NAPALM DEATH
"Utilitarian"

(Century Media)

01. Circumspect
02. Errors In The Signals
03. Everyday Pox
04. Protection Racket
05. The Wolf I Feed
06. Quarantined
07. Fall On Their Swords
08. Collision Course
09. Orders Of Magnitude
10. Think Tank Trials
11. Blank Look About Face
12. Leper Colony
13. Nom De Guerre
14. Analysis Paralysis
15. Opposite Repellent
16. A Gag Reflex
17. Aim Without An Aim (bonus track)
18. Everything In Mono (bonus track)

RATING: 8.5/10

Well, of course, NAPALM DEATH has launched the Occupy Napalm movement. You weren't expecting Barney Greenway to announce that he's teamed up with Bill O'Reilly for a new propagandistic "news" program on Fox, did you? New album "Utilitarian" presents no downplaying of the refreshingly informed sociopolitical ideals that are always delivered with such sonic fearsomeness either, regardless of the number of stylistic curveballs thrown. Any way you slash it on their 14th studio album (of original material) NAPALM DEATH is as forward-thinking and fierce as ever.

You may ponder the coloring of certain tracks, such as John Zorn's fittingly mad saxophone on "Everyday Pox", or the outright musical contrasts of others (e.g. the spacey FEAR FACTORY clean vocals on the terrific grind 'n groove of "The Wolf I Feed"), but only for the seconds it takes to realize how well it all fits within the trademarked brand of grindcore intensity. Barney still barks and roars with supreme command presence; Shane Embury still knocks shit over with his bloated buzz; Danny Herrera still keeps impeccable time though manic d-beaten blasts; and Harris still slashes and serrates, and then disorients with a wicked screech that serves a purpose well beyond a backing vocal on this album in particular. Few extreme acts are as equally adept with their playing as they are with their arranging as NAPALM DEATH, a fact no more evident than on "Utilitarian". The album also attests to the group's sense of making all the "little things" count; dissonant dabs, punk channelings, and ominous noise continue to be placed in precisely the right places. This is one band that understands how to keep grindcore more than just interesting; it's exciting.

The dark tones of opening instrumental "Circumspect" set the stage for an album on which NAPALM DEATH offers bits of experimentation, at times with more prominence than others (e.g. the goth-y vocals on "Fall on their Swords", "Leper Colony", and "Blank Look about Face") amidst all that militant calamity. "Errors in the Signal", "Protection Racket", "Analysis Paralysis", "Collision Course", and "Orders of Magnitude" at various points are all representative of the quartet's keen ability to make even the purest forms of bludgeoning really quite brilliant. Sometimes it is about making a little melody go a long way ("Quarantined") and at other it has more to do with making points through pulverization, a classic case of the latter heard on the one minute and 21 seconds of "Opposite Repellant" and the even shorter "Nom De Guerre". In all cases on "Utilitarian" it is about proving once again that quality can never be questioned on a NAPALM DEATH album. Minds will be enlightened and faces will be broken.

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