British meat grinders Napalm Death are often cited as a political act but also frequently regarded as one of the most, if not the most, prominent grindcore acts ever. Napalm Death will perform live at Festival Rock al Parque at Parque Símon Bolivar, in Colombia, during the twenty-second edition of the festival.
Napalm Death vocalist and frontman Mark Greenway is one of the finest, most humble fellas I have ever talked to from the extreme music scene, offering insight into politics and what it proposes to be human. As a vocalist, Mark Greenway’s voice is more akin to something inhumane, shrieking the lyrics he writes in the most effective fashion possible while coexisting with the extreme ferocity of hyper-speed drumming and crunchy, yet crusty guitars. “That is the real paradox of it because the lyrics are about trying to promote humanity and ask, ‘Why is it that a certain percentage of people in the world have completely forgotten or never realised what humanity actually meant?'” says Mark Greenway.
To me, Napalm Death have perpetually been an act you can immediately recognise, with a brash, often fiercely fast sound and distinct vocals. The legacy of Napalm Death has always been how unique they are. When I brought up how Napalm Death are often lumped into the metal sub-genre category, Mark Greenway did not deny the act’s metal weights and acknowledged the myriad sounds that the act tries to incorporate. He described the act as a mishmash of more sub-genres than he cared to list, and he did list off quite a few. “Napalm Death is the sum of many component parts, and everything comes from somewhere,” confirmed Mark Greenway. “It just sounds like it has got a special something that could only have come from those four individuals. I cannot put into words what that is. It is a certain feeling.”
Napalm Death’s latest album, ‘Apex Predator – Easy Meat,’ centres on a lyrical focal point that was ignited by a horrific, tragic event: The Rana Plaza tragedy in Bangladesh. On April 24th, 2013, a building that was already deemed unsafe collapsed, killing 1,130 textile artisans. “It was an event that undermined and really brought home the whole issue of exploitative labour,” states Mark Greenway, and continues; “which is not out there enough. I do not feel people know about [what happened]. I think that event really compounded the real injustice — the inhumanity — of exploitative labour.”
- Apex Predator – Easy Meat
- Smash a Single Digit
- Metaphorically Screw You
- How the Years Condemn
- Stubborn Stains
- Timeless Flogging
- Dear Slum Landlord…
- Bloodless Coup
- Beyond the Pale
- Stunt Your Growth
In one song on the new album, ‘Dear Slum Landlord…,’ Mark Greenway addresses how people are set up in housing complexes that big companies own and then allow gangs to exert authority over. Lyrically, ‘Apex Predator – Easy Meat’ comes full circle in revealing how people all over the world, despite culture and class, are denied the freedoms that they merit. The album cover art helps solidify this sentiment. “The meat that is in the tray on [the album cover] is actually meant to be the human beings that are involved in this,” says Mark Greenway. “Those that have been treated as commodities are consumed by the process, which puts them to [the very] work that makes them expendable.” At first, ‘Apex Predator – Easy Meat’ is hard and filled with grinding bitterness, but with close listening, Mark Greenway’s voice becomes propelled by a riff-based songwriting structure, comparable to a provocative, forty-minute explosion. On ‘Hierarchies,’ the clean vocal points state, “Those vicious cycles, ecocide, we spilled the blood of innocents.”
Mark Greenway mentioned how dehumanising exploitative labour is because it decreases people to being components of a machine. When the machine breaks down, you just adjust it or buy a new machine. Mark Greenway aims to bring the issue to a bigger stage and help make a difference, but despite the public outcry and news media coverage, at the end of the day, nothing happened, as exemplified by the response to The Rana Plaza tragedy and the same exploitative and expendable labour persists.
Talking to Mark Greenway was like having a long, polite political conversation. I would not want to get into a struggling match over certain things with Mark Greenway because he knows his points. Of course, I had to bring up the election and race for the presidency, as well as Donald Trump. “You would think I would be super offended by him, but I am not,” says Mark Greenway, “because he is so ridiculous that he has not got the capacity to offend.”
Joining Napalm Death’s upcoming United States tour are the always eccentric Melvins, who, from album to album, have explored and experimented with every musical genre under the sun. Also joining are Melt Banana, a pop/noise/grind act from Japan. A tour with sounds of oddity and extremity is the definition of variety. “One of the things that keeps us stimulated is making sure that life has variety,” says Mark Greenway about Napalm Death’s upcoming United States tour. That statement epitomizes what Napalm Death are all about: sticking to their musical gusto and not conforming for any reason, but also making sure that they never repeat themselves musically—remaining a genuine band who cares deeply about its art.
You do not have to agree with Napalm Death’s views to appreciate the act’s honesty, transparency and, of course, their music. One question remains; are you ready to welcome their sheer brutality at this year’s edition of Festival Rock al Parque?