The 25 Most Important Metal Bands of the ’90s: #17, Napalm Death

  • Axl Rosenberg

The ’90s: they were the bomb! That’s why MetalSucks will spend the month of March giving snaps to the decade that was all that and a bag of chips by counting down The 25 Most Important Metal Bands of the ’90s. These aren’t bands that necessarily formed in the ’90s, nor are they bands that would turn out to be influential somewhere down the road; these are bands that a) were doing their best work in the ’90s, and b) amassed a devout following during the ’90s. These are the bands that we feel truly defined the decade for extreme music. These are the bands that we feel truly defined the decade for yo mama.

Napalm Death created grindcore.

Although originally formed in the ’80s, the band solidified their line-up with Utopia Banished in 1992, bringing together for the first time the five musicians all think of as ‘Napalm Death’: vocalist Barney Greenway, guitarists Jesse Pintado and Mitch Harris, bassist Shane Embury, and drummer Danny Herrera.

Napalm Death created grindcore.

This is the version of the band many of us encountered first. A year after the release of 1994’s Fear Emptiness Despair, that album’s opening track, “Twist the Knife (Slowly)” appeared on the soundtrack for the Mortal Kombat movie. Before you heard a note, you felt this band might be something special; they did, after all, have pretty much the best band name ever.

Napalm Death created grindcore.

Not coincidentally, that’s when people really started to learn what grindcore was. The gutter punks on St. Mark’s in Manhattan were all wearing Black Flag and The Cramps shirts one week, and then suddenly they were all wearing Napalm Death shirts. Napalm Death was the newest, heaviest, scariest, most extreme, envelope-pushing shit on the street.

Napalm Death created grindcore.

Their legend only continued to grow from there. They wrote righteous liberal protest music. Their shows were insane. They’d become successful almost by accident. They were the least-sellout band, like, ever, and if refusing to play the industry’s stupid games meant burning some bridges, well, fuck it, nothing lasts forever.

Napalm Death created grindcore.

Their aesthetic, their ideals, their approach — these remain the cornerstones on which grind is built today. How many bands wouldn’t even exist if not for Napalm Death? Uh… how high can you count?

So remember always and above all else:

Napalm Death created fucking grindcore.

#25: Morbid Angel
#24: Melvins

#23: Meshuggah
#22: Emperor

#21: Cave In
#20: Botch
#19: Cradle of Filth
#18: Sepultura

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