While no one should ever accuse Napalm Death of being complacent, there's nothing like record label troubles to force a band to pool its collective energy and refocus its intent. Napalm's previous two records, Inside the Torn Apart and Words From the Exit Wound, were every bit the grind metal excursions fans expected them to be, although they seemed a bit uninspired in comparison to the band's benchmark releases Scum, Harmony Corruption, and Fear Emptiness Despair. When the group's longtime relationship with Earache Records hit the skids, the subsequent bitterness from both parties gave Napalm Death the fuel to regroup, reorganize, and reemerge as the unwieldy, venom-spewing grind python that longtime followers craved. The result? The none-too-subtle Enemy of the Music Business, which kicks off with "Take the Poison," one minute and 49 seconds of abject, heart-bursting terror, guitarists Jesse Pintado and Mitch Harris peeling off flesh-filleting riffs with deadly accuracy as lead throat Barney Greenway shrieks like a speared baboon. In fact, the first seven cuts on Enemy just don't let up, no riff, growl, or certifiably insane drum fill wasted, all muscle and no fat, slabs of meat meant to be consumed by only the strongest of stomachs, 20 suffocating minutes of limb-flailing, venomous, full-tilt Armageddon punctuated by lung-busters "Thanks for Nothing" and "Can't Play, Won't Pay." Of course, the album's second half resumes the destruction, although relatively pacing itself by tossing wrecking balls at personal and political injustices in the form of "Necessary Evil" and "C.S. (Conservative Shithead), Pt. 2," a throwback to the band's Scum days. Although casual listening will cause the album to occasionally veer into wall-of-white-noise monotony -- something Napalm Death, even in its brilliance, has always contended with -- it never strays from the band's above-average to excellent song construction; in fact, closer examination and repeat spins will reveal ugly little bile-splattered nooks and crannies in the arrangements, as well as consistently thought-provoking lyrics. Whether you side with Greenway's generally socialist views is irrelevant (it's impossible to understand him through his guttural, lungs-of-hell delivery without close examination of the lyric book, anyway); it's the band's wall-to-wall rage that the punters will connect with -- something that Napalm Death hadn't really done since the early to mid-'90s. Calling Enemy of the Music Business a return to form is an appalling understatement.
Share this page
AllMusic Review by John Serba