Podcast the Thirteenth: September 2020 in Review

Another month, another batch of music to review and/or lampoon.

Zack’s Top 3 Albums of the Month

3. Tim Heidecker – Fear of Death
2. Big Sean – Detroit 2

Detroit 2 was released nearly 8 years to the day of the release of Big Sean’s fourth mixtape, Detroit.  Back then, Sean was doing it: his first studio album, Finally Famous, had dropped the year prior.  A week after Detroit would be the release of Cruel Summer, a compilation album showcasing several G.O.O.D. Music artist, including Sean on two smashers: Clique and Mercy.  He was still with his high-school sweetheart too.

Fast-forward to today: Detroit 2 is Big Sean’s sixth studio album, and he hasn’t slowed down a lick.  He’s quietly made a name for himself as one of the best rappers in the game.  And, like all the greats do, he spans a variety of topics on Detroit 2, without holding anything back.  Whether it’s the diagnosis of his heart condition on “Lucky Me”, the squashing of the apparent non-beef with Kendrick Lamar on “Deep Reverence”, or the vulnerable matters-of-the-heart jam “Guard Your Heart”, Sean puts it all out on the table.

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September 18, 2020

Napalm Death – Throes of Joy in the Jaws of Destruction (Century Media)

The inventor-creators of Grindcore have come back. The 5 years since their last release had a number of enthusiasts concerned about their well-being, seeing as how this is the longest gap between albums since they first published Scum in 1987. 

If you are unfamiliar with Napalm Death, clearly you are new to metal. But that’s okay. Everyone has to start somewhere. They have been admired and respected by all in the industry for over 30 years. The best way I can describe their unique style and delivery is: semi-melodic, quasi-demonic, febrile chaos. While sounding positively evil, the most recent release is taking furious, amphetamine-laced punches at the current social and political state of things. 

As one of only 2 bands I can think of that has a song that clocks in at less than 1 second (the other one is The Electro Hippies), it is sort of refreshing to witness them doing an entire LP with reasonable-lengthed songs. 15 songs – 51 minutes. That’s downright radio-friendly! Let’s get these guys on the charts. 

Song length aside, Napalm Death has kept their signature, iconic grind intact. Fast-moving guitar riffage with little to no lead work, utterly devilish vocals that would rip a lesser throat to shreds, and drums that are so relentlessly punishing that my gut hurts just thinking about it. 

A strange point on the record is the surprisingly accessible and straightforward “Amoral”, a middle-of-the-album banger that displays their ability to create. It stands out because it has more in common with acts like The Melvins. It has…structure and…melody.

Whoah, it felt weird to write that. Oh, good. We’re okay. The title track follows it up with blistered corpse-fire and demonic torture. 

While this might be one of their most accessible recordings lo’ these 34 years, it isn’t their best and it is far from their worst. Actually, if you ARE new to them, this is a perfect place to start. If you’re an OG Grindcore fan, first take a shower before your neighbor thinks you’re dead, then crank this up.

FFO: Terrorizer, Carcass, The Locust

-JR

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