In a world where mainstream rock has become a search for bands that have similar sounds to please mass fan bases, one record label stand out from pack. It’s not Nuclear Blast, or Metal Blade, or even Roadrunner. In fact, it’s a relative underdog compared to the aforementioned names. It’s Napalm Records. An independent label founded in Austria in 1992, Napalm got its start signing primarily Black Metal artists. Since then Napalm has moved on to much broader horizons. By broader horizons we mean everything from the weird, to the brilliant, to the bizarre. Napalm has signed a number of acts ranging from pirate Metal ,to Russian ska, to traditional Dutch folk Metal. That’s right. Pirate. Metal.
While they certainly do have some weird bands, Napalm also sports a huge variety of not-so-strange groups. In fact, their current roster contains mostly Gothic, Folk, and Power metal bands. So why should you care about Napalm Records? Napalm has made us question what exactly Metal is and can be. Can there be Indie Metal? Hipster Metal? Or does tacking on a label typically associated with pop and alternative rock defeat the point?
Napalm isn’t really concerned about arguing with Metal snobs (like the hosts of Death Häus) and that’s what makes them so incredible. For example, check out one of their newer artists, Kontrust. Seriously, what the heck is this? It’s like Tuba-Polka Folk Nu Rapcore Metal with a hint of the B-52’s (those guys that sing Love Shack from way back in the day) thrown in. Do we like it? I don’t know. Do we dislike it? I don’t think so? Another interesting act from Napalm is Alestorm, the pirate Metal dudes. There’s actually quite a bit of dispute about the quality of Alestorm’s work here at Death Häus, but their novelty can’t be denied. The Sunk’n Norwegian is actually a pretty cool track, especially if you’re into folk Metal. It’s a departure from the pretty standard sound we’ve come to expect from groups like Eluveitie. Lastly, Russian ska. We know, we know. “Come on Death Häus, aren’t you guys like all about Metäl and brutäl stuff and putting dots over all your ä’s?” Well, Russkaja is just way to cool to leave out of this label showcase. Russkaja works the Russian stereotype for all its worth and it’s amazing. American ska has generally been all about creating happy music with not so happy vocals and addressing social issues, but this is something different. We aren’t really sure what Russkaja is trying to convey to us as we don’t speak Russian or German, something about the Soviet Union and Berlin Wall maybe? Regardless, if you’re even the slightest bit interested in ska music or looking for a song to that goes well with 13 shots of vodka, definitely give Energia by Russkaja a try! (Bonus track! Barada or Beard, is like the ultimate song of praise for beards!)
Napalm isn’t all weirdness though. Nay! Napalm has a number of bands that are… standard? For lack of a better word. Take Audrey Horne (yes, like the character from CBS show “Twin Peaks”) for example. Audrey Horne is basically New Wave of Classic Rock. We’ve seen them defined as post-grunge, but that just isn’t quite right in our opinion. They’re more akin to Thin Lizzy, quite a bit in fact. Check out Out of the City to see what mean. There’s also a wicked cameo from Johan Hegg of Amon Amarth and his wife in the video. Perhaps you’re more into Black Sabbath? Napalm has you covered. Order of Israfel is probably one of the least known artists in Napalm’s roster, but they’re easily one of our favorites. Israfel is a perfect example of what Doom Metal should be. Somewhere in between Candlemass (who is also now in Napalm’s roster) and Sabbath, Order of Israfel is some of the heaviest freaking Doom we’ve heard in quite awhile. Staff in the Sand has a sort of weird intro, but we get chills every time that first electric guitar slams into the track. So maybe you’re here and you’re like “Geez, isn’t this Death Häus? The Death Metal Show?” Fear not! For deep within Napalm’s roster of artists lies… Be’lakor! An up-and-coming Melodic Death group from Australia, Be’lakor has actually been up-and-coming for about a decade now. Which is unfortunate, because we think they are awesome! While not quite as brutal as big MeloDeath names like Amon Amarth and Arch Enemy, Be’lakor ops for a more atmospheric sound. With incredibly mellow poetic lyrics contrasted by harsh vocals, it’s pretty easy to get lost in their music. Roots to Sever is our particular pick off their newest album Vessels.
We could probably go on for another couple hours about how great all Napalm’s artists are, but you don’t want that (and we don’t really want that either) instead you can tune in next Friday at 6:00 pm and listen to the live Napalm Showcase on KFHS Radio! Or perhaps explore Napalm on your own! We’ve even included the playlist for tonight as a special sneak preview!