Thursday, 29 December 2016

Napalm Death "Fear, Emptiness, Despair" (1994)

Birmingham's Grindcore legends Napalm Death have an extensive discography of seventeen full length records and that makes for quite the interesting experience. When cherry picking what too visit next this release caught my attention as the first to incorporate elements of Groove Metal into the bands sound. Consisting of the "classic" lineup established on the previous record, "Fear, Emptiness, Despair" captures the chemistry and elements I like most about the band in its infancy.

The result is a harrowing, dark and gloomy atmosphere where the Death Metal tone still lingers as the grooves are yet to be emphasized and at the forefront of attention. The guitar tones are maroon, dense and thrashy, poised for both bludgeoning and bouncy riffs. Barneys guttural shouts get the best out of this style of screaming, not to rough to distort his words but carrying plenty of weight and menace about them. His performance has a tempered variety as the occasional break from the norm makes great use of echoing reverbs, shrill screams and distorted spoken word to spice up an otherwise limited style.

The records tempo has its flairs on tracks like "Remain Nameless" but mostly its a slower, mid-tempo setup where brutality is conveyed through atmosphere and tone, rather than needless blast beats and fast playing. The drumming has its hand to play with beats to compliment the riffs rather than hammering down hard to create intensity. The song structures are seemingly creative however the consistency of records tone masks a fair bit of its creativity when it comes to such things.

In its darkness, a morbid atmosphere of lifelessness and depravity, the record unfortunately plays down its own brilliance. Its loaded with creativity but much of it feels subdued as the energy of the guitars is set back by its dense tone and many fantastic riffs sound a little muddy when the drum are blasting. Drum patterns too do lots of interesting things rather than conform to simplistic beats. Its mood and tone does give the record a consistency that's enjoyable and that would be the word, enjoyable. Its a great listen but tweaks and changes could of unleashed a more frontal beast.

Rating: 7/10
Favorite Tracks: Twist The Knife, Hung, State Of Mind, Armageddon X7