Napalm Death – Utilitarian

Napalm Death

Utilitarian
Century Media
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.
Peter Clegg
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Warbringer – Worlds Torn Asunder

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Warbringer

Worlds Torn Asunder
Century Media
As stated a few times on this blog, I’m a mega-thrash fan. And by such terms, I should be a huge fan of Warbringer. Initially, such a relationship was promising. I was gripped by their track ‘Total War’, which is absolutely devastating. The debut release ‘One By One The Wicked Fall’ was a cracking EP and should have been a sign of things to come. Sadly, I have to say, ‘War Without End’ wasn’t quite the stunning debut I’d hoped for, and ‘Waking Into Nightmares’ was indeed the awkward second album which a lot of up-and-coming bands seem to trip over, as it didn’t really impress me or strike me as an improvement on their previous work. So is album number three, ‘Worlds Torn Asunder’, finally the album to convince me that Warbringer are the full package?

Well, it’s certainly a marked improvement. Although not drastically different by formula, ‘Worlds Torn Asunder’ marks Warbringer at their most focused yet, and the quality of the album runs through most of the record as opposed to the odd-track here and there. It begins impressively with pre-release track ‘Living Weapon’, featuring some solo-heavy action courtesy of guitarists John Laux and Adam Carroll, and ‘Shattered Like Glass’, ‘Wake Up…Destroy’ and ‘Treacherous Tongue’ are all satisfyingly heavy, ferocious songs and crucially, a step up from past albums.
There aren’t many signs that Warbringer are willing to progress beyond delivering face-melting apocalyptic thrash, but on ‘Echoes to the Void’ and closer ‘Demonic Ecstasy’, they do inject a modicum of progression into their sound, the latter in particular sounding befitting of its title as vocalist John Kevill beckoning the hounds of hell with his aggressive, raspy voice.
I still don’t see the signs there that Warbringer are yet to progress beyond delivering feral, apocalyptic thrash, still appearing in thrall to classic acts like Kreator and Sodom. But when done properly, it can be a good thing, and on this occasion, Warbringer have delivered the best release of their career so far. There’s still room for improvement and for progress, but equally, there’s plenty in the meantime to get your thrash kicks from.
Peter Clegg