A raw and insanely paced slab of brutal grindcore

For the past decade or so, Napalm Death has been delivering material of such quality and consistency it almost defies review.

After fourteen previous albums there’s still no indication that this band will retreat from their stance of uncompromising rage and extreme noise terrorism. In fact, with Utilitarian, the opposite is probably true. This is a raw and insanely paced slab of brutal grindcore that continues the Napalm Death tradition of tearing down ivory towers wherever they exist and trampling roughshod over them like angry beasts.

The darkly ambient intro track “Circumspect” rises ominously from the silence until “Errors in the Signals” opens with staccato riffing and alternating screams and bellows from Mitch Harris and Barney Greenway and the madness begins. You expect nothing less than vicious chaos from any Napalm Death album, and Utilitarian delivers in spades, and yet they always manage to find a way to keep their albums from sounding like one continuous blur of terrifying noise. The murky ambience of the first track flows through into cuts like  “Fall on Their Swords” and “The Wolf I Feed” that embrace surprising, clean, chorus-like vocals as if they’re channeling Fear Factory’s Demanufacture. On “Everyday Pox”, John Zorn steps in to add some tortured shrieking that’s barely recognisable as a saxophone. “Collision Course” is a looser, punk-flavoured song and the gender identity track “Gag Reflex” combines straight up punk rocking with a mid-paced death metal chug close out. Elsewhere, Utilatarian is nothing other than a blazing and raging volume of berzerk riffs, Herculean drumming and Greenway’s matchless roar that shows no sign of diminishing any time soon. Attacking the hypocrisies of political opportunism and the evils of corporate crime with the likes of “Protection Racket” and “Think Tank Trials”, Napalm Death never let go of their principles: beset, harry and mock what they see as the wrongs of western socio-political structure wherever they find them.

As they get older they only seem to get angrier, and Utilitarian is a rock-solid sign that one of Britain’s best and most politically inflammatory bands shows no signs of going away.

1. Circumspect
2. Errors in the Signals
3. Everyday Pox
4. Protection Racket
5. The Wolf I Feed
6. Quarantined
7. Fall on Their Swords
8. Collision Course
9. Order of Magnitude
10. Think Tank Trials
11. Blank Look About Face
12. Leper Colony
13. Nom de Guerre
14. Analysis Paralysis
15. Opposites Repellent
16. A Gag Reflex