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The best of the third era - 81%

Noktorn, February 11th, 2009

I think this is probably the closest that Napalm Death got to properly executing the death/grind/hardcore mixture they'd attempted to pioneer back in the 'Fear, Emptiness, Despair' days. It's not perfect, but it's certainly the best of the band's albums in that vein, mostly achieving what albums like 'Diatribes' had attempted and failed to do. It's catchy and grooving without sacrificing the death/grind elements which define Napalm Death's sound and manages to be memorable and an exciting listen throughout its running time. In short, it's just about everything that Napalm Death aspired to be at this period in their career, and it manages to stand up as an enduring listen even now.

The thing that makes this better than the previous two albums is that it's not as boring as them. I can't think of a more elegant turn of phrase than that, but the previous two albums were pretty damn boring a lot of the time. It's not really the band's fault; they were settling into the new style and probably being a bit overly cautious in the process, but it all comes together on 'Inside The Torn Apart'. The music still resides in an upper midpace with a collection of groovy, power chord driven riffs over funk-inspired drumming, but everything has more motion to it on this album as opposed to the awkward stillness which tended to dominate albums like 'Fear, Emptiness, Despair'. The vocals are delivered more forcefully, and this might mark the moment where Barney Greenway's voice truly comes into its own and meshes with the band; it took a long time, but it's all good here.

The riffs really champion this album and manage to be surprisingly memorable despite being of a similar nature to those of the previous two. Greenway's sporadic clean/spoken vocals are used to surprisingly great effect on tracks like 'Breed To Breathe' without coming across as cheesy, and the drumming is propulsive and engaging with numerous creative fills and quality syncopated snare work. The tracks are very memorable, with the title number coming across particularly well with its ultra-tense main riff and tersely screamed verses, while others like 'If Symptoms Persist' are something of a throwback to older Napalm Death with a more straightforward, grinding feel. As the last album really in this style, it's good to see that Napalm Death really got it together, even if they were a bit late to the game.

'Inside The Torn Apart' is not really a mandatory album in Napalm Death's catalog, but it is the best of Napalm Death's third stylistic phase and certainly worth a look from fans of the band. If you have to get one album from this period, it should certainly be this one, and I really do recommend it to the average death/grind fan who would like to see what good a fusion with hardcore can produce. This is an album that took a difficult combination of elements and truly made the best of them, and for that reason alone it's worthy of a bit more appreciation than it gets.