Thursday, 26 July 2012

NAPALM DEATH - Harmony Corruption (1990)

01  Vision Conquest
02  If The Truth Be Known
03  Inner Incineration
04  Malicious Intent
05  Unfit Earth
06  Circle Of Hypocrisy
07  The Chains That Bind Us
08  Mind Snare
09  Extremity Retained
10  Suffer The Children
11  Hiding Behind

'Harmony Corruption' is the third album by grindcore legends Napalm Death. It was released on September 3rd 1990 via Earache Records. The tracks from the Mentally Murdered EP are included at the end of early editions of the CD, though versions now in print feature only the standard eleven tracks. It is the first Napalm Death album to feature Mark "Barney" Greenway as the vocalist and Mitch Harris and Jesse Pintado as guitarists, and the last with Mick Harris on drums. This record also marked Napalm Death's first UK chart entry, with the album peaking at number 67.

The switch to a more death metal-centric proved to be a wise move on the part of Napalm Death (despite flack from fans), because this is a remarkably strong and consistent record. Their grind and punk roots are still present (most obviously in the main riff of "Suffer the Children"), just subsumed into the death metal and it makes for a dark, intense record here. The songs are fluidly written and arranged, and the riffwork is very well crafted ("Vision Conquest" showcases that remarkably well). Despite the stylistic change, it maintains a lot of the same character that partly defined their earlier records. The album is chock full of songs that manage to be equal parts memorable and intensely vicious - "Suffer the Children" is a terrific example of that and one of the band's best songs, slowly building up tension before exploding into grinding rhythms and tearing tremolo riffing. The performances are all top notch, though I feel Barney Greenway would develop into a better vocalist down the line - here he's a little out of sorts at times.

Whether or not you favor a death metal style to a grindcore one is a question worth asking, but the underlying fact of the matter is that Napalm Death are a new band here, one that plays powerful, albeit relatively straightforward, death metal. Their next album, 'Utopia Banished' (1992), would spiral them off into a more experimental hybrid of grindcore and death metal, which is where they'd remain for years afterward -- out there, somewhere in between. All considered, 'Harmony Corruption' is a bit of a novel album for the band, though one that's not especially remarkable when it comes to their influence on the grindcore scene. 

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