Napalm Death - From Enslavement To Obliteration
Earache Records
22 songs (29:30)
Release year: 1988
Napalm Death, Earache Records
Reviewed by Goat

Although it tends to be overshadowed by Scum, Napalm Death’s follow up to that genre-defining album is just as deserving of attention. Whereas Scum was the sound of a young band making a racket for the sheer sake of it, noise for music’s sake, From Enslavement To Obliteration showed drive and progression, the start of the Death Metal influence that would drive the band completely in years to come, not to mention what is unarguably the greatest Grindcore song ever written, Unchallenged Hate. Only two members remained in the band since the previous line-up, Lee Dorrian and Mick Harris on vocals and drums respectively. Joining the band is its longest member to date, Shane Embury on bass, and who has since become the main songwriter and driving force of the band. Temporarily lacking a guitarist, Bill Steer of friends Carcass provided the riffs on this album, and the resulting album is one that, if not surpassing its predecessor in terms of pure noise, is musically superior.

Of course, saying that one early Napalm Death album is ‘musically superior’ to another isn’t saying much, but it’s clear that the band have tightened up here. The various influences are more pronounced; intro dirge Evolved As One could be a Godflesh demo, the pseudo-Industrial drums and wall-of-noise guitars an unholy anthem as Dorrian spews bile over the top. Looked at rationally, it’s a more laughable intro than Scum’s Multinational Corporations but also a more heartfelt one, opening an album that is much harder and darker than its predecessor. The likes of Lucid Fairytale are as bilious and raging as anything on Scum, and after you’ve heard FETO (as fans dub it) a few times it’s obviously a more professional album, rather than the refined demo that Scum ultimately is. There are even solos here and there, Uncertainty Blurs The Vision for one. Moments like the title track show the brutality of the Death Metal influences that would come to define the band on their third album, whilst the Hardcore Punk influences are toned down a lot, although not gone altogether – the likes of the intro section to Practise What You Preach show that the ‘core’s still present and correct.

As good as Unchallenged Hate is, a build-up to utter Grindcore chaos that grips you in its catchy grasp and never lets go; one track ultimately sums this band up, from the moment of FETO’s release to their current incarnation. Cock-Rock Alienation is a scream of rage against the music industry – ‘making idols out of arseholes’ as the lyrics state – a theme that Napalm Death have often returned to, a statement of intent that sums up the band’s ethos and unwillingness to be pigeonholed into a by-product of Punk, where most mainstream types would rather Napalm Death as a name be shoved. Rather, the band are an icon of musical purity, standing as opposition to everything that music as an industry stands for. And it’s hard to argue after a listen to FETO, whoever you are, although Grindcore types like me will hold this album in great esteem for its place in the genre's history, for whilst Scum was the father of the genre, FETO is the first genuine album to deserve tagging with that label.

There’s not really a great deal more that can be said. Listening to FETO is as rewarding and engaging now as it must have been at the time, over twenty years ago. Extreme Metal is an odd beast at the best of times, and tracing its evolution is extremely difficult, but it’s definite that it wouldn’t exist at all as we know it were it not for Napalm Death’s ‘brand’ of light-speed music. Later Napalm Death may well be more fun to listen to, but in terms of purity and meaning, Scum and From Enslavement To Obliteration are classics and deserve a place in every Grindster's collection – hell, every Extreme music fan’s collection.

Killing Songs :
Goat quoted CLASSIC
Other albums by Napalm Death that we have reviewed:
Napalm Death - Apex Predator - Easy Meat reviewed by Goat and quoted 83 / 100
Napalm Death - Utilitarian reviewed by Charles and quoted 95 / 100
Napalm Death - Inside the Torn Apart reviewed by Adam and quoted 71 / 100
Napalm Death - Diatribes reviewed by Goat and quoted 58 / 100
Napalm Death - Words from the Exit Wound reviewed by Adam and quoted 74 / 100
To see all 17 reviews click here
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