Wednesday, July 2, 2014

From Best to Worst: Napalm Death



Harmony Corruption

While I was sufficiently blown away by their earlier work it wasn't until the release of Harmony Corruption that I became a full-fledged, unabashed "fan boy", if you will. Sure, the alienated punk/grindsters will continue to walk around with their nalgas in an uproar due to the lack of micro-songs as a result of some major changes in the line-up but let's face it... ND has over twenty years of playing in this style over their shoulders, so I think it's safe to say that those days are done and over with.




Fear, Emptiness, Despair

As if ND's fascination with Florida and Morrisound Studios wasn't appaling enough to the homo cry-baby's populating the punk/grind scene way back when, Napalm's 5th album 'Fear, Emptiness...' would essentially be the final nail in the coffin for many of these dweebs. Fine by me.

F.E.D. sees the band flirting ever so diligently with industrial and also toning down considerably on the blasts. Sure, there're a few here and there but they serve more to accentuate certain rhythmic passages rather than seek out some juvenile rush via aural shock tactics. Suffice to say that F.E.D. would usher in the somewhat maligned "middle era" of Napalm's career. Some of the hate understandable, some of it not.




Inside the Torn Apart

Here we go with yet another "middle era" ND album that receives a lot of undeserved scorn from the homo punk masses. Sure, album opener 'Breed to Breathe' is a walloping doozy of total gay but each and every track from that point on is pretty much exactly what I wanted to hear from ND after 'Fear, Emptiness...'. Dare-I-say that 'Inside...' is ND's most mature album to date from a songwriter's perspective. Everything on here is quite evenly keeled, including the brutality one would expect from the band. Sure, if you want mindless blasting then perhaps you may want to put it in reverse and go back to 1987-88. Otherwise, 'Inside the Torn Apart' is a pleasant experience that brings to mind guitarist Mitch Harris' short-lived industrial metal project Meathook Seed.




Utopia Banished

Oddly enough, the homo punk/grind masses are known to give this album a pass as it features more blast-beating than 'Harmony Corruption' had. Wow. That's just lame. Oh well...

Blithering redundancies aside, 'Utopia...' certainly feels like an album that's either A) a big 'fuck you' to the naysayers and ship jumpers, or B) some sort of desperate stab at retaining their '80's cred by cutting down on song length and adding in more blasts to appease the ADD masses. Either or, 'Utopia...' is still a punishing experience and perhaps the band's most ambitious album in regards to the amount of riffs flying at you at any given moment. Sort of their 'Time Does Not Heal'.




From Enslavement to Obliteration

Feto sort of takes Scum and reinforces it. The production is ramped. The playing is much tighter and things are a bit more straightforward in regards to going in for the kill. Album opener 'Evolved as One' is a mesmerizing and sludgey "fake-out" before the battering begins. Once that happens, the band pretty much does not let up until album's end.








Mentally Murdered

Sure, I know many (including the band themselves) consider this to be more death than grind but I beg to differ. Obviously the riffs are a bit more varied than what is traditionally considered grindcore but honestly, this sounds like a grip of Feto tracks that didn't make the final cut. Not a bad thing but MM more likely than not sits relatively higher on this list due to nostalgia than it does for my unflinching adoration of its contents.






Scum

A milestone in grindcore and in all likelihood the most important album of that genre. Great for a rush and at this point the occasional walk down memory lane but I was glad that they let up on the shock tactics with the release of 'Harmony Corruption'.







Enemy of the Music Business

Heralded as the band's "return to form" after the trio of albums that comprised the reviled "mid-era", 'Enemy of the Music Business' in many ways is the last stage of the original Napalm sound. Correction... original Mk III Napalm sound. After this album there's something about their sound that changed drastically and has been that way ever since. I can't quite put my finger on what it is, at least in terms of describing it, but I know I'm not a big fan of it. However, I will say that pretty much the rest of the planet aside from myself has quite incessantly sung praises of the band since the release of this album.

'Enemy...' is a pretty good album that sort of serves as a mash-up of the many styles the band had experimented with up until that point. Somewhere along the line things tend to blur into one another and my attention span begins to fade, but again, this is still a fairly rad album to listen to from time to time.



Diatribes

Easily ND's catchiest album to date. Diatribes is so obviously a stab at commercial success, painfully so, even. Nonetheless, Diatribes has two things going for it... one, despite the band's attempt to garner a larger audience, the trademark ND "sound" is still there and had this indeed become a breakthrough album for the band it would have undoubtedly been the heaviest thing ever to have smothered the masses. Secondly, this album showed that ND were quite capable of writing snappier numbers as opposed to endlessly dishing out the more "thought-worthy" compositions of old. In a less plastic world ND just might have attained the sort of success enjoyed by the likes of Pantera and Metallica. Unfortunately, this album was not the grenade aimed at blowing up the Billboard charts and it served only to alienate their fanbase even further. Not a bad album though I would've preferred further exploration into the post-apocalyptic landscape of their previous album, 'Fear, Emptiness, Despair'.




Order of the Leech

Starts off strong and then just sort of loses focus and intent and meanders for the remainder of the duration. As far as I'm concerned this is the very last ND album that carried with it any of the flavor of the past. It is also the last album to showcase Barney's signature "crunch" vocal style before he caught the case of laryngitis that continues to plague his performance to this day.






Utilitarian

Pretty much the same shit as the last four or five albums before it but with a few surprises that make it interesting such as the horns on the second track. Not terribly keen on the guitar sound here and ol' Barney boy just sounds shot. Angry but shot. Props to the band for the groovy throwback album cover.








Smear Campaign

One of the better albums to have come out from post millennium ND. Not sure if that's saying much or not though.










Time Waits for No Slave

Again, this is basically the same album they've been releasing since 2000's 'Enemy of the Music Business'. Not a fan of the weak and generic guitar sound and Barney just sounds drained.









The Code is Red... Long Live the Code

See the above review. (By the way, this is the first album to fully feature Barney boy in "non-crunch" mode)










Words From the Exit Wound

After what I thought was a killer album (Inside the Torn Apart) ND decided to go for a more "experimental" (?) approach which frankly, totally fucked up any of the momentum the band had gained on the last album. The songs here do not challenge the way they ought to for an album of this type and the aggression is neutered and watered down in an odd way that defies description.

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