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Criminally Slept-On Rewind: Napalm Death

Posted by on December 3, 2015

criminallysleptonIn Criminally Slept-On, Schuler Benson takes a look at some of the most underrated tracks from his favorite prolific bands’ back catalogs.

I’m taking a little break from Criminally Slept-On this week while I wrap up one of the busiest times of my year… as well as prepare my Metal Insider top picks for 2015. So the column’s doing a little throwback this week. Here’s a look back at one of the first pieces I wrote in this series. Let’s talk Napalm fucking Death.

While there are a ton of Napalm Death LP tracks that just don’t get a fair shake, proving it is a tough nut to crack. I’m not gonna try to tell you “Dementia Access” deserves more play than “World Keeps Turning,” or to argue with you about whether or not Words From The Exit Wound really does have some groundbreaking, stand-out stuff on it. What I will do, however, is go to bat for a handful of choice selections from Napalm Death’s non-album treasure trove.

The band’s latest LP, the impeccable Apex Predator – Easy Meat, blew me away back at the first of the year, and its spectacular bonus edition cuts made me think back on all the sweet shit Napalm’s produced over the years that, for one reason or another, didn’t make the cut for a standard release and, because of that, ended up falling through the cracks for a lot of the band’s fans.

These dudes love to hide some crucial diamonds in the overgrowth. Some of these songs are culled from import editions of albums (damn you, Japan. Damn you.), singles and one-off’s, limited or special editions of one form or another, or stop-gap EP’s comprised of leftovers from other album sessions. While I’ll mention with each track the original release that featured it, I’ll go ahead and say here that a few of the songs on this list (as well as LOADS of other awesome odds and ends) are included on the Napalm Death compilations Death By Manipulation and Noise For Music’s Sake. First, go secure copies of these releases. Then run down whatever import versions sport the rest of the tracks below. They’re worth it. Okay, maybe not worth a $60 CD getting shipped from Japan via Amazon.de, but worth… something. Right? Right.

1)“What Is Past Is Prologue”Apex Predator – Easy Meat [DIGIBOOK] 

I’ve gone to significant trouble to track down import/bonus versions of Napalm Death records, because they always have something cool added on. The band’s worldwide following is immense and dedicated, but also attuned to the band’s prolific nature; where some groups can get away with tacking on a demo or live track for a Japanese or Korean release, Napalm Death’s gotta come with some salable goods. “What Is Past Is Prologue” is a bonus track from the digibook edition of Apex Predator – Easy Meat. And it’s the kind of song that makes you wonder why it wasn’t included in the standard edition. Everything that’s good about Napalm’s current sound is present in this track, and its hooks are undeniable. High-tension riffs, a dose of variation, and some thick, layered vocal work.

2) “No Impediment To Triumph (Bhopal)”Napalm Death/Converge Split 7” 

Napalm’s released some really awesome stuff on splits with other bands. In this case, the entire record is worth the purchase, as Converge’s contributions are just as solid as the b-side’s Napalm Death cuts. “No Impediment To Triumph (Bhopal)” almost feels like it was written with Converge in mind; the riffs are spastic and the production is lean. This wouldn’t have fit as well on Utilitarian as it would have on The Code Is Red…, so I’m curious about when the track was written. But that doesn’t matter. It shines just fine here on its own. The lyrics are also a great look at some of Barney Greenway’s most passionate activist leanings. If you’re not familiar with the Bhopal disaster, I wouldn’t be surprised, and I don’t mean that condescendingly. It’s unfortunately just the way the world works. Look it up, then buy this record from Deathwish, Inc.

3) “Everything In Mono”Utilitarian [DIGIPAK] 

This is one of those tracks that makes me wonder how it possibly could’ve been omitted from the record’s standard issue. “Everything In Mono” has some of the more varied pacing found on the batch of songs that make up Utilitarian, and the fuzzy bass overdrive that opens the track is some of the meatiest of Shane Embury’s contributions for this release. A killer way to end a latter-day Napalm playlist.

4). “Omnipresent Knife In Your Back” – Time Waits For No Slave [KOREAN/JAPANESE VERSION]  

This song’s inclusion might turn some heads. It’s one of the weirdest songs the band’s ever written, but it’s a good track. I understand not putting it on the standard release of Time Waits For No Slave; this is one of the band’s most urgent, frantic albums. “Omnipresent Knife In Your Back,” however, is one of the longest songs the band’s produced. It’s got a lot of airy atmospherics and slow, droning riffs reminiscent of ISIS’s later work. This song definitely showcases the DNA shared by Napalm Death and Godflesh… and there’s nothing wrong with that. Sometimes change is okay, dude. FYI, it also fades seamlessly into “Circumspect,” the instrumental opener from Utilitarian, the next LP in the band’s chronology. Did they intend it? #illuminati

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