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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.