Thursday, November 15, 2012

Napalm Death - Words from the Exit Wound (1998)

Not quite sure what the fuck ND were thinking on this one. They had just begun to recover from the commercial misstep of Diatribes with '97's overlooked gem, Inside the Torn Apart, and then for some reason  said "fuck it" and decided to venture into left field with this release. As bizarre an entity as this release was (and is), it's not even really that much of an oddity in terms of experimentation, although the band had begun to infuse into its aural arsenal such a sterile tone that it makes me wonder if they were all high on rubber cement during the recording of this album.

In a way, this album is sort of the antithesis of Diatribes. While that album was an obvious attempt to commercialize the band's sound with a more compressed accessibility, this album is more "out there" and even, dare I say, "progressive" sounding at times. While this is not a bad thing, ND largely manages to fumble the ball, and this is in no small part due to the sterility of the guitar sound and production overall. Even the riffing sounds uninspired here, which is really saying something considering that even on their more commercial sounding efforts, the ND writing squad has always had a knack for creativity.

Personally, I wasn't bowled over by the band's alleged "return to form" starting with 2000's 'Enemy of the Music Business', mainly because of the oddly sterile guitar sound that the band had carried over with them from this release. Throwing more blasts over that shitty sound and halfhearted riff gymnastics did little to convince me that the band were indeed back on track.

I definitely do not see this album as being some kind of attempt at selling out. For all intents and purposes, the aggression is still there even though this is a far cry from what the band was doing on 'Utopia Banished' and even farther than the Dorrian/Steer era.

This album also marks the last time the band would use that horrendously gay "mid-era" logo that they had begun sporting back in '94.


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