Napalm Death: Scum 12"

Napalm Death: Scum 12"


Tags: · 80s · grindcore · metal · reissues · UK
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Undisputedly the founding fathers of grind core, Napalm Death have moved on to mold and define the genre, paving the path for droves of acts to come. Upon its' initial release in 1987, Scum offered a fresh, unique mix of motivated punk, hardcore and death metal – fusing rarely used "blast" beats with political undertones and driving intensity. Displaying an aural rawness not seen by many other bands, Scum set the precedent for quality grind core to come and revolutionized extreme music for generations to come. Pressed from the original master tapes, this vinyl release has been specifically recreated using FDR - Full Dynamic Range - mastering allowing the music's nuances to shine through and give this classic album a more ferocious and dynamic sound, enabling the listener to immerse in the full audio heaviness like never before.

Our take: Before I say anything else, I should note that this LP sounds incredible. This is part of Earache's "Full Dynamic Range Vinyl" series and while that might imply that it skimps on volume, that couldn't be further from the case... this is extreme music (maybe even the beginning of extreme music as we know it?), and this pressing is still appropriately, ear-splittingly loud. However, it also has depth and warmth that you don't hear nearly as much nowadays... it honestly sounds like a pressing from the 80s in the best way possible (it was mastered directly from the original tapes), and the artwork is reproduced much more faithfully than many recent metal reissues (I'm looking at you, Death and Sodom reissue campaigns!). Now that that's out of the way, I can get to my little mini-essay on "what Napalm Death means to me." I can still remember the first time I heard this band sometime in the early to mid 90s when I was still a teenager and my ears really weren't prepared for it. At the time it sounded hilariously awful, and it would take me many, many years to want to revisit Napalm Death, a process lengthened by having to sit through live sets by innumerable terrible, unimaginative grindcore and power violence bands in my life. However, a handful of years ago something clicked and I realized that I love Napalm Death. What once sounded more like a comedy routine than "serious music" suddenly sounded organic, uncontrived, and--even though it was by then far removed from its original context--revolutionary. Scum in particular is a fascinating listen because the two sides of the record--recorded nine months apart in 1986 and 1987--capture very different eras of the band. The a-side sounds so punk to me now... it sounds like the strand of punk that runs through Discharge, Conflict, Rudimentary Peni, and numerous other anarcho and d-beat bands taken to its logical extreme. The recording is also thick and clear (especially compared to the manufactured, computerized rawness so many modern extreme bands go for), and sounds surprisingly un-metal to my 2016 ears. As for the b-side, this is where the revolutionary and fully realized Napalm Death sound begins to take shape. The lineup has largely solidified and what, just a few months earlier, sounded like hardcore punk stretched to its furthest extremes, now sounds undeniably like something else, and while the sound would arguably be perfected over the band's next handful of releases (the Mentally Murdered EP being a personal favorite), greatness has already been achieved here. An undeniably classic album, and it's particularly great to see it back in print as such a carefully executed reissue.