Sound — 8
Napalm Death formed in the early '80s, initially with a hardcore punk foundation to their sound, as well as elements of extreme metal. Over time they had several lineup changes, as well as changes in their sound, with the hardcore punk sound phasing out and being replaced with what would be known as grindcore. The band has since become known as one of the first grindcore bands, as well as introducing elements of death metal with progressive and experimental tangents thrown in. While no founding members remain in the band, there have been no changes to the core lineup since 1991. "Apex Predator - Easy Meat" is the band's fifteenth studio album and will be released by Century Media Records. There are 14 tracks on the album, with an approximate runtime of 40 minutes. The longest track on the album is over 5 minutes, but the majority of the tracks are actually under 3 minutes.
The album opens up with the title track, "Apex Predator - Easy Meat," which opens with vocals that are almost monk-style throat singing. The song builds up to sound kind of like a demonic pep rally. "Smash a Single Digit" is an audio assault, with some memorable riffs mixed in there. "Metaphorically Screw You" is one of my favorite tracks from the album, in large part because I enjoy the name of the track, but also because of the way that "noise" is used in the track. "How the Years Condemn" opens up with a prolonged "drum solo," which is joined by bass - I could honestly listen to 3 minutes of just the drums and bass - and then the guitar and vocals come in and the song is in overdrive from there til the end. "Stubborn Stains" has a frantic and frenetic vibe to it that really does a crazy good job of expressing anxiety. "Timeless Flogging" has some really solid metal riffing going on, and one of my favorite songs from the album by how well the "grind" aspect of grindcore is expressed in the track. "Dear Slum Landlord" is a more melodic track, compared to the rest of the album, and does an awesome job creating atmosphere. "Cesspits" has some interesting processing going on with the vocals, and musically stays pretty aggressive, as well. "Bloodless Coup" is pretty much an assault from the opening notes, but almost sounds happy somehow. "Beyond the Pale" makes use of both low growled vocals and high pitch screeched vocals. Musically, the song has a lot of high points and stays aggressive. "Stunt Your Growth" is pretty much just a continuous blast beat. "Hierarchies" almost sounds like thrash metal more than groove metal, and musically, is one of my favorite tracks from the album. "One Eyed" has a lot more groove than a lot of the rest of the album - making this song (for me, personally) a clear favorite. The album closes out with the 5 minute long "Adversarial - Copulating Snakes," which is effectively an "epic" for Napalm Death at that length. The song does a great job bookending the album.
Lyrics — 9
Mark Greenway provides vocals on the album, which are made up in large part by death metal screams, though occasionally by a slightly cleaner vocal performance. There are several times that gang vocals are used as backing vocals, and I have to assume that it is the rest of the band and whoever else they had in the studio, but the gang vocals and backup vocals aren't credited that I can find. I'm not sure, either, who does the high pitch screeching on several of the songs on the album. The lyrics still deal with the subject matter the band has become known for - social and political issues, which are a nice change from the more depressive and dark subjects often focused on by their contemporaries (not saying that social and political issues don't tend to be pretty dark on their own). I would have to say that this is probably one of the most solid releases by Napalm Death in regards to both vocals and lyrics.
Overall Impression — 8
There is definitely a lot of experimentation going on with "Apex Predator - Easy Meat," and it worked in the band's favor on this release. My favorite songs would be "Beyond the Pale," "One Eyed," "Copulating Snakes," "How the Years Condemn" and "Metaphorically Screw You." It is awesome to see a band that is arguably in the twilight years of their career prove that they still kick ass. Napalm Death is about to begin a co-headlining tour with Voivod, which just about sums up where the band is, currently.