Monday, April 21, 2014

Napalm Death - Scum (1987)

I first bought this way back in the late '80's at 'Record Breaker' (R.I.P.) in Meriden, CT. It was the pink cassette version. All I know is that the big "thing" in those days was being the fastest! At some point, D.R.I. were the unbridled kings of speed, then of course Slayer with songs such as 'Necrophobic' (probably their fastest to date) bolstering their cause and raising them to mythological levels. When I heard that there was a band called Napalm Death, I knew immediately that they were going to kick my fucking face off. I mean, Napalm fucking Death??!! How could you go wrong with a name like that? You couldn't... Just on the strength of the band's name alone I went and vamped a copy of their debut and was immediately blown away.

I always preferred side-B (with Lee Dorrian on vocals and Bill Steer on guitar) as the violence was considerably ramped up. Nothing wrong with side-A and actually after all these years I am rather fond of the occasional listen what with all of the memories it awakens, but the Dorrian/Steer version of Napalm is perhaps the most caustic that ever was and will be. A fact cemented by the band's next album, 'From Enslavement to Obliteration'.

Scum is and will always be a very important album in my life as it was a giant leap forward and away from a lot of the "happy" thrash that I admittedly had a good bit of in my tape collection. It pretty much set me on a one way journey to seek out other extreme releases and my tastes were forever altered from then on. Oddly, Scum is an album that I grew out of fairly quick, at least once I began to discover albums that I considered to be more to my liking such as Deicide's debut, Pestilence 'Consuming Impulse', early Obituary and pretty much the entire Earache catalog in those days. Scum quickly became more of a novelty record. Something you put on to blow your friend's minds with by its sheer velocity and rage. When alone and out for a walk, etc. I found myself craving something a bit less chaotic. I'm probably one of the very few people on Earth who prefers the Greenway/Pintado/Harris era starting from Harmony Corruption and (for me) ending with Inside the Torn Apart. After that album everything just sounded like one long continuous tired retread of the band's early-mid '90's releases.

After the band's sophomore album I couldn't see them going on like that. They gave it one last go with the Mentally Murdered -ep- before Steer and Dorrian flew the coop to pursue wildly different musical paths. Carcass maybe not so different (in the beginning at any rate) but ND would permanently change their sound, style and technique for good after that, essentially becoming a completely different (and in my opinion, better) band.

For what it's worth, Scum is a milestone of anything to be considered "extreme" within the metal genre save for perhaps doom. Every time you hear a blast beat, be it in a black metal song, death metal or grindcore, rest assured that that is the result of the influence of this album. If there was no Napalm there would be no Terrorizer or Morbid Angel and without the latter death metal bands worldwide may very well be relying on the good old "skank" to get their speed across, even to this day. So while I may have grown bored with Scum many moons ago, make no mistake... it is and will always be one of the albums that changed my life.

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