Tuesday, 13 March 2012
Release Date: 24/2/12
Birmingham grindcore pioneers' first album in 3 years is another brutal and brilliant slab of noise... But then what did you expect?
Utilitarianism- the ethical theory that the proper course of action is that which achieves the "overall happiness." After 15 albums over the course of 30 years of brutal sonic terror, you can probably stab a fairly good guess at what makes Barney Greenway & Co. happy, as well as their fans. Whilst explaining the appeal of Napalm Death has never and probably will never be an easy task, for those who get it, and given the band's exceedingly consistent back catalogue, hopes will be high for "Utilitarian." As with any Napalm Death Album, it won't reach maximum listening pleasure for the vast majority of overground music fans, but it never ceases to be a thrilling, absolutely pulverising ride through 16 tracks of blinding aural abuse for the devoted.
Although Greenway & Co. are generally renowned for their rigorous but always explosive use of roughly the same death metal- meets- punk formula, there are signs of experimentation here right from the word "go." Opener "Circumspect" comprises of bone- chilling '80s synths and crushing slabs of downtuned dirge. "Errors In The Signals" flits between furiously fast and intricate picking before becoming a full on death metal assault, with Barney Greenway and guitarist Mitch Harris' increasingly harsh vocals seemingly competing to see who can dissolve the listener's eardrum first. "Everyday Pox" has an apocolyptic quality to its melody, whilst a tortured and screeching saxophone presides over the top, signifying another shift into experimental territory.
There's plenty of room for groove and musical sophistication here as well. "The Wolf I Feed" possesses one of the most infectious and stomping grooves on the album in the verses, and is the first example of the band employing clean vocals, even if they are drenched in a cavernous, unnerving haze. "Quarantined" begins as a brutally thrilling punisher with a furious riff and equally as intense drumming, before endorsing in a surprisingly melodic chord sequence in the chorus. "Fall On Their Swords" brings satanic, terrifically dark choir- of- death vocal harmonies to bear, as does "Blank Look About Face", which evolves from an off- kilter march into a destructive punk powerhouse. "Collision Course" has a punk rush and rhythm to it, as well as another one of the record's more infectious moments. And it wouldn't be Napalm Death if they didn't go out on a terrific, destructive groove as they do on closer "A Gag Reflex."
Akin to any Napalm Death album, "Utilitarian" is an absolute endurance test. It meticulously suppresses the eardrums into submission and continuously questions the listener's capacity for sonic abuse. As the debate continues as to whether Napalm Death will ever make a bad record, "Utilitarian" most definitely works in favour of the opposing argument.
Download: 1) Quarantined, 2) Errors In The Signals, 3) Collision Course, 4) A Gag Reflex
For Fans Of: Brutal Truth, Carcass, Death