Sunday, March 15, 2009


Originally published in: Modern Fix Magazine

Album: The Code Is Red... Long Live the Code (Century Media Records)

Random thoughts: The weird thing is, if anyone had asked me, "Did you ever interview Napalm Death?" I'd probably say no. And the scary thing is, I don't even remember doing this interview. An emailer perhaps?

Long live the grind

By Jason Schreurs

Our collective jaw continues to hang agape at the latest album by grindcore legends Napalm Death, The Code Is Red… Long Live the Code.
I mean, how does a band who has been pounding stone into dust now for 20 years manage to capture such pure rage and madness on tape after all of this time? Their new one, and first on Century Media, is 15 songs of the best metal going today.
Fuck all those bands 20 years their junior, these old Brits have more youthful exuberance and need for speed coursing through their aging veins than the whole Ozzfest roster combined.
The machine that is Napalm Death -– drummer Danny Herrera, guitarist Mitch Harris, bassist Shane Emery, and vokillist Barney Greenway -– doesn’t seem to be slowing down anytime soon, and three cheers to that. Forget death metal automation, this unionized grind factory ain’t gonna do no downsizing. Sure, the US has been sold short to a scab, but if Napalm Death has anything to say about it, the scabs ain’t taking over the old country.
Greenway recently took time out of his hectic schedule to chat about the new album and what’s kept Napalm Death grinding for so long.

Congrats on the new album. It’s a real return to form for you guys.
The thing is, of course this is our opinion, but we believe we’ve always made really good albums, you know? This is just the latest in a long line of them. We do believe that in the wider spectrum we’ve been somewhat overlooked, when you consider some of the other bands that have come out, you know. I’m not saying that from any kind of perspective of bitterness or anything like that, it’s just merely an observation. So it was just a case of going back in the studio again and doing our best. I know that sounds very obvious, but that was literally the case.

It must feel good having a label like Century Media behind you?
It feels fucking great. It feels invigorating, actually. In turn, when you know you’ve got that behind you, you will try even harder to make what you do special and to reach out to a lot of people, both musically and ethically.

What do you think about the state of extreme metal these days?
It’s a mixed bag, really. There are positives and negatives to everything. There’s a little bit of a negative to the tough guy elements to it, which is certainly not the idea of the whole thing when we were doing gruff vocals when very few people were doing it. There’s that side of it, but that’s been inherent in the metal side of things for many years anyway, so it’s nothing new. There’s some great bands out there, for sure.

What’s kept Napalm Death going for so long?
It comes down to very simple things. We’ve been with the band for so long now, it’s just become part of the family. Sometimes that’s used in a very corny context, but it is literally the case. We’ve kept on going when a lot of other bands would have split. Shane said something very worthwhile to me the other day, he said, “You know, as long as we’ve got good albums in the locker and it continues to be fun, what’s stopping us?” He pretty much hit the nail squarely on the head when he said that.

How much longer can you keep it up? Do you feel like you’re getting old?
You know, that’s a pretty common question. I understand why, but it’s something I can’t necessarily answer… Everyone gets tired. But you know what? There’s a big tie-in with physical and mental state when you’re out on the road, because if things are bugging you when you’re out on the road, it’s going to affect you physically because it brings your mood down. It’s very simple psychology. You’re going to be more tired more quickly because you’re wondering what the fuck you’re doing there, so you’re not going to have the motivation to pepped up. So you have to deal with the road in a certain way… You have to be open-minded when you go out on the road, you have to try and stimulate yourself as much as you can. And that’s not meant to be a double entendre. When I say stimulate, I mean with books and stuff like that. Keep your mind active. When you turn up at the gig, don’t just sit at the parking lot all day. Granted, there might not be a lot of stuff around, but go for a walk and get some air in your lungs. Get out, walk, and enjoy yourself. That’s something that I’ve definitely learned over the years. When you’re on the road, you gotta get out.

A couple of experimental tracks show up near the end of the new CD. Tell me about how those evolved?
If you listen back to some of the albums you will notice [it]. For example, “Evolved as One,” which is one From Enslavement, “Cold Forgiveness,” and “Self Betrayal,” which is on Diatribes, I think, or something around that era. We’ve always had those songs… Yes, we’re influenced massively by fast hardcore and the quality death metal from the mid-‘80s and stuff, but Napalm had always had other influences and branched off.

What are some of your favorite albums lately?
There’s definitely some great albums that came out this year, I’d really have to sit and think about that one. It’s tough, man. Nothing totally jumps out at me. I guess, and I hate to sound jaded or anything, but as time goes on I’m finding less and less amazing albums per year. I was spoiled, you know? In my formative years, I had “Ace of Spades,” I had Discharge. I had Leather, Bristles, Studs and Acne by GBH, I had Scream Bloody Gore by Death. I had Celtic Frost, To Mega Therion. I had the early Swans albums… Can you really top those classics? It’d be pretty hard. [The] Septic Death album, Now That I Have Their Attention, What Do I Do with It? Don’t Be Swindled by S.O.B. I mean, it’s very difficult to come up extreme albums that would come anywhere near those.

What about bands like The Dillinger Escape Plan?
Yeah, Dillinger and Botch make great albums. There’s a whole number of bands that you could think of. I am kind of disappointed in the death metal scene. There is a couple of really fucking good albums out there, but I don’t think people are hitting the heights they used to. I mean, going back to the first couple of Entombed albums… fuck me, they were intense.

Again, congrats on the new one. It’s killer, and after so many albums, not a lot of bands can say that.
That’s cool, man. We always try our best when we’re in the studio, we always try to focus… I don’t think a lot of bands who go into the studio appreciate that it’s about capturing the moment. What you have those days that you’re in there, you’ll never get back again. Once it’s done and you get through an album and you’re on a budget… Because not every band is Metallica, you can’t afford to fuck about in a studio for a year on end. You gotta capture the moment. You have to fucking focus when you’re in the studio. A lot of bands make the mistake of not doing that. They might go in there and fucking drink like crazy and feel like shit, and they can’t do what they need to do.

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