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Extremity Retained - 89%

televiper11, December 13th, 2013

A new singer. A new decade. A new direction. I jumped on board here, barreling with Napalm Death into the deepest uncharted waters of death metal. Did a lot of crust punks jump ship? You bet. Fuck 'em! Napalm's greatest mistakes were yet to come but wading neck-deep into the turbulent waters of Floridian death metal wasn't one of them.

One of the song titles on here is "Extremity Retained" and it is enormously fitting. Napalm Death had always been about extremes: extreme speed, extreme anger, extreme line-up instability. And I can think of nothing more extreme than slamming on the breaks and taking grind directly into mid-tempo death metal. And while the Brummies went straight Florida on Harmony Corruption, the signature sound of their earlier records isn't entirely absent either.

New vocalist Barney Greenway (ex. Benediction) makes his presence felt immediately on "Vision Quest," which opens in a squeel of feedback and blurring riffs before Barney lets out one of his trademark roars: a personal stamp, a mission statement. His vocals are much deeper and rougher than his forebears. The production is a Scott Burns special with all the needles in the red. The guitars are distorted to the max, reduced to near white noise, the bass is evident in a rumbling undercurrent, and the drums are hot and boxy.

The album is a manifesto of sorts in the songwriting. Everything that Napalm Death would try on and discard in the next decade is present here: hyper-spastic grind bombast, bruising hardcore grooves, pummeling mid-tempo death metal, even some industrial/noise elements pop up in the sound. The best examples are the classics from this album: "Suffer The Children," "The Chains That Bind Us," "Unfit Earth." These tracks utterly encapsulate what Napalm Death is all about. They are delivered with a fury and abandon that would later ebb away (only to be reinvigorated in early 00's when other bands who loved this record upped its ante).

While Napalm Death have many great albums in their long discography, including some I overall enjoy more, this is the template. If you can't dig Harmony Corruption than most of Napalm Death's offerings aren't for you.