Release DetailsLABEL Century Media
RELEASED ON 9/19/2006
posted on 9/2006 By:
It’s Napalm Death, what are you expecting here?
I really enjoyed The Code is Red, Long Live the Code, but for whatever reason, Smear Campaign, despite all its classic blasting, screaming, ranting, grinding furor and vehemence, isn’t hitting me quite as hard.
Despite Greenway and Co. firing on all cylinders in their politically charged assault of grinding mayhem and the band being further away from their plodding mid-era sound (Diatribes, Fear Emptiness Despair, Inside the Torn Apart), there’s just something I can’t quite put my finger on that just fails to make Smear Campaign click as its predecessor did in savage fashion. Maybe it’s the slightly more raw production and delivery or the more obvious injections of experimental elements clashing with the band returning to its noisier punkier, grindcore roots. For example, the orchestral intro for “Weltschmerz (intro)”, synths and female spoken by Anneke van Giersbergen of The Gathering word for “In Deference” and the vocals for the title track, while certainly not album breaking or even detracting, sort of show Napalm Death timidly experimenting with tentative steps and waiting for a response, sort of like “Morale” on The Code is Red..... The again, maybe it’s Greenway’s utilization of high pitch screeching (i.e “Sink Fast Let Go” and others) that while certainly more primal and a definite nod to the band's early, pre-Barney days, sort of grates me a little.
On a positive note, (because this is a fine album and a solid addition to the legendary band’s catalog, despite my whining), Napalm Death, have as expected, uncorked some truly feral moments of blistering, less refined extremity on Smear Campaign such as “Fatalist”, “Puritanical Punishment”, “Freedom is the Wage of Sin”, “Short Lived”, "Shattered Existence”, “Eyes Right Out” and “Rabid Wolves (For Christ)”, but even then, I’m not gnashing my teeth to dust as I was for The Code is Red..., even the good moments feel a tad......rushed? For example, four tracks, “Well All Is Said and Done”, “Identity Crisis”, “Deaf and Dumbstruck” and “Persona Nongrata” barely registered with me.
Greenway sounds more angry than ever, but also is more processed and modulated than he’s ever been and the ever reliable trio of Herrera, “Murderface” Embury and Harris do their thing as they’ve been doing for years, but I get a sense of going through the motions as to these ears The Code is Red... was the eventual explosive climax of the band returning to form after a few years of stagnation, and now Smear Campaign is the gradual let down or leveling out.
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