Who am I to write a review about Napalm Death anyway? What should I state that people don’t know about them? Where should I focus on this fourteenth full length release of theirs in the last 25 years since their legendary debut ”Scum”? The truth is that it’s one of these times where I feel the weight of responsibility on my shoulders, as we are not talking about a typical band and also, ”Utilitarian” as their newest album is entitled, is not a typical Napalm Death album. Having played their asses out the past decades, where they defined the term grindcore, they passed through death metal paths with ”Harmony Corruption” and they delivered albums full of vision in their middle period, such as ”Fear, Emptiness, Despair”, ”Diatribes”, deciding to split up and return with ”Inside The Torn Apart” and ”Words From The Exit Wound”. And on the past decade, ”Enemy Of The Music Business” started a series of five albums where the band sounded like they have stepped on their necks and they just had to scream their guts out about this.
On their newest release, three full years after the very good ”Time Waits For No Slave”, we find Napalm Death pretty renewed, with the album combining the things they have done in their whole career, and being a great mixture of the five ’00s albums they did, plus the four experimental works mentioned above. So, this means a great variety of sounds, put randomly into the multiple tracks of the album. Even better from this variety, is the fact that the band is kept on high level and this is definitely an album with no fillers (well, they never had much but it’s all a matter of taste). Sixteen tracks (unless you get the limited edition, so count two more) that keep your interest with their different approach. ”Circumspect” is an introductory track in the veins of ”Weltschmerz” from ”Smear Campaign” and as soon as it ends, ”Errors In The Signals” comes to reap what this about to be sown in the next 45 minutes. Nine tracks are above three minutes and this shows a more song-oriented attitude for the 2012 Napalm Death but worry not, it’s for a good cause.
The frenzy of ”Everyday Pox” with guest John Zorn offering his sax upon their blastbeats, the straight forward approach of ”Protection Racket” or ”Quarantined” and the clean vocal part of ”The Wolf I Feed” (which might remind you of old Fear Factory, so we’re driven back to where it all began, as FF where always a band who owes a lot to Napalm Death, especially in their beginning) are among others some of the moments you’d focus on the first half of the album. The second half is the same promising, where tracks like ”Think Tank Trials” raise the level of the album. ”Leper Colony” is the first that leaked and we had a sample of how ”Utilitarian” would sound like. It could easily be on one of their mid ’90s albums without making difference to the final result, Napalm death of the past meet the ones of the present and this meeting has its result in the fresh air that’s pouring from the album. Minimal tracks couldn’t be missing and ”Nom De Guerre” with ”Opposites Repelent” are a little larger than one minute in duration.
”Analysis Paralysis” is the first video they did for the album and just like ”Leper Colony”, it puts you in the atmosphere of the album. Less chaotic in the final sum but more multi-sounding, Napalm Death can claim they did a much better album than its predecessor and it seems that this change was needed, in order to remain fresh and full of ideas for the future. Of course, if you put all their elements on tracks such as ”Orders Of Magnitude”, none would complain. Multiple changes, bombastic rhythm section focusing on the mighty groove of the Birmingham based quartet, countless heavy and obsessive riffs and this time, Barney does his best vocals since ”Order Of The Leech”, without too much distortion, but that doesn’t mean his throat lacks aggression and expression. What makes me happier, is that these tracks are perfect for a live situation and I wouldn’t mind at all if they base their setlist on tracks from ”Utilitarian” the next time I’m gonna see them, it’s going to be an energetic blast for sure.
So, returning back to the beginning, it is obvious that Napalm Death have nothing to prove to anyone. A band respected by fans of metal, punk and hardcore needs no further analysis of what it’s capable of. Once more they deliver a great album filled with new ideas, as it happens in each new album they release, as soon as you don’t focus only on the blastbeats and you have abandoned them after ”From Enslavement To Obliteration” or ”Utopia Banished” era. A very good answer as well to the ones thinking that after ”Enemy Of The Music Business” and ”Order Of The Leech” they have nothing to offer and they just recycle themselves (a quick listening to ”Smear Campaign” would make you run into primitive caves for salvation folks). The English band passes a second youth that doesn’t seem to end and you’d better watch your back, for they are ready, willing and able for even better stuff in the future. ”Utilitarian” is the necessary album for every open-minded Napalm Death fan, don’t lose your chance, it’s a great food for thought as well. The rating following might make some people wonder why but when we’re talking about sixteen (or eighteen in the limited edition) tracks not losing consistency in the year of 2012, they hit the spot!
|Track List||Line Up|
02.Errors In The Signals
05.The Wolf I Feed
07.Fall On Their Swords
09.Orders Of Magnitude
10.Think Tank Trials
11.Blank Look About Face
13.Nom De Guerre
16.A Gag Reflex
|Shane Embury – Bass
Mitch Harris – Guitars, Vocals
Mark ‘Barney’ Greenway – Vocals
Danny Herrera – Drums
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Location: Gagarin 205 Club, Athens, Greece
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