NAPALM DEATH — Throes of Joy in the Jaws of Defeatism (review)

NAPALM DEATH — Throes of Joy in the Jaws of Defeatism album cover Album · 2020 · Grindcore Buy this album from MMA partners
5/5 ·
Vim Fuego
OK, here’s the tl;dr on Napalm Death’s new album:

1. It’s still heavy, harsh shit.

2. It still sounds mostly the same as other Napalm Death records.

3. There’s some little bits that sound a bit different to other Napalm Death records.

4. This is really fucking good!

If you have a slightly longer attention span than the “too long; didn’t read” crowd, here’s a few more thoughts on “Throes of Joy in the Jaws of Defeatism”.

If you’re a Napalm Death fan, when was the last time the band genuinely surprised you? For most, it’s probably the first time you ever heard the band. But also if you’re a Napalm Death fan, can you honestly say that any two albums sound the same? There will be a few listeners who will say yes, but observe: death metal influence creeping in to “Harmony Corruption”, massive grooves on “Inside The Torn Apart”, the rediscovery of the band’s hardcore roots with “Leaders, Not Followers”.

That’s the essence of Napalm Death’s longevity. It’s not so much change for change’s sake, but the incorporation of new influences to combine with the band’s existing sound to evolve slowly to something new. This time, it seems there is a touch of alternative thrown into the mix. No, not alternative rock which seemed edgy for about 10 minutes in the 1990s, but the alternative to alternative, Harsh, heavy, and properly original, like Swans and Neurosis. Check the evidence.

“Fuck The Factoid” blasts past almost before you’ve noticed. The familiar wall of noise smacks you in the face as you would hope. Most prominent in this song, Danny Herrera still smashes the hell out of the drum kit in ways which shouldn’t be humanly possible. Shane Embury’s blown-to-bits bass is more visible on this album than in previous releases. Check his gargantuan intro to “Backlash Just Because”. The old school hardcore influence is still floating near the top. “That Curse of Being in Thrall” has abundant hardcore riffs and blastbeats, and then slams into a thunderous doom/death riff.

“Contagion” has hints of Necroticism-era Carcass in the guitar sound, but it has Barney’s dry bark layered over it, and an almost Neurosis-ish discordant drone to the chorus. Embury pulls off another vicious bass intro to “Joie De Ne Pas Vivre”, an almost otherworldly demonic sounding song with a Godflesh/Swans industrial dissonance to it.

“Invigorating Clutch” is an unabating robotic rockcrusher of a song, reminiscent of Monotheist-era Celtic Frost. No one else creates riffs like Mitch Harris – simple in the “why-didn’t-I-think-of-that?” vein, yet nobody else has thought of it.

There are so many references to different bands and genres which could be thrown in here that it makes your mind spin, but it’s all still Napalm Death to the (grind)core. There are subtleties and little flourishes which won’t be picked up on a first listen, and it’s all bathed in glorious stentorian noise.

Unlike “Apex Predator”, which was a more demanding and difficult listen, “Throes Of Joy In The Jaws Of Defeatism” could be presented to someone not familiar with Napalm Death as an introduction to the band. And for those already familiar with then band, it’s quickly obvious that even for a band well into it’s fourth decade of existence, Napalm Death is still producing music as strong and vital as at any time in the band’s long and celebrated career.
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Vim Fuego wrote:
26 days ago
It's probably not far off that for me too.
Tupan wrote:
26 days ago
Probably my album of the year. I was impressed by the bass, so audible!
Nightfly wrote:
28 days ago
I've only had a quick listen to this so far but was imrpessed with what I heard, enough so to add it to my wants list.
UMUR wrote:
28 days ago
Well they surprised me when they returned to a more grindcore oriented sound on Enemy of the Music Business.

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