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So this is Napalm Death's first offering, characterized by a pronounced lack of excess and an extremely concise delivery making even old school hardcore like Black Flag, Negative Approach, and SSD sound bloated and tired. In plain English, this is some of the fastest, most furious and noisy music ever recorded, with just enough structure to keep it from turning into a formless mess, but just enough.
The album was recorded by two different lineups, featuring original vocalist/bassist Nik Bullen alongside JK Broadrick on the first half and the classic lineup of Dorrian/Steer/Harris with some other bloke named Jim on bass on the latter half, and the difference is noticeable. Bullen's vocals are nowhere near as brutal as Lee Dorrian's, but even Dorrian had not reached the guttural depths of ugly grunting and roaring he became known for yet. Dorrian still sounds pretty hideous, though! Bullen has more of a standard harsh yelling approach that is good but not great.
Both Steer and Broadrick do a serviceable job on the guitar front, and Mickey Harris turns out to be the British Scott Peterson (Cryptic Slaughter) in that he does just fine when blasting but can't hold a steady beat too well otherwise. Listen closely and you'll hear him faltering and stumbling all over the place. The production has a garagey ambiance and therein lies the charm; you really get the feeling that they just dragged their gear into the garage and bashed it out as opposed to a studio. Colin Richardson was just starting out and you can tell from the sound quality, ditto for the early Carcass releases.
Musically, well, it's pretty honkin' pissed off. Anywhere from 2 seconds to one and a half minute's worth of insane screaming and bashing and frenzied noise that more than gets the point across even if you can't understand a damn thing they're saying. They were not the best players, but they had more than enough energy and attitude to make up for that--again, very like Cryptic Slaughter. The lyrics are very, very politically and socially charged in the hardcore tradition, and actually rather intelligent (if not intelligible) much of the time if you bother reading them. Odes to veganism, animal rights, social issues, and other very punk things are the order of the day here, with broad and simple messages being presented.
But one reason that this only gets a 75 is not only the lack of musical ability and songwriting acumen, but the fact that they well and truly blatantly swiped every other Repulsion riff they could get their hot little hands on and around, and if you are familiar with that album at all you will hear just what I mean. The fact they couldn't come up with their own riffs and oftimes had to rely on outright thievery reduces this rating majorly. Talk about plagiarism--sad but true, this is. Don't believe me? Listen and decide for yourself.
Was this virtuosic and muso oriented? Hell no it wasn't. Noisy, sloppy, and relying more on energy and attitude more than anything else, it was, totally. Was it groundbreaking? Absolutely, no two ways about it. This is far from their best work, but it was a good solid foot in the door and a foot in the arse of the metal scene at the time this came out and horrified "serious" music lovers everywhere with its intensely frantic approach. A good picture of the beginnings of the grindcore explosion? Again, absolutely. Alongside Repulsion's overlooked debut, "Horrified", among other albums, this gives you a good idea of what it was all about.