Review Summary: A strong collection of songs from a legendary band at the peak of their game. There are many tracks sticking to their standard grindcore style but there are also some slower doomier moments that suit the vibe of the album perfectly. Possibly not as intens
First review guys so please be gentle.
As you await the birth of your second child, it’s a very strange feeling to assess the recent release by a band you spent a lot of your high school years with (and I'm talking late '80's). But such is the way with British extreme metal legends Napalm Death. Smear Campaign is album number thirteen, the third in recent succession following on from Order Of The Leech and The Code Is Red Long Live The Code. The album has an interesting mix of almost every stage of the bands career. It starts with a short intro and an appearance by Anneke from The Gathering. Her contribution is not terribly overwhelming, she also does spoken word type passages for the later track “In Deference”.
Mitch Harris has a strong opening with “Sink Fast Let Go”, incorporating all the elements you’ve come to expect and a healthy injection of shrill chirping from the guitarist. Shane Embury (bass, whose songs as a group I prefer) cuts through each track with dynamic precision, and Danny Herrera (drums) finds the mark each time with his tremendously fluent delivery. Barney Greenway takes no prisoners with his throat shredding performance, and provides plenty of food for thought with his lyrics. Here are some examples:
“Resounding words from God, and words are all they ever are, astounding deeds of faith that never quite astound”
“Bound and gagged no value or use, unjust enforcers policing the truth. Visceral dictatorship stripped to the nerve, designs of entrapment that fake its concern”
“Loudest base pleasures stifled to a whimper, colour and shade is so bland in this vacuum”
There’s something on this album for everyone, crushing heaviness, hardcore style backing vocals, and energy that just makes you want to jump on the furniture or pound the dashboard all the way down the highway. Highlighting individual tracks is probably fruitless as everyone will have their favourites. But special mention should be made to “Warped Beyond Logic” with its cyclonic riffing, the great opening to “Fatalist”, and the remarkably catchy vocoder driven chorus of “Persona Non Grata”. The final two tracks are crushingly apocalyptic with layers of depression and despair, a nice change up to the velocity of the overall album content.
The vibe of the album also reminds me of their covers album Leaders Not Followers Part 2. I can’t imagine it’s a coincidence that some of the obscure bands highlighted in that album are thanked in the liner notes of this album. Overall it’s a terrific listen from a band at the peak of their game and well worth your time and cash. It’s not a bad start too for the younger folk wanting to step into some (more extreme) uncharted waters.