Century Media Records/EMI Music Australia
Reviewed By Simon Milburn
As militant and precise as always
Napalm Death in some form has been around for over 30 years now. The Napalm Death line-up as we know it today has been going strong as is since 1992’s Utopia Banished, with the only line-up change being that departure of guitarist Jesse Pintado after 2005’s The Code is Red... Long Live the Code. But even with those personnel differences and the bands foray into more straight up death metal and later groove influenced metal over the course of their lengthy career, the band’s output regiment is strong. Utilitarian is the Birmingham (U.K.) quartet’s fourteenth studio effort and it’s a bloody cracker as well.
As they’ve done in recent times, the album kicks off with a dark, brooding instrumental opener (this time titled Circumspect) that really prepares you for the onslaught of blast beats, furious riffs and unhinged vocal barks to come. If you’re familiar with Napalm Death’s output since 2002’s blistering Enemy Of The Music Business, then you have a good idea of what to expect here. Whilst there is a lot of familiarity contained with Utilitarian, there is also a sense of progression as well.
This is trademark Napalm Death underneath – extreme music through and through from one of very few bands that release ruthless albums back to back showing no sign of slowing up. Of course, it isn’t just the same ol’ ideas rehashed. Things take a radical turn with Everyday Pox which features a guest appearance by sax-maniac John Zorn who delivers his trademark sax sounds that can only be described as unhinged. Still, Zorn’s work as chaotic as Napalm Death can be so the fit works quite well.
Other “out of the norm” surprises come in the form of the Burton C. Bell like clean vocals from Mark “Barney” Greenway that give The Wolf I Feed an amazing contrast of Fear Factory like groove up against the harsh grind that is the basis of Napalm’s career. Even the haunting Monk like vocals on Fall on Their Swords is a change of tact for these hardened grind legends but like Zorn’s appearance and the change up on The Wolf I Feed, this too isn’t out of place and fits within the mould of what Napalm Death are all about flawlessly.
Utilitarian is testament to the fact that Napalm Death are one of only a very few bands that deliver high calibre extreme music time and time again. They’ve been around for three decades and this is as fresh as it gets. You cannot call yourself a Napalm Death fan if you don’t pick this up. There are a couple of surprises on here but the end result will be the same – total annihilation of one’s lounge room when this one is cranked up to 11.
More from Napalm Death
- Coded Smears and More Uncommon Slurs [review]
- Apex Predator - Easy Meat [review]
- Time Waits For No Slave [review]
- Scum (CD/DVD Dual Disc) [review]
- Smear Campaign [review]
- Code Is Red... Long Live the Code, The [review]
- Leaders Not Followers Part 2 [review]
- Punishment In Capitals [review]
- Noise For Music's Sake [review]