Napalm Death is one of those tireless bands that seem to be on an endless cycle of recording albums and touring. Since 1981, they have carried the extreme metal banner and have remained firmly planted at the top of the food chain. So it’s absolutely no surprise that Utilitarian is another blistering piece of awesome. Napalm Death has always been a band to challenge the norm. In a recent interview with The Age of Metal (click here to listen), vocalist Barney Greenway discussed the subject matter of the album and went into some depth about how morality and doing right thing played a huge part in the lyrics. They again take on the media, government, and basically all abusive authoritative entities. Greenway sounds as vicious as ever, his distinctive, gravel-laden vocals machine-gunning their way into your skull. One great aspect of the album is the production. Utilitarian is unbelievably clear and you can really hear Shane Embury smashing the bottom end of the sound spectrum. It adds a killer touch to an already fantastic album.
“Circumspect” kicks off the album at a plodding, deliberate tempo. You can feel the groundswell building, when the album explodes into “Errors In The Signals.” Next, “Everyday Pox” slows down the grinder just a bit, but unleashes a wild saxophone solo at the end which has that frenetic Napalm Death energy. “Fall On Their Swords” has a chorus that sounds like Gregorian monks released after being entombed for centuries. “Think Tank Trials” is an absolute ripper. “Blank Look About Face” has a haunting chorus that immediately made me want to march in military formation. “Opposites Repellant” strips everything down and takes a circular saw to your ear for just over a minute; it’s classic Napalm Death. The album ends with “Everything In Mono,” a whirlwind of aggression that leaves you totally obliterated in under 90 seconds. At the very end, you hear a kick drum that is abruptly cut off. Whether that was intentional or not is unclear, but the first time hearing the odd ending, I simply thought the computer just gave up on life after being pummeled for nearly 50 minutes. After repeated listens to the ending, my ears were correct, the computer was dead.
Napalm Death made us wait three long years for new material, but it was worth it. Utilitarian is proof positive that increasing age does not necessarily dictate a decline in aggressive brutality. Although the band members are all in their 40s, they still manage to conjure up an intensity rivaled by few, even after 30 years and 15 albums. As long as there is abuse and injustice in the world, the band may have enough to go another 30 years.
1. “Circumspect” (Instrumental)
2. “Errors in the Signals” *
3. “Everyday Pox”
4. “Protection Racket”
5. “The Wolf I Feed”
6. “Quarantined” *
7. “Fall on Their Swords” *
8. “Collision Course”
9. “Orders of Magnitude”
10.”Think Tank Trials”
11.”Blank Look About Face” *
13.”Aim Without an Aim” (Limited edition bonus track)
14.”Everything in Mono” (Limited edition bonus track)
* Editor’s Choice Tracks