Released: 2005, Century Media Records
Reviewer: Gabriel C. Zolman
This is Napalm Death, and it’s nothing new—but it is a new Napalm Death, and damn it, that still means something, you know.
There are cameos from Jello Biafra, Jamey Jasta, and Jeff Walker (of Carcass fame); ignore that for the moment. It’s irrelevant. Jello has been a long-time, outspoken advocate of this band, and his participation is nothing new or out of place. Jasta may be a wanker, but represents an inkling of a mainstream nod to a pioneer’s achievement. Hatebreed would not exist without this band, and let that be Napalm’s only sin—the llama shit their music has inspired, despite a continued relevance to the scene. Walker is simply making the rounds—he’s been popping up quite a few places, really, and this is nothing special.
Perhaps the most significant aspect of this, is that the band have signed with Metal’s largest juggernaut, and have retained their extremities untarnished. Century Media understand Metal, regardless of size or stripe, and have allowed the band to do their thing unfettered. And that is, perhaps, the key descriptive for this release: unfettered. This is Napalm rollicking along, without restraint or passing care for critical acclaim. The tone is generally along the lines of the last two discs—back-to-basics Grindcore, closer in spirit to the Hardcore of their youth than the Death Metal of their mid-period era. Occasionally, there is a nod or three to the groove of yore—songs like “Diplomatic Immunity” could have been on FEAR, EMPTINESS, DESPAIR, and that’s only a good thing. “Climate Controllers” and “All Hail The Grey Dawn” sound like holdovers from DIATRIBES—again, not a sorry thing at all. The title track, as well as “Sold Short,” are forceful as well—but again, closer in spirit to their Hardcore roots than anything on HARMONY CORRUPTION and the like. “The Great And The Good” has an awesome, pounding groove, as good as anything they’ve done, with or without the presence of Biafra on the track.
At this stage in their career, Napalm Death aren’t going to reinvent the wheel—and perhaps it’s best they don’t. Experimentation has yielded mixed results for them (ie their last two Earache LP’s). The production is straight-forward, more like a Trustkill Hardcore disc. Sometimes, it fails to capture the heaviness of the guitars. That’s really this reviewer’s sole complaint—the production is too stripped-down, and the rhythms merely bristle beneath the vocals, as opposed to mangling the meat of prey, like the crushing slabs they once have been.
All in all, the band deserves a nod for “keeping it real” in the face of their largest exposure since Earache’s ill-fated Sony distro deal. Century Media know their business, and will take this band as far as such a band can really go. Fans of recent releases like ORDER OF THE LEECH will embrace this, and new fans will have a decent introduction to what this band has represented in the past. Would some rhythm section overdubs have helped? Perhaps; but the plug-in-and-fucking-rip production stays true to Napalm’s ethic—and that’s what it’s all about, correct?
Long live the Code…long live the Death.