hydrogen-filled weather balloons to stop it sinking down through the earth's crust and destroying all life on the planet.
And then -guess what? Yes in 1992, after Napalm tour themselves into the ground, Mick Harris leaves to form the ambient dub outfit Scorn. Enter DANNY HERRERA, whose first live gig is in front of 3,000 fans in Germany. An extensive US tour with Sepultura, Sacred Reich and Sick Of It All follows and then Napalm play two utterly deranged, 7,000 crazed maniac- punter shows in Moscow.
And then: * They released the 4th (and even more intense) album, Utopia Banished. * Toured Europe and the US as part of the Campaign For Musical Destruction. * Played South Africa. * Released the album Fear Emptiness Despair * And greed killing and Diatribes (we're up to 1996 now, try and keep up). * Toured Europe, America, Australia and Japan and then.....
SOMEONE ELSE LEFT THE BAND, RIGHT? How did you guess? In November 1996 Mark 'Barney' Greenway leaves to be replaced with Extreme Noise Terror's PHIL VANE. AND?
In January 1997, during the recording of the inside the torn apart LP, Mr. Vane leaves to be replaced by, er, Mark 'Barney' GREENWAY.
MY BRAIN HURTS! Yes, reading a Napalm Death bio is a little like sticking your head in the bass bin at a Napalm Death live show, isn't it? Talking of which, in 1998 the band also released a devastating live set on the LP Bootlegged In Japan and a studio album charmingly entitled Words from the exit wound.
IS THAT IT? Are you kidding?. The Napalm Death covers EP Leaders Not Followers (their first release for Relapse Records) - featuring Napalm's own unique takes on a collection of devastatingly brutal and staggering eclectic tracks from the underground that spawned them is already in the can. And in 2000 the band are planning to tour Vietnam. That's Napalm Death. The year 2000. In Vietnam. Think about it.
Napalm Death is THE MOST INFLUENTIAL BAND IN EXSISTENCE. Fact! They are at THE EXTREME CUTTING EDGE OF MUSIC. Fact! and THEY ARE STILL SO MOTHERANDFATHERFUCKING HEAVY THAT THEY MAKE MOST ALL OF THE ALLEGED COMPETITION SOUND LIKE TINY MICE PLAYING BELLE AND SEBASTIAN TUNES. Fact!
Source: Label Officiel: http://www.relapse.com