The Code Is Red… Long Live the Code (Century Media)
By Tim Den
I feel like I’ve pretty much been writing the same Napalm Death review for the past 10 years. After all, the band do progress and impress with each release, so how can I stray from “yet another steadfast, forward-thinking fist of grindcore from the godfathers of the genre?” The Code Is Red… Long Live the Code, however, just might distinguish itself with the fact that it’s angrier and more aggressive (if that’s possible) than the band’s last few releases. If you thought Enemy of the Music Business and Order of the Leech were aural firebombs, wait until Barney opens his mouth on “Silence Is Deafening.” He sounds as if anger is devouring his soul and this album’s his last chance to have his say. The rest of the band are right there with him, too, mercilessly blast-beating through 45 minutes like an L.A. gang initiation. Christ, dudes, what happened to you guys in your personal lives? Did someone kill your parents or steal your life’s savings? Cuz you sound like you’re out for blood! The pure intimidation on The Code Is Red… Long Live the Code alone is enough to squash a small country. This is death metal and hardcore at their most powerful.
Napalm Death are infamous for their sickening breakdowns, and, as usual, the mosh parts are all over the place on The Code Is Red… Long Live the Code. This time, they’ve got a more late-’80s NYHC, Agnostic Front feel to ’em, which means creepy crawly mid-tempo stompers good for picking up the change. Especially noteworthy sections: “Diplomatic Immunity,” “Instruments of Persuasion,” and “All Hail the Grey Dawn.” Some open-string dissonance thrown into the fast parts too, just to change it up. Fuck yes!
As the album closes with two “artsy” numbers – the Godflesh/Swans/Skinny Puppy drag of “Morale” and the minimalistic droning misery of “Our Pain is Their Power” – you’re allowed to take a breath and scope the aftermath. What carnage, and yet what pleasure! Will Napalm Death ever not stand as a beacon of light in the dark recesses of death metal? Not when they sound brighter than ever on The Code Is Red… Long Live the Code.