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24 of 25 people found the following review helpful
on March 6, 2004
Napalm Death has one foot in the obnoxious, raw energy of hardcore punk and the other in the dirty, aggressive chops of thrash metal. However, _Scum_ is a big extension of these genres rather than a narrow amalgamation of them.
When the album begins, you might suspect that this is just another badly produced thrash album from the 80s. Nothing could be further from the truth, and once those grindcore assaults kick in, you'll be viscerally aware this fact. The heart of (most of) these songs, framed and sometimes divided by simple thrashery, is the band's distinctive contribution to metal: audacious assaults that basically consist of numbingly fast blastbeats and a greasy smear of guitars playing thrashy-NWOBHM riffs cranked to max-speed with incomprehensible, guttural vocals. The songs are all very short: at even with 28 tracks the album is over in 33-minutes (the shortest song, "You Suffer", is all of two-seconds). Some of my favorites are "Control", "DRAGNET", "Divine Death", and the eerily hypnotic "Instinct of Survival".
Why would anyone want to listen to this anyway? On the one hand, sonically it represents to me social decay, our regression back to primitivism in the democratic age. On the other hand, it's very fun and intense listening, and catchy also. Ultimately, it is a great sound with power and intensity rarely matched (although you might not be able to feel that power if you aren't able to take this music seriously). Both this album and _From Enslavement to Obliteration_ are essential metal albums. Napalm Death was the first to do something that countless bands have since attempted, but where Napalm Death succeeded in uncharted waters, most bands failed utterly while following in their footsteps. Highly recommended.
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10 of 11 people found the following review helpful
on April 11, 2006
All you need to know about Napalm Death is that they created grindcore. They made their first demo, "Halloween," in 1982, but this 1987 album, "Scum," was the band's first real/official release. "Scum" has a somewhat retched production (these songs sound like they were recorded in someone's garage), but, other than that, every ingredient for classic grindcore is in place, here. The band members skillfully combine death metal (violent barks and occasional high pitched shrieks) with speed of light thrash. Fueled by insanely fast, pulverizing, walloping blast beats, these songs careen, plow forward, and crush everything in sight (including the listener's ear drums). These songs are also full of fret-board smoking (though somewhat repetitive) riffs and whiplash tempo changes. A couple mini guitar solos also sprout up (in "Polluted Minds" and "Parasites").

This album has one last defining characteristic: short songs. Many of these songs are less than a minute in length (in fact, "You Suffer" set the record for the world's shortest song-1.316 seconds), and the longest song on here is the title track, which is two minutes and thirty-eight seconds long.

Songs like "Caught...In A Dream" and "Born On Your Knees" are maelstroms of guitars and ultra-fast, crashing drums; "Scum" has blazing riffs and a pounding, head-rattling blast beat; and songs such as "Sacrificed" and "Success?" are backed by excellent, almost inhumanly fast drumming. Lastly, some songs--like the slower, churning, "Siege Of Power," and "Deceiver" and "C.S." (which both have jackhammer rhythms)-- even manage to be kind of catchy.

Napalm Death will probably never get inducted into the Rock And Roll Hall Of Fame, but they sure know how to get the listener's head banging. This is absolutley essential listening for all death metal/grindcore fans, and metalheads in general.
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6 of 6 people found the following review helpful
TOP 500 REVIEWERon March 19, 2011
An album like Scum, a pioneer release in grindcore, is an acquired taste, not something most people will hear and immediately love and want to listen to again and again. At first, it can sound like pure noise, just a bunch of guys flailing on their instruments with reckless abandon and a vocalist murmuring gibberish. But a closer examination shows, in my opinion, something that is more art than music.

The songs on Scum are not meant to be considered within traditional conventions of music. They aren't concerned with verses, choruses, or song structures at all, but are intended to make the listener feel something. They collectively create a bleak soundscape that captures the hopelessness and frustration of expecting fairness or equality. The stark guitar tone and selectively enunciated, barking vocals create an intense, smothering anxiety consistent with the lyrical content. And I think all of these elements are enhanced, not weakened, by the raw, low-fi production. After listening to Scum, I feel like I just walked through a decaying, condemned building wallpapered with The Scream. It's an unsettling, yet somehow necessary, experience.

At high volume, you can feel the better riffs on the album grind through your brain, manifesting the genre's namesake. And while there are superior individual tracks like Instinct of Survival, Sacrificed, Control, Prison Without Walls, M.A.D., and several others, Scum is best when listened to straight through. Which is ultimately why I give it five stars. There's no time for anything boring or filler; so many songs fly by in under a minute or just over that you're left with more an emotional impression than a memory of a particular riff or hook. Napalm Death evolved later into a potent musical force, but on this first offering, they weren't as much playing music as creating decadent art with musical instruments. This album is not for the uninitiated.

As for the DVD, the documentary is great. Mick Harris is a nice, very humble guy with interesting insights and opinions. He's highly complimentary of his past involvement with Napalm Death, but also honest and straightforward, as when discussing Nick Bullen's drinking. It was cool to walk with him through the original locations that inspired and influenced the Napalm Death sound. Getting a first-hand account of the early days from a true legend of metal is a treat.

Also, seeing him get behind the kit for, what he says, is the first time since 1998 to demonstrate the blast beat gave me chills. Like any Napalm fan, I've seen this guy give some of the most manic, insane performances of all time. I mean, I love Danny Herrerra's work with the band, but if Mick were to come out of retirement to do one last Napalm album? I don't think I'm the only one who would run to the store the day that came out.
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5 of 5 people found the following review helpful
on January 1, 2000
This is the first album of the mighty Napalm Death, greatest grindcore band of all times. The sound and the songs have a brutal hardcore and a very little death metal influence, but their music is original. Songs often burst into overall chaos, probably due to the enthusiasm of the members at that time, being youngsters, making their first record etc...anyone getting into grind should buy Scum and From Enslavement to Obliteration immediately!
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4 of 4 people found the following review helpful
on February 19, 2009
I like grindcore, but it's mostly stuff from the pioneering albums from Repulsion, Carcass, Terrorizer, Extreme Noise Terror etc. because it seems like most grindcore bands (particularly nowadays) sound like a joke. Most modern grindcore suffers from overproduced sound quality, lack the punk influence that's so important, and the vocals are either too high-pitched or have stupid pig squeals (or god forbid, both). Those are the main reasons why I hate modern grind like Pig Destroyer and Psyopus. Old-school grind was awesome because the sound was really fast and rough and the vocals were like a deranged pitbull gnawing at an intruder's leg.

"Scum" is an interesting album in the sense that it's the only album I can think of that has two different line-ups on the two halves of it. Mick Harris played drums on all 28 tracks. Tracks 1-12 had Nik Bullen (bass/vocals) and Justin Broadrick (guitars); tracks 13-28 had Lee Dorian (vocals), Bill Steer (guitar), and Jim Withley (bass). The first half of this album is way better than the second because the sound is better (but not polished), and the songs feel more like songs than mini-songs despite also being short. Since the two halves are radically different, I'll review them separately.

Side A (tracks 1-12)

As stated earlier, this is far and away the best part of "Scum," and accounts for most of my positive rating. The sound for this half of the album was PERFECT. You can hear all of the instruments and vocals but are in a sea of fuzziness that makes it all sound raw and adds to the intensity of the music, this will definitely turn off the scene kids who only like modern grind. Side A is also very interesting in that this would the last Napalm Death recording with any of its original members; who in this case, is Nik Bullen. This is also seen as a link between ND's punk demos and their transformation into what we know today as grindcore, considering that several of their older punk tunes are on here but played faster and are much more brutal. The general formula for Side A is industrial-tinged punk guitar riffs, furious blastbeats, fuzzy bass lines, and "pitbull" vocals; there really isn't much more to it but boy does it work!! All of the songs are good here, even the really short ones like "The Kill" (20 seconds), "Polluted Minds" (1:02 minutes), and the infamous "You Suffer," which is only one second long. The standout tracks have to be "Multinational Corporations/Instinct of Survival" (this can be viewed as one track since they run together perfectly), "Scum," "Sacrificed," "Siege of Power," and "Human Garbage" because they have the best use of dynamics and are therefore, the most memorable. I'll describe two of the songs for you in greater detail because they're so great. "Multinational Corporations/Instinct of Survival" starts off with some symbol tapping and some guitar distortion noises while Nik repeats "Multinational corporations, genocide of the starving nations." It soon ends and "Instinct of Survival" kicks in with a mid-paced crust punk riff, at the 40 second mark a maelstrom of blastbeats is emitted and Nik grunts "RAAAAAAAAAAAHHHHHHH!!" That's one of the best openings I've ever heard for any album. The lyrics to this particular song are awesome, pure hatred for unruly corporations:

The multinational corporation
Makes its profit from the starving nations
Indigenous peoples become their slaves
From their births into their graves

"Scum" is probably the most beloved track from this album, and for good reason, it's a beast. It starts off with slow bass riffs then kicks into some mid-paced guitar riffs. It slows down again but at the 1:14 mark the guitar riffs kick into high gear with furious punk riffs followed by those blastbeats then Bullen screams his lungs out. Bullen quiets down and the song reverts to the original mid-paced riff section, only to be followed by the fast part again, Bullen caps off the song with the rest of the lyrics.

Side B

Side B of "Scum" was recorded when Bullen and Broadrick left ND to pursue different musical paths, but Mick Harris wanted to keep the band going so he hired Bill Steer of Carcass fame to play guitars, Jim Withley from the British crust punk band Ripcord to play bass, and Lee Dorian to do vocals. I like Side B, but it pales in comparison to Side A mostly because it feels rushed. Side B also had a much stronger metal influence than Side A mostly due to Dorian's weird combination of death grunts and screams that sound like the Tasmanian Devil. The sound quality is really different as well, while Side A has a sharp hardcore punk feel to it, Side B feels muddy and not quite as intense. While none of the songs on either side are especially long (Minus "Siege of Power, which is roughly four minutes long.), most of the songs on Side B feel somewhat like a bunch of rushed mini songs. Despite these setbacks, Side B is still a good listen. "Life?," "Negative Approach," "Deceiver," "Parasites," and "Divine Death" are classic ND songs on Side B. The best song on Side B has to be "Divine Death" because the dynamics are on par with the classics on Side A and Dorian perfectly utilizes his dual vocal style on this song, I especially like his ending of the song repeating the song title as it gradually fades out.

There's been some debate among grindcore fans and metal enthusiasts concerning if Repulsion's "Horrified" (another great album) or "Scum" pioneered grindcore. I say neither because the style known as grindcore was really pioneered by crust punk bands like Electro Hippies, Ripcord, and Siege. However, I will say that "Scum" was more of a grindcore album because "Horrified" had a stronger metal influence while "Scum" had equal amounts of punk and metal in their sound.

If you love extreme metal and extreme punk, chances are you aren't afraid of really short songs and in that case, don't hesitate on buying "Scum" if you don't own it already. Not for people who only listen to mainstream metal acts because the abrasive sound quality, short song lengths, and lack of melody will surely offend them. A legendary album, and a great listen!!
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3 of 3 people found the following review helpful
on April 16, 2005
I'm still pretty new to grindcore but now I can say I love this stuff. Now I know I cannot dismiss this album as the first of it's kind because prior to the original release date of this album other bands were achieving high intensities in their music like early D.R.I. Extreme Noize Terror, Repulsion, the Accused and of course S.O.D. One distinctive thing about this album though is the production was much clearer, it actually has vocal harmonies which was rare in those days in the grindcore/hardcore punk scene and does stand above all at the time in speed and heaviness. Now I know most people are quick to judge this as noise(early me) but overall most grindcore bands are just about attitude whether their theme is a joke, gore or political it's not really meant to deliver something memorable it's just there for the listner to headbang to and get his blood rushing through his viens while at the same time try to annoy people with it (works for me on friends)Anyways if you're fan of the genre get this album it kicks major A$$ but I would have to say their following album is half a star much better though
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5 of 6 people found the following review helpful
VINE VOICEon October 21, 2005
Napalm Death is often regarded as one of the founding fathers of grindcore, with the album "Scum" being one of the essential pieces in that genre. I Came to the band through my interest in John Zorn, who claimed the band as an influence for his stunning Naked City project and collaborated with Mick Harris in Painkiller.

"Scum" is actually an album by two variants of the band-- the first side of the album was recorded with the lineup of guitarist Justin Broadrick, bassist/vocalist Nic Bullen and drummer Mick Harris. After this recording, bassist Jim Whitley took over duties from Bullen, but both Bullen and Broadrick departed (the latter would eventually found Godflesh and eventually work with Harris again as a guest with Painkiller), and vocalist Lee Dorrian and guitarist Bill Steer joined the band. This quartet recorded the second side of this album.

The album itself feels remarkably cohesive-- Dorrian is a somewhat more versatile vocalist than Bullen and Steer is less inclined towards soloing than Broadrick. But by and large the music is essentially the same-- a tightly formed assault, attacking the listener head-on-- the album stretches 28 tracks in 33 minutes, with one three songs longer than two minutes and only one longer than three (and that piece, "Siege of Power", doesn't hold together well). The music is brutal, attacks the listener, never pauses, never settles down, never finds a groove-- it just attacks. The second side is definitely of vastly higher quality, with virtually every song hovering less than a minute and being nothing short of brilliant.

"Scum" is not quite perfect, but it is awfully good, and certainly its historical value cannot be understated. I'd give it 4 1/2 if I could. Highly recommended.
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3 of 3 people found the following review helpful
on September 21, 2005
This CD is about one thing. Short, fast, heavy, and NOISY SONGS! Death to music, we want grindcore! Along with Repulsion and Carcass, Napalm Death is one of the pioneers of the genre. This is not for fans of complex music, but for open minded or strait forward thrash your guitar music fans. This is also the album that won them the world record for shortest song ever recorded!!! That song being track 12. You Suffer. GREATEST SONG EVER MADE! This is for strictly grindcore fans or open minded individuals who know not everything has to be complex and sound beautiful or mezmerise you with technicality. Back to the basics of player louder, faster, and noiseier than anyone else. Thank you Napalm Death.
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2 of 2 people found the following review helpful
TOP 500 REVIEWERon March 4, 2011
An album like Scum, a pioneer release in grindcore, is an acquired taste, not something most people will hear and immediately love and want to listen to again and again. At first, it can sound like pure noise, just a bunch of guys flailing on their instruments with reckless abandon and a vocalist murmuring gibberish. But a closer examination shows, in my opinion, something that is more art than music.

The songs on Scum are not meant to be considered within traditional conventions of music. They aren't concerned with verses, choruses, or song structures at all, but are intended to make the listener feel something. They collectively create a bleak soundscape that captures the hopelessness and frustration of expecting fairness or equality. The stark guitar tone and selectively enunciated, barking vocals create an intense, smothering anxiety consistent with the lyrical content. And I think all of these elements are enhanced, not weakened, by the raw, low-fi production. After listening to Scum, I feel like I just walked through a decaying, condemned building wallpapered with The Scream. It's an unsettling, yet somehow necessary, experience.

At high volume, you can feel the better riffs on the album grind through your brain, manifesting the genre's namesake. And while there are superior individual tracks like Instinct of Survival, Sacrificed, Control, Prison Without Walls, M.A.D., and several others, Scum is best when listened to straight through. Which is ultimately why I give it five stars. There's no time for anything boring or filler; so many songs fly by in under a minute or just over that you're left with more an emotional impression than a memory of a particular riff or hook. Napalm Death evolved later into a potent musical force, but on this first offering, they weren't as much playing music as creating decadent art with musical instruments. This album is not for the uninitiated.
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1 of 1 people found the following review helpful
on June 7, 2005
Justin Broadrick(ex-GODFLESH) now Jesu along with Techno Animal, Ice, God, The sidewinder, Solaris BC, Final, Tech Level 2, White Viper, Zonal, Fall of Because etc. etc. it goes on and on and most of the bands can be found here on amazon.com !!!!!!! BYE ALL OF THEM !!!! This Napalm Death album also has Mick Harris playing drums. He is now Scorn, Lull, Joy of Disease, Cylon, Clinical, etc. etc. it also goes on and on. Look for them here also! This Napalm Death album is worth having just for the collection not to mention the hardcore grind death metal from the 80's that was way before its time Bye it NOW !!!!!!!!!
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