Napalm Death - Utilitarian
Record Label: Century Media
Release Date: February 27, 2012
Few bands can claim to have the kind of career that Birmingham England's Napalm Death have enjoyed. In the span of over twenty five years and fifteen studio albums they have endured as one of the most influential and respected names in heavy metal music, inspiring the evolution of both grindcore and death metal alike. Never ones to stray too far from their widely-imitated grind onslaught, the band doles out yet another dose of in-your-face intensity on Utilitarian, their latest musical nuclear blast. There's little here that is likely to surprise the seasoned fan - the music is angered and frenzied, conveying a truly apocalyptic tone that resonates throughout. But Napalm Death are anything but stagnant; the music, though familiar, is as impassioned and aggressive as ever.
Early on there comes a pleasant surprise, however, in the form of an acid freakout saxophone solo woven into the spastic blast beat attack of "Everyday Pox", a intriguing touch that adds a kind of confusion to an already manic musical excursion. "Fall On Their Swords" also features an interesting bit of experimentation in the addition of a monk-like dirge chorus of chanting that swells ominously as the song propels itself to conclusion. These are but a few of the standout moments on the record. "Orders of Magnitude" is a headbang and fist-pump ready cut that seamlessly shifts from riff-driven metal rocker to disorienting grind anthem and then back again numerous times in the course of its three minute plus run time. Of course, given the nature of the music and the album's eighteen track length, it does begin to bleed together in parts. Some songs wind up sounding like filler compared to the stronger points but luckily the stronger points far outweigh the weaker.
It's this kind of consistency that have helped Napalm Death remain at the top of the grindcore heap for these many years, as the band refuses to compromise, churning out record after record of top-notch metal that satisfied fans both old and new. No, there's little here that will surprise anyone. Save for a few moments of experimentation, Utilitarian is by and large the same old same old Napalm Death. This is anything but a drawback though. For a band whose career is one of such influence and consistency, it would be unwise to stray too far from the path at this point. With bands like Morbid Angel releasing odd forays into unknown territory and attempting to capitalize on trends it's good to know that an old warhorse like Napalm Death are unlikely to release St. Anger: Napalm Death Edition anytime in the foreseeable future. Utilitarian may not be a reinvention of the genre, but it is everything about the genre done right.