Napalm Death – Scum (1986)

How does one approach a review of a revered classic that spawned a genre? There are various debates about whether Scum was the first grindcore record, but there can be no argument that it was the first one that blew up on any particular scale. It was the album that cemented this weird sounding “grindcore” as a real thing. It also put Earache on the map, and seeded the entire worldwide scene that would follow. That’s a pretty big achievement if you ask me.

The most hilarious thing about Scum is Napalm Death’s ridiculously OTT revolving door line up, with the only thing Sides A and B both have in common is drummer Mick Harris. I think personally I prefer Side A as it has a much better sound, but in reality the real grindy stuff happens on Side B, with track after track after track of pummeling punk goodness. Obviously Side A has “The Kill”, “Scum”, “Siege Of Power” and the classic “You Suffer” but Side B just churns out a gauntlet of really similar sounding tracks – not that there isn’t any decent tunage here too (“Life?”, “Deceiver”, “Conservative Shithead”, “Divine Death” and “Dragnet” to name a few).

It’s because of the disjointed “is it a record / isn’t it a record?” argument that I think most people prefer the follow up, From Enslavement To Obliteration, which is a lot more solid and expands upon the sounds on Side B of Scum (with the same line up, no less) and also comes across as more of a full album rather than two separate studio sessions crammed together on one disc. Scum is, in all honesty, a bit shaky, and isn’t something that I listen to on a regular basis. But you gotta know your roots. I spend most of my time in grind and its freakish sub genres, so it’s only right that now and then the granddaddy of grindcore albums gets a spin.

Hey, I own it three times, so it can’t be that bad!