Napalm Death has always been an interesting anomaly in the metal underground: generally considered to be the inventors of grindcore, the band eventually became a ragged patchwork of punk, death metal, and hardcore that was simultaneously sloppy, technical, unwaveringly ugly, and downright vicious. And political -- proof being this recording made at a 2002 London animal rights benefit gig. Hence the anomaly; while slaughter, fantasy, and war are thematic crutches for much of the metal underground, Napalm is intent on righting the injustices of the world. Punishment in Capitals does a decent job of capturing the group's focus and intensity on-stage, the band rampaging through 28 songs in 90 minutes, from haphazardly arranged early donkey punches "Scum" and "Lucid Fairytale" to latter-day pneumatic drillers "Can't Play Won't Pay" and "Breed to Breathe." Visually, the live show is more than adequate, with enough camera angles to keep diehards relatively interested throughout, even if sonically the live mix is a bit gutted (strangely, the between-song chatter of singer Mark "Barney" Greenway is mixed much louder than his actual during-song vocalizations). Strictly for droolingly devoted Napalm drinkers is a jittery, D.I.Y., 45-minute documentary tacked on as a bonus feature, with mostly Barney-centric interviews covering relatively interesting territory (the band's political views) and the transcendentally mundane (what the band members eat before a show). Also added to the fray are two grainy cuts camcordered in Tokyo in 1996, and a half-dozen more culled from a particularly frenzied gig in Santiago, Chile, in 1997. Long-in-the-tooth Napalm punters will find plenty of meat and potatoes to consume in Punishment in Capitals, and the general no-bones-about-it approach nicely conveys the compelling grit of the hard-working and rightfully well-respected band at its center.
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AllMusic Review by John Serba