REVIEW: “UTILITARIAN” ADDS NEW ASPECTS TO NAPALM DEATH
Century Media Records
Some of the things I have come to love about Napalm Death are the same things that each one of their albums entail. When you pick up something from this Birmingham Power-house, you can expect intense music that hits you almost like a sucker-punch from nowhere, but also lyrics that tend to make you think and express more song topics than death and destruction. “Utilitarian,” Napalm Death’s 15th full-length album, contains all of the aforementioned elements, yet still adds new tidbits of noisescapes and experimental musical passages that you wouldn’t quite expect from a Napalm Death record.
Case in point, the album’s opening track, “Circumspect,” is a mostly instrumental track with some spoken word very lightly mixed into the background, and is a musical concoction that seems to be better suited as an intro to a melancholy black metal album than something from Napalm Death. That being said, its still an awesome fit for the album as it leads into the track “Errors in the Signals” that is the punch to the face I was speaking of previously. And since this is Napalm Death we are talking about, the aural assault doesn’t exactly cease as the album continues. Some may argue that their sound hasn’t changed up enough to keep each album interesting, and my response is that what isn’t broken doesn’t really need to be fixed.
Still, as much as I love the common Napalm Death musical elements, they don’t always score a slam dunk. For instance, the obnoxious noises coming through in the track “Everyday Pox” (that are actually performed by John Zorn on a saxophone) can clearly be done without, just as some of the clean vocal melodies could have been dropped; not because they aren’t performed well, they just aren’t quite a fit for the album. But thankfully, such experimentations aren’t loaded onto the album, just conservatively sprinkled throughout.
Overall, this is a great follow-up to their previous release, “Time Waits for No Slave,” that was released damn near three years to date previously. Tracks like “Orders of Magnitude” and “Leper Colony” are full of enough energy to amp you up for your daily routine, and the more experimental parts of the album aren’t terrible to the point of forcing you to skip tracks or turn it off. This full-on assualt is a great way to start the day, combat traffic, or just to sit and chill with.
Doug Palmitier – 4
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