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Continuing War on Stupidity blasts out of your speakers, and you know that Napalm Death is definitely back, returning from their 90s experimentation and steamrolling forward with a "modern" sound that isn't death metal or grindcore, but some combination of the two which usually works incredibly well. Three minute songs of generally fast riffing along with blast beats, double bass, and d-beat drumming, covered with Barney's recognizable voice are the norm. Order of the Leech is generally faster and more chaotic than its predecessor Enemy of the Music Business, at the expense of a loss of memorability.
Quite simply, very few of these songs are as memorable as the average Napalm Death song in the 21st century, and compared to some of the best songs they've done recently, are made mostly irrelevant. Any and all of these songs would kill live, there is no doubt about this, and the release is more than perfectly serviceable for what you would want out of "modern" death metal/grindcore. If you just want to bang your head for 30 minutes, this'll work just fine. But I love Napalm Death for their memorability, for the dozens of songs that are permanently embedded in my mind just because of amazing songwriting and memorability, riffs and otherwise. And these just don't quite make the cut.
There is no bad song here, just several mediocre songs and a few that stand out. Continuing War on Stupidity works as a fine opener, and the middle section with the mid-paced riffing whilst Barney calls out homage to Celtic Frost is very much satisfying. One has to wonder though if this is simply due to this song's placement first in line that it is remembered, just like how The Great Capitulator as the final song is also particularly memorable.
Sandwiched between these two songs are ten songs which mostly run together. I can recall a riff here, a vocal line there, but I probably won't ever remember these songs in their entirety, which I can probably do for the entire Smear Campaign album, for example. It's not really like the songwriting is any different from the previous album or what comes later to any significant degree; somehow with this album, it just comes down to a general lack of memorability. Don't get me wrong, I'm listening to the album right now and in no way not enjoying myself, but if I think back on this listening session in a few hours, I still won't remember how many of these songs start or end, just the general structure of "fast riffing accompanied with either blast beats, double bass, or d-beats with Barney shouting over top of it all". Or if I actively remember a riff here or there, I probably won't be able to match it with the song it's in. Slower (well, read "mid-paced" since this is Napalm Death after all) moments immediately stick to mind for standing out and being relatively rare (middle of Continuing War on Stupidity, beginning of To Lower Yourself (Blind Servitude), um I'm pretty sure Narcoleptic has a decent mid-paced part in the middle but I already forget what it particularly sounds like, just that it's there...).
The production is pretty "chaotic", more so than Enemy of the Music Business at least. I do own the vinyl version which I recorded in Audacity and imported as MP3s, so I have to admit that the sound is "slightly different" than if, say, I listen to these songs on YouTube or somewhere (just due to the nature of vinyl and all of that). (Whether that is affecting my opinion of the album as opposed to if I had bought a CD and had exposure that way, I do not know.) Oh hey, another admittedly catchy moment: the fade-out of Lowest Common Denominator leading right into the beginning stomp of Forewarned Is Disarmed? is memorable enough. But now that the song is going and fast and all, all I can say is "Yeah, the guitar strings are being strummed in various patterns really fast and stuff", and I really can't say much else. I get the feeling that a slightly different guitar tone could have increased the memorability factor of these riffs a little bit. But back to the production, it's modern without being "too much", not much else to say about it.
This is still a perfectly fine album for the (modern) Napalm Death fan, but all of its siblings are simply better remembered. I would probably skip this album entirely if making a modern Napalm Death compilation for a friend (maybe The Great Capitulator would be tacked on since it has the funny "Total Black Trash Grind Freak from the Czech Republic" skit tacked on at the end). With a few songs to go everything is still mostly going through one ear and out the other, not making a strong lasting impression. I'm glad things will end on a strong note with The Great Capitulator, but this will probably remain my least reached-for modern Napalm Death album. I do prefer it to Utopia Banished and Words from the Exit Wound though (Fear, Emptiness, Despair and Distribes of course also get beat), which both also seem to lack the memorability factor that Napalm Death usually brings to the table.
Should the modern Napalm Death fan get this? It was my most recently acquired 21st century Napalm Death album, partially due to completion considerations, and it ranks below Enemy of the Music Business and everything from The Code... and forward as well. So... yes, but don't expect it to become a favorite.
I have been criticized quite a bit lately for supposedly "not liking any Grindcore," so let me tell you about a band that I truly enjoy listening to: Napalm Death.
Napalm Death is Grindcore that actually functions as music instead of mindless noise. The guitars have an incredible sound that is clear and manages to stay in some sort of order so that the listener does not get totally lost in the process. The riffs are brutal and manage to convey the harsh feeling of the music without losing all semblance of order in the process. The drums actually have different rhythms and are turned DOWN in the mixing process so they don't sound like a group of terrorists burst into the fucking recording studion and gunned down the entire band. The beat is followable and clear--you can actually THRASH and HEADBANG to this music instead of spending your time wondering what the fuck is going on. The bass is actually AUDIBLE in the production, so there is, in fact, a solid bass line underneath all this brutality, and it really enhances the sound as opposed to the "shadow" basses that completely mirror and get lost in the bass drum. Finally, the vocalist has a brutal and harsh death/grind voice that goes perfectly with the music and doen't sound like random ass gurgles (Cock & Ball Torture) or something inanely stupid like that.
Highlights. The Great Capitulator is an awesome song that starts out with a really cool guitar introduction before heading into a pure assault of drum beats and vocalized emotion on top of insane riff shredding. Lowest Common Denominator starts out with some brutal opening riffs before heading into a headbanging frenzy in the main theme courtesy of the very well-done 1-2 beat of the drums. Out of Sight, Out of Mind starts off with a blood-curdling scream that is done above some really catchy riff work from the guitars and a really interesting drum "roll" pattern that is quite unique in terms of anything I've heard from bands of a similar vein.
So, let me say this loud and clear for the benefit of all: I DO NOT HATE ALL GRINDCORE. I don't like the subgenre as a whole since it tends to produce mindless acts of stupidity in the name of "music," but there are exceptions to the rule, like Fuck...I'm Dead. Napalm Death may be an exception to the rule, but what a motherfucker of an exception it is! This is THE definitive Grindcore band and should be bought by any Grind or Death fan immediately in addition to anyone looking to get into the scene.
It's always cool to listen to a new NAPALM DEATH CD, it's a bit of warmness in your so cold heart of ice!
But I've got quite mixed feelings about this new one: this is in the same vein than their 2/3 last releases, but I find it less expressive and intense on an emotional point of view! And even if there are still a bunch of cool riffs, some guitar parts doesn't sound that good (too common for Napalm!)
The style hasn't changed much, this is still a mix of Death/ Grind/ Crust/ Hardcore/ Sludge... but there are a few new elements such as the heavier CELTIC FROST like part on the first track (Barney even growls "Procreation of the wicked" on this riff. I may also compare them to USUR¨PER on this part as this American band sounds like old Celtic Frost with a more powerful sound) or some few Black metal influences riffs.
This is a cool CD with nice parts, but there aren't so much "Hits" or incredibly killing riffs (they doesn't dig that much under the surface of the iceberg). There are still some nice parts that stands out particularly (the 2 last minutes of the 2nd track, the 5th one or some more powerful one) but these parts are ways less numerous.
Notice the comeback of a punky tempo beat Napalm didn't use since the time of the "F.E.T.O" LP or "Mentally murdered" MLP.
To conclude I'll say it's not one of the best NAPALM DEATH CDs! Their 3 previous albums were far better! What we've got here is a CD à la NAPALM DEATH played by NAPALM DEATH themselves...
I understand it can please someone who haven't listened so much to N.D, but I expect more from a band whose members release so much stuffs (Another tribute to old bands is on its way, the DEFECATION new CD, DVDs, and other projects we don't know).