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Driven by a relentless hunger for creating new and mind-blowing sounds, Shane Embury is the metal underground’s premiere prolific polymath. With a career stretching back to the mid-’80s, he is best known as bassist with UK grindcore legends Napalm Death: a band he joined way back in 1987. But over the last three decades, Shane has demonstrated an unwavering enthusiasm for exploring every possible musical avenue and pushing boundaries for the sheer, unadulterated joy of it. With multiple ongoing projects and many more planned for the future, he continues to live out the creative dreams that began in early childhood.

I was always into movies from a very early age, and I used to record the theme tunes off the television, he recalls. "My mates thought I was insane. They’d be chuffed with the Bee Gees and I’d be like, ‘Yeah, but listen to the theme from The Saint!’ They really thought I was a nutcase. But it all just evolved from there. I’ve always been chuffed with rock and metal, but I knew there was something more."

As the longest standing member of Napalm Death, Shane has been relentlessly involved in the building of that band’s glorious legacy. Widely revered by fans of metal, punk, noise and many other genres, the band have been a remorseless touring machine, while also releasing a startling number of acclaimed albums along the way. As the band’s most prolific songwriter, Shane has been instrumental in sustaining Napalm Death’s unassailable reputation as one of heavy music’s most inventive and exciting bands.

Meanwhile, Shane has forged his own artistic path via countless left-field and extreme projects, including the alt-metal experiments of the recently-resurrected Blood From The Soul, blistering deathgrind with Lock Up, warped hardcore punk with Venomous Concept, and bombastic classic metal with Absolute Power, amongst many others. An instinctive co-creator, Shane has made music with a vast array of cult heroes and maverick talents, ranging from jazz renegade John Zorn and Melvins’ Buzz Osborne to Megadeth’s Dirk Verbeuren and Faith No More’s Billy Gould. As Shane explains, working with other people has been a constant source of inspiration.

You meet people and it’s part of your destiny, I guess. For example, I’ve always wanted to do a proggy band, and it’s something I’ve been working on, and now that I know Jim from Cardiacs, why not get him to play bass? I just want the joy and excitement of putting the music together and then working with people that I love and admire. That’s living life, isn’t it? I just like recording in studios and creating sounds.

In recent times, Shane has released a vicious blackened grind album under the name Born To Murder The World, formed the psychedelic metal outfit Tronos (in cahoots with long-time collaborator, producer Russ Russell), releasing the band’s astonishing debut album, Celestial Mechanics, in 2019. Shane has also begun to explore the world of dark ambient music with his widely lauded Dark Sky Burial project, with two full-length albums released since late 2020 and a third and fourth already in the works.

I’m halfway through the third Dark Sky Burial album, and I’m gonna branch out and try to turn it more into a live thing. The experimental side is where I see myself moving towards over the next ten years. There’ll always be Napalm, but Dark Sky Burial has a lot of potential. I’d like to be able to mould it toward some kind of different outlet, whether that’s soundtracks or something else.

Despite losing his ability to tour during the ongoing pandemic, Shane has been as unrelenting as ever during the last 12 months. With multiple projects planned, a new Napalm Death album included, and an ever-expanding list of potential team-ups and collaborations, the next few years promise to be both incredibly fruitful and extremely exciting. And no one is more excited about the prospect of making more music than Shane Embury himself.

I get more and more enthusiastic as time goes on, he concludes. "I guess I’m a jack of all trades – I’ve learned to play a bit of bass, a bit of guitar, a bit of drums and started singing a bit, and it’s just opened more doorways for me. You have to always remember that music is amazing. People say that things aren’t as good as they used to be, but that’s bollocks. There’s tons of great stuff around. That’s what drives me on, hearing something new. You want to get to grand old age and look back and say, ‘Fuck me, that was fun!’ You can’t lose that spark or the feeling that music gives you."

Photography by Axel Jusseit · Merchandise illustrations by Bite Radius Designs and Jacob Bannon · Emblem by Kevin Sharp · Biography by Dom Lawson · Web design by Semih Orhan