Napalm Death - Smear Campaign
Very few bands can say that they have influenced a whole generation of music. It's safe to say that without Napalm Death, the extreme music scene would be looking a whole lot different. From the humble beginnings in Birmingham with the genre-defining masterpiece Scum, Napalm Death have evolved from microsecond blasts to structured songs filled with burning socio-political issues, as seen in the mid 90's material onwards.
Following on from 2005's The Code Is Red... Long Live The Code, Napalm Death still produces an anarchic mix of brutal hardcore punk and extreme metal known as grindcore in the form of Smear Campaign. The album opens with an almost atmospheric intro 'Weltschmerz' with female vocals added by Anneke Van Giersbergen from the Dutch metal band The Gathering. This intro into Smear Campaign comes some what as a surprise from a band like Napalm Death as it wouldn't sound out of place on a black metal band album like Dimmu Borgir. Then cue 'Sink Fast Let Go' which erupts into a classic grindcore track. This is the Napalm Death we know and love. Vocalist Barney Greenway spits full of rage and the vocals almost seem inhuman. In fact, everything on this album seems inhuman. The drumming from Danny Herrera is as subtle as a sledgehammer to the face with it going into blast beats at the drop of a hat. And the guitarwork from Mitch Harris is astonishing.
The album is filled with short sharp slabs of pure grind. 'When All Is Is Said And Done' is unrelenting in energy. 'Freedom Is The Wage Of Sin' has the punk-like tempos which form the backbone of what Napalm Death do so well.
There are some surprises on this album; Anneke Van Giersbergen appears again on the track 'In Deference' providing her enchanting vocals creating a great contrast to the monstrous vocals of Greenway. It is almost certainly a case of beauty and the beast on this album. Another surprise is the closing title track that also carries the same progressive evil elements as the intro.
To all the grindcore wannabes, the pioneers continue to show how it's done and have probably produced one of the most brutal albums of the year.