Napalm Death’s Shane Embury talks Sonic Youth, Cardiacs & more music that changed his life
The latest victim in Decibel's 'Five Heavy Albums that Changed My Life' series is Shane Embury of Napalm Death, whose anticipated new album Throes of Joy in the Jaws of Defeatism (out this week) received a rare 10 out of 10 rating from Decibel.
"To name five albums is very tough," said Shane, but he managed to deliver a very eclectic list, even within the confines of choosing just five. He stuck to the "heavy" qualifier for his picks by heavy metal legends Judas Priest (1978's Killing Machine) and Venom (1981's Welcome to Hell), and hard rock vets Slade (1972's Alive!), but he also stretched the definition of "heavy" for his last two picks: 1988's Daydream Nation by Sonic Youth (who Napalm Death released a cover of earlier this year) and 1989's On Land and in the Sea, whose leader Tim Smith sadly passed away this year. Shane paid tribute to Tim while talking about the album, saying:
It’s no secret to anyone that these guys are one of my favourite bands. Unfortunately, the main guy and conceptualist Tim Smith recently passed away after a long battle [with brain damage and dystonia]. I was fortunate to not just be a fan but a friend of his. Tim and his band’s influence be with me forever. I will miss him dearly and the world is an even sadder place without him in it. This is the band’s second album. I was introduced to them on [their] Big Ship mini album—their mixture of prog, fast-paced punk and ska and their theatrics totally blew my mind! Tim’s lyrics are, I believe, deep-rooted but abstract in lots of ways, and I love that also—there should and could be many meanings and interpretations to his words; true engagement with their fan base. [Cardiacs’] crazy time structures and notations have seeped into the faster riffs that I write for Napalm Death, for sure—subconsciously, it’s inevitable. Oddly enough, when I first saw Napalm Death as a three-piece at the Mermaid pub in Sparkhill, Birmingham, back in 1986, Cardiacs played a few weeks later… Destiny again at play here, I believe…
As for Sonic Youth, Shane said, "The guitar chords, noise/sonics and placement of notes, odd drum rhythms on this album and also on all of their albums, are a massive influence on me and can be heard in subtleties throughout the past 25-plus years of tracks I have written for Napalm and my Blood from the Soul albums." Read his full discussion with Decibel here.
Sonic Youth and Cardiacs are just two of many non-metal influences that Napalm Death have shouted out over the years. Shane also praised Killing Joke and My Bloody Valentine in that same new Decibel interview, the band have talked over the years about the influence of Cocteau Twins. And, coincidentally, in celebration of the 30th anniversary of Heaven or Las Vegas, we just took a look at 24 artists influenced by Cocteau Twins earlier today, Napalm Death included.
Listen to Napalm Death's Cardiacs and Sonic Youth covers below...