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Coded Smears And More Uncommon Slurs
(Century Media Records)

NAPALM DEATH is without any doubt one of my favourite bands. Every extreme Metal fan has had a NAPALM DEATH phase during his life and for sure owns at least one of their albums. I challenge anyone to contradict me: if you're into extreme Metal, at some point of your life you've bought a NAPALM DEATH record. Maybe you don't like them for the most various reasons - "Grindcore is too chaotic for my ears, they sound repetitive, I have different political views etc" - but for sure you've tried to listen to them at least once in your life. Why? Because they're a legendary band with a nearly 40 years career and a pioneering role in the scene, since they invented a musical style and a way of playing. Five stages of musical development have characterised their discography through the years. In details: the harsh Punk period from their formation to the "Hatred Surge" demo (1981-1985); the golden era of Grindcore with masterpieces such as "Scum", "From Enslavement To Obliteration" and "Mentally Murdered" (1986 to 1989); the Death / Grind triennium (1990-1993) in which three classic titles saw the light ("Harmony Corruption", "Utopia Banished" and "Live Corruption") and that marked many important line-up changes like the recruiting of Jesse Pintado, Mark 'Barney' Greenway and Mitch Harris, the departure of Mick Harris and the coming of Danny Herrera behind the kit. Then the two most recent periods: the experimental / groovy approach from 1994 to 2000 and the brutal Grindcore renaissance (2001-present). Ok, to me you can skip for sure two of these phases (the first and the fourth), whereas the second with Lee Dorrian and Bill Steer along with the third are absolutely mandatory. I must admit that I have my doubts about their last years, that unfortunately saw the passing of Jesse Pintado. Instead of contaminating their sound with boring and groovy influences like they did during the fourth phase, NAPALM DEATH, in latter years and recently also, have proven themselves capables of recording some fine and interesting albums, but without reaching the levels of their classic ones. "Coded Smears And More Uncommon Slurs" is the last effort by the Birmingham's act and follows this musical wake. Here we have a double CD compilation, released on vinyl and digital formats too by Century Media, with rarities and bonus material taken from various studio sessions that cover a period of 12 years (2004-2016). A total of 31 songs for a playing time of over 90 minutes and a big booklet with some pretty gory images and tons of infos. An average example of modern NAPALM DEATH's trademark: a sonic assault of professionally produced Grindcore with Death Metal and Hardcore influences. When they walk on the fastest side, our English heroes are unbeatable in terms of violence, chaos, ferocity and brutality. Barney's vocals are killer as always and immediately recognizable among a million singers. Shane's bass is distorted and noisy, whereas Mitch's guitars tone is loud, heavy and dirty, although the riffing is a bit uninspired, but don't forget that these songs are extra and bonus material, not the tracks included in the official albums. The real winner in the band is Danny Herrera with his distinctive drumming: fast, accurate, dynamic and brutal. His chaotic Euroblast style gets better and better as the years go by: a sadly underrated drummer who deserves more credit. In conclusion, is this compilation good? Yes, it is. If you enjoy NAPALM DEATH's works from this century or you are a completist and one of their die hard fans, this double CD is a worth addition to your collection. But, if you're a Grindcore and Death Metal orthodox addicted to their legendary albums, stay away from "Coded Smears And More Uncommon Slurs", because you'll probably consider it useless or another exploitative 'best of' for commercial purposes. Even if you're new to the band, maybe you should start off with other titles.,

Rick Peart

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