Friday, November 16, 2012

Napalm Death - Fear, Emptiness, Despair (1994)

I know all the blast fags of the world had their hineys in an uproar when this came out, but being that I've, for the most part, considered blast beating to be an endeavor enjoyed and obsessed over by the retarded, it didn't bother me much that ND ever so slightly toned the pace this time around. I've always been in search of heavier shit and there was plenty to be found here.

I can only assume that after 4 albums that featured an incessant amount of blast beating, ND decided it was time to explore other avenues of extremity wrought by a slower pace. Fine by me. Fear, Emptiness, Despair features quite a few of what I consider to be ND's best songs including 'Hung', 'State of Emergency' and 'Armageddon X 7'.

The guitar team of Jesse Pintado and Mitch Harris has always been one of my favorites as they were never dry on ideas and always managed to come up with some of the more kookier riffage in death metal. I can say with confidence that FED is the pinnacle of the duo's bizzaro ideas. There's even an ever so slight industrial feel throughout the aural festivities on display which serves to add yet another layer of heaviness atop an already colossal piece of work. The greater portion of this album is on the slower to mid-paced side of the fence with an occasional blast thrown in to accentuate certain riffs and arrangements. Barney sounds particularly bestial on this album as he bellows and shouts in an almost off key approach, a style that he had begun to employ on 'Utopia Banished'.

If I had to say, the weakest link here would be drummer Danny Herrera, who, while certainly not doing a horrible job by any means, just doesn't really do anything terribly interesting. Mick Harris he is not, and I'm also not a big fan of the drum sound on this record. Aside from from that minor gripe, this is probably the last "extreme" album the band released until their much heralded "return to form", although for my money, 'Inside the Torn Apart' could have easily passed as the sequel to this album as the two have much in common. They're both innovative, somewhat progressive and industrial tinged but without sacrificing any of the intensity the band had initially based their career around.

This is definitely more death metal than grind, a fact made obvious by the scarce use of blast beats, though it could be reasonably argued that the ND officially became a death metal band with the release of 1990's 'Harmony Corruption'. I for one embraced the band's crossover as I was beginning to get bored by their earlier approach. Sure, 'Scum' knocked my socks off like everyone else at the time of its release and 'From Enslavement to Obliteration' was basically a tighter version of that album, but after the initial shock began to wear off, I had quickly grew tired of the constant blasting/haggard vocal approach and was pleasantly blown away when I heard what the new line-up had to offer. It would be nice to see ND revisit the style that they had begun to mine on this album, but then again, they'd probably manage to somehow drop the ball as most bands do when they try and recapture their glory days. I have to give mention to Meathook Seed's 'Embedded' album as that was a side project of Napalm guitarist Mick Harris and it is very similar in sound what with the bizarre rhythmic tendencies and industrial flavor.

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