Album #250: Napalm Death – Throes of Joy in the Jaws of Defeatism

  • Released: 2020
  • Origin: Meriden, England
  • Label: Century Media
  • Best Track: Fluxing of the Muscle

Critics often turn their noses up at death metal, but it’s about the only form of metal I have any time for. It still isn’t really for me, but I’d always choose a couple of minutes of thrashing, thundering and bellowing over, say, Guns ‘N Roses fingering away for 15 minutes while Axl Rose disappears up his own arse.

Grindcore pioneers Napalm Death are back with their 16th album, and their first since 2015. I’ve never listened to a Napalm Death album before so thought I’d brace myself and stick this one on.

I’ve got to admit, I groaned when I saw that this thing was 51 minutes long including the bonus tracks. I mean, I thought death metal was short? Plus this is the band that once did a one-second song.

However, I’m quite surprised at the variety on this record. I expected every track to sound like ‘The Curse of Being in Thrall’ and ‘Fluxing of the Muscle’, both of which stand out because of the brutal, breakneck drumming for the chorus.

It’s for the best that not all tracks are like that. Nothing this lot do is exactly melow, but ‘Invigorating Clutch’ is a slower, denser sound. ‘Amoral’ is like something by one of those early 2000s Kerrang! TV bands like Soil or The Union Underground, but better, and bonus track ‘Blissful Myth’ makes me invisage the hardcore punk of Sick of it All and Madball.

My expectations may have been low, but Throes of Joy in the Jaws of Defeatism certainly surpassed them. I hear more than just noise and screaming in what they’re doing here. Even so, I’m not sure I’d be in a hurry to hear it again.

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