Incredibly, Napalm Death still have something to offer after 28 years. With no original members left, the band is hardly the storied crew that made Scum. But despite changes in lineup and sound, the Napalm Death platform remains strong. It has two main planks: socially conscious grindcore, and, ironically, diversity beyond grindcore. Though Napalm Death are rightly called grindcore pioneers, they have flouted genre conventions like micro-songs and lo-fi production. Napalm Death are just Napalm Death.
Time Waits For No Slave (Century Media, 2009) reinforces this. Free of the guest appearances that gilded its predecessors, the record features familiar trademarks – Barney Greenway’s roar, churning riffs, occasional sheets of abstraction. Curiously, song lengths are up (see chart), mostly in the three to four minute range. Longer lengths necessitate greater variety, so the band mixes in death metal heaviness and hardcore punk two-steps. The result lacks the immediacy of the band’s other ’00s material.
Yet minutes fly by. “Work to Rule” spreads black metal-esque wings; “Downbeat Clique” is a master class in shifting gears. When riffs flag, Danny Herrera picks up the slack. His teeth-rattling drumming is half the band’s power. According to Wikipedia, he’s 38 or 39. No slowing down for him!
Each new Napalm Death record risks a decrease in marginal utility. This is the band’s 13th full-length of studio originals. But in churning out albums like there’s no tomorrow, Napalm Death are living by this one’s title. They still have riffs left in them; they still play them at warp speed. Napalm Death are like old friends. You want them to stick around, be themselves, and age well.