Release Date: Feb 28, 2012
Record label: Century Media
Genre(s): Pop/Rock, Alternative Metal, Heavy Metal, Death Metal, Grindcore
Every couple of years, for the past quarter of a century, grindcore legend Napalm Death has released a new album and set out to smash the state. With its calls for social justice wrapped in a macerating blend of grind, death metal and discordant fury, the band has toured relentlessly – playing everywhere, from huge festival stages to sweaty clubs and squats. Never resting on its laurels or diluting its message, the band, birthed in Birmingham, England in 1981, has had to overcome numerous obstacles throughout its career.
A quarter of a century after 1987's Scum introduced the world to arguably one of the metal scene's most uncompromising and downright menacing bands, and Birmingham four-piece Napalm Death are still as angry and vitriolic as ever. The "Godfathers of Grindcore" may have recently made a surprising cameo appearance in hit "yoof" drama Skins, but their 15th studio album, Utilitarian, would possibly reduce most of its teen viewers to a quivering wreck. Produced by Russ Russell (the Wildhearts, the Exploited), the follow-up to 2009's Time Waits for No Slave is a typically abrasive affair, chock-full of demonic, throat-ripping screams, moshpit-inducing staccato riffs, and breakneck-speed rhythms, whether it's the aggressive call-and-response of "Orders of Magnitude," the post-apocalyptic rage of "Errors in the Signals," or the adrenaline-fueled death metal of "Protection Racket," which is just as riotous as its name suggests.
It's difficult to avoid using the word "brutal" in a Napalm Death review. No other descriptor comes close to describing the grindcore band's mercilessly speedy rhythms, throat-scraping vocals and doomy atonal riffs. Songs, ideas and lyrics fly by before you've had a chance to decipher them. The beautiful, moody opening instrumental track on their 15th album, then, comes as a shock.
Legendary UK grindcore act Napalm Death return with Utilitarian, their 14th studio album (excluding their 2004 covers release, Leaders Not Followers). With an onslaught of their iconic, visceral sound, the new record showcases exactly why Napalm Death have been one of grind's most influential and revered bands for generations. While none of the founding members remain, the line-up have been consistent for the last two decades, and the same can be said for their music.