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Napalm Death - Death by Manipulation
Review: Forging a link between the hard-edged pulsing grind like Repulsion and the death metal bands contemporaneously raging across the underground music world, the UK blasters put together songs with discernible themes in rhythm centered around riffs using basic phrases of mostly open intervals to supported the cadenced dynamic vocation by the talented and loud Barney Greenway. The result is both abrasive and addictive listening in its compulsive rhythmic assault.
Like a Halloween party, these songs like to break many visible rules and in doing so employ a range of tempo changes and bizarrely cyclic song structures to maintain a discursive nature to the music, yet drive ahead to clear conclusions to dramatically significant motifs presented within the arrangement and harmony, limited as it is, of each song. Riffcraft is fingerwork between the first five frets with some surprises including a range of longer runs which inspire a great momentum through space in the conception of the listener. Other short phrases are microriff blasts of the opposite: a shuddering approach to stillness lifted off just in time to present another battering insurgency of ideal.
Riffs are frenetic to break the calluses of the mind, engaging in a Protean internal dialogue over the resolution of motif in blasting grind. Minimum rock-n-roll adornments in these songs are the solos which in a Slayeresque noise satirize the solo and use it as a structural focus on the recombinance of basic patterns. There is only an associative connection between much of the internal riff forest, so it is easy to get lost but some listeners argue, more fun that way, when parsing the dialogue across rhythm and tone that is the lengthy array of phrases used here. Elements from darkly masked heavy metal rhythms to pure punk arise within the mix here.
Although this album endures for its pure grind spirit and perhaps the most solid composition of the transitional Napalm Death albums, sometimes its unrelenting nature that is its strength becomes its albatross in an overcentralization of sonic signatures to its motifs. However it is this same hot-bloodedness that makes the band as a whole a sensual and aesthetic-destructive listening experience, and for that this album shall be forever celebrated as a blueprint of deathgrind to come.