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The mid-90's is a much maligned era for Napalm Death with most of the criticism well justified. Albums like "Diatribes," "Inside The Torn Apart," and "Words From The Exit Wound" featured some stand-out material but were also weighted down by plodding, repetitive mid-paced numbers and some misguided experimentation. That said, however, there are some gems from that era and this EP is one of them.
"Greed Killing" leads off with three-minutes of intense, neck-snappingly heavy metal. In 1995, this song was a breath of fresh air for the band, an intriguing attempt at incorporating traditional song structures into their grind template. The chorus is sickeningly heavy with a hook strong enough to hang a cadaver on. Had they written more songs of this caliber, as compared to the utterly wretched "Self Betrayal," this era would be more fondly remembered. That song, a half-assed attempt at a Swans-like dirge, just doesn't come together at all, sounding more like a discarded jam than a song.
"My Own Worst Enemy" and "Finer Truths, White Lies" are both mid-paced affairs, enjoyable but not exceptional, they are more reminiscent of the filler that bogged down the albums of this period. Whereas on a full-length these songs would just blend in and be forgotten, here they are given enough room to settle in and make a decent impression. Both tracks feature groove oriented riffage with funky syncopated drum beats. "My Own Worst Enemy" falters along simplistic lines, the body of the song has some meaty riffs and hooks but the chorus falls flat, collapsing the song slightly. That track made the album whereas "Finer Truth, White Lies" did not. Would it were the other way around as "FTWL" features a deep, heavy groove that just invites a huge pit breaking out.
As for the other tracks, "Antibody" and "All Links Severed" deliver a classic dose of ND goodness. These songs blast through with the grinding death metal we all wish had been more prevalent on the albums of this era.
Overall, this is a diverse and enjoyable short program of songs. The production is crisp and punchy, though the guitars sound a little flat and low in the mix. Barney's voice, however, sounds snarlingly strong and vicious, probably the best he's ever sounded on record.
Note that there is a bonus, live track from 1994 on some editions. It's terrible, sounding like congealed mud, and ought to have been omitted.
The mid-90s were a period where a lot of the mighty fell, and few fell harder and more terribly than Napalm Death did. While other bands were gradually either dumbing down their sound, taming it for mass consumption, or in this particular case both at the same time. Between the castrated guitar-tone that sounds like something off up Sepultura’s post-Cavalera period, the mess of disjointed ideas, and the perpetual mid-tempo groove going on here this could technically be seen as an early nu-metal release. Even Robb Flynn was doing stuff better than this during the mid-90s.
Mark Greenway has always had a less than stellar take on the death grunt, but most of what’s on here sounds either like 3rd rate David Vincent work or someone farting frogs out of their ass. He really ratchets up the boredom factor on “Self-Betrayal”, which is basically 70% taking rather than actual vocals; overtop a nice variety of dumb assed 2 note grooves of course. Some of the better work he does on here is during “Finer Truths, White Lies”, which in itself is a pretty sloppy collection of half-riffs and needless drum showboating, though not quite as ridiculous as what you’d here out of Cryptopsy or Mastodon.
Things get a little better after you get through the first 4 songs, although the really messy production and half-aggressive guitar tone masks it. “Antibody” is the only thing on here that manages to avoid getting itself stuck in groove land, sounding like a pretty solid death/thrash song half the time and loaded with grinding blast beat sections the other half. Greenway doesn’t bother with any narrating or long grunts, and sounds closer to his older incarnation when he first joined up with this outfit. The other studio song “All Links Served” gets a little repetitive, especially during the middle section, but at least avoids sounding like an outtake from “Chaos A.D.”.
This was obviously far from a highlight for this band, especially considering how legendary a lot of their earlier stuff is. If you like Machine Head with low guttural barks instead of pseudo tough guy yells, this might appeal to you, but considering all of the extreme stuff out there that puts more emphasis on metal rather than crappy hardcore ala Biohazard, this is not something that you’d want to blow money on. I got this second hand for $3 and I think the money would have been better spent on crappy McDonalds' food.