Napalm Death

Peel Sessions

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Peel Sessions Review

by Jason Birchmeier

In a way, Napalm Death's Peel Sessions better represent the group's extreme classic sound than any of their '80s albums. Albums such as Scum and From Enslavement to Obliteration still stand as testaments to the group's innovative approach to prototypical grindcore, but as historically important as these albums are, they're awfully lo-fi. The pristine clarity and live aggression of the group's sessions on John Peel's influential BBC radio show make for a better sample of exactly how amazing this storied group was during its fabled era with vocalist Lee Dorrian, guitarist Bill Steer, drummer Mick Harris, and drummer Shane Embury. The first session, recorded on September 13, 1987, features the group blasting through 12 songs in under six minutes. The CD features the songs in blocks of three with a brief pause between each song. Even with the blurry grinding sound of the group's instruments, you can actually make out the individual sounds: the repetitive yet powerful guitar riffs through the maelstrom of percussion, the enveloping bass tones through the detuned guitar riffs, and the juxtaposing growls and screams of the group members. The second session, recorded on March 8, 1988, finds the group moving through yet more of its early canon, including some of its more noteworthy compositions such as "The Walls" and a trio of Japanese hardcore cover songs. The third session featured on this CD, from August 12, 1990, features the band's shuffled '90s lineup playing many of the group's best-known classics such as "Unchallenged Hate" and "Social Sterility" while also moving through some of the early-'90s material such as "Suffer the Children." Overall, Napalm Death's Peel Sessions serve as an excellent overview of the continually evolving grindcore band and surpasses the group's '80s albums in terms of sound quality, if not historical significance. Note, though, that this album has been repackaged as The Complete Radio One Sessions and features a later session from 1996, making that a more comprehensive choice.

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