Reviewed: April, 2018
Released: 2018 Century Media Records
Rating: 4 / 5
Reviewer: Peter Atkinson
As they ready to begin work on their next album, their 16th if my math is correct, figure out what role guitarist Mitch Harris will play – since he hasn’t performed live with the band since 2014 – and gear up for their biggest-ever tour of the states as part of Slayer’s farewell trek this summer, ever-prolific grind pioneers Napalm Death have gathered up their most recent b-sides, bonus tracks, rarities and cover versions into one expansive two-disc set.
Coded Smears and More Uncommon Slurs boasts 31 songs and more than 90 minutes of the band’s patented blasting and hammering – which can make it a bit much to take in all at once. But it is by no means a collection of throwaways. Most of these “remnants” or leftovers – recorded between 2004 and 2014 and all featuring Harris’ signature manic riffing and occasional piercing shrieks – are as determined and intense as anything that made the final cut on the five albums the band released during that time period.
Indeed, there are some true gems here – like the utterly ferocious “Like Piss to a Sting” and “Legacy Was Yesterday,” the surging “Call That An Option,” “Aim Without An Aim,” “We Hunt In Packs” and “It Failed To Explode,” and a ripping cover of “Paracide” from long-gone Danish punk band Gepøpel that is on par with their now classic take on the Dead Kennedys’ “Nazi Punks Fuck Off.” No one can ever accuse Napalm of doing things half-assed.
Of course there also are some oddities and occasional misfires, the droning noise rock of “Caste As Waste” or “Omnipresent Knife in Your Back,” for instance, or the unsually crappy sounding cover of Despair’s “Outconditioned.” The industrialized doom of “Oxygen of Duplicity,” punctuated by Mark “Barney” Greenway’s low-end clean vocals, is another odd duck, echoing their sonic polar opposites The Melvins, with whom they shared an unlikely split EP – for which “Oxygen” was recorded – and an equally unimaginable tour a few years back.
Better are “Phonetics for the Stupefied” with its Voivod-like eclecticism – fittingly recorded for a split Napalm did with them around the same time they toured together – and an insane cover of Cardiacs “To Go Off and Things” with its chirpy, almost circus-like electronics and screeching guitar leads. It’s about as whimsical as you’ll ever hear the band. And for obscurities, you can’t get much further underground than Japan’s Gauze or Sweden’s G-Anx, both of whom Napalm cover with vigor.
Napalm’s done this sort of thing before, notably with 1991’s Death By Manipulation and Disc 2 of the Earache Records-era spanning Noise For Music’s Sake compilation from 2003. But with the band littering the landscape with so many bits and pieces between albums, it’s mighty handy of them to occasionally pull everything together into one package for fans to round out their collections – especially when the bits and pieces are as good as they are here.
2. Oh So Pseudo
3. It Failed to Explode
5. Call That an Option?
6. Caste As Waste
7. We Hunt in Packs
8. Oxygen of Duplicity
9. Paracide (Gepøpel cover)
10. Critical Gluttonous Mass
11. Aim Without an Aim
12. An Extract (Strip it Clean)
13. Phonetics for the Stupefied
14. Suppressed Hunger
15. To Go Off and Things (Cardiacs cover)