Napalm Death - Harmony Corruption (1990)Release ID: 4626
I can’t say I’ve ever been a massive fan of grindcore. I’ve always preferred the less chaotic, more structured atmosphere of death metal. Which is why I think Harmony Corruption was the first Napalm Death album that I really appreciated. Their first two grindcore albums are renowned as classics of the genre and hugely influential, but the whole 30 tracks in 30 minutes style just doesn’t work for me. This release dropped the short burst attacks and took the more typical death metal approach with fine results.
The first thing to note about this release was the addition of Mark “Barney” Greenway on vocals. His unique brutal style is perfect for Napalm Death and when combined with Mitch Harris’s and Pintado’s razor sharp riffing, you get one massive and exciting sound. Unfortunately, I think the production is slightly lacking on Harmony Corruption, not really having the crunchy clarity that would have taken it into the elite. But with tracks like Vision Conquest, Suffer the Children, Unfit Earth and The Chains That Bind Us, this album is up there with the best albums that the angry Brits have released. Well worth a place in your death metal collection. You do have one, right?!
I picked the Birmingham grind godfathers third album up on cassette upon release after quite liking all of Napalm Death's previous material. They'd started to incorporate elements of death metal into their sound for 1989's "Mentally Murdered" E.P. but took those influences much further here. In fact, most people seem to agree that "Harmony Corruption" is a death metal release but I'm gonna have to question that theory. To my ears there's still easily enough grindcore in their sound for it to qualify as deathgrind. I'd actually suggest that it's a better example of the deathgrind subgenre than "Mentally Murdered" was because that record was basically grindcore with death metal vocals whereas "Harmony Corruption" sees them playing genuine death metal riffs mixed in with blasts of grindcore. The influence of bands like Death, Obituary & Deicide is really obvious.
I don't have too many issues with the infamous production job other than the strange pitch-shifted guitar solos & Barney's monstrous vocals are a definite improvement on Lee Dorian's efforts. There are some great moments across the album too, particularly when they go to the two extremes with chuggy half-time death metal sections & frantic blast-beat driven grindcore savagery. I do struggle a touch with the groovier hardcore riffs at times though so "Harmony Corruption" has never seemed like an essential release even if it was as good as anything Napalm Death had released to the time. These days I'd probably put it on par with 1988's "From Enslavement To Obliteration" sophomore album but would take the elder sibling if pushed.