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A new singer. A new decade. A new direction. I jumped on board here, barreling with Napalm Death into the deepest uncharted waters of death metal. Did a lot of crust punks jump ship? You bet. Fuck 'em! Napalm's greatest mistakes were yet to come but wading neck-deep into the turbulent waters of Floridian death metal wasn't one of them.
One of the song titles on here is "Extremity Retained" and it is enormously fitting. Napalm Death had always been about extremes: extreme speed, extreme anger, extreme line-up instability. And I can think of nothing more extreme than slamming on the breaks and taking grind directly into mid-tempo death metal. And while the Brummies went straight Florida on Harmony Corruption, the signature sound of their earlier records isn't entirely absent either.
New vocalist Barney Greenway (ex. Benediction) makes his presence felt immediately on "Vision Quest," which opens in a squeel of feedback and blurring riffs before Barney lets out one of his trademark roars: a personal stamp, a mission statement. His vocals are much deeper and rougher than his forebears. The production is a Scott Burns special with all the needles in the red. The guitars are distorted to the max, reduced to near white noise, the bass is evident in a rumbling undercurrent, and the drums are hot and boxy.
The album is a manifesto of sorts in the songwriting. Everything that Napalm Death would try on and discard in the next decade is present here: hyper-spastic grind bombast, bruising hardcore grooves, pummeling mid-tempo death metal, even some industrial/noise elements pop up in the sound. The best examples are the classics from this album: "Suffer The Children," "The Chains That Bind Us," "Unfit Earth." These tracks utterly encapsulate what Napalm Death is all about. They are delivered with a fury and abandon that would later ebb away (only to be reinvigorated in early 00's when other bands who loved this record upped its ante).
While Napalm Death have many great albums in their long discography, including some I overall enjoy more, this is the template. If you can't dig Harmony Corruption than most of Napalm Death's offerings aren't for you.
All that I can shockingly say when I first heard this was "wow, what a hell of an album!" If your desire is to know what an ideal grindcore/death metal release or more particularly Napalm Death's best work to date, this one is it. Some accusations here I've heard is that Napalm Death copied the Floridian grindcore/death metal sound of the early 90's. While I say yes there are similarities, I still feel "Harmony Corruption" is original as is all of the Napalm Death albums that I've heard. This one has the most sickest guitar work, vocals and drums that an album needs in order to coin it as a quality release.
Let's look at the sound and riff structure first off. If you have the metal zone pedal more power to ya because the distortion here is maxed out. If you haven't heard this album, the crunch tone is monumental and contains so much thick fuzz that an amplifier can dish out. Next, the riff writing was not overtly complicated and technical. It is just heavy, fast and insanely intense. Their riffs are composed of bar chord usage, tremolo picked notes and fueled with so much energy. To me, the riffs were wholly amazing and flowed well for each song. The production makes the music a little bit hard to hear everything though, that's the only downside. So the album has a little bit of a "live" sound to it. However, all of the instruments and vocals were well mixed together despite this.
My favorite feature of the album are the drums. Why though? A name that may be long forgotten: Mick Harris. This guy tore it up. It was his next to last effort with the band entirely and his energy is astounding, but yet his drum lines are basic and well fitting. One thing that will pump you up is the blast beating. If you have "Live Corruption" (1992), you'll know what I mean because you get to see him in action. His efforts make the songs sound more intense and fast. The band as a whole contributed the most ever and every member was at their best.
One of the fastest and most invigorating experiences are viewed on "Live Corruption". Mick kept the band intense, brutal and insane which is something they have lacked since his departure. For Mark "Barney" Greenway, their vocalist, this his first effort with the band and best one to date. To compare, he's similar sounding to Frank Mullen of Suffocation, but seems to have a sustain that's longer and more instances where he's bellowing out his vox. The vocals therefore makes things fitting and exciting. Another note here, John Tardy (Obituary) and Glen Benton (Deicide/Vital Remains) are guest backup vocalists for the song "Unfit Earth".
The promise of "Harmony Corruption" is a great one because this album remains in the grindcore/death metal archives forever for being one of the best records ever made. I don't like the newer lineup and all of the other Napalm Death releases that I've heard haven't been as original and classic grindcore/death metal as this one was. What stood out the most again are the vocals, the guitars, and the drums. Everything was fueled and fueled with vigor. I discount other Napalm Death releases and refuse to listen to any of other one of theirs because they're not even close to sounding as good as "Harmony Corruption" is. Old Napalm Death is dead, long live old Napalm!
This is one of my favorite Napalm Death albums for several reasons. It heralds the entry of Barney Greenway, whose vocals I feel have always been much stronger than those of Naplm Death's previous vocalists. The production is stronger and the instrumental performances are tighter. But moreover, this is perhaps the purest combination of death metal and grindcore that Napalm Death ever executed, and the results are stunning, with long and involved yet still very aggressive and abrasive tracks filled with dark atmosphere and genuine anger. It's not as instantly memorable as other Napalm Death albums, and perhaps it's a good thing: it forces the listener to pay attention to what they're hearing, revealing music of much greater intricacy than anything from the band's earlier output.
The sounds of the instruments and vocals on this album are fantastic; much like the cover art, the sound is peculiarly hellish in nature, with a certain intensity that isn't communicated by any one feature alone. Maybe it's the guitar tone with its very simple yet intense distortion, or the sudden arrival of full-fledged death growls instead of the shouts of previous releases. Whatever it is, it conveys the sort of weight that previous Napalm Death releases lack, with a more definite aura of menace and darkness to it where the previous releases were merely angry for anger's sake. The songs themselves help convey that weight; generally around the four or five minute mark, there's a lot more room for the compositions to breathe and explore themselves via intricate death/grind riffing and frequent rhythm and tempo changes. Contributing greatly to the whole thing is Mick Harris, whose drumming starts on this album to incorporate some of the more unusual elements that would become a staple of later albums, such as his particular love of erratic snare notes and funk-based rhythms.
The riffing is strong and lacks the last tatters of good-time punk bounce that infected bits and pieces of the first two LPs. The only exception is the very out-of-place 'Suffer The Children', with its thrashy breaks and generally inappropriate feel when compared with the rest of the album. Call it Napalm Death's 'Angel Of Disease' if you will; the album would probably be better without it. The rest of it is almost extraordinarily good though. The death metal/grindcore combination (not death/grind; there is a rather important difference to be found) on this record is very savage, really feeling much like very fast and chaotic death metal most of the time. That's really what this is: traditional death metal played through the focusing prism of grindcore, making for death metal tracks that are much less orderly and predictable, but no less carefully constructed.
This is perhaps the first Napalm Death release so far in their discography that I can listen to the entirety of without ever feeling bored; the songs are much longer than the previous releases yet seem to capture my attention more. Maybe it's just Napalm Death finally shaking the last bit of punk off their bones; it feels like the band at this particular point was much more unrestrained by the shackles of d-beats and four-chord riffs. I like this album a lot and in general wish there was more music like it; it's more unique than it seems at first glance, at once logical and unpredictable without ever missing a step.
When this came out I could not believe it was Napalm Death. It wasn’t actually. As the title of my review says, it’s (almost) a brand new all-star-band paying tribute to eighties grindcore they actually conceived earlier themselves. A bit weird.
We have two Members from Napalm Death (Mick Harris and Shane Embury), one from Terrorizer (Jesse Pintado), Mitch Harris from Righteous Pigs and finally the only member to come from a second rate band, Barney from Benediction.
Now to make every things even funnier. The album does not sound like Napalm Death, Terrorizer, Righteous Pigs nor even Benediction. And in fact at the same time also sounds like the lot of them combined. We were entering Napalm Death phase 3…
Mick Harris’ raging madness on drums is still here but he has improved a lot over the years (something which became very obvious on the earlier ‘Mentally Murdered’ EP). The midpaced sections and rolling double bass sound very convincing. Shane Embury can hardly be heard.
Jesse Pintado’s sound is very much present. It’s almost the same typical ‘Morrisound’ as his earlier Terrorizer album had. A thing you could say for Mitch Harris as well since the last Righteous Pigs also had that production.
Barney sounds like Barney. Pretty hard for a vocalist to have an entirely different production, right? But clearly the man was a death metal vocalist and he doesn’t sound very natural (yet) on his Napalm Death debut. Something he’d improve on the superb ‘Mass Appeal Madness’ and ‘The World Keeps Turning’ singles.
Because of the production and typical vocals the album sounded more like your average 1990 US death metal band coming out of the Morrisound studios. Yes, a death metal band. Not a grindcore band. The sound was way too heavy for that and the compositions were mostly death metal with elements of grindcore. So goodbye to good old Brittish underground grindcore and goodmorning to intercontinental deathgrind! And actually ‘Harmony Corruption’ was a pretty good album!
Now “Suffer The Children” actually sounds like an eighties crustcore song covered by a death metal band. And by Jove does it sound great! I’d almost wish modern day death metal bands would lay off the over-technical Cannibal Corpse-Nile-Cryptopsy apporach and start playing this more straight forward style. I makes so much more sense and impact!
Furthermore ‘Harmony Corruption’ is quite a catchy album. “Vision Conquest”, “Unfit Earth”, “The Chains That Bind Us” and “Mindsnare” being remarkable sing-a-long compositions. A song like “Malicious Intent” unfortunately is too much on the slower side of death metal and sounds stretched. But those are minor complaint.
On future releases the band would sound more cohesive but I like this transitional album a lot. Mick Harris’ drums still have that old Napalm Death touch and this is something that defines this album.
This is not an album I play when I’m in the mood for some old Napalm Death nor do I play it when I’m in the mood for the furious ‘modern’ Napalm Death which found back its roots around the 2000 album ‘Enemy Of The Music Business’. This is an album which I play on itself at least once every two years or so purely out of sentimental values.
I never loved Scum because I always found it very chaotic and immature, even if I can consider it an innovation. Anyway in 1987 there were far better demos by Terrorizer or the first album by Unseen Terror (a bit more death/thrash). With the following From Enslavement To Obliteration the things would have been a bit more mature but still a bit chaotic. Only with this Harmony Corruption, Napalm Death began to be something I like…and a lot, because I can easily consider this one as my favourite album in their discography.
In those years the principal genre was the growing death metal that, mixed with grind produced lots of masterpieces: World Downfall and Harmony Corruption among the others. And death metal itself contributes in giving this genre a more mature approach and songwriting. The grind influences are more brutal and filtrated through the heaviness of death.
The production is far better and pounding than in the past and Barney at vocals is an animal. His growls are always extreme but comprehensible and bad ass. The death metal influences can be found in the always not too fast “Malicious Intent”, with slow lead guitar lines and truly heavy tempo. The grind ones in the fist of “Inner Incineration”: impact, violence and structured brutality.
In the massive “Unfit Earth” we have two special guests: John Tardy and Glenn Benton to do some screamed parts. The song is a good blend of fast grinding parts with up tempo parts and mid ones. Sometimes the death metal is so rooted in the group’s skills that the blast beats parts have a brutal death metal style, without being so grind.
In “Circle Of Hypocrisy” you can truly hear the influences from Obituary in the sound. Very gloomy atmosphere, riffs and tempo changes. The guitar riffs on the grinding beginning to “The Chain That Bind Us” come along with a black touch. “Mind Snare” is awesome, one of the best here. Very catchy, fast with up tempo and truly evil riffage. “Sad dependency, brain fried society!!!! Jack Up!!!” A good reflection about drugs.
“Extremity Retained” is the shortest and the most violent here along with “Vision Conquest”. Awesome in speed, tempo and vocals. Pure mosh!! “Suffer The Children” is very impressive for the double bass work and the grind break in the middle. The atmosphere is always growing in obscurity and suffocation. The riffs are heavy and so claustrophobic with lots of Obituary influences, especially in the mid paced tempo.
“Hiding Behind” is bonus track, excellent with his rotten, obscure beginning with an out of the blue grind part at 2:00. A perfect song to put an end to this album, starting a new path in Napalm Death music; a path made of good songwriting and more mature structures. Still their best.
This was where ND took it to the next level musically and proceeded to "go metal" on us all. I rather liked it at the time and still enjoy this album quite a lot even though it features the de rigeur for the time mushy Scott Burns "production" style. The guitars overwhelm the bass in typical metal fashion except for a little burst here and there and the drums are not very defined at all in the mix, and the vocals are a tad low in the mix, but otherwise this is still listenable. And this is still a mighty kick in the nads and to the head musically to say the least. Were you expecting any less than that from ND?
After an intro of radio static, the grind crashes in with walls of furious guitars and drums, and Barney wastes little time announcing his presence with one of his trademark "Kam Lee blowouts", a mighty bellow that showed us all from the get-go he was a more than adequate replacement for Lee Dorrian. "If The Truth Be Known" showcases his Tom G. Warrior impersonation with hearty "OOGH!" grunts and runs the gamut from a slow (!) intro to a midpaced headbanging beat and an irresistable riff that makes me pull out ye olde air guitar. A tasty and otherworldly little guitar lead takes us out of this one courtesy of the late Jesse Pintado. "Unfit Earth" is another one that starts midpaced and gets a good headbanging groove going and features backing vocals from both John Tardy and Glen Benton (Tardy sounds more convincing and appropriate to their sound, though). "Suffer The Children" is a fave of mine that runs the gamut again tempo-wise froim midtempo to speedy thrash and the usual blasting madness. There's still lots of blasting on this album, but in a more refined (dare i say it) manner that shows they'd gotten their heads around the concept of writing songs as opposed to furious blasts of noisy brutality.
Mick Harris actually got his act together impressively for this album and tightened up a LOT on the drum front and the songs benefit from his additional drum prowess. Even though he was a right asshole when I met him on the tour accompanying this album, he deserves mention for "Most Improved" player on this album. Mitch Harris and Jesse Pintado contributed a new style of riffing, a more metallic style that featured more technical ability and structure, but still had the go for the throat intensity ND were/are known for. Leads are minimal--in fact, I think the only one is at the end of "If The Truth be Known" and they don't play it live anyway so it doesn't matter. Shane Embury rumbles away with his trademark filthy fuzz bass, supplying the Godzilla-like low end that powered ND's sound. Barney, however, is the star of this album with his guttural bellows and grunts, showing that Lee Dorrian's shoes were easily filled. And in fact, I think he was/is even better than Dorrian.
"Harmony Corruption" is far from unworthy. In fact, in my opinion, it was the last really great ND album before they lost their focus for a while and branched out into too many odd directions that diluted the power and impact of their music. It is well worth hunting down and adding to the collection, if you ask me, so don't pass it up.
Up until this point Napalm Death had been known as the infamous inventers of Grindcore (which is debateable), playing “one minute songs” and generally flushing the concept of song structure down the toilet. However with Harmony Corruption they began to change their style playing more death metal than Grindcore They added new vocalist Barney and guitarists Jesse Pintado (R.I.P.) and Mitch Harris after Lee Dorrian and Bill Steer quite to follow their own musical directions. The end result cannot really be called pure Death Metal instead its kind of a mixture of Death Metal and Grindcore.
The main notable change to Harmony Corruption is the song length, no songs are shorter than 2 minutes and the longest being over 5 minutes, much to the disgust of any Grindcore purest. The production is a lot more professional sounding than Scum or FETO as ND could actually afford a ‘decent’ production job. However it is the production that is my main gripe with album (as previous reviewers have noted), it will probably take The sound is too muddy and undefined, the drums have quite a strange sound with the snare ringing out very loudly, the toms are deep and thundering and the bass drum is fairly clicky. Shane Embury’s bass guitar seems to have been unfortunately almost completely forgotten in the mixing. The guitar tone is probably the thickest Napalm Death have ever had, however the whirring Grind riffs that are played during the blast sections sometimes sound perilously thin and weak, which leads me on to the riffs.
The Guitar work on Harmony Corruption is mainly composed of 2 types of riffs, heavy crushing Thrash riffs such as the intro to Unfit Earth and whirring Grind riffs that are usually played during the blast beats, this creates the mix between Death Metal and Grindcore sound the album has. Both Guitarist bring their own approaches to riffing on the album and it really works adding another dimension to ND’s sound. Micky Harris’ drumming has improved enormously since his Scum days where his drumming couldn’t extend much beyond blast beating the hell of the kit.
On Harmony Corruption his blasting is controlled and far more accurate without losing any speed, his fills brim with confidence and are extremely fast, he has also mastered the use of double bass, something that wasn’t present on Scum or FETO. Shane Embury’s bass playing is excellent but as already stated the bass is unfortunately very quiet in the mix. Last but not least I come to Barney’s vocal performance, quite simply he is one of the best Death Metal vocalists ever. His vocals are infinitely better than Lee Dorrian’s work as he has a truly monstrous growl that retains audibility, allowing you to actually hear what he is growling.
The lyrics of the album are in the traditional vein of ND’s socio political themes, condemning the way people and governments act in the world but there are even some lyrics about the music itself (extremity retained).
Album highlights would have to be If The Truth Be Known and the classic Suffer The Children. Other great songs include Unfit Earth (which has backing vocals from Glen Benton and John Tardy) The Chains That Bind Us and Circle Of Hypocrisy.
This album is an excellent work of Death/Grind and is worthy of being in every extreme metal album collection.
Napalm Death have dominantly established themselves as a household name with avid grindcore and death metal enthusiasts, using a perfect mix of the two genres in nearly every release they've put out to date. From their hardcore punk beginnings to their continual stranglehold on the world of deathgrind, they have never lost grasp of their roots and continue to utilize both dated and current methods to ultimately achieve their goals. One of the cornerstones for this near transcendence of genres would have to be the classic album "Harmony Corruption".
From blistering start to lumbering finish, "Harmony Corruption" weaves a dark tail of political dissension, the likes of which would make Michael Moore blush. Every track leads us in a different direction via impetuous droning of guitars and a subversive vocal assault by our favorite Flinstones character. The opening into to "Vision Conquest" has us adjusting our radio settings with a crackly radio frequency buzzing before jolting into the guitar leads followed by a signature bellowing wail from Barney. It's with this first song we really see their Death Metal influence take hold, utilizing an overlaying melody of a high velocity scale ascent and decent, and some nice riff patterns near the latter portion of the song. The next song "If the Truth Be Known", my personal favorite on the album, gives us more traditional Napalm Death up and down grinding as we know it. The opening intro of mid paced guitars backed against some nice varying drum lines gives us a great lead in to one of the most powerful words ever exclaimed in Death Metal history..."RUUAAAAAAAAAAAAARRRRGHH!!!!!!" Thus ends one of the greatest opening shouts ever leaving us with profound understand why Greenway is so beloved as a vocalist.
Throughout the album, the blistering low to mid scaled guitar droning is a dominant feature. Here and there, the guitars will slow down into more of a grinding thrash section that mosh monkey's dream about. The first part of "Unfit Earth" exemplifies this with some great crunching riffage to bang your head to before disappearing in a sea of blazing low tuned grindcore horrors. The oft covered "Suffer the Children" is by far the most groove driven grindcore track on the album. Beginning with a quick roll of the drums and melding into some of the finest guitar work seen out of Mitch Harris and the late Jesse Pintado collectively. The drumming on this particular song could not be done any better from the opening roll cycling into furious bass hits interspersed with a fast paced assault on the wrists from the snares. The quartet of instruments mesh perfectly at that critical second before that well known riff section kicks in giving us that classic thirty or so seconds of headbanging tunes.
The reason I left out poor Shane from my review was because the jolly chap was nearly completely drowned out in the muddy production which, consequentially, was the only drawback that this album contained. Besides that all too common "black hole bass" production mishap, this album almost completely annihilated all negative perceptions of deathgrind in the early 90's. While politically, I most always disagree with the rantings of Napalm Death, I commend the fact that it provides that fuel and animosity to produce albums such as "Harmony Corruption". Any avid Death Metal or Grindcore enthusiast could not consider his collection and life complete, without owning and listening to this monumental album.
There's quite a difference to be found between this album and previous Napalm Death albums. Besides the fact that this is the first Napalm Death album to feature ex-Terrorizer guitarist Jesse Pintado and ex-Righteous Pigs guitarist Mitch Harris, it's also the first Napalm Death album to feature Mark "Barney" Greenway (former Benediction), a frontman that would become one of the key ingredients for the most important grindcore band in existence, on vocals. As is natural, 'Harmony Corruption' has few similiarities with previous masterpieces 'Scum' and 'From Enslavement to Obliteration', due to the fact that besides the drummer, Mick Harris, and the bassist, Shane Embury - who joined on the latter album, Napalm Death is now a totally different band which is following in a different direction from that of 'Scum' and the band's following album (a direction also evident on the 'Mentally Murdered' EP, the band's last studio recording with vocalist Lee Dorian and guitarist Bill Steer).
First of all, Napalm Death's first two albums are straight-up grindcore, while in 'Harmony Corruption' the band tries to play more traditional death metal, even if in the end the result dips in and out of grind. But that's not to say that the members of the band don't bring the goods. Far from it.
For starters, both guitarists (Pintado and Harris) both put on a terrific display of riffing. From the slow grinding riffs of Pintado to the ferocious song structures of Harris, it's evident that accidentally getting two guitarists was the best thing that Napalm Death never meant to do. From start to end, this album packs a shit load of memorable and crunching riffs - quite a few, which have been written by the bands fuzzy haired bassist, Shane Embury. Ah, yes. Shane...
Well, there's no way any listener could have a gripe with Shane's excellent bass playing. Not only is he the glue in the band, taking on both playing and writing duties, but he also lays down the low end of the album better than anyone could hope for.
Filling out the drums 'n' bass department is Mick Harris. It's not that I don't like his drumming on this album, his timing is perfect, his blast beats are ripe as hell and his breaks are fast as fuck, but the production of his drums can either drag down someone's enjoyment of this album or elevate it emmensely - a kinda hit and miss affair when taking into consideration the guitar playing of the album, also plaguerized with the same lame production. Someone has to question a producer's production goals when they listen to a recording that in the long run tends to tire with it's overall sound...
Last but not least, we have Barney's brutal vocals. Not only does he show off his talent at guttural vocals (a talent that is less evident in future recordings) but shows some great lyrical inspiration on this album. From songs that attack conniving realigous fanatics, to lyrics about the decimation of our eco-system, to lyrics about drug abuse. For those that like some intelligent substance and opinion in their music, they're sure to find it. On the other hand, those that aren't seeking for such 'secular' aspects can rest assured find plenty in Barney's distinctive vocal style, which consists of some great good old death metal growling (then there's also the added bonus of quest appearances by Obituary's John Tardy and Deicide's Glen Benton on 'Unfit Earth').
In the end I'm sure that any Napalm Death, grindcore, or even death metal fan for that matter, can find plenty here to satisfy themselves with. Especially if they make it a goal to overlook the sloopy, hindering production. Definately a great way to break in a new line-up, with a killer album for all fans of the extreme.
In this 1990 release the short grindcore songs (under a minute) that Napalm Death played on Scum and From Enslavement to Obliteration are gone and replaced by songs in the four to five minute range. Given that, the intricate riffing, and the many tempo changes and complexity, one could certainly argue that this is grind influence death metal rather than grindcore. Napalm Death itself appears to note the ambiguity throughout the liner notes, where they refer to "deathgrind" and thank just about every major death and hard thrash band of the day, including Morbid Angel, Death, Obituary, Sepultura, and others. In fact, John Tardy of Obituary and Glenn Benton of Deicide lend backing vocals to the song "Unfit Earth," which rules!
The music is, per usual, 100% rip your face off aggressive. Barney Greenway's vocals completely own most death growlers. The riffs are intense, complex, and ever changing. And Mick Harris is an absolute wildman on the drums, going from blast beats to Dave Lombardo double bass drumming as appropriate. The production, particularly on the drums, is just perfect. Scott Burns did this album and it sounds great.
For too long I dismissed Napalm Death as all attitude but little in the way of musical talent. Harmony Corruption demonstrates that this band was able to mature and improve radically in just a couple years, while still maintaining 100% of the aggression that defined their early grindcore releases. This album completely slays and belongs on the shelf next to your top death metal albums.