Napalm Death’s Throes of Joy in the Jaws of Defeatism is the band’s best album in the past 15 years (Review)

08/09/2020 Reviews Share


Band: Napalm Death
Album: Throes of Joy in the Jaws of Defeatism
Genre: Grindcore/death metal
Release date: September 18th 2020
Record Label: Century Media Records

Guess what? We just got the promo of the latest Napalm Death album! Hooray! And the BIG NEWS is that Mitch Harris wrote the guitar parts on this album, just like on Apex Predator Easy Meat! I hope he will stop ruling from the shadows and join Napalm Death once this Corona thing goes away! Anyways, Throes of Joy in the Jaws of Defeatism is the grindcore pioneers’ 16th studio album, which will be released on September 18th via Century Media Records. So what do we have here? Twelve tracks, 45 minutes. A fair deal!

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The album opener, “Fuck the Factoid“ is a strikingly brutal & dissonant track! It features this exceptional atmospheric riff that comes with Barney Greenway’s groundbreaking vocals! The track features the pure raw grindcore aggression with kind of a black metal-sounding guitar riff. Short in length but mighty AF! And that wicked discordant part in the end made my day! “Backlash Just Because“ is another merciless meat-grinding machine with some tasty atmospheric chord progression. We need not to go into detail since the band has already released it on YouTube. Love it! Pure energy! And for the record, those Eastern-sounding riffs at the end of the song were terrific! “That Curse of Being in Thrall“ is where the band’s drummer, Danny Herrera let’s it loose! Those double bass & blast beats sound like a whole army field arsenal! Once again, Mitch Harris brought forth some exceptional riffage that blends perfectly with the drumming. Barney’s barking is still unmatched! The song suddenly slows down in the middle but the drums are paving the way for the next assault! “Contagion“ starts slow with this catchy riff and then it all gets sped up. Strong, mid-paced all-around song with yet another guitar chord that kinda slows things down a bit. But only for a second! Napalm Death is what I would call “the highway music“. It always takes you on a ride. And when the maximum speed is reached, you just won’t stop! And BTW, gotta love the way Barney Greenway sings CONTAGIOOOOON! “Joie de ne pas Vivre” is, oddly enough, in French. It’s translated as “Joy of not Living”. A very optimistic track to say the least! It starts with the dirty-sounding Shane Embury’s bass and someone who is singing those French words in a black metal fashion. Not Barney that’s for sure… But it sounds fresh, new and really good! Completely atypical for the Napalm Death catalog! The whole thing is dominated by bass attacks, with some eerie guitar noise in the background. And you can also hear Barney’s scream at one point.

“Invigorating Clutch“ is another atypical, grim, black metal-sounding track. I would not expect anything like this from the Birmingham grindcore pioneers! But it sounds really creepy and good. With one of those haunting AAAAAAAAHHHHH baritone chants done by Greenway. And then, it all gets away as the main rocky, simplistic power chord riff kicks in. Surely one of the slower, but darker songs on the album.  And let me tell ya, that opening riff is really unpredictable. You wouldn’t have a clue how the next riff is going to sound like. “Zero Gravitas Chamber“ is a lot more grindy than the previous track. A mid-tempo song in which Barney Greenway’s growls carry forth the whole brutality. And it gets pretty much death metal at some point, with this striking riff and blastbeats + double bass rapid fire! This is also the first track where you can clearly hear Mitch Harris’ recognizable, trademark backing vocals. The high pitched ones. The ones he’s the best at! Great song! “Fluxing the Muscle“ starts with this killer, galloping, pinched riff assault. Mitch Harris is keeping it real! Not only that his song has some of the most menacing riffs but Barney’s vocals sound exceptional here. The song suddenly breaks with a Barney Greenway chanting part. And then things get groovy. “Amoral“ is Napalm Death’s take on Swans and Cardiacs I guess. The band has already released it on YouTube so I don’t need to get in details.  But I gotta tell that the atmospheric riff is damn good. This one surely stands out from the rest of the songs on this album since it’s far from grindcore and death metal. At least guitar wise. The selftitled “Throes of Joy in the Jaws of Defeatism“ starts with this growling rant and then gets pure grindcore within a second with some sick dual-growling approach brought to you by Barney Greenway and Mitch Harris. And yes, the riffs are deadly. The band is giving no mercy in this one. “Acting in Gouged Faith“ is another straight-forward one. Heavy and uncompromising, with some catchy riffs. That one vortex-sounding riff is just good! Actually this is a really damn good song. The final track, “A Bellyful of Salt and Spleen“ is completely different from the rest of the songs on this album. This time, the band fully relied on the haunting atmosphere, preaching vocals and industrial background noise. It ain’t the best track on the album, but it surely does not deserve all the hate it got on the internet. It’s more theatrical than anything the band had done on this album. A nice way to close the album.

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Note: The limited edition Mediabook CD version of the album will include three bonus-tracks: “Feral Carve-up” (02:49), “White Kross” (04:06, Sonic Youth cover-version) and “Blissful Myth” (01:52, Rudimentary Peni cover-version). The vinyl version of the album will include the bonus-track “Air’s Turned Foul in Here” (02:59). Too bad I didn’t have a chance to hear these!

What about the downsides? Well, just like in most of heavy metal albums, the bass ain’t loud enough. And the drum cymbals sound kinda strange… idk. The thing that I really missed in this album are Mitch Harris’ high pitched vocals, which can be heard in songs like “The Wolf I Feed“, “Lowlife“, (Cryptic Slaughter cover), “Beyond the Pale“ etc. But’s let get to the conclusion of the whole thing. Napalm Death’s Throes of Joy in the Jaws of Defeatism is a truly  remarkable album! It is probably the best album the band has released in the past decade or two. The album is a perfect juncture of grindcore, death metal, haunting black metal atmosphere and post-rock. And it is a really easy going album. Really fun to listen to. Full of energy. Full of aggression. Full of hate & eerie vibes.

Rating: 9/10

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“Throes of Joy in the Jaws of Defeatism” tracklist:
1. Fuck the Factoid (02:29)
2. Backlash Just Because (02:56)
3. That Curse of Being in Thrall (03:36)
4. Contagion (04:05)
5. Joie De Ne Pas Vivre (02:28)
6. Invigorating Clutch (04:05)
7. Zero Gravitas Chamber (04:03)
8. Fluxing of the Muscle (04:33)
9. Amoral (03:05)
10. Throes of Joy in the Jaws of Defeatism (02:55)
11. Acting in Gouged Faith (03:37)
12. A Bellyful of Salt and Spleen (04:36)

Mark ‘Barney’ Greenway - Bawling, shrieking, intermittent baritone
Shane Embury - Bass reverberations, barks and moans, noise-testing everyday objects
Danny Herrera - Turbulent beat throes



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