Album Review: Napalm Death – Coded Smears and More Uncommon Slurs

What intro would do Napalm Death real justice? Few bands have the longevity, prolific output and legacy of these Brummie grinders. Having laid waste to all before them over a 30+ year career, the band continue to surprise and set the bar for extreme music globally as their most recent LP, the excellent and ever relevant Apex Predator- Easy Meat, showed.

Not content with leaving fans to wait for a new full length album they offer up Coded Smears and Uncommon Slurs, a special release containing a mammoth 31 tracks of previously unreleased gems and covers spanning the period 2004-2016.

There’s a lot to get your teeth into on this double album and most of the unreleased stuff would easily make it onto most bands A-lists. For me, and many a fan I am sure, what has made Napalm Death so enduring is their ability to balance all out grinding speed and aggression with some of catchiest and funkiest riffs ever penned. All this while wearing their collective social hearts on their sleeves and tackling some of society’s real ills head on in an eloquent and at times sarcastic manner. This approach really drives home their message.

On the strength of the first couple of listens, Coded Smears… carries on the mantle from recent releases. There’s enough quality on here to make most band’s A-lists. Tracks like “It Failed To Explode”, “Losers”, and “Paracide” have all the aforementioned hallmarks we have come to cherish. “Call that an Option?”, a bonus track from 2006’s Smear Campaign is an absolute lesson in mid-tempo grind and groove and left me scratching my head as to why it didn’t made the main cut. These classic Napalm touches resonate throughout the record and will go down as easy meat, leaving all but the most fickle sated, until the guys release a new full length studio effort.

However, it’s where the band varies the sonic menu that things get even more interesting. “Phonetics for the Stupefied” is a great example with its thrashy intro and is a real fist pumper. Another is “Clouds Of Cancer/ Victims Of Ignorance”, a bonus track from Apex Predator, which lulls the listener with a classical piano intro before pummelling with a scum-esque volley – Napalm Death at their juxta-positive best! A couple of covers are also given a welcome outing, in particular the Cardiacs “To Go off and Things” stands out as a glorious bass driven stomp and is the second time the band have released it, the first in 2013 where all revenues generated were donated to Cardiac’s lead singer Tim Smith who sadly suffered a catastrophic brain injury in 2008. A lovely human touch against the ferocity and anger of the music.

In addition to a savage touring schedule over recent years, Coded Smears… serves as a useful reminder, if anyone needed, that Napalm Death are still here and as brutal and relevant as ever. Bring on the new album, guys…

Coded Smears and Uncommon Slurs is out 30th March on Century Media

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