Napalm Death – Utilitarian

(Century Media)

Rating: NNN

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. It quickly gives way to 15 tracks that continue the English four-piece’s trademark (and influential) ferocious pace. Vocalist Mark “Barney” Greenway is in top form, seamlessly switching between screaming, growling, singing and sometimes punky chanting. When songs occasionally open up – like in Blank Look About Face and The Wolf I Feed, or get a groove going, as in Everyday Pox, which also features a crazy John Zorn sax solo – it’s sweet respite.

Long-time fans will appreciate that Napalm haven’t toned down their extreme approach to metal. They also haven’t done much to freshen up their sound, but that might be too much to ask of a band conceived in 1981.

Top track: Everyday Pox

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