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Old Napalm Death is dead, long live old Napalm Death. As much as I like this album, nothing equates to 'Harmony Corruption' or even 'From Enslavement To Obliteration.' The early grind days were great, so was 'Scum' and 'The Peel Sessions.' I mean if you want chronic crazy blast beating with grind/noise, then old Napalm Death is for you. But here, they take on much more of a death metal oriented style, which isn't bad, just don't expect to hear any of what was featured on the early grind years. There are some blast beating going on, but it's solid musically and they've definitely progressed, but lacked the extremity that was retained on older stuff.
I'd have to say that I was expecting to hear just utter crap on this album, but I was sadly mistaken. ND really delivers with the riffs here and keeps you interested the whole way through, even though it is slower. I still think that it ranks in a good rating despite what other critics of the band think. I think that this is a really solid put-together and everything seemed to flow fluently on here. No real objections, just the intensity. The music is way slowed down and definitely a more solid production than earlier days. It's good that Jesse was on this one too along with Barney, Mitch and the newer drummer Danny.
Definitely think that if Mick Harris was still with ND, I don't think that he'd let them slow down. But Mick doesn't even play the drums anymore and only owns a pair of drumsticks. If you caught 'Live Corruption', he said that their musical ability was getting better which it was, but why did he have to leave the band? That really created a lot of turmoil between him and Mitch. I doubt that they even talk anymore. I remember them having a quarrel about a year and a half ago on Facebook. It wasn't pretty. Mick kept them extreme and I think Mitch wanted a more death metal oriented ND which is what's featured here.
Not saying at all that the band members slacked off on their musical performance here. They captivate the listener with pure in your face death metal. I really like this album because it's just different. Somewhat groove oriented with the riffs, not a whole lot of backup screams by Mitch here, and good that Jesse was still alive to keep them doing what they do best--kill on the guitars. There aren't a lot of tremolo picking on the riffs here, there's more chords and fast picking, kind of like some groove thrash. Barney displays a little bit of clean measures here, but really brief. The production quality was really really solid.
No complaints on this one, just don't expect that much fast blasting. Expect a more death metal ND, not grindcore or even death/grind. Just mostly death metal. It's really noteworthy and the music really sticks. Awesome what they were able to produce here. There is SOME tremolo picking going on, but not blasting. I think Mick was the fastest blaster ever. Those were the glory days, now onto a newer type of ND, something that I thought would never happen, but it did. They put on one helluva live performance though, even with the newer material and Jesse no longer with the band and living period. Expect diversity.
I think that Napalm Death are easily one of the most underrated bands when it comes to "creativity". It may be a simple reflection of the fact that the band's so-called "experimental" era (which lasted throughout the latter half of the 90's) is generally overlooked by fans (and the band itself, it would seem) due to it's lessened emphasis on blast beats and grindcore-oriented riffing, or the common misconception that these albums were, pure and simple, "Fear Factory worship" (how ridiculous!). However, whatever the case may be, anyone who holds that opinion likely isn't familiar with this album in particular.
Of the four albums released in this era, this is easily the one granted the least recognition. You might hear an intoxicated bald guy in a bar exclaim at the top of his lungs that ""Fear Emptiness Despair" is the best Napalm Death album" (Note: I wouldn't make that claim if it hadn't happened to me, in real life), or perhaps the occasional reference to how terrible "Diatribes" was, and how "Inside the Torn Apart" was the "only good" album from this period...but sadly, "Words from the Exit Wound" rarely seems to be granted any kind of attention. And, you can't entirely blame people. I mean, just look at that album cover. God-damn. And, of course, the notable absence of the classic Napalm Death logo (which had already been absent for two albums, but, come on, you really can't compare the two, it's obvious which one is superior) in favor of this more "modern" looking font, which, while still cool, does (kind of) accurately reflect what one might expect to find within.
And by that, I mean that you can expect to hear some vague glimpses of industrial and groove metal, which today would seem extremely "out-of-date" (in line with the cover image). The sound which dominated the previous album, "Diatribes" has now been reduced to all but ash, in favor of a new sound which combines elements of grindcore and hardcore, which is then doused in death metal gasoline and set alight. But, that's not all one can expect to find here...not by a longshot! Here, one can glimpse the band's first attempts at clean vocals in several tracks, and the band's continual musical evolution into (relatively) uncharted waters with songs such as the slow-paced, yet musically adventurous "Next of Kin to Chaos" exemplifying a unique sound, featuring atmospheric guitar licks settled nicely upon pounding drum rhythms and perhaps one of vocalist Barney Greenway's most powerful performances.
While this sound is not quite as "out there" as the experimental aspects of the previous album, "Diatribes", it certainly cements itself as a memorable moment in the history of a band often overlooked as being a "one trick pony". On top of that, many of the tracks on this album, despite remaining firmly rooted in familiar territories such as "death metal" and "grindcore", still manage to possess enough eccentricities to keep the music from ever sounding too much like any specific genre of music. A very good example of this, is the track "Incendiary Incoming", which dances between death metal-influenced riffing, and between verses, dabbles in a riff which borders thrash and groove metal, all while keeping a steady, groove-oriented beat underneath it all. An even better example, is the track "None the Wiser?". This song is probably the best example of the band's "experimental" era, fusing elements of grindcore, death metal, hardcore, industrial rock, and experimental rock (in one way or another), to create a sound not much like anything else. This track (along with "Repression out of Uniform") is also notable for featuring one of the first examples of "clean vocals" in the band's music, which would eventually become more prominent on albums like "Time Waits for No Slave" and "Utilitarian". Of course, you could (maybe) point to "Cold Forgiveness" on "Diatribes" as well, and I've heard "Evolved as One" from "From Enslavement to Obliteration" being heralded as one of the first examples of clean singing in extreme music period, but this is the first time it's really not arguable, and actually takes a place in the band's music.
There are also songs which don't seem to mind the more traditional sense of song-writing. Album opener "The Infiltraitor" is firmly rooted in the realm of pure, death fucking metal (not far at all from the band's work on the all-time classic "Harmony Corruption"), and remains one of the album's highlights, while "Ulterior Exterior" showcases a return to the furious, relentless style of grindcore the band left behind after "Utopia Banished". However, the band makes a clear attempt to fuse it's past with it's present in tracks like "Throw Down a Rope", which happens to be one of the best songs on this album (I mean, just listen to that opening riff...holy crap!). In this case, the band opens the song with a fast-paced and extremely brutal assault of death metal and grindcore, before letting up some of the brutality for it's chorus, in favor of a powerful tom rhythm, and strange sounding tremelo-picked riff.
Overall, this album rocks. I recommend that any Napalm Death fan check it out, it's an interesting album, but at the same time, the band manages to retain their personality to create something unique and refreshing...well, at least for 1998. Please buy the album. Thank you.
From the opening notes of "The Infiltraitor," you'd think you are in for a killer ride down Napalm Death lane but alas it's not to be. After delivering a monstrous opener worthy of Napalm's illustrious back catalog, the band slides into a pit of mediocrity and despair almost too pitiable to listen to. If you think Diatribes was Napalm at their worst, you probably haven't heard Words From The Exit Wound.
Whether it's the gobs of clean singing, loads of sluggishly generic mid-paced riffs, weird industrial noise experiments that derail all momentum or the overall sense of malaise and reluctant adherence to worn-out cliches, Words From The Exit Wound has Napalm Death hitting rock bottom -- a condition that would trigger their eventual (and spectacular) return to form. Putting this record on and stacking it against such younger competitors as Nasum or Rotten Sound made N.D. sound like the tired old men many had proclaimed them to be. Hell, Barney Greenway has since noted that it was Nasum who kicked Napalm in the ass and got them grinding again. But to derail as utterly as they did on this record certainly had something to do with it as well.
There are only three good tracks here, starting with the aforementioned lead-off number. "The Infiltraitor" is just vintage N.D. perfection: vicious, assaultive death-grind par-excellence. If you love blast beats, d-beats, and ripping breakdowns, this tracks has them in spades. Just don't look for them anywhere else on this record. Only "Ulterior Exterior" & "Cleanse Impure" have them. Everything else is heading the wrong direction. Mid-paced, quasi-experimental material needs strong hooks to keep the listener engaged and the remainder of tracks on this album just aren't strong enough to hold my attention.
One thing I do like is the production. The band sounds huge with snarling guitar tones, chunky bass, and upfront tight drumming. When he's not trying to actually sing, Barney's voice sounds absolutely malevolent, overwhelming the tracks that fail to match his temper. Too bad about that clean singing though. It's retched. This record would also mark the end of Napalm's association with Colin Richardson, whose production here is brilliant even if the material isn't. Only the most committed N.D. junkie needs to spend time with this whole album. For everyone else, I recommend just snatching those three great tracks and letting the rest sink into oblivion.
Personally, I've never had any problems with Napalm Death's newer records. Some say they aren't as brutal or as good as the first three. My first contact with the band was their fifth studio album 'Fear, Emptiness, Despair' in 1994, so I guess I'm a new wave Napalm Death fan. I never found much meat on 10 second songs, anyways.
At first 'Words from the Exit Wound' was an uneasy album. It was very hard to get into, but when I played it enough, it blasted my world. It still does, even more. I never get bored with the band's "weirder than usual" time signatures, sick riffing or Barney Greenway's dry throat, which clearly shouts for more beer. Colin Richardson's heavy and powerful, yet clean (everything's well audible) production is manna for listeners' ears. And there's some extremely meaty riffing on offer, thanks to Mitch Harris' and Jesse Pintado's marvelous fretwork! Danny Herrera beats some very groovy and individual (I really mean individual) rhythms out of his drum kit, so maybe some can't take this. But believe me, there's a lot of blast beat (or whatever fast stuff) coming your way. Shane Embury's bass does devastating work on lower levels. Even though this album's musical yield doesn't differ a lot from a couple of previous records style, it is more refined and certainly sounds different enough.
Barney's throat is in a good shape and he gets more varied grunts, roars and shouts out of him than usually. Just listen him spitting out his anger on 'The Infiltraitor', for example. He also sings a few lines with his clean voice, too, but thank god not many. Guitarist Mitch Harris' uglier than ugly shriek is also present, of course. Lyrics are aimed towards society's crap. The usual Napalm Death stuff all the way...
I must say I simply love this record. There's no "just okay" songs, every one of them is great. Give this enough time, because I certainly needed it. At the first material sounds a bit one-dimensional, but just wait! Napalm Death have their own sound and style. Maybe not as much grind than on the first few records, but there's death metal, industrial edge and well... Hmmmm... Metal!!! This is heavier than previous, say, two albums, and mauls like hell so get wasted.
(originally written for ArchaicMetallurgy.com in 2002)
I consider this album to be 'Inside The Torn Apart''s bouncier, more energetic brother. It's a natural extension of that album in many ways, firmly fitting within the death/grind/hardcore blend begun with 'Fear, Emptiness, Despair'. Unlike the crawling and dismal music which that album carried, though, the stuff on 'Words From The Exit Wound' is much more uptempo and rhythmic than that. It's probably a good album for those who want something closer to the Napalm Death from days of old or future, and it manages to be a fine parting shot from this era of Napalm Death before they abruptly returned to the punishing death/grind style of albums like 'Utopia Banished'.
There are no tracks in the vein of the title track from 'Inside The Torn Apart'; the music on this album is very uptempo and brutal, without most of the atmospheric touches and ultra-tense riffing that defined the previous LP. This is closer to 'Diatribes' in overall tone but is still closer to the 'true' death/grind of earlier years than even that. The music is more technical in the guitar department and much more feels like it's going on at once, even though the style of this album isn't really alien to what's been going on for the past several. There's a substantially lower amount of groove and more easily rhythmic sections, and a lot of the drumming is the syncopated snare battering from before but now with an extra dose of speed. Vocals are tight and springy and bounce off the savagely pounded chords nicely, and the production is, as always, very balanced and full.
There are some pretty massive songs on this CD; tracks like 'Devouring Depraved' approach Napalm Death classic status, and the added ferocity of the music on songs like 'The Infiltraitor' and 'Throw Down A Rope' make for music that's a bit more exciting than Napalm Death had been for several albums. It's probably the only release from this era that fans of more traditional Napalm Death would be encouraged to pick up, and it bridges the gap between the more traditional material and the experimental nicely, even if it is on the way out. The presence of memorable and engaging tracks alone already sets this far above albums like 'Fear, Emptiness, Despair', and it makes for something that's actually an enjoyable listen most of the time. I like the directness and intensity of these songs, and they're definitely in the upper echelon of content that Napalm Death produced during this era due to strength of songwriting.
As the final farewell of Napalm Death's death/grind/hardcore sound, this is a pretty fine parting shot; there's several tracks which continue to be relevant in the greater scheme of Napalm Death's catalog, and I pop this disc in from time to time without skipping any tracks. Recommended for those who have mostly ignored this section of Napalm Death's history; it's a bit faster and more straightforward, and the songs are worth your time.
While I like Napalm Death, I certainly don't love them. It is one of those bands whose albums you first buy because everyone tells you that they are old school, that they started this and that, and that most metalheads seem to have an appreciation for. My appreciation is lukewarm, though, and so far this is the best thing I've heard from them.
Just to inform those who haven't heard it, this is Napalm Death more at the death metal end of their career than the grind period, but grindy influences can still be detected. The guitars are not as downtuned as traditional death metal, and the vocals are more of Barney's trademark shout/growl than your average throat-ripping Corpsey performance. The drumming is one of the most enduringly lovable things about Napalm Death though, as it is steady throughout.
I wish I could say the same about the album. 'The Infiltrator' is a damn awesome song, good lyrics, good chorus, one hell of a breakdown. "Next of Kin to Chaos" is cool as well, a slow, chugging tune that makes you wish they took it slow all the time. "Inciendary Incoming" is not too bad, and "Thrown Down A Rope" is amazing as well, with a riff that sounds like the tension wires on a bridge snapping and the whole damn thing falling down. It is the songs in between these that seem repetitive, lackluster, unmemorable and unexciting.
The live tracks at the end are recorded pretty well, but also not exciting. I guess buy it for The Infiltrator and Thrown Down a Rope alone. I really try to like these guys - I saw them recently and they were funny, honest, and talked to the fans after the show. But their material really needs to be condensed into a greatest hits that has more focus than the one they came out with.