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NAPALM DEATH ‘The Code Is Red - Long Live The Code’
Century Media(2005)

Napalm Death

Well, well, well - who would have thought that, twenty four years after they were originally conceived as a band, the Ipswich-based godfathers of Grindcore Napalm Death would be still here with us with a brand new album to hand? Yes, it has indeed been a very long journey, but I don’t believe that there is a single decent fan of this unique band out there who will be anything but excited about the fact that we are only a few days away from the release of the band’s fourteenth studio release, entitled 'The Code is Red…Long Live the Code'.

I was one of the really lucky journalists who were asked to attend the album’s release party by the band’s new label Century Media. The mezzanine floor of the Camden-based pub 'The World’s End' was the place where I first heard the fourteen compositions that are featured on this album, and even though the conditions were not ideal (the sound was a bit poor, and the copy of the album was defective at points) I managed to get a pretty good idea as to what I should expect from this new offering – still it was the official Century Media promo that would answer all my questions and remove all the insecurities that I might have.

When the promo 'The Code is Red - Long Live the Code' started spinning on my CD player my heart beats were fast enough to compete with Dave Lombardo’s double bass drumming! Would the album be as exciting as it was a month ago in the previously-mentioned party, or did my short chat with the band’s bassist Shane Embury that day make me totally lose my grip on reality? With an opening track like 'Silence is Deafening', there is no space for doubt – the kings of noise are back, stronger than ever.

The new millennium brought new life to this band, which seems to partly stick with the same formula that was used in the previous two releases 'Enemy of the Music Business' (2001) and 'Order of the Leech' (2002). Faster than ever before, but with more mature and better-structured compositions, this quartet is ready to set the world on fire. Mark 'Barney' Greenway is once again prepared to scream abuse at the new world order that has been brutally threatening the future of this planet. For such a 'holy' quest, he used all the help that he could get. Apart from his band mate Mitch Harris, who provides all the high pitched screams, he was also offered the assistance of three really important artists - Jello Biafra (Dead Kennedys), Jeff Walker (ex-Carcass) and that of Jamey Jasta (Hatebreed). That was it – the formula was now complete, and with Danny Herrera’s mind-blowing drumming following in the path carved out by Shane Embury’s solid bass lines, there was little room for escape.

Regardless as to what many people may think, you cannot say that any Napalm Death album is predictable, and this also applies in the case of 'The Code is Red…Long Live the Code'. Some of the first songs of the album like 'Right You Are' and 'Diplomatic Immunity' may easily help you get the wrong idea about this album.

After this ferocious attack on your nervous system, in the typical Napalm Death manner, you will came face to face with the self-titled composition 'The Code is Red…Long Live the Code', whose mid-tempo basic riff will bring back memories from the 'Diatribes/The Greed Killing' era. This antithesis will be constantly present until the last notes of 'Our Pain is the Power' announce the end of another inspirational release.

There are many great moments on this album which are worth mentioning, but I would like to make a special reference to two compositions that add extra value to this recording. First comes 'The Great and the Good'- the song which also features Jello Biafra’s vocals, and the best example of how universal the music of this band really is. The other song that managed to completely take me by surprise was 'Morale' – Napalm Death’s closest attempt to create an atmospheric new wave composition, and a pretty successful one too.

I have listened to this album quite a few times before writing this review, and no matter how hard I tried to find a good reason why I should deny it the five stars which is our website’s highest rate, I found none convincing enough. The truth is that the extreme Metal scene needs bands like Napalm Death, because they are like good wine – the more it ages, the better it tastes.


Review by John Stefanis

***** Out of this world | **** Pretty damn fine |
*** OK, approach with caution unless you are a fan |
** Instant bargain bin fodder | * Ugly. Just ugly

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