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What can be said about this album that hasn't already been said? It truly is the magnum opus of the genre (just barely outclassing Symphonies... and Horrified). It set the standard that all grind bands in the '90s and the new millennium have tried to match. Musically, it's not that far removed from side two of Scum and Reek..., but because of the cold, harsh production it's more aesthetically pleasing than the other two, and not to mention Mick's drumming is much tighter than Ken's (though Ken's drumming on every subsequent Carcass release is top notch).
Lee's voice is the grindcore equivalent of Tom Araya. Powerful, percussive, and just so alive. While there are grind bands that have objectively better vocals (in the sense that you can decipher the lyrics), Lee's voice here just hits your eardrums like a sledgehammer. Not even Bill's vile and rotten gutturals on Reek... and Symphonies... match the indescribable greatness on this album. Speaking of Bill, his riffing here is more or less the same as it is on Reek of Putrefaction, but because of the higher tuning and better production it stands on its own to feet. While his playing here is simplistic and immature compared to Carcass and Firebird, it reflects what grind and hardcore are all about: aggression and passion. Mick's drumming is a chaotic flurry of up-tempo punk grooves and unrelenting blast beats, made even more chaotic by the reverberating production. Shane's bass is buried under all the chaos caused by Bill, Lee, and Mick, but you can't go bassless. If you did, it would probably sound hollow and weak.
Since death metal was in its infancy in '88, there's very little death metal influence on this record as opposed to most grind records, and surprisingly enough, there is also very little thrash to be heard (which is where the early European grind differs from early American grind). Instead you get what is pretty much Discharge, Doom, and Crass with the metronome turned all the way up.
Lyrically, they kept to the formula of anti-establishment idealism present in nearly any socially conscience punk band. Though where Scum points out the corruption of western society in the '80s, FETO presents a myopic and disturbingly realistic dystopia that constantly punishes the everyday working man.
The only standout track is the doom opener "Evolved as One", as every other track is essentially crust punk on amphetamines and steroid-induced rage. An essential album for any grind aficionado or anyone who wants to look into what grind is all about.
Napalm Death…widely regarded as the first true grindcore band. “Scum” was the first but I feel like it sounded too punk and “From Enslavement to Obliteration” was the first “true” grindcore sound.
The music is one thing, grind. Every song exemplifies what grindcore is to me. Blast beats are the most used drum beat along with a lot of thrash beats. They slow it down occasionally such as in “Unchallenged Hate”. The riffs are punk influenced riffs but the guitars are so freakin heavy that some of riffs come off as death metal riffs. “Unchallenged Hate” has an amazingly heavy riff. It is easily the best song on here. The title track also has an incredible riff and stands out among the rest. The songs are pretty short, the longest song is just over 3 minutes long and it’s more of an atmospheric into than anything else. Most of the songs are between 1 and 1:30 long, perfect for grindcore.
Production is pretty amazing. Guitars are heavy but are kind of fuzzy during the really fast riffs, which take up most of the album. The bass is super LOW, like it should be. It’s not overpowering in the mix but you can definitely tell it’s there, more like feel it’s there. The drums sound good, but the cymbals are very tinny and the snare could be louder during blast beats. Lee Dorrian…this guy has the best grindcore vocals I’ve ever heard. He might only say a few “lyrics” every song but wow this guy has some energy. He is super guttural and his highs actually sound painful. Easily my favorite grindcore singer for sure.
So if you’re looking at the beginnings of grind, this is a necessity. Everything about this album is amazing and is definitely my favorite grindcore album ever.
Best tracks – “Practice What You Preach”, “Unchallenged Hate”, and “From Enslavement to Obliteration”
This is the album that set the standard for what grindcore should be. Napalm Death's debut album, Scum, was what gave birth to the genre we know as grindcore, but it mostly sounded like sped up hardcore punk. Which wasn't a bad thing at all, Scum is a fantasic album, but From Enslavement to Obliteration (FETO for short) gave the grindcore genre a solid identity. This album doesn't sound like sped up hardcore punk, and it doesn't sound like death metal. For its time, it was unique, and some would say still is, because no other album better advertises the fury expected from grindcore songs than this one.
The album packs twenty two songs into thirty minutes. Bonus versions include a few more tracks, which don't sound out of place at all and fit seamlessly into the feel and mood of the album. As expected from grindcore, few songs run for more than three minutes. The average length for them is around a minute. And the band makes full use of that time to craft memorable songs. The album is best enjoyed when listened to in a single sitting, which if you have an ear for extreme music, shouldn't be a problem considering the ridiculous amount of catchy riffs.
From the lineup that recorded side one of Scum, only Mick Harris remained, who apparently decided to keep the band going. Lee Dorrian joined as vocalist and subsequent grindcore legend Bill Steer as guitarist, with Jim Whitely on bass. While this lineup did offer up side two of Scum, it was mostly a lacklusture effort when compared with side one. However, it was a glimpse of what was to come, and come FETO, on which Shane Emburey replaced Whitely, they did deliver a masterpiece.
Words cannot do justice to Steer's guitar tone on the album. It contends with his tone on Carcass' Symphonies of Sickness as possibly the grimiest tone I've ever heard. Very harsh and cold sounding. It is a significant part of what provides the album its grittiness. Mick Harris is maniacally fast. You won't hear many cute fills or time changes here. He mostly flits between a steady beat and hyperspeed blasts that sound like he's hitting everything in his kit at once. Plenty of cymbal use as well. Basically, his performance is what drives the chaos on the album. Shane Emburey's bass is barely audible, but it's doing its job, which is to add an almighty rumble to the bottom end of the riffs. Which is perfect. The riffs sound absolutely monstrous with Steer's guitar tone and Emburey's bass following the guitar. Lee Dorrian brings his unique vocals to the album. Scum had mostly hardcore punk-like shouts for vocals. Dorrian does growls and screams instead. Which is another thing that differentiates the genre from hardcore punk. His vocals are in lock-step with the general mayhem of the songs, they match the manic blasts when they come along, and flow along with slower moving riffs.
The riffs on the album are still very punk-ish. Simple, fast, and extremely catchy. But the speed has been upped a notch. And while there are slower riffs that serve to establish a groove, speed is the norm. Apart from the first track, which has a very leisurely pace, and which is an excellent track as well; all other songs are a whirlwind of monstrous riffage and chaotic blast-beating, augmented by the very socially informed, yet completely unintelligible vocals. Also, another brilliant quality of the riffs is that when they change, they are variations on the former riff most of the time. That gives the songs continuity and coherence. Else it would be rather difficult to tell one song from the other since otherwise they mostly consist of blast beats and vocals that are delivered at the speed of those blasts.
The production is stellar, the cymbals sound divine during the blast sections. The guitar tone absolutely crushes and sounds like a juggernaut that'll mow you down, and Dorrian's voice always manages to be distinct from the rhythm yet complimenting it. There really are no outright bad songs here. Most have recognizable riffs and the vast majority of them are very catchy. Catchiness is a very valuable trait in a genre that mostly relies on creating aural chaos. And this album has catchiness in spades. Songs like Unchallenged Hate, From Enslavement to Obliteration, Social Sterility, Mentally Murdered are grindcore classics and will get stuck in your head when you listen to them.
If you are a grindcore fan, and you don't have this album, which is pretty fucking unlikely, you should have gotten it yesterday. So don't waste time. However, if you are an extreme metal fan who hasn't yet tried grind out, I'm not sure if this would be a good introduction. Maybe easing yourself in through death metal bands that have grind blasts would be a better approach. But, all said and done, this is a fantastic album and deserves its place in history. And absolutely nothing else sounds like it.
With the release of the massively influential “Scum” in 1987, Napalm Death established themselves as the premier grindcore band of the world. They had been generating a buzz for five years prior to its release and had even garnered some popularity and radio airplay. Despite this success, Napalm Death suffered from constantly changing lineups. “Scum” was an excellent album, but the fact that it was split across two entirely different groups of people produced somewhat of an unstable effect. “From Enslavement To Obliteration” fixed this problem by having a stable (for the time being) lineup.
FOTE is an altogether different monster, but more importantly it is a monster that manages to keep itself intact across 22 songs. While some may argue that the Napalm Death of the Bullen/Broadrick days was the best, it is insanely difficult to compare them to the growling and shrieking of Lee Dorrian, and blitzkrieg speed of guitarist Bill Steer, drummer Mick Harris, and bassist Shane Embury. While most of these talents were introduced during the second half of “Scum”, it is on FOTE where they consolidate and take on an identity of their own.
The album begins with the very slow and ominous “Evolved As One.” Distorted guitars and extremely creepy vocals give way to the utter mayhem that is “It’s A M.A.N.S. World.” That song is the starting point for where the early Napalm Death formula is pushed to the absolute limit. It’s all here, from the catchy punk-infested grind riffs to Dorrian’s demented vocals and Harris’s insane drumming. While Napalm Death had been using this same formula for a while, it is here where it is done best. Just listen to the non-stop barrages that are “Lucid Fairytale” and “Impressions”, or headbang to the more varied, but no less brutal, tunes of “Display To Me” and “Mentally Murdered.” This is essential Napalm Death, and also their last true grindcore album. Indeed, after FOTE both Dorrian and Steer would leave and be replaced with Mitch Harris and Barney Greenway, both great musicians in their own right, but lacking the sheer explosiveness that made Napalm Death into such a powerhouse.
“From Enslavement To Obliteration” is an album who may not have the historical value of the band’s previous works, but instead has something that is perhaps more important; perfection of the formula that gave the band a name in the first place.
I didn't really like 'Scum', but this album I definitely enjoy. It's not as punky as the first side of 'Scum'; really it's a natural step forward from that album's second side, but still much more 'songy' and coherent as a whole. The instrumental performances are better (though still nowhere near rigid) and the production is a substantial step up from the rehearsal room atmosphere of the band's debut. The package feels much more complete overall, which I guess isn't surprising since 'Scum' was originally intended to be a demo.
The fundamental importance of this album is that it's perhaps the most definite, clear, pure first grindcore album ever made. 'Scum' was rather excessively punky to fully hold that title and most others that could be theoretically crowned aren't as decisively absolute as this one. This is, in essence, grindcore in its purest form. Short and immediate songs with sped up crust/thrash riffs, ripping growls and screams, and blasting, chaotic drumwork. The songs aren't nearly as chaotic in general as the second side of 'Scum'. There are plenty of entirely intelligible riffs during even the most chaotic sections, and rhythmically the band is less tighter than the borderline noisecore of certain tracks on 'Scum'.
I can't say the songs are particularly memorable (apart from the stunning 'Evolved As One', which, like many other future tracks goes to show that Napalm Death NEEDS to do an album of entirely slow songs), but at around a minute and a half each, they aren't really intended to be. It's an album to be consumed as a whole, as these bursts of brutality don't really stand up without a dozen or so of their compatriots as props. This is grindcore as it was originally supposed to be: an experience that is felt more than listened to. You're simply battered by the music more than pleased by it, and I have a feeling that that was the intention of the band from square one.
Though it is a mighty step up from 'Scum', it's not my favorite album by Napalm Death. There's a couple of clear weak points. First and most importantly is a periodically weak vocal performance by Lee Dorrian, which occasionally slips into monotonous shouting that doesn't do anything to drive the music forward. The tracks are still occasionally rather simply structured without logical connectors from riff to riff. And while I appreciate this aesthetic of pure brutality and of the album being undergone more than listened to, I still prefer Napalm Death a couple albums down the road where the brutality was maintained but the music was more capable of standing up on its own merits rather than relying on its aesthetic.
That being said, this is still a great album, and not merely in the influential sense that 'Scum' was. It's a grindcore classic for a reason, and, at least in my opinion, the first and foremost example of the genre. Really a mandatory listen for all extreme metal fans both for historical and musical reasons. Napalm Death got better, but they were never quite this pure again.
What we have here is the ultimate Napalm Death (which from now on shall be called ND) album in the classic pre-Barney line-up. For a lot of metal fanatics their previous album Scum. Although groundbreaker, still had too much ‘punk’ in it. But on F.E.T.O. it’s old school grindcore all the way. Not as sloppy as their earlier works yet not as slick and heavy as their Barney period, F.E.T.O. sounds underground as well as proffessional enough to appeal to more than one select group of listeners. It therefor is ND’s most ‘accessable’ release from the eighties.
Lee Dorrian feels more at easy growling and grunting the socially aware lyrics compared to his performance on the B-side of scum. His voice has improved and therefor the dynamic performance is more consistent. Mick Harris’ drums have slightly approved in terms of tightness which is logical considering that on the previous record the band was still experimenting and on this album they had crystalised their music.
Bill Steer? We all know what Bill Steer could pull of so his performance here sounds laid back and therefor pretty proffessional (if we can use that term in old school grindcore). Shane Emburys pressence is just a heap of distorted bass but is excatly what the music needs.
Whereas ‘Scum’ was the album that really started it all for ND, ‘F.E.T.O.’ was in fact their best! Tighter, more focussed and produced suitingly. It’s not all noise or blastspeed. With “Unchallenged Hate”, “Mentally Murdered” and especially “Display to Me” the band shows they can combine grindcore, crustcore and some pleistocenic death metal into aggressive, catchy and well played songs.
“Retreat to Nowhere” and “Lucid Fairytale” are two prime examples of the Scum (side-B) approach being worked out more efficiently. Brutal, short and with some ingeniously catchy riffs, breaks and vocal lines.
Lyrically the band was as furious and sometimes remarkably subtle as ever. For instance “Cock Rock Alienation” (apart from a briliant title!) being a great song against corporate music or the even more impressive “Social Sterility” (check it out yourselves).
Of course, most grindcore albums since those days sound heavier, more brutal or whatever. But the intensity, drive and especially honesty surrounding this album is still hard to equal. F.E.T.O. is way up there with other early bands like Terrorizer, Carcass and Fear Of God (Swiss).
If you like grindcore, your collection can not exist (mustn’t even be allowed!) without From Enslavement To Obliteration!
One year after their well known debut album, the seminal british band Napalm Death attacked again with another raw and brutal album, called "From Enslavement to Obliteration". "Scum", their debut, is considered as the first grindcore album, and yes, it was rabid as hell, fast and brutal, but it lacked of maturity. Fortunately, this time the band was pretty much solid and established than in their first album, or at least it sounds like that, but that doesn't means a lost of their primal brutality, it is still the same.
This lineup had brilliant elements on it, particularly the vocalist, Lee Dorrian, Cathedral's leader and godfather of deathened doom metal, and the guitarist Bill Steer, who got his own name in grindcore and death metal with Carcass. The bassist, Shane Embury (which is the only member who remains in the band since their debut album) and drummer Mick Harris are the perfect support for Dorrian's manic gutural screams and Steer's machinegun riffs. The production is somewhat cleaner than the debut album and it helps a lot to the band, their massive strenght gets even more empowered by the production.
Well, it's pretty hard to review an album like this, because it's something like 30 minutes of noise... but the greatest noise you'll be able to hear. The album starts with "Evolved as One", which is the most listenable song of the album. This track is more doom metal oriented (which is probably a hint of what will Lee Dorrian do with Cathedral), a deep bass line with a slow and stomping drum pattern domine all the three minutes of the song, the guitar is very secondary on this one. It works well as an introduction but it gets a little monotone when Dorrian yells "your weak minds!" so many times. After this "peaceful" intro, hell unleashes. Literally. There are three of four songs on this album which surpass the barrier of the two minutes, so you can barely distinguish one song from another. It's better to take this album like a 35 minutes song than like an 35 minutes album with 27 songs. Musically, there are some notable changes from "Scum" to this record, in "Scum" the punk and death metal elements were somewhat balanced but this time the death metal orientation dominates their music, although you'll hear some punk passages along this album, this is more a festival of growls, metallic riffs and blast beats. Of course the 3 or 5 seconds songs are still present, "Your Achievement" and "Dead" are as short as "You Suffer", but that "song" remains as the shorter song ever recorded.
Finally, "The Curse" is "Evolved as One" without vocals, it works as a return to peace and normality after such a brutal discharge.
In my opinion, "Scum" is very overrated, if you want to get the true grindcore spirit of this british monster, then get this album. You will surely get many brutal moments.
After blowing the rules of punk and metal apart with their debut album Scum, Napalm Death were back in short order to do what some thought was the impossible: produce an encore to the apocalypse. But lo and behold, the band, now with extra added bassist Shane Embury (who’d formerly recorded with Unseen Terror) did their debut one better, by virtue of experience, both on their part and of their still fledgling record company, who were quickly gaining ground as bastions of extreme music on a global scale.
Primarily, the production is was ahead of the debut, balancing the drums, which threatened to consume the whole aural picture previously, and pushing up Lee Dorrian’s wails and Embury’s fuzzy bass high in the mix. And somewhere in there Bill Steer (co-currently recording with his other band Carcass) churns out riff after riff of sonic goo. Also, the songs boast somewhat meatier, more metallic riffs, as Napalm Death begin their slow and steady but ultimately short lived journey to the frontiers of death metal. “Unchallenged Hate” is perhaps the best thing on hand with its weighty structure, although the opening semi-industrial dirge of “Evolved As One” is a striking piece as well. But then, this is Napalm Death, and plenty of brief and formidable hyper-speed blasts appear in abundance, with “Private Death” and “Display To Me” coming out on top of that heap. More fortress-weight tunes are in attendance, as the title song and “Mentally Murdered” make evident, and the band’s growth as players make them indeed a force to be reckoned with.
In a sense, From Enslavement To Obliteration has taken a big back seat to Scum in historical terms, which is a real shame. Almost twenty years on, the band perform a bevy of songs from this recording live, and in terms of extremity few subsequent releases (both by Napalm Death and their legions of imitators) can hold a candle to it. The good news is that Earache has (sporadically) issued both albums on one CD! Pretentious record collectors note: the original vinyl pressing came with a bonus seven inch single containing five cuts, one of which (“The Curse”) is pretty dang hard to find in any other form.
It's a familiar story. Four young men with astounding clarity of vision are brought together by the spirit of creative lifeforce and combine their common love of music, in the process recording an album which becomes a yardstick for a genre, the starting point for a new musical movement, an awakening of creative consciousness, a defining moment in the artistic oeuvre.
Nah, fuck all that over analysis bullshit. "From Enslavement To Obliteration" is a blinding album which will rip your fucking face off!
A total of 27 manic tracks blast past in a bit over 34 minutes. This is grindcore at grassroots level. Ugly music stripped back to the bare bones. Everything is straight forward, and pushed to the limits (for the time) just to see what would happen. The songs are exercises in beautiful simplicity. Take one idea or riff. Take it as far as it will go. End. Repeat. Only two tracks stretch past the three minute mark, and a good number are shorter than a minute. Then again, playing 12 minute epics is not really an option when playing at this speed.
No one involved with this album could have possibly imagined the influence they would all have on extreme music. Vocalist Lee Dorrian now fronts Cathedral. Guitarist Bill Steer went to Carcass full time. Drummer Mick Harris helped create the almighty Godflesh and a plethora of other experimental extreme musical projects. Bass player Shane Embury has stayed with Napalm Death, and has been a leading figure in shaping the direction of most things extreme since.
This is fast, energetic, brutal as fuck, no nonsense music. It's the way grindcore used to be, and still should be.
Not a fan of this style, however, I was impressed on how few people came to post here about this album. I use to play on a funny little project of Grindcore, more as a joke project than anything serious ,just because even if sucking as music per se, grindcore is REALLY funny to play as joke. and I listened to this album several times to get an idea of the style. What I can say is that, this CD, along with Carcass "Reek of Putrefaction" and Napalm Death predecessor "Scum" where among the most extreme albums of the entire 80´s decade. This could be probably considered the "earliest" ND "death metal" record, as Scum sounds more like a ultrafast hardcorethrash mix and is quite enjoyable. FETO is much faster, darker and heavier than Scum, plus the vocals are much more growled and guttural, to the point of being not of my liking, however, I believe that , to any extreme metal fan this is a must have , because it probably set many standards to 90´s Death Metal in general, the riffs, altought buried on the blastbeats , are quite good for this style and the vocals, altought horrible to my ears, fit the style perfectly and I believe, are capable of pleasing the ears of any extreme metal fan of Cannibal Corpse, Suffocation and bands alike.