Fear Emptiness Despair is the culmination of Napalm Death's early-'90s meanderings. Everything comes together here, resulting in the album that Harmony Corruption (1990) and Utopia Banished (1992) had foreshadowed -- unrelenting grindcore as played by an experienced, technically advanced death metal collective with the guidance of a professional producer (Pete Coleman). "Hung," "Twist the Knife Slowly," and "Plague Rages" are hands down some of Napalm Death's best songs ever, and the remaining songs aren't far short of the mark. These songs are as ferocious as anything the classic lineup of Napalm Death (i.e., the late-'80s grindcore band) had recorded. They can stand alongside the likes of "Unchallenged Hate" and "Mentally Murdered," yet they're intricate and well developed in the manner of the band's later, more elaborate songs like "Suffer the Children" and "The World Keeps Turning." Plus, the professional production gives them a glorious, full-color sheen that early, lo-fi Napalm Death simply didn't have. In the end, it's really that simple -- Fear Emptiness Despair is the culminant album fans had been waiting for, the one that again put Napalm Death atop the field of extreme metal (for a while, at least). It's not a perfect album, nor is it their be-all, end-all masterwork, but it's certainly a career highlight and a striking listen.
AllMusic Review by Jason Birchmeier