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"Smear Campaign" is album number 12 from Napalm Death and it's good to see they can still lead the grindcore/death metal scene after nearly 20 years since their first album. This new album is brutal as fuck. A complete onslaught of relentless riffs, blastbeats and a combination of high pitched wailing vocals and Barney Greenway's trademunk grunts.
This album doesn't add too much new to the Napalm Death sound, nor does it take anything away from it. This is one of the heaviest albums I have heard them perform so far, and its a lot of fun for a while, but many of the tracks seem to just blur into each other. With so many releases it may be difficult for this to be a stand out album in their long discography. "Smear Campaign" doesn't have as much range of ideas as the last album, which was one of the Napalm Death's best moments of their whole career. It's easy to see "Smear Campaign" as the same song written over and over.
There are however, stand out tracks to be found here. "Sink Fast, Let Go" is a brutal onslaught which sets the standards of this album, whilst "In Deference" experiments with female vocals from guest vocalist from The Gathering. The track "Rabid Wolves (For Christ)", is smart and punky, throwing back to their earlier grindcore sound.
"Smear Campaign" is nothing more than the next Napalm Death release really. It isn't a standout album, yet nor is it a stinker. This album is somewhere in the middle, and sounds like a heavier, better produced "Fear, Emptiness, Despair" in some respects. The last album, "The Code is Red... Long Live the Code" was an essential Napalm Death purchase, whilst "Smear Campaign" is more for fans only and not an album I would instantly recommend.
* Bonus track "Call That An Option?" is a well good addition to the album, whilst "Atheist Runt" just sounds too similar to last years closing track "Morale", which is a slower and longer track, almost with a hint of doom metal in it.