Napalm Death: Utilitarian (2012)

Napalm Death’s “Utilitarian” (2012) is a brutal and intense journey into the darker corners of human society. The album explores themes of corruption, inequality, and ethical dilemmas through a blistering blend of grindcore and death metal. With its raw energy and thought-provoking lyrics, “Utilitarian” challenges listeners to confront uncomfortable truths and question the status quo.

Track Listing

  1. Circumspect
  2. Errors in the Signals
  3. Everyday Pox
  4. Protection Racket
  5. The Wolf I Feed
  6. Quarantined
  7. Fall on Their Swords
  8. Collision Course
  9. Orders of Magnitude
  10. Think Tank Trials
  11. Blank Look About Face
  12. Leper Colony
  13. Nom de Guerre
  14. Analysis Paralysis
  15. Opposites Repellent
  16. A Gag Reflex

Length: 46:11


Death metal, grindcore

Release Date

February 27th, 2012

Record Label

Century Media Records

The Lineup for the Album

  • Mark “Barney” Greenway: vocals
  • Shane Embury: bass
  • Mitch Harris: guitars, backing Vocals
  • Danny Herrera: drums

Recording Date

May – November, 2011

Recording Studio

Parlour Studios (Kettering, England)

Produced by

Russ Russell

Album Themes/Concept

Social Critique and Injustice: Songs often critique societal structures and the disparities they create. The band addresses issues such as inequality, exploitation, and the mechanisms of control used by powerful entities against the marginalized.

Personal Responsibility and Activism: There is a recurrent theme of personal agency and the importance of individual actions in the face of systemic problems. The lyrics encourage listeners to question, resist, and act rather than passively accept the status quo.

Existential Reflections: Beyond political and social critique, some tracks delve into more existential questions about human nature, the meaning of freedom, and our place in the world.

Criticism of War and Violence: The album also touches on the futility and destructiveness of war and conflict, questioning the motives behind these human endeavors and their devastating impacts.

Album Mood

Intensity: “Utilitarian” is unrelentingly intense, with songs that deliver a sonic barrage characterized by fast tempos, aggressive guitar riffs, and rapid-fire drumming. This intensity is a hallmark of the grindcore genre, pushing the boundaries of extreme music.

Anger and Agitation: Much of the album is infused with a palpable sense of anger and agitation, reflecting the lyrical themes of social injustice and political disillusionment. The vocal delivery is fierce and confrontational, enhancing the overall aggressive tone.

Darkness and Grit: There is a pervasive darkness and grit throughout the album, not just in the heavy and dissonant musical arrangements but also in the grim lyrical content that deals with human suffering and existential dread. This creates a mood that is both somber and reflective.

Urgency: The album conveys a sense of urgency, both in its fast-paced musical style and in its urgent calls for social change and resistance. This urgency compels the listener to not only hear the music but to feel the immediacy of the issues being addressed.

Complexity: Despite its aggressive and often chaotic exterior, “Utilitarian” possesses a certain complexity in its arrangement and thematic exploration. This complexity invites listeners to engage deeply with both the music and the messages conveyed, offering a richer and more layered listening experience.

Album Trivia

John Zorn’s Contribution: The avant-garde musician John Zorn contributed his saxophone skills to the track “Everyday Pox,” adding a distinctive jazz-punk element to the grindcore sound of Napalm Death, which is quite unusual for the genre.

Wide Musical Influences: The album features a variety of musical styles and influences. Mark “Barney” Greenway, the band’s vocalist, has cited influences from bands like Swans and My Bloody Valentine for the album’s more epic tracks, showcasing the band’s openness to diverse sonic textures​.

Artwork Symbolism: The album’s cover art is politically charged, featuring corporate figures stomping on the “common man,” which visually represents the band’s critique of power structures and corporate greed, aligning with the lyrical themes of the album.

Listen or Pass

This album might be for you if you…

  • Enjoy extreme metal: If you’re a fan of grindcore, death metal, or other extreme metal subgenres, “Utilitarian” is a must-listen. It showcases Napalm Death’s signature sound at its finest, with blistering tempos, aggressive vocals, and a raw, uncompromising energy.
  • Appreciate lyrical depth: If you prefer music with thought-provoking lyrics that tackle social and political issues, “Utilitarian” will not disappoint. The album delves into complex themes like ethics, morality, and human nature, offering plenty of food for thought.
  • Like a challenge: “Utilitarian” is not an easy listen. It’s intense, chaotic, and sometimes even unsettling. However, if you’re willing to embrace the challenge and engage with its complexities, it can be a rewarding and enriching experience.
  • Want to explore Napalm Death’s discography: “Utilitarian” is considered one of Napalm Death’s strongest and most mature albums. If you’re new to the band or want to delve deeper into their catalog, this is a great starting point.

You might want to pass this one if you…

  • Prefer melodic or accessible metal: If you’re more into melodic metal with clean vocals and catchy choruses, “Utilitarian” might not be your cup of tea. It’s a raw, abrasive album with harsh vocals and complex song structures.
  • Dislike extreme vocals: Mark “Barney” Greenway’s vocals are an acquired taste. If you’re not a fan of guttural vocals, screams, and growls, you might find his style off-putting.
  • Want light-hearted or relaxing music: “Utilitarian” is not background music. It’s an intense and demanding album that requires your full attention. If you’re looking for something to chill out to, this is not it.
  • Are sensitive to graphic content: The lyrics on “Utilitarian” can be quite graphic and disturbing, dealing with themes of violence, suffering, and societal decay. If you’re easily triggered by such content, you might want to steer clear.

Release Date

February 27, 2012