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Review of the Album Scum by British Death Metal Band Napalm Death (1987)
How is the Album Scum Different From Later Albums by England's Napalm Death?
Every heavy metal band has a beginning and some bands might have an unusual method of starting their careers. This is the case with British death metal band Napalm Death. Their 1987 debut album called Scum is a rather odd album given the fact that there are 28 tracks and some of them are not even a minute long!
The Album Cover for the Album Scum (Back Cover)
Con #1 for This Album is the Bad Vocals
The band’s songs tend to be fast, short, and aggressive but this debut album is really odd from that perspective. This debut is an album that has really harsh shouting that is not even understandable by me so that would result in this debut getting a lower score right away because of that factor. The vocals are so fast that the songs end without the average listener being able to understand them.
What is the Band Lineup for the Album Scum? A Brief Mention
The lineup is also very different because the lineup for this album is not even the one that most fans have been used to seeing. There is no Mark “Barney” Greenway, Shane Embury, or Mitch Harris on this album. The vocalist for the first 12 tracks is Nicholas Bullen. However for the tracks 13 through 28, the vocalist for those tracks is Lee Dorian, formerly of the band Cathedral. Bill Steer (Carcass) plays the guitars for these 16 tracks.
What is the Musical Style for the Album Scum?
The album Scum has a punk and hardcore death metal feel to it with the production being drowned out by the guitar work. Playing the drums on this album is Mick Harris. I can hear a sort of snake like growl or screech on this album similar to what Chris Barnes would use with the band Cannibal Corpse. The vocals are so bad that they sound like someone who has had too much to drink and it is just so hoarse.
How Bad is this Debut Album Scum? Not as Bad As You Might Think
Is this album as bad as Pantera’s The Great Southern Trendkill? Probably not but this album doesn’t really show how good the band Napalm Death could be. This is just their first album and they would obviously improve greatly as time went on especially by 1992 when they released Utopia Banished.
What Are Some of the Lyrical Themes of the Album Scum?
Multinational Corporations the first track is a minute of shouting out that multinational corporations really don’t care about people. Napalm Death lyrically did have political themes in their songs which would become more noticeable as their career progressed. Instinct of Survival is a song that continues on this theme as companies want the consumer to keep on buying their products and to stay in debt until they die.
The Review of the Album Scum (Continued)
The album is lyrically trying to point out that corporations do not care if people die because of air pollution as long as profits are made in the song called Polluted Minds.
But once again, the bad vocals and the shout at the end really put into question what this band was thinking when they wrote this album. By the time we get to the song Siege of Power this one is a decent death metal song and the vocals are a little like Max Cavalera. Control is a short, fast decent song about a person that is being controlled by their mind and it is almost like a dictator is controlling their mind. Scum is just the album title but the album is not garbage that should be ignored however this is a much different kind of album by Napalm Death that requires a sort of acquired taste. You will either love this album or you will hate it. After two full listens of this punk style album it is a decent listen even if it is not a stellar album.
Final Thoughts About the Album Scum
I myself think that this album Scum is a decent punk and death metal album however it is the worst album from Napalm Death that I have heard even if the lyrical themes are important for us to try and take in. many of the tracks are so short that we are getting just a snapshot or an introduction to this English band. It was in 2005 that the album Scum was voted to be the 50th best British metal album by readers of the heavy metal magazine Kerrang! It is not even close to being that good, but readers will have their own views. The album gets no higher than 70 out of 100 points at best.
"Siege of Power"
© 2018 Ara Vahanian