Thirty years in existence (although no members remain from their inception but the core quartet have been together for an admirable 20+ years now), Napalm Death return with their fifteenth studio album, 'Utilitarian'. And the Brummie lads are on fine form as, once again, their inimitable blend of grind and death mixed up with a few hardcore infusions proves they're as hard-hitting and relevant as they've ever been. As one would expect from Napalm, and the album title, they continue with a philanthropic lyrical approach, offering up sincere socio-political critiques of whatever global injustice is currently riling Mark "Barney" Greenway so, once more, this is music with a message, and a positive one at that, as Greenway himself elaborates: "We have a finite period of existence that is all too easy to waste and ultimately we all deserve happiness and contentment." Indeed, and he barks every lyric with utter conviction as if he genuinely wants you to take note of the injustice, corruption and prejudices he discernibly opposes with such a passionate wrath. Mitch Harris' higher, more biting, growls are present in abundance once more which are neatly offset against Greenway's lower-end growling.
Music-wise, this is probably Napalm at their heaviest, most energetic and sonically compelling. Always looking to introduce new elements in their music, 'Utilitarian' is no exception with 'Fall on Their Swords', 'Blank Look About Face' and 'Leper Colony' where the heaviness is adorned with efficacious choral vocals. Also rather unexpected is the jazz sax on 'Everyday Pox' courtesy of ultra-prolific American musician John Zorn. It's a surprise addition to Napalm's usual instrumentation but one that works well and kind of brings to mind Ephel Duath's one-time extreme metal/jazz fusion. Elsewhere, it's generally standard Napalm fare for most of the playing time, only more intense during particular passages. Napalm Death's name has been synonymous with extreme music for over two decades now, and they're still quoted as an example of extremity by those who have no interest in extreme music, let alone metal in general. With 'Utilitarian', they're set to retain the hegemony they've worked so utterly hard to achieve.
Review by Mark Holmes
27th Feb 2012
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) Opposites Repellent
16) A Gag Reflex
COUNTRY OF ORIGIN:
"...this is probably Napalm at their heaviest, most energetic and sonically compelling."