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Solid but a bit creatively static - 79%

Noktorn, June 17th, 2010

I've got to say, this is a little bit disappointing; compared to 'The Code Is Red... Long Live The Code', this might be the smallest change between albums I've ever heard from the band. 'Smear Campaign' is quite literally 'The Code Is Red... Long Live The Code' part two, with Napalm Death's style of sleek, modernized grindcore remaining essentially unchanged from that album. I wanted a bit more from this release- there's nothing bad about it, but it lacks the development between records that I've come to expect from the band.

If you've heard the previous record, you know what this one sounds like: a very solid fusion of more oldschool, crusty styles of grind and a death-tinged modern variety, with the band swapping between the two styles easily and frequently. Every track includes both d-beats and blast passages, bound together by, in what may be the largest change from the previous album, a colorful sense of dissonant tremolo riffing that seems to be lifted from the best moments of 'Diatribes'. Melodically, 'The Code Is Red... Long Live The Code' was a little bit more conventional than this, where long, held tremolo tones abruptly break down into chunky crust riffing. The instrumental performances are, as always, top notch, and Greenway has never sounded better on the mike, roaring like he hasn't been doing this for decades now.

Anti-Christian sentiment seems to be a prevailing theme on this record with tracks like 'Puritanical Punishment Beating', 'Rabid Wolves (For Christ), and 'Deaf And Dumbstruck (Intelligent Design)' being a notable set of tracks that seem to attack America's newfound appreciation for evangelical Christianity. The fury of previous records isn't absent on this one- Napalm Death sounds, as always, just pissed off to be alive and that drips from every note. The tracks are compact and snappy, with an array of great riffs and savage rhythms that are essentially standard for the band at this point in their career. While I would have appreciated more variation (though the synth-tinged intro and outro definitely add to it), I can't deny that in essence Napalm Death is as strong as ever.

With Napalm Death's modern style codified, whether you purchase this album or not simply depends on whether you like the band's new sound. If you do, there's no reason to pass this one up: while it might be a bit still at times, 'Smear Campaign' lives up to the band's history even if it doesn't reinvent the wheel. Perhaps on their next album Napalm Death changed it up a bit- I'm eager to hear if they flexed their wings.