A little over a year after their successful debut album “Scum”
which was considered to be the first ever Grindcore album, the British band Napalm Death
released another album called “From Enslavement To Obliteration”
or FETO, had a lot of business and musical conflicts within the band, released a string of EP’s in the course of two years before releasing “Harmony Corruption”
.Now this compilation, “Death by Manipulation”
, contains songs from those albums and EP’s. Napalm Death found success with “Scum”, turbocharged it with “FETO” and found their trademark sound on “Mass Appeal Madness”.
This was a time when people were slowly moving on from Speed Metal to the more extreme stuff, although Speed Metal had a much larger fan base, Napalm Death were making a name for themselves basically everywhere with their new chaotic, super-fast guitars and extreme sound which paved the way for other extreme bands like Carcass, Brutal Truth
“Mass Appeal Madness” marked quite a change from normal 52 second napalm death songs to 3 or 4 minute brilliant gems that are here. The chainsaw like guitars, throbbing drums, growling vocals, and bass work together very well here. The sound quality goes from good to bad by song, creating a mix of the old sound and new sound for Napalm Death.
So let’s take a look:
Tracks 1-4 are the most solid and catchiest tracks from this album and they are from the “Mass Appeal Madness”
EP. This was a period in their career where their tunes started to blend in a lot more. "Pride Assassin"
has low vocals from Barney
and screaming from Mick
. The production is flawless, the riffs are memorable and songs are really well structured. The re-done versions of ‘Unchallenged Hate’
and ‘Social Sterility’
are far superior than the originals found in ‘From Enslavement to Obliteration’
Tracks 5-7 are from ‘Suffer the Children’ (1990) and display the bands new found musicianship with much better riffs and more song variety. The riffs are more simplistic but seem to get the feeling across. The vocals are really good too; I feel this is Barney’s best vocal performance in the band till this time. One thing here I dislike is that when they play fast, the guitars are almost non-existent in the mix. The vocals and drums over-shadow everything. The snare drum sounds truly awful. One of the songs that stand out here are “Seige Of Power”
. This also features an instrumental version of "Harmony Corruption"
not found on the original album itself.
Tracks 8-13 are from the ‘Mentally Murdered’ EP (1989) and was the last recording with Lee Dorrian
and Bill Steer
. Musically, everything about this is good, it still isn’t pure Death Metal, but there is less emphasis on blasting and more emphasis on riffing, which make the songs much more memorable and really establish a 'trademark' style of Napalm Death riffing. The lyrics overall are about social awareness and the like, so it’s pretty surprising that music resembled death metal but the ideals were punk. Tracks 14-19 are from the "Napalm Death/S.O.B. Split 7"
Overall the production for the most part here is flawless, apart from a few songs mentioned. There are also three bonus tracks on this record; the last three tracks are live versions of “Unchallenged Hate”, “Extremity Retained”
and “Walls of Confinement”
. So, this CD is a pretty good purchase.
A new sound for Napalm Death
Riffs are dare I say “catchy” and very memorable.
Contains some of the best stuff they’ve done in years.
“Harmony Corruption” used as an interlude is totally mindless.
Sometimes the mix seems blurry
Some riffs are basic in nature and sound really uninspired.
So overall this is a solid release. Since this borders more on the Death Metal side, I would recommend this to anyone who likes old school Death Metal. In fact, it’s a great addition to any Metalhead’s collection so be sure to check it out.