Consistency In Music: Marduk vs. Napalm Death
Provided you’re not a child or a corpse, you will recognize the image above this post. Ghostbusters and Ghostbusters 2 are absolutely incredible and important films, not to mention staples of a young McNulty’s childhood. Recently, Ghostbusters 2 was released on Blu-ray and in the time since I’ve seen many critiques of the film. Some people seem to think it’s simply a rehash of the original, superior movie. I say, at least they’re consistent!
Consistency, whether in a positive or negative connotation, is an oft-discussed topic when it comes to heavy metal. How important is consistency in a band’s career? Let’s look at two very recent releases from two major players in the metal community: Frontschwein by Marduk and Apex Predator: Easy Meat by Napalm Death. Both bands are different: black merol (jajajaja) vs. grindcore; yet similar in consistency, career-wise. I expect complete jimmy-rustlage and my opinions could be swayed so you are more than welcome to come at me in the comments, brobocop.
It is with a heavy heart that I FLUSH Marduk’s new album (I am a recent Marduk fan; as I ADORE both Wormwood and Serpent Sermon, and have enjoyed just about every song that I’ve heard prior to those as well). Each song on this album contains an inertia that doesn’t seem to change: riffs are repeated with few progressions, there are NO solos (which are rare for the band, but most welcome), and the drumming is either doomy or blast-beat-y throughout the duration. Half of the songs proceed ahead at breakneck speed, the other half doom me straight to sleepytown. But whether we’re dealing with the slow songs or fast songs, I’m bored. I do want to point out the stand-out track “Doomsday Elite” that does command the listener’s attention for its 8:11 duration; but it’s the exception and not the rule. This is the kind of music which we’re accustomed to, with enough tempo changes and killer riffs. Overall, it isn’t a terrible album, just a very dull one. Marduk are going through the motions in this Detective’s humble opinion. Here, check out one of the tracks and judge for yourself:
On the other hand, Napalm Death have surprised nobody by releasing a non-stop assault on our earholes, with just enough experimentation to separate themselves from the pack (similar to their work on Utilitarian). The songwriting is top-notch, and though it’s familiar death/grind territory there are enough new and mind-spinning riffs to invade our brains. I want to point out special attention to the track “Hierarchies”, which is absolutely spec-flushing-tacular (Spotify it). And they somehow find ways to add small, fresh ingredients to make it all feel interesting, like we aren’t just spinning the release that had come before it. Check out the single, “How the Years Condemn” below; in fact I wouldn’t even label it as grind! I can’t quite place the sub-genre of the track, I just know that it both trills AND rockets:
Both of these new albums remain consistent with their respective band’s recent output; but one gets flushed and one does not. My logic here seems to be contradictory. This is why we need to discuss consistency; is it an important metric when discussing an album? Consistency is a convenient metric (similar to genre) when having a discussion but it is not essential. I don’t like flushing Marduk‘s newest, but I’m definitely not going to give them any slack. Having said that, a few of you are going to slay me with your steel for doing so. Let’s change direction to Napalm Death: I don’t think there is a single poor review of this album (this very site declared it unflushable). Why? Perhaps y’all can help me in the comments section.
Slayer is a band so consistent that it divides fans: group A yells “SLAAAAAAYER!” at other bands’ live performances (behavior I will never quite understand) and group B slams every new release because they’re more-or-less retreading familiar ground. Mastodon and Opeth have been so inconsistent in their discographies that it sparks some very fun and intellectual debates, depending on which blog’s comments you’re reading. It is my opinion that by simplifying the music (the former) or easing off the heavy (the latter), both bands have experienced a decline in quality.
Let’s throw Cannibal Corpse and Iron Maiden into the mix as well. Both bands have their winners and losers (relatively speaking) but both bands’ careers are entirely consistent! In a press release prior to releasing Torture, Pat O’Brien basically said that the new material won’t surprise anybody. He was correct, but the album still slayed! Maiden have their definitive stinkers (I still maintain that the solo in Can I Play With Madness deserves a flush) and fan favorites, but overall we can all agree they’re a brilliant band. If you’re more than a casual fan, however, you can pick apart each album and tick mental check-boxes of what they’re doing differently each time. A Skeletal Domain was on a few top 10 lists from last year, but not many. As a huge Cannibal Corpse fan, I feel like the minutiae of the songwriting on the album did a fantastic job of separating itself from other, recent releases but I also understand how the casual fan could lose this record in the shuffle.
I want to hear your thoughts on two distinct topics in the comments section: A) how important is a band’s career consistency to your opinion of the band and B) do you like Ghostbusters 2? No matter how you feel, I definitely appreciate this porcelain website in which we can discuss topics like these, in an intelligent manner, with friends located all over the globe.