Arena heavy metal BBC2 documentary 1989 6 of 6

Arena heavy metal BBC2 documentary 1989 6 of 6

Napalm Death featured in a BBC2 Arena documentary on heavy metal, interviewed and performing 'Scum' and 'Dead'

Napalm Death are an extreme metal band (sometimes classified as 'death metal'), although they prefer the terms 'Grind' or 'grindcore' to describe the music they play, which they claim to have originally been influenced by the Swans. The band "pushed the envelope of metal to new extremes of ear-splitting intensity, rejecting all notions of melody, subtlety, and good taste to forge a brand of sonic assault almost frightening in its merciless brutality." ( According to Wikipedia, they were formed in Birmingham in 1981, although allmusic claims this was Ipswich in 1982.

Despite a number of line-up changes, the most well-remembered aggregation featured Lee Dorrian (vocals); Bill Steer, from Carcass (guitar); Shane Embury (bass); Mitch Harris (drums). In 1989 Mark "Barney" Greenaway and Jesse Pintado replaced departing members Dorrian and Steer respectively. Pintado died of liver failure in 2006.

They played a vital part in promoting extreme metal, with gruff vocals, thunderous drums and brief song lengths ('You Suffer', at 0.75 seconds, is listed in The Guinness Book Of Records as the shortest song ever recorded).

Links To Peel

Napalm Death, whose LP 'Scum' boasts twenty-eight tracks of quite exceptionally rapid music, described on the sleeve as "savagely brutal hardcore thrash", sounded as if they were playing soundtracks of the end of civilisation. I liked them a lot. [1]

The band recorded two sessions for JP with the first line-up and one with the second as listed above. Greenaway said, "John Peel, essential for Napalm Death", [2] as his constant promotion ensured widespread exposure for the band throughout their career, although he felt that the improved production values on the 1990 album Harmony Corruption took something of the band's appeal away.

As an interesting footnote to their influence, Terry Edwards, in his first session for Peel (recorded 1991-12-15) concluded his set with saxophone renditions of 'You Suffer', 'Your Achievement', 'Dead' and 'The Kill'.

Festive Fifty Entries

  • None


We had to hire equipment - we had no amps, drums or cymbals - because we hadn't started touring then and had recorded on equipment available in studios. Anyway, we turned up. "How long are your songs?" Dale (Griffin) asked. "Pretty short, we'll do twelve numbers," we said. "Well, that's OK by us," they said, but I could see they weren't sure.

  We literally blasted our way through it. I really enjoyed it. I was so happy with the sound that day. It was just a blinding vicious sound coming straight back at you. What Dale and the engineers didn't know was that the twelve songs came to only 5' 40" in all, the shortest ever Peel Session.

  That first Napalm Death session had a huge impact. It was nearly perfect. It was like doing a great live recording, but more relaxed, a good experience. I think Peel enjoyed it too. He repeated it three times. [3] (Mick Harris). [4]

Three sessions. All were available on Strange Fruit, but have been re-released on the 3-CD compilation Grind Madness At The BBC. Mick Harris also one session with Unseen Terror, two with Scorn (2). Shane Embury also one session with Unseen Terror. Bill Steer also two sessions with Carcass.

1. Recorded: 1987-09-13. First broadcast: 22 September 1987. Repeated: 12 October 1987, 28 October 1987

  • The Kill, Prison Without Walls, Dead / Deceiver, Lucid Fairytale, In Extremis / Blind To the Truth, Negative Approach, Common Enemy / Obstinate Divide, Life, You Suffer.

2. Recorded: 1988-03-08. First broadcast: 20 April 1988. Repeated: 17 May 1988, 29 June 1988, 28 December 1988.

  • Mutinational Corporations, Instinct Of Survival / Moral Crusade, Worlds Apart, Mad / Divine Death, C9, Control / Walls, Raging In Hell, Conform Or Die, SOB.

3. Recorded: 1990-08-12. First broadcast: 10 September 1990. [5] Repeated: 25 November 1990.

  • Unchallenged Hate, Mentally Murdered / From Enslavement To Obliteration, Suffer The Children / Retreat To Nowhere, Scum / Deceiver, Social Sterility.
Peel referred to this as the 'something old, something new' session, since 'Scum' and 'Deceiver' were songs featured on their debut release Scum; 'Unchallenged Hate', 'Mentally Murdered', 'From Enslavement To Obliteration', 'Retreat To Nowhere' and 'Social Sterility' are from the second LP From Enslavement To Obliteration; and 'Suffer The Children' originates from the then current release Harmony Corruption.

Other Shows Played

  • 15 May 1992: 'The World Keeps Turning (LP-Utopia Banished)' (Earache) (JP: 'A very different band these days, but still sounding majestic to me.')
  • 24 May 1992 (BFBS): The World Keeps Turning (album - Utopia Banished) Earache MOSH53
  • 09 July 1993: Nazi Punks Fuck Off (7") Earache
  • 17 December 1993: 'The Kill / Prison Without Walls / Dead Part 1 (CD-The Peel Sessions)' (Strange Fruit)
  • 19 April 2000: 'The Kill/Prison Without Walls/Dead Part 1 (CD-The Complete Radio One Sessions)' (Strange Fruit)
  • 03 May 2000: 'Deceiver/Lucid Fairytale/In Extremis (CD-The Complete Radio One Sessions)' (Strange Fruit)
  • 09 May 2000: Obstinate Direction/Life/You Suffer Part 2 (LP - The Complete Radio One Sessions) Strange Fruit
  • 03 December 2002: 'The Kill / Prison Without Walls / Dead Part 1 (CD-The Complete Radio One Sessions)' (Strange Fruit) (JP: 'Ah, those were the days.')
  • 03 December 2002: 'The Icing On The Hate' (free CD with 'Terrorizer' Magazine issue 20)
  • 12 December 2002 (Radio Eins): The Icing On The Hate (Terrorized Vol. 20)
  • Peel 084 (BFBS): 'Mass Appeal Madness (CDS)' (Earache) (1991-06-21) (JP: 'We were just debating whether Barney out of Napalm Death actually sort of sings like that, or whether his voice is mechanically adjusted in some way or another...but it may not be the case, perhaps he actually sings like that, in which case I suspect that he's probably not allowed out after the hours of dark without a muzzle on.')
  • John Peel Remembered: The Kill (session)

See Also

External Links

  1. Taken from an Observer article, reprinted in The Olivetti Chronicles, 2009 Corgi edition, p. 234.
  2. See Tartarine Desire Webzine.
  3. Only two repeats can be found for this session. Maybe Mick is referring to the second.
  4. The Peel Sessions, Garner, K., BBC Books 2007, p. 128.
  5. Although a complete recording of this show has yet to come to light, Best Of Peel Vol 13 features this first transmission.
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