NAPALM DEATH — Utilitarian

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NAPALM DEATH - Utilitarian cover
4.22 | 20 ratings | 5 reviews
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Album · 2012

Filed under Death Metal
By NAPALM DEATH

Tracklist

1. Circumspect (2:17) (instrumental)
2. Errors In The Signals (3:02)
3. Everyday Pox (2:12)
4. Protection Racket (4:00)
5. The Wolf I Feed (2:57)
6. Quarantined (2:47)
7. Fall On Their Swords (3:57)
8. Collision Course (3:14)
9. Orders of Magnitude (3:21)
10. Think Tank Trials (2:27)
11. Blank Look About Face (3:12)
12. Leper Colony (3:23)
13. Nom De Guerre (1:07)
14. Analysis Paralysis (3:23)
15. Opposites Repellent (1:22)
16. A Gag Reflex (3:30)

Total Time 46:11

Line-up/Musicians

- Shane Embury / Bass
- Mitch Harris / Guitars, Vocals
- Mark "Barney" Greenway / Vocals
- Danny Herrera / Drums

Guest musician:
- John Zorn / Alto Saxophone on "Everyday Pox"

About this release

Century Media Records, February 27th, 2012

Thanks to umur for the addition and Vim Fuego for the updates

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NAPALM DEATH UTILITARIAN reviews

Specialists/collaborators reviews

Warthur
Its cover art is more reminiscent of the classic Scum (check that iconic yellow-black-and-white colour scheme) or From Enslavement to Obliteration than any of the Napalm Death albums between those two and this, but Utilitarian should not be mistaken for a return to the ultra-brief prototypical grindcore of early Napalm Death releases. Instead, it offers intense deathgrind compositions which mostly clock in at around 2 to 3 minutes, with each composition allowed enough time to properly develop its musical ideas whilst remaining brief enough to keep up the relentless pace of the album. It's not going to change the musical world like their earliest albums did, but Utilitarian still demonstrates that Napalm Death are a force to be reckoned with.
UMUR
"Utilitarian" is the 15th full-length studio album by UK grindcore/death metal act Napalm Death. The album was released through Century Media Records in February 2012. It´s been 3 years since the release of "Time Waits for No Slave (2009)", but as always Napalm Death have been very active touring and among other things bassist Shane Embury has also found time to record a new Lock Up album in "Necropolis Transparent (2011)".

"Utilitarian" continues the more grindcore based death metal style that the band have pursued since "Enemy of the Music Business (2000)". "Utilitarian" travels down a few new roads though but otherwise stick pretty close to the successful formula the band have now practised on six albums. The vocals by lead vocalist Mark "Barney" Greenway are usually harsh, growling and shouting, but he actually takes quite a few excursions into clean vocal territory throughout the album, which is great for the atmosphere and for the variation. Barney´s clean vocals are mostly delivered in a dark and monotone style, but his singing on "The Wolf I Feed" very much resembles the singing style by Fear Factory frontman Burton C. Bell. Guitarist/vocalist Mitch Harris also provide vocal variation with his high pitched screaming vocals. All in all "Utilitarian" is vocally probably the most diverse album yet released by the band.

Musically the album is also pretty diverse. The pace ranges from slow, midpaced, fast and blasting and as it´s been the case since "Utopia Banished (1992)", drummer Danny Herrera skillfully takes the band through each pace with great conviction and sense for detail. One of the most accomplished drummers in extreme metal. The rest of the band are extremely well playing too and everything is delivered with precision but fortunately also with an organic touch. This is not a cold and clinical release which is further emphasised by one of the best sounding productions yet on a Napalm Death album. The atmosphere is of course still ridden with despair and frustration, which is a trademark of the band, so don´t expect any sun to shine through. It´s dark, raw and brutal, but always clever and adventurous too.

The musical diversion and development is heard in a track like "Everyday Pox" which features saxophone. An instrument that blends in very well with the rest of the instrumentation. There´s also musical development in a track like the above mentioned "The Wolf I Feed". As always the lyrics on the album are thought provoking and cleverly written.

Six consecutively brilliant grindcore/death metal releases with original material since their artistic comeback with "Enemy of the Music Business (2000)" is not only an impressive achivement. It´s legendary. A 4.5 star (90%) rating is fully deserved.
J-Man
If there's any doubt that Napalm Death is one of the most consistent forces in the world of extreme metal, Utilitarian is likely to silence those naysayers. With fifteen albums (as well as numerous EP's, demos, splits, and live releases) now under their belts, the latest from Napalm Death is a perfect example why this famed grindcore band from Birmingham, England is still as relevant in 2012 as they were nearly thirty years ago. Utilitarian is a downright lethal blend of death metal and grindcore, filled to the brim with crushing riffs, brutal technicality, and overwhelming amounts of rage. It's tough to imagine any Napalm Death fan being disappointed by an effort with this kind of quality, and Utilitarian currently stands as one of the year's best death metal offerings.

After an epic instrumental opening in the form of "Circumspect", the band dives straight into their bone-crushing and distinct hybrid of death metal of grindcore with the killer "Errors in the Signal". Utilitarian, like most recent Napalm Death albums, veers much closer to death metal territory than grindcore or crust punk, but there are frequent reminders that the band did start out in the eighties' as one of the earliest grindcore acts. Many of the riffs are definitely rooted in hardcore punk territory, and Barney Greenway's hostile vocal delivery just reeks of anger and raw aggression. Throughout this sixteen track album (or eighteen if you purchase the version with bonus tracks - something I highly recommend), your head will be bashed in by some extremely brutal music, but Napalm Death never forgets to keep their music memorable and exciting. Lots of variation within riff structures, tempos, and vocal delivery always keeps me on my toes, and Utilitarian is an absolute blast throughout its full duration. Not many deathgrind albums are as well-composed as what we have here - believe it or not, Utilitarian actually stands as one of Napalm Death's finest musical efforts thus far. With songs like "Errors in the Signal" and "Quarantined" (to only name two), it's hard not to be left amazed by this exceptional observation.

Utilitarian also shows Napalm Death taking a few risks musically, particularly in "Everyday Pox" where saxophone legend John Zorn delivers frantic squeaking to add to the already frenzied atmosphere. This is a damn solid album from every angle; the band is as tight as ever, the compositions are brutal yet rewarding, the production is phenomenal, and a sheer sense of unbridled energy is always present. Fans of Napalm Death are advised to head out to their local record stores and pick up a copy of Utilitarian immediately - this is yet another fantastic observation from kings of deathgrind.
Kingcrimsonprog
Napalm Death are a well respected and pioneering force in extreme music and besides that, they are a very prolific band who have released numerous live albums, EPs, one and a half covers albums and now their fourteenth studio album of original music in 2012, entitled Utilitarian. With so much of a back catalogue to contend with, approaching a new album as a new fan could be confusing without all the musical context.

Furthermore, Napalm Death are a band forever surrounded by hyperbole due to the especially nasty, violent and savage sound that they make, so getting a feel of how one album is different to another can be difficult since everyone will just say clichéd things about how your ears will bleed etc.

An honest and hyperbole-free summation would be that if you generally like very extreme music, you should give Napalm Death a fair try and if you generally like Napalm Death then you should give Utilitarian a fair try, there is a strong possibility that you will like it.

Produced by Russ Russel, (The Berzerker, The Rotted, Dimmu Borgir) Utilitarian sounds great, and the energy level from the band themselves is very high. This is yet another expertly crafted album from the band delivering more extreme music and highly political lyrics.

Historically, the band have covered a lot of different ground in their lengthy career, and in the first decade of their career became known for taking radical shifts in musical style, sometimes to crys of ‘sell out’ and sometimes to great praise. In the past decade however, Napalm Death found a winning formula and stuck to it very rigidly, which both garnered praise for consistency and occasional criticism for treading water creatively.

With Utilitarian the band do retain a large quantity of that post millennial formula but they also seem to be overly aware that they haven’t changed up their style significantly in a while and so counteract that by using riffs, rhythms and vocal patterns here and there that you wouldn’t have heard on the last few albums.

In many ways, Utilitarian can feel like somewhat of a mixture of their albums Order Of The Leech (2002) and Diatribes (1996). Like Diatribes, there is more sonic experimentation and generally fewer blastbeats than on their recent albums and more time is given over to rumbly bass focused breakdowns, different vocal approaches and dissonant jangly guitar styles. However, a successful balance has been achieved between that experimentation and the recent formula and so the rest of the album is very much in the mold of Order Of The Leech in terms of riff style, song structuring, general attitude and the harsh sound from that record.

For example, ‘The Wolf I Feed’ initially has the feel of classic 1980s Hardcore Punk, but later introduces an almost Burton C Bell style clean vocal section. Other examples of the similarity with Diatribe’s variety include tracks like ‘Everyday Pox,’ ‘Orders Of Magnitude’ and the album highlight ‘Blank Look About Face’, feature the aforementioned dissonant waves of noisy guitar and even the echoey clean vocals from their late 90s style mixed in to the proceedings.

In terms of stand out moments of the other variety, special mention should be made for the album closer ‘A Gag Reflex,’ which is one of the catchiest and best songs that the band have written since their career highlight Enemy Of The Music Business album.

In summary; it is definitely nice that they are avoiding making the exact same album one more time, and if you lost interest due to too much repetition then you’ll probably view Utilitarian as a step in the right direction. That being said, its not as if Napalm Death are changing their direction as vastly they have been seen to in the past. The success of Utilitarian is that this album feels both fresh and enjoyably diverse, but it does so in a way that feels like a logical evolution. Overall, highly Recommended.
Time Signature
Orders of magnitude...

Genre: grind-death-crust metal

The gods of grind are back with another barrage of fierce, anarchistic, anti-capitalistic, politically charged music which is certain to make any corporate businessman and conservative politician crap themselves with fear.

Stylistically Napalm Death continue to explore the sound they have been operating with since the release of "Enemy of the Music Business" - that is, the music on "Utilitarian" combines grindcore elements with crust punk and death metal elements (although the death metal is much less dominant than on classics like "Utopia Banished" and "Harmony Corruption"), and the influence from The Swans - in the shape of, for instance, deep baritone choirs - was become an integrated part of the Napalm Death sound by now.

After a dark and almost epic instrumental in the form of 'Circumspect', the album is kicked into gear through 'Errors in the Signals', and the remainder of the album is a cornucopia of blastbeats, crust riffs, metal guitars, sudden changes, dissonance, and growls and screams. The overall impression is that of chaos - although, as we know, Napalm Death are in absolute control of every single note and beat. Greenway's vocals sound slimier and more aggressive than ever and, together with Harris' screams, they fit the aggressive music perfectly well.

An interesting dimension to this album is the occasional use of avant-garde elements, such as the above-mentioned Swans-inspired elements as well as the sick, tortured, insane saxophone that pops up in 'Everyday Pox'.

The production is quite clean actually but does not subtract from the aggression of the music, and the musicianship is - of course - top notch across the board.

Fans of Napalm Death should definitely invest in this album - it has all the elements that define post-2000 Napalm Death.

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