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Napalm Death – Utilitarian Award winner

Napalm Death
by Charl Du Plessis at 23 February 2012, 9:39 PM

Suppose we all have our bands that we keep close to our heart. Being a South African I live on a continent that’s not particularly renowned for a big metal following or any big metal names. NAPALM DEATH was according to my memory the first international metal band that set foot on these shores and paved the way for more to follow. Things were very different back then. They were definitely not as polished as nowadays! Mainly promoting their earlier work at the time, the place was filled with paramedics and several injured fans being given medical attention from NAPALM DEATH’s brutal blasts and screams. “You suffer, you suffer but why?”  They still hold the record in the Guinness book of record for the shortest song.

Now that you understand the association, I was extremely excited to review the same NAPALM DEATH 25 years later. Amazing that after 14studio albums these British grind and death metal heroes are still going strong. Utilitarian being their 5th studio recording on the Century Media label. Their press release from the label makes for interesting reading and one feels proud in reading what they have achieved. They are one of the bands that founded the Grindcore phenomena and though many have tried to imitate, none have succeeded to the same degree.

One thing is for sure, it’s nothing like their first work. I’m always keen to hear new material from the mighty NAPALM DEATH as in my mind it will take more than a monumental effort to beat the likes of "Utopia Banished" (1992) and "Fear, Emptiness, Despair" (1994) These older albums stand out in the historical halls of heavy metal and more than memorable compared to the more recent "Smear Campaign" in 2006 and "Time Waits for no Slave" in 2009. I’m not saying these albums were shit but just didn’t fall under the highly acclaimed category for me. Just considerably average realizing I have heard so much better from them, with the exception of one or two tracks.

The album title “Utilitarian” has a very interesting concept attached to it. Utilitarianism as per the English dictionary refers to “the ethical doctrine that virtue is based on utility, and that conduct should be directed towards promoting the finer happiness of the greatest number of persons” (Whilst the album cover depicts the total opposite)

The intro track, “Circumspect” immediately gives me the feeling that a great long awaited album is on its way. A better produced album in many ways with an aggressive approach towards every track. Mark Greenway’s guttural vocal abilities are all over the place and doesn’t back down as one would expect. He even sings a few clean lines which makes the variety just so much more enjoyable (Fall on their swords) The tracks “Nom de Guerre” and “Errors in the Signal” is as heavy as always. Consistent drumming with the same sharp guitar edges rounds of the songs with perfection. With 16 tracks that clock in just over 46minutes (standard album version, not limited edition or digipak) it’s not bad going for a Grindcore band. The same NAPALM DEATHbranded sound still surrounds the songs after all these years and you will love it if you loved it before.And vice versaor course. They keep on producing the goods and lives up to much more than just being a heavy “cause” band.

Ultimately this album is a masterpiece in its own right. There is no negative rant I can bring to the table when listening to this album. It’s well executed and shows the rest of the music business not to fuck with the likes of NAPALM DEATH. The boys from Birmingham are back to destroy what’s left of your asshole, and your ears.

4 Star Rating

1. Circumspect
2. Errors In The Signals
3. Everyday Pox
4. Protection Racket
5. The Wolf I Feed
6. Quarantined
7. Fall On Their Swords
8. Collision Course
9. Orders Of Magnitude
10. Think Tank Trials
11. Blank Look About Face
12. Leper Colony
13. Nom De Guerre
14. Analysis Paralysis
15. Opposite Repellent
16. A Gag Reflex
Mark Greenway - vocals
Shane Embury - bass guitar
Mitch Harris - guitar
Danny Herrera - drums
Record Label: Century Media


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