A sticker on the cover of Napalm Death’s sixteenth studio album identifies its wilfully unpleasant artwork – a gory mess of blood, entrails and a single chopped-off finger – as depicting “Tenderised chunks of a weakling”. The music contained within is equally caustic.
A furious dissection of global capitalism, corporate neglect and slave labour (mal) practices, Barney Greenway’s unflinching lyrics (‘As perishable as your product, I can just be thrown away,’ he seethes on Stubborn Stains) are matched in ferocity by tireless blast beats, buzzing hyper-speed riffs and a welcome sense of disorienting experimentalism.
The title track’s droning industrial dirge recalls Killing Joke and Swans, Dear Slum Landlord… pins a lurching Jesus Lizard guitar line to thick walls of discordant noise, and the brutal bloodletting of Hierarchies features the best Slayer riffs in a decade.
Decidedly queasy listening throughout, Apex Predator… is protest music at its most apoplectic, and emphatic proof that these unlikely national treasures have lost none of their snap and bite as they enter the 34th year of their career./o:p