Now at the sixteenth album in their career, grindcore pioneers Napalm Death have not only blazed a trail, they’ve always managed to evolve their sound with the times without sacrificing everything that’s made them extreme metal royalty. That’s mightily impressive for a band nearly 40 years into their existence.
Even by their high standards, they could be on a hot streak with their latest offering, ‘Throes Of Joy In The Jaws Of Defeatism’. The follow-up to 2015’s acclaimed ‘Apex Predator – Easy Meat’, this release continues the latter record’s crushing but varied assault on the senses.
We’re straight in at full-pelt with ‘Fuck The Factoid’, which manages to outdo itself in chaos and freneticism as it progresses. ‘That Curse Of Being In Thrall’ also keeps the intensity at high pace, but ‘Contagion’ is the first real highlight, with a main hook that is more than just surface level brutality, and it’s not the first time that they’ll switch things up.
‘Joie De Ne Pas Vivre’ deals in plenty of atmosphere, but ‘Invigorating Clutch’ might be the best song on the record. With a simple doom riff and tribal drumming, it manages to be more impactful than everything else. When you’re used to mainstay bands remaining content with past glories and coasting, the fact that Napalm Death still sound so full of life and, most importantly, full of righteous anger and indignation is something to treasure.
‘Fluxing Of The Muscle’ also has bone-crushing riffs alongside their signature maelstrom, but another switch-up is to follow. ‘Amoral’ sounds closer to post-punk than anything else on here, and even when they provide the closest thing to a sing-along chorus, there’s still a clear sense of frantic urgency.
And, for the title-track, we have another highlight. There are vocal hooks and craftsmanship on a song that is on a surface level very intense and chaotic, but it’s so expertly delivered at the same time.
For the final track, we have an almost industrial tunnel of noise. ‘A Bellyful Of Salt And Spleen’ is a brooding number that brings their tension and atmosphere right to the forefront.
An album that is remarkably consistent and never lets up once, ‘Throes Of Joy In The Jaws Of Defeatism’ is one of many reminders why Napalm Death are one of the most important bands the UK has ever produced.