Noise for Music's Sake
In the wake of Napalm Death's long, decade-plus relationship with Earache Records, the legendary band and likewise legendary label partnered once more for Noise for Music's Sake, a double-disc collection of career highlights and miscellany topped off by some informative packaging. No band exemplified grindcore more so than Napalm Death, the seed from which spawned an entire generation of extreme metalheads, not to mention the grindcore scene itself. Earache debuted the band in 1987 with Scum, and ended up releasing eight proper albums total, as well as a stellar EP collection (Death by Manipulation ) and a definitive live album (Bootlegged in Japan ), before severing ties after the release of Words From the Exit Wound in 1999. Napalm Death moved over to Spitfire Records and trudged on in later years, but the band's departure from Earache clearly marked the end of an era. The first disc of Noise for Music's Sake gathers up the highlights of that fruitful era, rounding up early classics like "The Kill" and "Unchallenged Hate" alongside later classics like "Hung" and "Breed to Breathe." The songs are logically rather than chronologically sequenced, and thankfully, the sequencing is praiseworthy, front-loading the band's time-tested best yet saving a few gems for later, all the while moving back and forth through time, butting the early stuff up against the later stuff yet making it all gel smoothly from track to track. It helps that Earache went back and touched up the early, lo-fi stuff from the Scum/From Enslavement to Obliteration era, which here sounds better than ever. The second disc is a hodgepodge of nonalbum recordings, most of which are unessential sans the noteworthy and excellent Mentally Murdered EP, which comprises the first six tracks, and also sans the seventh song, "Pride Assassin," which is likewise excellent. Unessential or not, all this other miscellany is nonetheless interesting, especially for diehards, who will have a ball putting together the pieces of Napalm Death's volatile recording history. The enclosed family tree foldout greatly aids such sleuthing, as do longtime bandmember Shane Embury's song-by-song liner notes of disc two, as well as the more general liners that run several pages in length. The end result is a one-stop Napalm Death collection for neophytes and diehards alike. The first disc is the prime attraction -- a definitive one-disc best-of -- and the second disc is a welcome bonus that would take you a short lifetime to acquire otherwise.