Review Summary: The grind giants, but not as you know 'em
In comparison to Napalm Deaths blistering debut album Scum
, or even to their more recent output, the 1989 Mentally Murdered
EP stand apart as a different animal, somewhat segregated from the rest. It's demeanour is more confidently threatening, less violently ferocious, favouring lumbering brutality as opposed to break-neck speed. Vivisection reveals that grinding riffs and punishing drumming continue to pump away at the heart of the beast, but there's something foreign at play. Granted, despite my earlier assertion that speed isn't the goal here, the tempo still remains quite high throughout, especially during the opener ‘Rise Above’, but there's noticeably less urgency. We're dealing with a sure-footed leviathan destroying all in its path – there's purpose to the assault, and you can feel it in every groove-laden riff, subtle solo and chunky bass line.
Napalm Death are at their most death-metal stage here, and that's thanks largely to vocalist Lee Dorrian. With a style similar to Butchered at Birth/Eaten Back to Life
era Chris Barnes, his deep and breathy growls gurgle over the instruments. Unfortunately the mixing is slightly disappointing in this regard, because while they’ve managed to nail the bass guitar levels, the vocals are a tad overpowering. Generally this wouldn't be worth mentioning but given that Dorrian's presence is the blandest contribution to this incarnation of Napalm Death, his prominence subtracts more than it adds. Getting back to the superb bass work, Shane Embury locks in with the rhythms and fills the gaps in the riffs perfectly. Straddling the line between melody and groove just the way a good player is supposed to, his playing pops and swells in sync with the rest of the band and compliments the drummer perfectly. While thick guitar riffs dominate, exciting drumming and quality production ensures the duo create a solid-as-rock rhythmic foundation. If you've ever toyed with the idea of a more death metal influenced Napalm Death, this small, yet complete EP should satiate your appetite.