Napalm Death The Code Is Red…Long Live the Code

UK grindcore institution Napalm Death have once again clawed their way out of the grave after the unwelcome release of last year’s Leaders Not Followers: Part 2. Though it’s the first studio album not to include long-time guitarist Jesse Pintado, The Code Is Red… is fortunately more varied than the pedestrian Order Of The Leech and Enemy Of The Music Business combined. Their usual blur-core commences with "Silence Is Deafening” and "Right You Are,” but it’s not until the title track and "Instruments of Persuasion” (the latter with guest vocals from Hatebreed’s Jamey Jasta) that the band slows down a bit and plays a truly solid death metal tune with grind parts, not the other way around. The speedy punk of "The Great and the Good” features the distinctive warble of the Dead Kennedys’ Jello Biafra. "All Hail the Grey Dawn” nods to their years on Earache, surrounding the groove-oriented thrash initiated with 1995’s Greed Killing. More hyper-grind follows, most notably on "Pledge Yourself to You” with Barney Greenway’s telltale growls being joined by Carcass chum Jeff Walker. "Morale” is a doomier number that hearkens back to similar moments on 1996’s Diatribes, and the album ends ominously with the art-noise of "Our Pain Is Their Power.” The bonus video for this final pair of songs was made by guitarist Mitch Harris and, although these cuts aren’t musically indicative of the album’s vertiginous brutality, the images of burned-out industries, empty playgrounds, and Greenway’s shorty haircut fittingly complement live footage of the band. Both maintaining and advancing their metal purpose, The Code Is Red… is Napalm Death’s finest moment so far this century. (Century Media)