Napalm Death: Utilitarian

Grindcore pioneers embrace new forms of sonic carnage.

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Founded three decades ago, with the current line-up dating back over 20 years, Napalm Death have matured from grindcore extremists into a trusty British brand as reliable as Marks and Spencer – or Wallace and Gromit at least.

The 14th album by these West Midlands ear-shredders is another reassuringly hideous all-out assault on taste and melody, packed to bursting point with breakneck blast beats, insanely overdriven guitars and grotesquely guttural vocals. It should feel predictable by now, but there just seems to be something about intense, visceral, skull-fucking hatred for humanity that never gets old. It’s the gift that keeps on giving.

Drawing on the Occupy movement for its political rage, Utilitarian also boasts a pleasingly broad musical agenda. A howling jazz-punk saxophone becomes an ingenious torture-porn device in Everyday Pox while several tracks, notably Fall on Their Swords and Leper Colony, blend high-speed thrashcore with Viking-voiced, Wagnerian goth-metal. Vocalist Mark Greenway cites Swans and My Bloody Valentine as inspiration for these more epic tracks, although you may hear Celtic Frost and Rammstein too.

Impressively, it appears you can teach old dogs new tricks after all, even old dogs who are chewing on the bloody stumps where your legs used to be.

Stephen Dalton

Stephen Dalton has been writing about all things rock for more than 30 years, starting in the late Eighties at the New Musical Express (RIP) when it was still an annoyingly pompous analogue weekly paper printed on dead trees and sold in actual physical shops. For the last decade or so he has been a regular contributor to Classic Rock magazine. He has also written about music and film for Uncut, Vox, Prog, The Quietus, Electronic Sound, Rolling Stone, The Times, The London Evening Standard, Wallpaper, The Film Verdict, Sight and Sound, The Hollywood Reporter and others, including some even more disreputable publications.