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Good work for a new beggining... - 88%

toofargone, April 2nd, 2004

There's quite a difference to be found between this album and previous Napalm Death albums. Besides the fact that this is the first Napalm Death album to feature ex-Terrorizer guitarist Jesse Pintado and ex-Righteous Pigs guitarist Mitch Harris, it's also the first Napalm Death album to feature Mark "Barney" Greenway (former Benediction), a frontman that would become one of the key ingredients for the most important grindcore band in existence, on vocals. As is natural, 'Harmony Corruption' has few similiarities with previous masterpieces 'Scum' and 'From Enslavement to Obliteration', due to the fact that besides the drummer, Mick Harris, and the bassist, Shane Embury - who joined on the latter album, Napalm Death is now a totally different band which is following in a different direction from that of 'Scum' and the band's following album (a direction also evident on the 'Mentally Murdered' EP, the band's last studio recording with vocalist Lee Dorian and guitarist Bill Steer).
First of all, Napalm Death's first two albums are straight-up grindcore, while in 'Harmony Corruption' the band tries to play more traditional death metal, even if in the end the result dips in and out of grind. But that's not to say that the members of the band don't bring the goods. Far from it.
For starters, both guitarists (Pintado and Harris) both put on a terrific display of riffing. From the slow grinding riffs of Pintado to the ferocious song structures of Harris, it's evident that accidentally getting two guitarists was the best thing that Napalm Death never meant to do. From start to end, this album packs a shit load of memorable and crunching riffs - quite a few, which have been written by the bands fuzzy haired bassist, Shane Embury. Ah, yes. Shane...
Well, there's no way any listener could have a gripe with Shane's excellent bass playing. Not only is he the glue in the band, taking on both playing and writing duties, but he also lays down the low end of the album better than anyone could hope for.
Filling out the drums 'n' bass department is Mick Harris. It's not that I don't like his drumming on this album, his timing is perfect, his blast beats are ripe as hell and his breaks are fast as fuck, but the production of his drums can either drag down someone's enjoyment of this album or elevate it emmensely - a kinda hit and miss affair when taking into consideration the guitar playing of the album, also plaguerized with the same lame production. Someone has to question a producer's production goals when they listen to a recording that in the long run tends to tire with it's overall sound...
Last but not least, we have Barney's brutal vocals. Not only does he show off his talent at guttural vocals (a talent that is less evident in future recordings) but shows some great lyrical inspiration on this album. From songs that attack conniving realigous fanatics, to lyrics about the decimation of our eco-system, to lyrics about drug abuse. For those that like some intelligent substance and opinion in their music, they're sure to find it. On the other hand, those that aren't seeking for such 'secular' aspects can rest assured find plenty in Barney's distinctive vocal style, which consists of some great good old death metal growling (then there's also the added bonus of quest appearances by Obituary's John Tardy and Deicide's Glen Benton on 'Unfit Earth').
In the end I'm sure that any Napalm Death, grindcore, or even death metal fan for that matter, can find plenty here to satisfy themselves with. Especially if they make it a goal to overlook the sloopy, hindering production. Definately a great way to break in a new line-up, with a killer album for all fans of the extreme.