Retrospective: Extreme Napalm Terror’s “Impulse to Destroy”

I fell down a very odd internet rabbit hole recently; the exact chain of events escapes me, but probably started with me Googling one of the usuals (“who played on the second entombed record again?” “why david t chastain ballads?” “wild rags ripoff richard c flyer,” etc.), being directed to Metal Archives, then just going straight to hell, which, in this case, was the odd story of Germany’s Extreme Napalm Terror and their 1989 album Impulse to Destroy.

This was a strange find for me: as a life-long grindcore fan, an album this extreme from 1989 surely should have crossed my path by now. But it hadn’t, and a big reason for that is probably that it was very under the radar, being released on Metal Enterprises, a label known for, brace yourself, their metalploitation records.

So, down the rabbit hole I went.

Apparently, Metal Enterprises was capitalizing on the late-’80s metal frenzy by absolutely crapping out releases, getting random studio musicians together to spit out albums by bands that don’t actually exist.  It’s a fascinating tale, one we may have to revisit later, because for now, we’re looking just Extreme Napalm Terror’s debut, Impulse to Destroy, which is 34 noisy grind songs in 35 minutes, all of which are named “Impulse to Destroy – Part X,” being, yup, 1 to 34.

I’m mainly trying to figure out if this band/album are real or if this is simply grind exploitation, the label coming up with either the biggest parody of grind-band names ever with the band name, or maybe it’s an homage to the genre and some of its biggies… not sure. The cover art is either a tossed-off joke or another serious ruins-of-society grind/crust album cover… not sure. I mean, part of the great joke here is pointing out how grind walks the line between being the best music ever created by humans (most of the time) and a horribly predictable immature temper tantrum (occasionally), and Extreme Napalm Terror are either pretty good at the former or really great at the latter.

See? It was a confusing rabbit hole.

I mean, there are what I think are bongos at one point and some of these songs are downright terrible. There’s an electronic-drum intro for one track that’s pure goofiness, but grind has a sense of humor sometimes. Some of the songs sound like they weren’t necessarily, you know, written, or “songs” as we know them, but that’s grindcore.

I must say, the drumming on this is pretty awesome, in a manic, frantic, set-to-explode sort of way. Check out the playing on about 17:00 to 18:00 of side A:

The album just steamrolls forth, incredibly sloppy at times, alarmingly tight at other times, the crust/grind/noise attack just continuing onwards through side B as if the listener needs the album to go on this long, which we kinda do (YouTube commenter andbeniougr summed it up best: “I think that I have big problem, something is not ok with me, i extremely like this bullshit”).

Apparently, vocalist Jochen Graf was also in A.O.K., a metal/punk band with a sense of humor (who also released albums on Metal Enterprises), so I get the feeling they didn’t take themselves too seriously, even if about half this material is as good as material from any given grindcore album I’m cranking on any given day.

The band did put out a more serious-looking album (ie, had song titles) in 1991 called Why? (again, the ultimate grind parody title or just a classic grind title?) that was more death metal, less manic grind and not as fun to listen to.

Given the context of Metal Enterprises, I almost feel a bit sheepish listening to—and enjoying—this album, because I just have no idea what the intention behind this band was. But that’s also a huge part of the fun of it all. So, today, crank up some Impulse to Destroy and enjoy one of the stranger moments in grindcore history. And, here, we’ll leave you with this photo of Graf just to help make this all go down that much smoother. You’re welcome.