To celebrate Tuesday's release of Utilitarian (the fourteenth (!) Napalm Death full-length), we asked longtime bassist Shane Embury to a pick a non-ND record that related in some way to each of the fourteen full-length ND records (including a covers album) that he’s played on over the last 24+ years. Last week, Shane's entries took us from 1988's From Enslavement To Obliteration up through and including 1998's Words From The Exit Wound. Now, we present the second half of his picks, which we've neatly compiled into a convenient Spotify playlist. Given the wide parameters—where his head was at musically, something that he was really into at the time or represents the period for him—we think that some of his selections will continue to surprise. Enemy Of The Music Business (2000) We were involved with a new label and management, not to mention people we identified with on a personal level. Russ Russell was one of the latter and this was the first full album that we worked on together—he's been with us ever since as a producer. When we started work on this record, Barney and I discussed where we would go with it. We had just done the Leaders Not Followers EP, which was a bunch of covers of bands that we’d grown up on. We loved doing that and and so with this album, it seemed that all of the stars aligned at the right time. During the Words From The Exit Wound recording session, I was introduced to the Swedish grind band Nasum by an old friend, Mitch Dickinson, and I could undoubtedly hear Napalm influences. But Nasum had a conviction that I’d missed in a lot of the new breed of bands over the years, plus a sound that gave me that fizz of excitement. They really gave me the drive to take Napalm into a second wave of grind, mixed in with all the experimentation that we’d learned over our progressive years. I think it was a great mixture of ideas that, although is intense, is not just a carbon copy of earlier records.
Order Of The Leech (2002) We seemed to be on a roll after Enemy, but this record came together slowly. I’d been checking out a few black metal albums, although I was rather late to the game with the new bands since I was raised on Venom and Mercyful Fate. Emperor appealed to me a lot with their dissonant riffs that I found quite progressive. I am really chuffed with one of the songs on this album, "The Icing On The Hate", as it has a lot of old school Napalm but moves forward with those newer, dissonant influences.
Leaders Not Followers: Part 2 (2004) This is a continuation of the covers EP that we did in 1999. It showcases the bands that we all grew up with and that we feel got overlooked - not all of those bands made it on to this record, but some for sure. It's nice that now kids are starting to backtrack and find out where it all came from. When I was 17, tape trading had a massive impact on my life. I made a lot of friends and heard great bands, and so this compilation of tracks is to let everyone know what bands are a part of us—just check out Cryptic Slaughter for starters. We hope to record another one very soon too!
The Code Is Red...Long Live The Code (2005) Code was our first proper studio album for Century Media. We’d all been in musical limbo prior to this record. We’re very close as a band, but this was a time when we hadn't been playing live that much and we certainly didn't expect the record to be received as well as it was! My head was in a weird place then though, as songs like "Morale" and "Our Pain Is Their Power" owe a lot to bands like Missing Foundation, Slab! and Coil. The latter track was meant to be an epitaph kind of song. If we never did another album—sometimes you just never know, right?—sometimes I think that's where I feel the most comfortable musically. I really must record an album full of songs like those—dark, moody and oppressive! The bass line to "Our Pain Is Their Power" also really hits on that sad, end of the line feeling that Nine Inch Nails is really good at...when they're good, that is. A geeky note about this album: "Silence Is Deafening" was originally meant to be on a split with Nasum, but Barney felt strongly that we should include it here.
Smear Campaign (2006) We were blown away by the reception to Code and somehow came up with a whole barrage of songs for Smear very quickly. A lot of the album blasts and grinds, but the title track and "Atheist Runt" owe a lot to Killing Joke. That band had really grown on me over the years. Mick was a big fan of them in the old days and they have become such a big influence on how I want the old style of Napalm riffs to mold with the new.
Time Waits For No Slave (2009) On this album, I wanted to do a straight up song that had more than just two riffs. If you listen to "Strong-Arm", the opening track, you get a four-riff cycle before the whole thing repeats again, and I thought that made a change. We detuned a song like "Procrastination On The Empty Vessel" a little to add a lower tone. For a lot of the guitar parts, I tried to capture a My Bloody Valentine-type feel, so I recorded some riffs backwards and mixed them in to Hellhammer-type riffs to give it a spacey feel.
Utilitarian (2012) And I guess this brings us to the present. It's fair to say that we haven’t even begun to tap into the many bands that we all love and have become major influences on our music. Musically and vocally, Voivod kicked in heavily on this record for me as their riffs have always stood out for their quirky notation. That's a big part of where I want Napalm to go in the future, of course mixed in with all of the other styles we have hopefully brought in to our sound. Songs like “Leper Colony”, “Everyday Pox” and “Fall On Their Swords” have a lot of depth in terms of the guitar atmosphere and add scope to what I consider to be the “Napalm core”, which has to be there in force as well. I have to thank Piggy for that!
**Be sure to pick up a copy of Utilitarian or order it here!
**Photo: Axel Jusseit