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Trying to get into grindcore: Part 1 - 52%

Valfars Ghost, March 10th, 2018

About a decade ago, as I was first getting into metal, I found out about something called grindcore and, just like every other genre, I tried it out. Unlike most of the other genres though, I quickly decided it wasn’t for me and never revisited it, though through the years, I’d occasionally wonder if I was missing something by ignoring it.

Well, enough time has passed and I’m ready to give the genre a fair shake. I’ve decided to dedicate a few reviews to grindcore releases to help me along. And what better place is there to start than one of genre pioneer Napalm Death’s earliest and most acclaimed works?

Numerous other places, most likely. From Enslavement to Obliteration is an amateurish album so obsessed with delivering the most viciously heavy listening experience possible that it neglects to give listeners anything especially compelling. If you want a sandblasting for your ears, this release has you covered but if you want songwriting that's in any way thoughtful, layered, or memorable, there aren’t a lot of songs here you’ll be satisfied with.

The main problem is the unreasonable number of microsongs. Why did Napalm Death ever think having so many of these was a good idea? Six of the songs on this release are less than a minute in length. Shit, one of them is 22 seconds. Why doesn’t Napalm Death know that isn’t enough time for a song that isn’t a joke or some kind of atmospheric interlude to develop? Songs like ‘Private Death’, ‘Impressions’, and ‘Uncertainty Blurs the Vision’ don’t go anywhere because they aren’t given enough room to expand. Each of those three is little more than all the instrumentalists playing as fast as they can while vocalist Lee Dorrian yells or grunts incoherently for about as long as it takes you to tie your shoelaces. Because of this, there’s no atmosphere or nuance for about half the album’s length. Hell, the band doesn't even sound like it’s trying to make the microsongs stand out from each other, a weird artistic choice that robs the album of memorability, diversity, and intrigue.

Luckily, when Napalm Death actually gives itself enough room to allow songs to grow, that’s typically what they do. The tracks here that exceed 1:15 or so in length don’t have a ton of space but NP manages to cram in enough variation and development for them to feel like real songs rather than snippets thereof. Though this group doesn't have much interest in writing catchy riffs, some of these songs have commendable parts. ‘Display to Me’ starts with an invigorating gallop and has some enjoyable grooving in its second half. 'Mentally Murdered' switches up the tempo quite a few times and includes an odd drum pattern that makes the song so much more energizing than nonstop blasting ever could. Unfortunately, there aren't enough standouts. Every song on this release, except the intro, features a heaping helping of fast, brutal grinding and there aren’t enough songs that bring more to the table.

Overall, FEtO offers a glimpse at a band more interested in pushing the envelope in terms of musical extremity than in writing compelling, well-structured songs. However, there’s some undeniable promise on this disc. A few of these songs reveal a band plenty capable of writing strong progressions and meaty riffs but the album as a whole indicates an unwillingness to make good use of this ability. On FEtO, NP's attempts at cultivating music from of a slurry of the harshest sounds possible is only mildly and sporadically effective.

From charity shop to walkman - 81%

gasmask_colostomy, February 8th, 2018

Imagine this: you're 16 years old and a budding fan of heavy metal in all its strange forms. You walk into a charity shop, namely Oxfam, for a routine trawl through lots of old junk in the hope of finding something musically exciting. Apart from finding the debut album from The Darkness about sixty times in a weekend, that trip to Oxfam provided 16 year old me with a titillating rarity - an old Napalm Death album on cassette tape. You read that absolutely right and, now that I'm back home for a few weeks, I'm taking the opportunity to listen to that old cassette on my ancient tape Walkman, from which I dug some rotting AA batteries a few minutes ago.

Honestly, I hated this album when I first heard it and am still having some trouble dealing with all the static that comes showering off the drums when Mick Harris takes them out for a blast. Let's put that down to my equipment though and I'll tell you why I've changed my mind (not totally, I'm warning you) about From Enslavement to Obliteration. First of all, there's the infallible argument that this is a huge milestone in extreme metal. It's not that Scum wasn't anything special the year before, but my word isn't this so much more of a finished product than that album was. Cutting 28 roughly minute long songs down to 22 was a help, as was that little bit of extra length exhibited on the opening shoutfest/crawlfest 'Evolved as One', plus 'Display to Me' and 'Unchallenged Hate', making a few of these cuts feel like entire songs instead of only violent outbursts of horribly chaotic noise. The opening sequence of riff transitions and subsequent breakdown into piledriving death thrash riffing during 'Think for a Minute' is a whole different kind of destruction to the punkier strains of the debut, a new approach which undoubtedly laid the way for much of the death metal template taken up by Entombed and their Swedish brethren, hardcore-influenced drumming and all.

Aside from the manner in which this album has shaped extreme metal in the years since 1988, the performances are a factor in proving that Napalm Death were ahead of the crowd in the grindcore field and From Enslavement to Obliteration remains an authoritative document on how to totally fuck shit up in half an hour, something that doesn't always come across on the debuts by Extreme Noise Terror and Carcass. That might seem odd given that Bill Steer was also responsible for guitars on Carcass's slightly earlier Reek of Putrefaction, though here he gives a simply immense-sounding tone a huge death metal twist by means of low chugging tones on 'Inconceivable?' which also fields several changes of pace and outstanding backing from Shane Embury's bass guitar, the whole mix of the strings and drums caving my head in now even with the limited technology available to me. A few spastic solos and occasional slower crushing chords mix in an underlying threat to an otherwise brutal display of shit-smashing frenzy that Mick Harris and particularly Lee Dorrian take to absurd levels of heaviness. I've already mentioned the painful static that I'm getting from Harris's drumming, which mostly stems from his ultra-fast cymbal strikes, though the barrage of footwork that he keeps up at other moments is simply astounding, especially when dropping in frequent shifts in speed to accommodate Steer's guitar ideas.

Lee Dorrian gets a paragraph to himself because, as a fan of his later band Cathedral, it's simply unimaginable how he could sound so utterly monstrous and wild on these songs. His deep growl rips through the chaos of crashing percussion in a way that makes me care little about debates of which death metal vocalist is the best, though his crazed higher shrieks were initially a huge turn-off for me. These shrieks seem to have little in the way of thought put into them and certainly do nothing for the atmosphere that his deeper growls do. The worst moment for them is on 'Practice What You Preach', when the vocal phrasing is akin to a school pupil yelling "Ner-ner ner-ner-ner" through the railings of the playground, though thankfully this doesn't happen too often and mostly suits the chaotic vibe.

However, it must be said that because of Dorrian's unintelligible lyrics (not to say they are entirely unintelligent though), the songs are incredibly hard to tell apart, especially when they are of the shorter, more blast-obsessed variety, partly owing to Steer's use of some generic hyper-speed crust riffs. Also, if you paid attention at the beginning, I'm listening on cassette and so there aren't any track breaks, so I apologize if any of the song titles I have given as examples are not accurate. Then again, those longer numbers I mentioned work as excellent semi-death metal tirades of pure frustration and angry demolition, while the shorter numbers demonstrate a band who are as tight as a gnat's arse given the speed they are playing at. As a result of these things, I can't claim to thoroughly enjoy From Enslavement to Obliteration, though there are some great songs and a whole lot of influence nestled inside its short length. Oh, and by the way, it only cost me £0.50. A win for Oxfam.

Disgrace to the human race - 9%

Human666, February 18th, 2016

Sometimes, the borderline between comedy and stupidity can be very thin. Watching Jim Carrey imitating Napalm Death on TV can be quite hilarious. You know he is a comedian, he doesn't take things too seriously and he basically gets paid to make people laugh, which is awesome. But when you try to take things out of their context, let's say taking a seemingly perfect torturing device and market it as a musical record meant to be consumed and enjoyed by mentally healthy human beings...that's when you know it's time to visit a decent shrink.

I don't think that extreme music should be retarded in order to be considered as extreme music. There's also a reasonable range of time where you can sound basically the same and repeat an idea before it gets annoying and predictable. Its quite similar to comedy, you cannot establish some sort of comedic pattern and repeat it forever. After the second time you tell the same joke, it's time to move on to the next one. Otherwise, the audience will lose attention and you won't get away with that. So, what happens when you repeat the same joke for the 20th time in the same evening, without any alterations? Well, you release it as a grindcore album!

'From Enslavement to Obliteration' is an esoteric album that can be enjoyed from start to finish by a very specific type of people. This album is the equivalent experience of sitting in a midnight subway with damaged, noisy ventilators at 200mph. After a slow, dragging intro, we are thrown into a seemingly endless loop of half assed riffs and unstoppable blast beats with some low guttural and indecipherable growls at the background. There's basically zero talent in this record. Any kid can pluck some random power chords and occasionally pick the same note up and down through a fuzzy distorted down tuned guitar. The vocals are absolute shit. It's utterly impossible to differentiate between the vowels coming out in this record. I've heard dogs barking clearer than these attempts of sounding like a brutal cookie monster.

In addition to the mind numbing experience of listening to the same flat blast beats and meaningless riffs combined with indecipherable growls for almost half-hour (assuming you haven't given up), it's all padded in one of the worst recording qualities available. The guitars are way too buried in the mix and have a weak tone, which is basically a perfect outfit for the forgettable, repetitive riffs. The drums are heavily compressed and the vocals are way too loud in the mix. There's absolutely nothing slightly acceptable in this piece of noise.

I guess that some people who claim an enjoyment from such an album are doing it for the purpose of fake self-empowerment that only a unique person could claim to have, which is perfectly fine. I won't lie, this album is truly unique in its continuous, uncompromising effort of sounding heavy and brutal. But after five minutes it ends up being an extremely repetitive, bad produced noise that deserves no artistic recognition. The only reason this album won't get a rounded zero score from me, is that I appreciate the fact that none of the people involved in this project gave up and could actually stand the disgust they created. That is probably the sole admirable aspect in this lousy effort.

Napalm Death - From Enslavement To Obliteration - 100%

Orbitball, June 22nd, 2014

What we have here is a combination of death metal like vocals done by Napalm Death's old singer, Lee Dorrian and backup ones by Mick Harris, who left the band in the early 90's. I'd have to say that the older Napalm Death releases like this one are where they were at their best. I would say that this album is better than "Scum" because the music is more catchy and the intensity of the songs are more noticable. They have all kinds of tempo changes like a slow intro and a slow outro.

The band did justice here for grindcore, them being pretty much the originators of the extreme music. "From Enslavement To Obliteration" is an album that one can get into easily because the musical quality and production were way better than average for a grindcore act (old Napalm Death I mean). When "Harmony Corruption" came out with Mark "Barney" Greenway, I think that all of the songs and production were superb as well. They didn't give up their roots on that one, but later play more death metal more than grind.

The compositions here by Bill Steer on guitars is filled with all sorts of original ideas based on his influences and not duplicating anything, just playing his bar chord exhibitions and shying away from any sort of lead guitars, which is different than when he was and now is again with Carcass. I think that he puts forth some sounds done like no other and intensity through the whole album except for the intro and outro guitars. He doesn't contribute anything to the vocals, Lee and Mick were on duty for that.

I'd say that this is like death metal mixed with grindcore. You can hear what Bill's playing even with the extreme blast beating. Some of the riffs are going at full speed and it's really intense to say the least. I'd really say that Mick was the best drummer for the band, I suppose that he left because he sort of lost interest with extreme music. He was one hell of a grindcore drummer. I don't think that the drummer that replaced him (Danny) comes close to Mick's talent.

So hearing this album compared to the newer Napalm Death sound, they don't have really brutal vocals anymore, Lee was pure deep throat and "Barney" was better in the early 90's via "Harmony Corruption" and "Utopia Banished." Well, the music here is what counts the most and you can because of the production hear Bill Steer's riff outputs even when Mick is grinding out blast beats. Most songs are not extremely long, but longer than the ones from "The Peel Sessions" compilation.

Lee and Mick kept the band brutal and insanely intense on this album. Bill had some leads here and some songs were very brief. The bulk of the grind was in the guitar, drums and vocals. The combination of the low-end grunts by Lee and the high pitch sounds done by Mick gave the band more variety. Bill does an awesome job on the guitar, even though maybe there were only 1-2 leads on this entire album. His riffs are immensely good, maybe even better than that.

For a grindcore band during the earlier days, this album sure puts a good impact on the music community because it simply uncompromising. The lyrical concepts are well thought out too and I think that as a whole, the band made an outstanding contribution to grindcore in itself. There's nothing compared to the older sound of the band, nowadays I find their albums to be monotonous and that they disbanded from their roots. Shane has been in the band for the longest time still dishing out great bass guitar.

If you're looking for grindcore at its absolute finest, "From Enslavement To Obliteration" is where it's at. You can find the full album on YouTube. It would be good to own even just the actual CD of this one because it's to me one of their best releases. With Bill out of the band and back to playing guitars with Carcass, Mitch Harris is a good fill. It's tragic what happened to Jesse Pintado, dead at 37. Anyway, for grind and extreme music lovers, this one should definitely hit home and 34+ minutes of intensity!

Cold, unrelenting hatred and disgust. - 100%

tshred666, April 22nd, 2012

What can be said about this album that hasn't already been said? It truly is the magnum opus of the genre (just barely outclassing Symphonies... and Horrified). It set the standard that all grind bands in the '90s and the new millennium have tried to match. Musically, it's not that far removed from side two of Scum and Reek..., but because of the cold, harsh production it's more aesthetically pleasing than the other two, and not to mention Mick's drumming is much tighter than Ken's (though Ken's drumming on every subsequent Carcass release is top notch).

Lee's voice is the grindcore equivalent of Tom Araya. Powerful, percussive, and just so alive. While there are grind bands that have objectively better vocals (in the sense that you can decipher the lyrics), Lee's voice here just hits your eardrums like a sledgehammer. Not even Bill's vile and rotten gutturals on Reek... and Symphonies... match the indescribable greatness on this album. Speaking of Bill, his riffing here is more or less the same as it is on Reek of Putrefaction, but because of the higher tuning and better production it stands on its own to feet. While his playing here is simplistic and immature compared to Carcass and Firebird, it reflects what grind and hardcore are all about: aggression and passion. Mick's drumming is a chaotic flurry of up-tempo punk grooves and unrelenting blast beats, made even more chaotic by the reverberating production. Shane's bass is buried under all the chaos caused by Bill, Lee, and Mick, but you can't go bassless. If you did, it would probably sound hollow and weak.

Since death metal was in its infancy in '88, there's very little death metal influence on this record as opposed to most grind records, and surprisingly enough, there is also very little thrash to be heard (which is where the early European grind differs from early American grind). Instead you get what is pretty much Discharge, Doom, and Crass with the metronome turned all the way up.

Lyrically, they kept to the formula of anti-establishment idealism present in nearly any socially conscience punk band. Though where Scum points out the corruption of western society in the '80s, FETO presents a myopic and disturbingly realistic dystopia that constantly punishes the everyday working man.

The only standout track is the doom opener "Evolved as One", as every other track is essentially crust punk on amphetamines and steroid-induced rage. An essential album for any grind aficionado or anyone who wants to look into what grind is all about.

The Perfect Grindcore Album - 100%

grain_silo, September 9th, 2011

Napalm Death…widely regarded as the first true grindcore band. “Scum” was the first but I feel like it sounded too punk and “From Enslavement to Obliteration” was the first “true” grindcore sound.

The music is one thing, grind. Every song exemplifies what grindcore is to me. Blast beats are the most used drum beat along with a lot of thrash beats. They slow it down occasionally such as in “Unchallenged Hate”. The riffs are punk influenced riffs but the guitars are so freakin heavy that some of riffs come off as death metal riffs. “Unchallenged Hate” has an amazingly heavy riff. It is easily the best song on here. The title track also has an incredible riff and stands out among the rest. The songs are pretty short, the longest song is just over 3 minutes long and it’s more of an atmospheric into than anything else. Most of the songs are between 1 and 1:30 long, perfect for grindcore.

Production is pretty amazing. Guitars are heavy but are kind of fuzzy during the really fast riffs, which take up most of the album. The bass is super LOW, like it should be. It’s not overpowering in the mix but you can definitely tell it’s there, more like feel it’s there. The drums sound good, but the cymbals are very tinny and the snare could be louder during blast beats. Lee Dorrian…this guy has the best grindcore vocals I’ve ever heard. He might only say a few “lyrics” every song but wow this guy has some energy. He is super guttural and his highs actually sound painful. Easily my favorite grindcore singer for sure.

So if you’re looking at the beginnings of grind, this is a necessity. Everything about this album is amazing and is definitely my favorite grindcore album ever.

Best tracks – “Practice What You Preach”, “Unchallenged Hate”, and “From Enslavement to Obliteration”

The Definition of Grindcore - 100%

vegetable, January 5th, 2011

This is the album that set the standard for what grindcore should be. Napalm Death's debut album, Scum, was what gave birth to the genre we know as grindcore, but it mostly sounded like sped up hardcore punk. Which wasn't a bad thing at all, Scum is a fantasic album, but From Enslavement to Obliteration (FETO for short) gave the grindcore genre a solid identity. This album doesn't sound like sped up hardcore punk, and it doesn't sound like death metal. For its time, it was unique, and some would say still is, because no other album better advertises the fury expected from grindcore songs than this one.

The album packs twenty two songs into thirty minutes. Bonus versions include a few more tracks, which don't sound out of place at all and fit seamlessly into the feel and mood of the album. As expected from grindcore, few songs run for more than three minutes. The average length for them is around a minute. And the band makes full use of that time to craft memorable songs. The album is best enjoyed when listened to in a single sitting, which if you have an ear for extreme music, shouldn't be a problem considering the ridiculous amount of catchy riffs.

From the lineup that recorded side one of Scum, only Mick Harris remained, who apparently decided to keep the band going. Lee Dorrian joined as vocalist and subsequent grindcore legend Bill Steer as guitarist, with Jim Whitely on bass. While this lineup did offer up side two of Scum, it was mostly a lacklusture effort when compared with side one. However, it was a glimpse of what was to come, and come FETO, on which Shane Emburey replaced Whitely, they did deliver a masterpiece.

Words cannot do justice to Steer's guitar tone on the album. It contends with his tone on Carcass' Symphonies of Sickness as possibly the grimiest tone I've ever heard. Very harsh and cold sounding. It is a significant part of what provides the album its grittiness. Mick Harris is maniacally fast. You won't hear many cute fills or time changes here. He mostly flits between a steady beat and hyperspeed blasts that sound like he's hitting everything in his kit at once. Plenty of cymbal use as well. Basically, his performance is what drives the chaos on the album. Shane Emburey's bass is barely audible, but it's doing its job, which is to add an almighty rumble to the bottom end of the riffs. Which is perfect. The riffs sound absolutely monstrous with Steer's guitar tone and Emburey's bass following the guitar. Lee Dorrian brings his unique vocals to the album. Scum had mostly hardcore punk-like shouts for vocals. Dorrian does growls and screams instead. Which is another thing that differentiates the genre from hardcore punk. His vocals are in lock-step with the general mayhem of the songs, they match the manic blasts when they come along, and flow along with slower moving riffs.

The riffs on the album are still very punk-ish. Simple, fast, and extremely catchy. But the speed has been upped a notch. And while there are slower riffs that serve to establish a groove, speed is the norm. Apart from the first track, which has a very leisurely pace, and which is an excellent track as well; all other songs are a whirlwind of monstrous riffage and chaotic blast-beating, augmented by the very socially informed, yet completely unintelligible vocals. Also, another brilliant quality of the riffs is that when they change, they are variations on the former riff most of the time. That gives the songs continuity and coherence. Else it would be rather difficult to tell one song from the other since otherwise they mostly consist of blast beats and vocals that are delivered at the speed of those blasts.

The production is stellar, the cymbals sound divine during the blast sections. The guitar tone absolutely crushes and sounds like a juggernaut that'll mow you down, and Dorrian's voice always manages to be distinct from the rhythm yet complimenting it. There really are no outright bad songs here. Most have recognizable riffs and the vast majority of them are very catchy. Catchiness is a very valuable trait in a genre that mostly relies on creating aural chaos. And this album has catchiness in spades. Songs like Unchallenged Hate, From Enslavement to Obliteration, Social Sterility, Mentally Murdered are grindcore classics and will get stuck in your head when you listen to them.

If you are a grindcore fan, and you don't have this album, which is pretty fucking unlikely, you should have gotten it yesterday. So don't waste time. However, if you are an extreme metal fan who hasn't yet tried grind out, I'm not sure if this would be a good introduction. Maybe easing yourself in through death metal bands that have grind blasts would be a better approach. But, all said and done, this is a fantastic album and deserves its place in history. And absolutely nothing else sounds like it.

The peak before the change. - 98%

reignmaster, August 8th, 2009

With the release of the massively influential “Scum” in 1987, Napalm Death established themselves as the premier grindcore band of the world. They had been generating a buzz for five years prior to its release and had even garnered some popularity and radio airplay. Despite this success, Napalm Death suffered from constantly changing lineups. “Scum” was an excellent album, but the fact that it was split across two entirely different groups of people produced somewhat of an unstable effect. “From Enslavement To Obliteration” fixed this problem by having a stable (for the time being) lineup.

FOTE is an altogether different monster, but more importantly it is a monster that manages to keep itself intact across 22 songs. While some may argue that the Napalm Death of the Bullen/Broadrick days was the best, it is insanely difficult to compare them to the growling and shrieking of Lee Dorrian, and blitzkrieg speed of guitarist Bill Steer, drummer Mick Harris, and bassist Shane Embury. While most of these talents were introduced during the second half of “Scum”, it is on FOTE where they consolidate and take on an identity of their own.

The album begins with the very slow and ominous “Evolved As One.” Distorted guitars and extremely creepy vocals give way to the utter mayhem that is “It’s A M.A.N.S. World.” That song is the starting point for where the early Napalm Death formula is pushed to the absolute limit. It’s all here, from the catchy punk-infested grind riffs to Dorrian’s demented vocals and Harris’s insane drumming. While Napalm Death had been using this same formula for a while, it is here where it is done best. Just listen to the non-stop barrages that are “Lucid Fairytale” and “Impressions”, or headbang to the more varied, but no less brutal, tunes of “Display To Me” and “Mentally Murdered.” This is essential Napalm Death, and also their last true grindcore album. Indeed, after FOTE both Dorrian and Steer would leave and be replaced with Mitch Harris and Barney Greenway, both great musicians in their own right, but lacking the sheer explosiveness that made Napalm Death into such a powerhouse.

“From Enslavement To Obliteration” is an album who may not have the historical value of the band’s previous works, but instead has something that is perhaps more important; perfection of the formula that gave the band a name in the first place.

The true first grindcore album - 81%

Noktorn, September 12th, 2008

I didn't really like 'Scum', but this album I definitely enjoy. It's not as punky as the first side of 'Scum'; really it's a natural step forward from that album's second side, but still much more 'songy' and coherent as a whole. The instrumental performances are better (though still nowhere near rigid) and the production is a substantial step up from the rehearsal room atmosphere of the band's debut. The package feels much more complete overall, which I guess isn't surprising since 'Scum' was originally intended to be a demo.

The fundamental importance of this album is that it's perhaps the most definite, clear, pure first grindcore album ever made. 'Scum' was rather excessively punky to fully hold that title and most others that could be theoretically crowned aren't as decisively absolute as this one. This is, in essence, grindcore in its purest form. Short and immediate songs with sped up crust/thrash riffs, ripping growls and screams, and blasting, chaotic drumwork. The songs aren't nearly as chaotic in general as the second side of 'Scum'. There are plenty of entirely intelligible riffs during even the most chaotic sections, and rhythmically the band is less tighter than the borderline noisecore of certain tracks on 'Scum'.

I can't say the songs are particularly memorable (apart from the stunning 'Evolved As One', which, like many other future tracks goes to show that Napalm Death NEEDS to do an album of entirely slow songs), but at around a minute and a half each, they aren't really intended to be. It's an album to be consumed as a whole, as these bursts of brutality don't really stand up without a dozen or so of their compatriots as props. This is grindcore as it was originally supposed to be: an experience that is felt more than listened to. You're simply battered by the music more than pleased by it, and I have a feeling that that was the intention of the band from square one.

Though it is a mighty step up from 'Scum', it's not my favorite album by Napalm Death. There's a couple of clear weak points. First and most importantly is a periodically weak vocal performance by Lee Dorrian, which occasionally slips into monotonous shouting that doesn't do anything to drive the music forward. The tracks are still occasionally rather simply structured without logical connectors from riff to riff. And while I appreciate this aesthetic of pure brutality and of the album being undergone more than listened to, I still prefer Napalm Death a couple albums down the road where the brutality was maintained but the music was more capable of standing up on its own merits rather than relying on its aesthetic.

That being said, this is still a great album, and not merely in the influential sense that 'Scum' was. It's a grindcore classic for a reason, and, at least in my opinion, the first and foremost example of the genre. Really a mandatory listen for all extreme metal fans both for historical and musical reasons. Napalm Death got better, but they were never quite this pure again.

The ultimate ND release with Dorrian & Steer - 97%

morbert, August 20th, 2008

What we have here is the ultimate Napalm Death (which from now on shall be called ND) album in the classic pre-Barney line-up. For a lot of metal fanatics their previous album Scum. Although groundbreaker, still had too much ‘punk’ in it. But on F.E.T.O. it’s old school grindcore all the way. Not as sloppy as their earlier works yet not as slick and heavy as their Barney period, F.E.T.O. sounds underground as well as proffessional enough to appeal to more than one select group of listeners. It therefor is ND’s most ‘accessable’ release from the eighties.

Lee Dorrian feels more at easy growling and grunting the socially aware lyrics compared to his performance on the B-side of scum. His voice has improved and therefor the dynamic performance is more consistent. Mick Harris’ drums have slightly approved in terms of tightness which is logical considering that on the previous record the band was still experimenting and on this album they had crystalised their music.

Bill Steer? We all know what Bill Steer could pull of so his performance here sounds laid back and therefor pretty proffessional (if we can use that term in old school grindcore). Shane Emburys pressence is just a heap of distorted bass but is excatly what the music needs.

Whereas ‘Scum’ was the album that really started it all for ND, ‘F.E.T.O.’ was in fact their best! Tighter, more focussed and produced suitingly. It’s not all noise or blastspeed. With “Unchallenged Hate”, “Mentally Murdered” and especially “Display to Me” the band shows they can combine grindcore, crustcore and some pleistocenic death metal into aggressive, catchy and well played songs.

“Retreat to Nowhere” and “Lucid Fairytale” are two prime examples of the Scum (side-B) approach being worked out more efficiently. Brutal, short and with some ingeniously catchy riffs, breaks and vocal lines.

Lyrically the band was as furious and sometimes remarkably subtle as ever. For instance “Cock Rock Alienation” (apart from a briliant title!) being a great song against corporate music or the even more impressive “Social Sterility” (check it out yourselves).

Of course, most grindcore albums since those days sound heavier, more brutal or whatever. But the intensity, drive and especially honesty surrounding this album is still hard to equal. F.E.T.O. is way up there with other early bands like Terrorizer, Carcass and Fear Of God (Swiss).

If you like grindcore, your collection can not exist (mustn’t even be allowed!) without From Enslavement To Obliteration!

This is when Napalm Death really started - 90%

master_of_reality, June 21st, 2008

One year after their well known debut album, the seminal british band Napalm Death attacked again with another raw and brutal album, called "From Enslavement to Obliteration". "Scum", their debut, is considered as the first grindcore album, and yes, it was rabid as hell, fast and brutal, but it lacked of maturity. Fortunately, this time the band was pretty much solid and established than in their first album, or at least it sounds like that, but that doesn't means a lost of their primal brutality, it is still the same.

This lineup had brilliant elements on it, particularly the vocalist, Lee Dorrian, Cathedral's leader and godfather of deathened doom metal, and the guitarist Bill Steer, who got his own name in grindcore and death metal with Carcass. The bassist, Shane Embury (which is the only member who remains in the band since their debut album) and drummer Mick Harris are the perfect support for Dorrian's manic gutural screams and Steer's machinegun riffs. The production is somewhat cleaner than the debut album and it helps a lot to the band, their massive strenght gets even more empowered by the production.

Well, it's pretty hard to review an album like this, because it's something like 30 minutes of noise... but the greatest noise you'll be able to hear. The album starts with "Evolved as One", which is the most listenable song of the album. This track is more doom metal oriented (which is probably a hint of what will Lee Dorrian do with Cathedral), a deep bass line with a slow and stomping drum pattern domine all the three minutes of the song, the guitar is very secondary on this one. It works well as an introduction but it gets a little monotone when Dorrian yells "your weak minds!" so many times. After this "peaceful" intro, hell unleashes. Literally. There are three of four songs on this album which surpass the barrier of the two minutes, so you can barely distinguish one song from another. It's better to take this album like a 35 minutes song than like an 35 minutes album with 27 songs. Musically, there are some notable changes from "Scum" to this record, in "Scum" the punk and death metal elements were somewhat balanced but this time the death metal orientation dominates their music, although you'll hear some punk passages along this album, this is more a festival of growls, metallic riffs and blast beats. Of course the 3 or 5 seconds songs are still present, "Your Achievement" and "Dead" are as short as "You Suffer", but that "song" remains as the shorter song ever recorded.

Finally, "The Curse" is "Evolved as One" without vocals, it works as a return to peace and normality after such a brutal discharge.

In my opinion, "Scum" is very overrated, if you want to get the true grindcore spirit of this british monster, then get this album. You will surely get many brutal moments.

The Forgotten Napalm Death Album? - 85%

brocashelm, April 21st, 2006

After blowing the rules of punk and metal apart with their debut album Scum, Napalm Death were back in short order to do what some thought was the impossible: produce an encore to the apocalypse. But lo and behold, the band, now with extra added bassist Shane Embury (who’d formerly recorded with Unseen Terror) did their debut one better, by virtue of experience, both on their part and of their still fledgling record company, who were quickly gaining ground as bastions of extreme music on a global scale.

Primarily, the production is was ahead of the debut, balancing the drums, which threatened to consume the whole aural picture previously, and pushing up Lee Dorrian’s wails and Embury’s fuzzy bass high in the mix. And somewhere in there Bill Steer (co-currently recording with his other band Carcass) churns out riff after riff of sonic goo. Also, the songs boast somewhat meatier, more metallic riffs, as Napalm Death begin their slow and steady but ultimately short lived journey to the frontiers of death metal. “Unchallenged Hate” is perhaps the best thing on hand with its weighty structure, although the opening semi-industrial dirge of “Evolved As One” is a striking piece as well. But then, this is Napalm Death, and plenty of brief and formidable hyper-speed blasts appear in abundance, with “Private Death” and “Display To Me” coming out on top of that heap. More fortress-weight tunes are in attendance, as the title song and “Mentally Murdered” make evident, and the band’s growth as players make them indeed a force to be reckoned with.

In a sense, From Enslavement To Obliteration has taken a big back seat to Scum in historical terms, which is a real shame. Almost twenty years on, the band perform a bevy of songs from this recording live, and in terms of extremity few subsequent releases (both by Napalm Death and their legions of imitators) can hold a candle to it. The good news is that Earache has (sporadically) issued both albums on one CD! Pretentious record collectors note: the original vinyl pressing came with a bonus seven inch single containing five cuts, one of which (“The Curse”) is pretty dang hard to find in any other form.

Essential grindcore - 95%

Vim_Fuego, August 6th, 2004

It's a familiar story. Four young men with astounding clarity of vision are brought together by the spirit of creative lifeforce and combine their common love of music, in the process recording an album which becomes a yardstick for a genre, the starting point for a new musical movement, an awakening of creative consciousness, a defining moment in the artistic oeuvre.

Nah, fuck all that over analysis bullshit. "From Enslavement To Obliteration" is a blinding album which will rip your fucking face off!

A total of 27 manic tracks blast past in a bit over 34 minutes. This is grindcore at grassroots level. Ugly music stripped back to the bare bones. Everything is straight forward, and pushed to the limits (for the time) just to see what would happen. The songs are exercises in beautiful simplicity. Take one idea or riff. Take it as far as it will go. End. Repeat. Only two tracks stretch past the three minute mark, and a good number are shorter than a minute. Then again, playing 12 minute epics is not really an option when playing at this speed.

No one involved with this album could have possibly imagined the influence they would all have on extreme music. Vocalist Lee Dorrian now fronts Cathedral. Guitarist Bill Steer went to Carcass full time. Drummer Mick Harris helped create the almighty Godflesh and a plethora of other experimental extreme musical projects. Bass player Shane Embury has stayed with Napalm Death, and has been a leading figure in shaping the direction of most things extreme since.

This is fast, energetic, brutal as fuck, no nonsense music. It's the way grindcore used to be, and still should be.

Grind - 88%

Zze, August 6th, 2004

Not a fan of this style, however, I was impressed on how few people came to post here about this album. I use to play on a funny little project of Grindcore, more as a joke project than anything serious ,just because even if sucking as music per se, grindcore is REALLY funny to play as joke. and I listened to this album several times to get an idea of the style. What I can say is that, this CD, along with Carcass "Reek of Putrefaction" and Napalm Death predecessor "Scum" where among the most extreme albums of the entire 80´s decade. This could be probably considered the "earliest" ND "death metal" record, as Scum sounds more like a ultrafast hardcorethrash mix and is quite enjoyable. FETO is much faster, darker and heavier than Scum, plus the vocals are much more growled and guttural, to the point of being not of my liking, however, I believe that , to any extreme metal fan this is a must have , because it probably set many standards to 90´s Death Metal in general, the riffs, altought buried on the blastbeats , are quite good for this style and the vocals, altought horrible to my ears, fit the style perfectly and I believe, are capable of pleasing the ears of any extreme metal fan of Cannibal Corpse, Suffocation and bands alike.