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Slaves To The Grind - 74%

televiper11, April 3rd, 2010

"Time Waits For No Slave" is Napalm Death most radical and experimental album since the much-maligned "Diatribes" era yet it still retains the overall hellish intensity recently revived since their split with Earache Records. Songs like 'Strongarm' and 'Diktat' could level a city if played loudly enough, while 'Fallacy Dominion' and the title track remind us that Napalm isn't afraid to stretch outside the boundaries of the death-grind genre they helped start. Not being easily pigeonholed has always been one of ND's greatest strengths and they play to it impressively here, capitalizing on the good will created from their post-Earache run to engage in all sorts musical trickery: lots of dissonance layered under clean vocals, clean guitar tones and solos, and some odd-time shifts and signatures; it's a laundry-list to scare away the staunchest grind mavens but Napalm Death pulls off the hat-trick of successfully incorporating these elements into their usual harsh framework of blast beats, d-beats, and hardcore breakdowns. These songs, for the most part, crush all.

As mentioned earlier, 'Strongarm' is like a nuclear bomb detonating at the start. 'Downbeat Clique' contains the sickest crossover riff I've ever heard on an ND record. Ditto the breakdowns on 'De-evolution Ad Nauseum,' a song that could easily bring the house down live. 'Work To Rule' opens with a nice, wide-open, ringing guitar tone then lots of harmonic breaks and ill tempo changes. 'Larceny Of The Heart' could easily have appeared on "Diatribes," that is until the sick grind bits kick in. If anything, ND is re-imagining their earlier, experimental era, adding textures without losing the extremity.

If anything is holding this album back from being an all-time ND classic, it is the production. Something that I've suspected for awhile is plainly evident here -- Barney's voice is double-tracked, and this prominent in the mix, it sounds odd. On "Smear Campaign," his voice was more buried and the double-tracking less evident. He also sounds a bit tired, much rougher around the edges and lacking the power he so easily conveyed in his prime. In concert, he seems to do fine so fault seems to be entirely with the production and not the voice itself. Meanwhile, the guitar tone is way more compressed than usual and the drums are set slightly back in the mix. Both of these decisions detract from the overall heaviness of the record. This is the first time since their comeback where I didn't think that the band sounded heavier than they did previously.

Note: some editions come with bonus tracks (either 'Suppressed Hunger', 'Omnipresent Knife In The Back' or 'We Hunt In Packs'), as usual these tracks are worth hunting down, particularly 'We Hunt In Packs,' a song so strong it should have made the main album.