Label: Century Media
Release Date: February 27, 2012
British death metal scumbags Napalm Death have been ripping ear drums for more than 20 years, and the gruesome heart of these seasoned veterans is still pulsing hard and loud. In fact, if you include the original founding members of the band, Napalm Death have been tearing it up for more than 30 years. That’s around the same time that Metallica formed. So it’s no surprise that the brutes behind one of the world’s most successful death metal bands have released an astonishing fifteen albums to date, and they have never sounded more alive than they do now.
Napalm Death are known for their quick-fire, fully-loaded records which boast a vast amount of short-but-sweet tracks. They even hold the world record for the shortest ever song, “You Suffer” which is 1 and a half seconds long, rivalled only by fellow British band Carcass and thier cheerfully titled track “Die In Pain”.
Utilitarian is the latest record to grace Napalm Death‘s numbersome discography, and it is a scorcher, blessed with everything you have come to expect from the Birmingham-made punk death anarchists. However, don’t be fooled into assuming that this isn’t something slightly different. Napalm Death have always edged themselves into territory untouched by the hands of death metal. While it isn’t a grand leap into the unknown, you’ll certainly be jarred by aural anomalies such as the disturbing ghostly wails of a saxophone, which has seemingly been mangled in the washing machine and put through a trouser press. Creepy stuff.
If you’re after value for your money, you’ll get it in buckets here. In an industry where the term “less is more” seems to be steering the business, Napalm Death say “fuck that, more is more” and deliver 16 thundering tracks in one cracking album. Napalm Death consistently produce what can only be described as metal excellence, and it surges beneath our feet, largely untouched by the almighty mainstream.
Riff-work is fantastic, often quite catchy and backed by some diabolical drumming, giving the entire album a raw and devilish sound. The unique satanic roars of Greenway could give kids nightmares and would probably scare off the postman. Balls and bravado reign supreme as you sift through each track, but behind all the extremities lie the moral and political influences that are signature for Napalm Death members Barney Greenway, Shane Embury, Mitch Harris and Danny Herrera. From the controversial “Occupy” movements, London riots of last year and plain and simple individualism to conspiracies of strategically targeted hi-tech weaponry, Napalm Death weigh in with their brief yet hard-hitting views on what they see in the world of today.
Despite the vast amount of tracks to choose from, one of my personal favourite tracks doesn’t actually appear on the standard version of the album. Instead you’ll have to grab the limited edition to hear “Aim Without An Aim” along with another bonus track “Everything In Mono”. Stand out tracks include the urgently bizzare “Everyday Pox”, “Protection Racket” for its nicely arranged bass progression and “Fall On Their Swords” for the incredible low-end riffing and doom-ridden atmospherics. Don’t count anything out however; from start to finish, Utilitarian is a mixture of trashing aggression and heavy groove, staying true to what Napalm Death has always been about. If you haven’t dug into these British metal masters yet, it’s about time you caught up.
At a time where foreground metal is ever-changing to mould around whatever rakes in the green, Napalm Death and their hulking metal attitude remain true to their own unglorified dominance. They are those strange kids you see at the back of the school bus, quietly smirking at everyone like they’re in on something. Utilitarian is a critical record in death metal and in British politics, and while it is unlikely to surpass recent releases such as Cannibal Corpse‘s Torture and Job For A Cowboy‘s Demonocracy, it most definitely has the balls to stand amongst them.