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A New Direction - 87%

PlagueRages, May 7th, 2007

Up until this point Napalm Death had been known as the infamous inventers of Grindcore (which is debateable), playing “one minute songs” and generally flushing the concept of song structure down the toilet. However with Harmony Corruption they began to change their style playing more death metal than Grindcore They added new vocalist Barney and guitarists Jesse Pintado (R.I.P.) and Mitch Harris after Lee Dorrian and Bill Steer quite to follow their own musical directions. The end result cannot really be called pure Death Metal instead its kind of a mixture of Death Metal and Grindcore.

The main notable change to Harmony Corruption is the song length, no songs are shorter than 2 minutes and the longest being over 5 minutes, much to the disgust of any Grindcore purest. The production is a lot more professional sounding than Scum or FETO as ND could actually afford a ‘decent’ production job. However it is the production that is my main gripe with album (as previous reviewers have noted), it will probably take The sound is too muddy and undefined, the drums have quite a strange sound with the snare ringing out very loudly, the toms are deep and thundering and the bass drum is fairly clicky. Shane Embury’s bass guitar seems to have been unfortunately almost completely forgotten in the mixing. The guitar tone is probably the thickest Napalm Death have ever had, however the whirring Grind riffs that are played during the blast sections sometimes sound perilously thin and weak, which leads me on to the riffs.

The Guitar work on Harmony Corruption is mainly composed of 2 types of riffs, heavy crushing Thrash riffs such as the intro to Unfit Earth and whirring Grind riffs that are usually played during the blast beats, this creates the mix between Death Metal and Grindcore sound the album has. Both Guitarist bring their own approaches to riffing on the album and it really works adding another dimension to ND’s sound. Micky Harris’ drumming has improved enormously since his Scum days where his drumming couldn’t extend much beyond blast beating the hell of the kit.
On Harmony Corruption his blasting is controlled and far more accurate without losing any speed, his fills brim with confidence and are extremely fast, he has also mastered the use of double bass, something that wasn’t present on Scum or FETO. Shane Embury’s bass playing is excellent but as already stated the bass is unfortunately very quiet in the mix. Last but not least I come to Barney’s vocal performance, quite simply he is one of the best Death Metal vocalists ever. His vocals are infinitely better than Lee Dorrian’s work as he has a truly monstrous growl that retains audibility, allowing you to actually hear what he is growling.

The lyrics of the album are in the traditional vein of ND’s socio political themes, condemning the way people and governments act in the world but there are even some lyrics about the music itself (extremity retained).

Album highlights would have to be If The Truth Be Known and the classic Suffer The Children. Other great songs include Unfit Earth (which has backing vocals from Glen Benton and John Tardy) The Chains That Bind Us and Circle Of Hypocrisy.

This album is an excellent work of Death/Grind and is worthy of being in every extreme metal album collection.