Napalm Death: Scum (1987)

Napalm Death’s debut album “Scum” (1987) remains a landmark in extreme metal. Its raw energy, relentless aggression, and socially conscious lyrics laid the groundwork for the grindcore genre. Though recorded with limited resources, the album’s impact stems from its sheer intensity and the band’s uncompromising vision.

Napalm Death: Scum (1987) album cover

Track Listing

  1. Multinational Corporations
  2. Instinct of Survival
  3. The Kill
  4. Scum
  5. Caught… in a Dream
  6. Polluted Minds
  7. Sacrificed
  8. Siege of Power
  9. Control
  10. Born on Your Knees
  11. Human Garbage
  12. You Suffer
  13. Life?
  14. Prison Without Walls
  15. Point of No Return
  16. NegativeApproach
  17. Success?
  18. Deceiver
  19. C.S.
  20. Parasites
  21. Pseudo Youth
  22. Divine Death
  23. As the Machine Rolls
  24. Common Enemy
  25. Moral Crusade
  26. Stigmatized
  27. M.A.D.
  28. Dragnet

Length: 33:14



Release Date

July 1st, 1987

Record Label

Earache Records

The Lineup for the Album

  • Nicholas “Nik Napalm” Bullen: bass, vocals
  • Justin Broadrick: guitars, vocals (on “Polluted Minds”)
  • Lee Dorrian: vocals
  • Jim Whitely: bass
  • Bill Steer: guitars
  • Mick Harris: drums

Recording Date

August, 1986 and May, 1987

Recording Studio

Rich Bitch Studios (Birmingham, England)

Produced by

Napalm Death, Unseen Terror and Head of David

Album Themes/Concept

Anti-establishment/authority: Songs criticize those in power, including corporations, politicians, and the systems they create that oppress and harm regular people.

Social injustice: Addresses poverty, war, suffering, environmental damage, and the way the powerful often exacerbate these issues.

Individuality and defiance: A sense of fighting back, questioning norms, and living life on your terms despite a bleak outlook.

Bleakness: The view of the world presented is grim. Many songs focus on the worst aspects of society and humanity.

Album Mood

urious: The primary emotion is a relentless anger directed at the injustices and bleakness addressed in the lyrics. The relentless tempo and aggressive delivery amplifies this.

Raw: The production is intentionally rough and unpolished, giving it a sense of unfiltered urgency. It’s like a raw wound expressed in sound.

Chaotic: The short song structures, abrupt shifts, and blistering pace create an atmosphere of barely controlled chaos.This reflects the anger and turmoil of the album’s themes.

Oppressive (for some): The intense aggression, bleak worldview, and lack of sonic subtlety can be emotionally draining and oppressive for some listeners.

Album Trivia

Shortest Song Record: “You Suffer” clocks in at a mere 1.316 seconds, earning it the Guinness World Record for the shortest officially recorded song.

Two Sides. Two Lineups: The album is unique as each side features a different Napalm Death lineup.

DIY Ethos: The band and their friends handled most of the production, artwork, and even distribution of the album, embodying an early punk rock ethos.

Beavis and Butt-Head Approved: The song “Plague Rages” was featured in an episode of the iconic MTV show.

Unexpected John Peel Support: Legendary BBC Radio DJ John Peel was an early and vocal supporter of Napalm Death. He played their “Peel Sessions” (studio recordings for his show) frequently, which helped expose them to a wider audience despite their abrasive sound.

Enduring influence: “Scum” remains a reference point for grindcore bands, with its intensity and uncompromising spirit still being a benchmark decades later.

Listen or Pass

This album might be for you if you…

  • Love extreme music: If you find a thrill in chaotic sonic assaults and pushing the boundaries of heaviness, “Scum” delivers.
  • Appreciate raw punk energy: The album has a DIY, unpolished feel that embodies the rebellious spirit of punk rock at its most unhinged.
  • Connect with themes of anger and social criticism: If you resonate with music that rails against injustice and the darker side of humanity, the lyrical content might hit home.
  • Have a short attention span: The song lengths are perfect for a quick jolt of sonic adrenaline.
  • Want a piece of music history: “Scum” is a significant album in the development of grindcore and extreme music as a whole.

You might want to pass this one if you…

  • Prefer melodic music: There’s no traditional melody here – it’s all about aggression and energy.
  • Find chaotic noise unpleasant: The production is intentionally rough and the whirlwind tempos might sound like organized chaos if you’re not prepared.
  • Are easily disturbed by graphic lyrical content: The lyrics pull no punches, addressing societal ills in extremely vivid terms.
  • Want music to relax to: This album is the sonic equivalent of a caffeine overdose – not exactly calming.
  • Dislike short songs: If you prefer songs with more room to develop, you might find “Scum” unsatisfying.

Release Date

July 1, 1987