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Aural Pleasure Review

Napalm Death: 'Utilitarian'

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Iconic grindcore pioneers Napalm Death's newest foray into the fray takes some brave steps into new musical territories and, while some elements are startlingly refreshing for the genre, others feel a bit like missteps. The songs are still firmly rooted in their grindcore foundation, but the instrumentation is expanded to include a saxophone and more melodic parts are used to varying results. Most notably (and most successfully) is the inclusion of the aforementioned saxophone on the standout track, "Everyday Pox." The horn comes blasting in with atonal bursts as it pans around maniacally in the mix, stabbing haphazardly at the listener. It works fantastically, and is reminiscent of the Stooges' "L.A. Blues," bringing an interesting clash of punk, free jazz, and avant noise to the stalwart genre. On the other hand, the band experiments with singing (gasp) and some symphonic and epic metal-sounding arrangements, which lead to some heavy-handed and awkward moments (I'm staring you down, "Fall On Their Swords"). While the album stumbles at a few points, the experimentation is definitely worthy enough for fans of the genre to give this one a spin.

★★★ (out of 5 stars)

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