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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!