Released: 2012, Century Media
Reviewer: Metal-Rules.com UK Team
It’s hard to imagine how today’s grind-core scene would look without the enduring presence of Napalm Death. One suspects that it would cast a far slimmer shadow – as without a doubt over the course of 14 studio albums Napalm Death have carved their name into the general consciousness, far beyond just that of its fan base.
On the face of it Utilitarian is reassuringly Napalm Death – and as a band not much given on selling out, that’s well to be expected. There’s not much dialling down of the political and social sensibilities either – but why would there be when today’s society offers up platefuls of such rich pickings for material. That’s like McDonalds announcing an all vegetarian menu just when scientists perfect hamburger trees, which is clearly the next illogical step from test-tube meat.
‘Circumspect’ is an unusually brooding intro, but one which happily ramps up the anticipation factor for the rest of the album, which is a more than comfortable 16 tracks long. Sounding more like an upcoming act with a point to prove than the veterans they are, Napalm Death seem as hungry as ever with Utilitarian struggling to cram such sonic brutality in its 46-minutes - equivalent to trying to trap a cyclone inside your vacuum cleaner.
Although the anarcho-punk frustrations means this remains grind-for-the-ground-down, Utilitarian plays up to some of the band’s more out-there tendencies from the slap-in-the-face sax passages from John Zorn in ‘Everyday Pox’ to the cleaned up choruses of ‘Blank Look About Face’ – but without compromising on the heavy. This is brought by the likes of ‘Collision Course’, ‘Quarantined’, and ‘A Gag Reflex’, to cherry-pick but a few.
Whilst it was already plenty sharp when first brought to the table, over the last 30 years Napalm Death have continued to grind their axe on all and sundry, and at the peril of those who cross their path. If Utilitarian manages to stick in the throat of those in power and to shake you out of your waking dream of a life, even for a moment, Napalm Death will probably be happy. What’ll prompt a smile through your gritted teeth is the fact that after all this time the fires of Napalm Death are still more than capable of singeing your eyebrows.
Review by: Kirsty Birkett-Stubbs