Apex Predator – Easy Meat
23rd January 2015 – Century Media Records
01. Apex Predator – Easy Meat
02. Smash a Small Digit
03. Metaphorically Screw You
04. How the Years Condemn
05. Stubborn Stains
06. Timeless Flogging
07. Dear Slum Landlord…
09. Bloodless Coup
10. Beyond the Pale
11. Stunt Your Growth
14. Adversarial / Copulating Snakes
Consistent. Reliable. Dependable. Those are words often trotted out to denote a sense of familiarity with an artist. Those words all evoke feelings of comfort—the fact that consumers will get another album every two to three years from a legacy act and that the artist’s work will remain innocuous and predictable with diminishing returns on innovation.
To a band like Napalm Death, those words should be an insult. While they have maintained outstanding quality with few (if any) blemishes over the past three and a half decades, Napalm Death have been anything but complacent. The few most recent albums in their arsenal have been particularly experimental (especially 2012’s fantastic and wonderfully weird Utilitarian) and Apex Predator – Easy Meat finds Napalm Death as hungry, innovative, and aggressive as ever.
Confounding all expectations, Napalm Death haunt the opening of the album with a solemn, nearly Gregorian chant which builds to a pounding industrial piece. This introductory track leads right into two absolutely vicious slices of classic Napalm Death with the brief and disorienting songs “Smash A Single Digit” and “Metaphorically Screw You”.
The band is in top form here, with vocalist Barney Greenway sounding as distinctively venomous as he has since The Code Is Red…Long Live The Code days. The bass work is front and centre this time around as well, with Shane Embury laying down a beautiful bass line highly reminiscent of He Is Legend’s most playful song “Everyone I Know Has Fangs” and complementing the surgically precise drumming of Danny Herrera.
There is nothing here as shocking as the jazz freakout of “Everyday Pox” or as immediately catchy as “The Wolf I Feed”, but what is here is thoroughly strong and expertly paced. While there is enough diversity from song to song, Apex Predator – Easy Meat sounds truly cohesive and is best experienced as a whole. It is dismal and often ominously oppressive, while simultaneously possessing lyrics that are often oddly uplifting, given Napalm Death’s socially conscious bend. The experimentation with darker atmospheres, as evoked in “Dear Slum Landlord”, shows a more contemplative side than we have seen from Napalm Death perhaps ever, while “Hierarchies” is a late album highlight with a deeply moving chorus and some atypically melodic guitar work.
Fifteen albums deep, Napalm Death are still making music that is as vital as it ever has been. It’s no surprise really, but to take these elder statesmen for granted would be a real shame. 30 years in and nobody is asking Napalm Death to just play the hits, and neither are fans demanding they only play from their first four albums; they want to hear what the band is doing right now. Napalm Death have indeed cemented themselves in the history of extreme music, but one listen to Apex Predator – Easy Meat should make everyone take notice that they are a powerful force right here, right now.