Robin van Persie. The Klitschko brothers. Rahul Dravid. Valve. Eeyore. The one thing all these names have in common is reliability. In the case of all but Eeyore (for whom I can’t vouch ‘performance’), quality is another synonymous trait. These people, companies and indeed characters possess an unbelievable ability to produce striking results again and again and again. And again. And yes, again.
I could use other musical examples, but where’s the fun in that? Everybody knows AC/DC deliver good riffs, Ramones great three-chord melodies and The Wildhearts deliver cracking choruses again and again. I don’t need to go over them all the time. So to get to the point, on their fifteenth studio album ‘Utilitarian‘, have Napalm Death’s standards slipped? Not a chance. The Birmingham grindcore legends post-millennium renaissance continues on its constantly rising boom in stark comparison to the world economy’s bust, and, even in a genre where is in rude health at present, one of the scene’s forerunners is back to rightfully reclaim their throne.
‘Circumspect’, an instrumental intro’, ratchets up the tension nicely before exploding in the form of ‘Errors in the Signals’. The ‘Death rear up with their blaring racket in full force, Barney Greenway’s vocals still as vicious as ever. Its evident already at this point that their ability to get in your face with forcible intent is undiminished, and the remainder of ‘Utilitarian‘ goes about in pretty much the same manner. Even as nothing much is done to greatly reinvent the way, its quality that counts all the way with this release.
Napalm Death – Analysis Paralysis
The tools mastered by their many years remain as effective as ever. The slight tempo shift during ‘Protection Racket’ has been utilised many a time over the years, but is as reliable and effective as the aforementioned Ramones’ three-chord policy, and you’d be a fool to not be circle-pitting as it kicks in. Their years of experience shine through, with Mitch Harris stepping up to provide lead vocals on ‘The Wolf I Feed’, evoking the soul of Killing Joke with ominous vocals on songs such as ‘Fall on Their Swords’, and simply wanting to make you go absolutely nuts during tracks like ‘Quarantined’ and ‘Blank Look About Face’.
Unquestionably Napalm Death have delivered the goods again. Rarely do they fall on their own swords, and even in an era where grind has risen back up to prominence and is chock full of pretenders to the throne, Napalm Death still claim the seat, and particularly in a world full of injustices and moral, ethical and political quandries, could well still be there for years to come.