After 30 years the band are yet to discover the meaning of the word compromise. If 'Utilitarian' is in any way less intense or more commercial than any of the band's previous offerings then I fail to see how it could be true.
On first listen everything seems extreme and unyielding. The cookie monster style vocals are, when possible, made more ferocious by multi-tracking and the addition of distortion and FX. What could be merely over the top is rendered multifaceted and richly complex.
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Unlike other Metal acts where the drums might beat out a discernible rhythm from a tempest of guitar riffs, Napalm Death are content to continue with yet another blast beat or snare fill rather akin to being smashed in the face with a jack hammer. The guitar riffs are frantic and relentless. At times it doesn't even appear as if a cursory notion is being paid to musical content.
All good news for established fans.
So why buy this album? Well the melodic droning slow intro gives a little insight into the pleasures that lie beneath the ferocious torrents of the first listen. In fact, by about track ten of the 16, some of the subtleties are beginning to reveal themselves.
Track five, 'The Wolf I Feed', has some great catchy riff work even though lashings of Heavy Metal superglue are used to join the parts into a single cohesive song.
'Blank Look About Face' is a great song. Far from something you could call sing-a-long, it does have a more obvious groove and manages to infect your brain with a tune you struggle to hum. There are some backing vocals that remind me of Gregorian chants and even a little clean guitar work to add depth.
As I've listened to the album, the rhythms within rhythms have revealed themselves. The songs have become more obviously discrete and varied. The pace is relentless but unlike something less extreme I have not felt the need to come up for air.
Everything I've needed has been right there in the songs.