Napalm Death: Leaders Not Followers 2
Napalm Death - Leaders Not Followers 2 - [Century Media]


Albums by established groups chock full of cover
songs are a dime a dozen, and there are a billion
bands intent on foisting their favorite artists
on you. From Metallica, to Eric Clapton, to
Dwight Yoakam, Richie Stevens, and Cat Power,
artists have strip-mined their record
collections, and though the occasional intention
is to explain where they’ve derived their
influences, the term stop-gap usually
comes to mind instead. It’s as though some will
do almost anything to remain in the public
consciousness, weighing their own work against
performers no nearer to stardom through this
association (see Metallica).

So when Napalm Death brought out their first
edition of Leaders Not Followers in 2000,
it would have been to be suspicious of their
motivation. The aim, however, was to be
educational, not to revel in monetary
exploitation/grave robbing. Napalm’s collective
knowledge of these groups, some of whom are quite
obscure, helped shed light on their careers. This
even, in one case, propagated the release of an
entire disc worth of demo tracks from Michigan’s
Repultion, featured on their first installment.
The roots of that six song release have blossomed
into Part 2, which, at nineteen tracks
finishes the argument that their vortex of
dissonance had to originate somewhere. And
while many will claim them for the “metal” camp,
the Crasstifarian mood of their early years is
felt when they tackle the songs of Discharge and
Anti Cimex. They move on through numbers by
Agnostic Front, Siege, Die Kruezen, and Attitude
Adjustment, as well as a few more metal/speedcore
hits by Cryptic Slaughter, Master and Sepultura,
but the idea is to show how each group helped
forge Napalm Death’s sound and attitude.

And Napalm borrow from all of them, but they have
advanced too, obviously. They have added their
own signature quirks, while inventing an entirely
new genre from piles of nearly-forgotten demos,
rehearsal tapes, and albums that never saw proper
release. Fast forward to now and Napalm Death’s
songwriting has moved beyond extremes heretofore
unforeseen anywhere in guitar-based music.
Leaders Not Followers 2 is a fresh start,
a turning of the page, for a band who, two
decades in, still have more to add. 10/10.

Jason Thornberry

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