Napalm Strike came to the attention of our staff recently after the release of their latest EP, No Lives Matter on June 15th. I took one listen to the release and snapped it up before anyone else could stake claim on the review of this ass-kicking, Thrash release.
To start, let me introduce the uninitiated to Napalm Strike. Started in May of 2012 in Tucson, Arizona, Napalm Strike honorably carry the torch for traditional, hard hitting Thrash. No keyboards. No undecipherable screaming. No damned Power Ballads. No touchy-feely lyrics and no overly invasive production. No ten minute, showy tunes either. Bottom line: zero bullshit. Theirs is the sound of lightning fast, screaming, dueling guitars, crushing rhythms, blasting drum lines, barked out vocals and some of the hardest hitting guitar solos out there. This is the music that hooked me back in the 80’s once I heard Metallica’s “Kill Em All” for the first time. Rough hewn and honest with touches of tongue in cheek, dark humor and a no-holds barred harshness when dealing with touchy subject matter in the same vein as early Testament, Rigor Mortis, S.O.D., Slayer and Metallica when they were still underground bands. Yeah. Napalm Strike is that good. After as few lineup changes over the years, current members of Napalm Strike include founder/guitarist/vocalist Marcos Camacho, guitarist Andrew Durant, bassist Miguel (Mikey) Calderon and drummer Omar Galaz. One bad-ass group of musicians for sure.
To this point, Napalm Death has three prior releases before No Lives Matter: Demos (2013), Deities of Death (September 2013) and Aiming Down the Sites (December 2013). Interestingly, while upping their game at each release, they have changed very little. They obviously know what they are after and find no reason to change what works. Good for those of us listening, because they are so damned good at what they do. If they are not melting faces they are “probably drinking in a ditch somewhere” according to their media outlets. Gotta love the attitude from the roots of Thrash as well. Good stuff!
Right out of the gate at full tilt comes the opening, title track “No Lives Matter”. At only 1:35, this song introduces Napalm Strike with violent, Evil Dead type dark humor undertones but in a manner that they should also not be dismissed or underestimated. Good start with a pretty straight forward song structure. “Scum Christ” follows with a slower pulse but harder drive and harsh sarcasm reminiscent of Slayer’s “South of Heaven” in its lyrics. By the time we reach “Spit When I Talk”, Napalm Strike has hit a heavy stride with faster pacing and and moshable in early Anthrax and S.O.D. style power. Kicking some serious ass at this point. “Angel of Meth” is harshly honest and condemning. No apologies attitude lyrically or musically with one of the fastest and most impressive solos from any of their works to date. This is probably my favorite song on the EP because everything about it is just laid out brutality. This would be the shit an executioner from the Middle Ages would be listening to as they flay their victims. “Nuke” winds things down before ending with their cover of Slayer’s 1983 “Evil Has No Boundaries” from their CD Show No Mercy. This is a fitting tribute to a classic, Napalm Strike style, tipping their collective hats to the original Masters. Great finish for an awesome release. Not to be forgotten, Chris Kelly was responsible for studio engineering, mixing and mastering. He definitely has a feel of when to say when. The production is absolutely perfect for the sound Napalm Strike was after. There is nothing worse than hearing a really good band with bad or inappropriate production. Kudos to the band’s choice here. Artist Lee Russell also deserves a hearty nod for the sick album cover. Good teamwork throughout really adds the punch that many bands strive for.
If it is not obvious, I really dig what Napalm Strike has to offer. Killer riffage in a style I just cannot shake over the thirty some odd years of Thrash; what is to complain about, right? Don’t take my word for it though. Check them out below or hit their links. Napalm Strike will not disappoint!