Napalm Death are credited with defining the grindcore genre by incorporating elements of hardcore punk and death metal, short songs, fast tempos, deep guttura vocals and sociopolitical lyrics. The band’s debut album Scum, released in 1987 by Earache Records, proved substantially influential throughout the global metal community. Napalm Death have released fourteen studio albums and are listed by Nielsen SoundScan as the seventh best-selling death metal band in the United States.
Napalm Death were formed in the village of Meriden near Birmingham, in the United Kingdom, in May 1981 by Nic Bullen and Miles Ratledge while the duo were still in their early teenage years. The duo had been playing in amateur bands since 1980 as an extension of their fanzine writing, and went through a number of names (including “Civil Defence”, “The Mess”, “Evasion” and “Undead Hatred”) before choosing Napalm Death in mid 1981. The band were initially inspired by the early wave of punk bands, particularly the anarcho-punk movement (a sub-genre of punk music focused on anarchist politics), and associated groups such as Crass.
The first stable line-up of the group consisted of Nicholas Bullen on vocals and bass, Simon Oppenheimer on guitar, and Miles Ratledge on drums, and lasted from December 1981 to January 1982. Graham Robertson joined on bass in January 1982. Simon Oppenheimer left the group in August 1982 and was replaced by Darryl Fedeski who left the group in October 1982: at this point, Graham Robertson began to play guitar and Finbarr Quinn (ex-Curfew) joined on bass and backing vocals.