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Review of the Album Fear, Emptiness, Despair by British Death Metal Band Napalm Death

Updated on December 13, 2019
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Ara is a Journalism graduate from California State University Northridge who is looking to always explore his writing opportunities.

Brief Explanation for the Album Review Fear, Emptiness, Despair

British death metal band Napalm Death has inspired me to write about them constantly since the middle of the month of March 2018. Their lyrics are socially very introspective and inspiring and they went through a period of exploration and change in the decade of the 1990’s that has worked out very effectively.

A Band Logo for the Band Napalm Death


How is Fear, Emptiness, Despair Different from Most of their Earlier Albums?

Their 1994 studio album Fear, Emptiness, Despair is their first sort of experimental album even though with 1990’s Harmony Corruption, the musical style was basically traditional death metal with very low vocals. Then with 1992’s Utopia Banished album, the world heard the main style of vocals used by Mark “Barney” Greenway that he has used pretty much ever since that time. After that fast grindcore style album, then the band started to explore and experiment.

What is One Thing Napalm Death has Done With This Experimentation Process That Was New?

As part of this experimentation process, the band now chooses to cover the topic of racism with the song Retching on the Dirt. The song is an anti-racist lyrical song because who wants to experience a society in which one race wants to dominate their country or world? These kinds of exclusionary policies can only lead down a path or more division, hatred, and violence.

This Album Has Mostly Traditional Death Metal Songs in it

This album is not as good as 2000’s Enemy of the Music Business but it is still a very solid experimental album from one of England’s best death metal bands that has been active in 4 different decades. The song called Hung is the earliest example in this album of a traditional heavy death metal song. The song is about how life can just spiral downwards as all love seems lost and we can sink further into the depths of darkness and the abyss.

How Did the Band Napalm Death Evolve to Get to This Point?

To further analyze the quality of this 1994 album, we need to go back just two years and explain how Napalm Death evolved. In 1992, the band was using solos as in the song I Abstain and the drumming in that album was pretty much the very lightning fast variety. In the album Fear, Emptiness, Despair the vocals are pretty much the same harsh style. I know that some of you may be quick to try and point out that Barney sounds like a growling dog but I probably prefer his vocals to that of Jeff Walker.

How is the Rest of the Album Fear, Emptiness, Despair?

I did not actually mention that Fear, Emptiness, Despair actually gets off to a very strong start with the song called Twist the Knife (Slowly). The song criticizes human nature and tries to portray that human life is nothing but a period of suffering. But the song also says that opinions that we are conditioned to believe may not be the best for us. The song Plague Rages is not referring to a plague in the literal sense but instead to a flurry of thoughts that have invaded our minds and these thoughts are causing confusion, loss of mental control, and pretending that we have changed on some level when we have not changed. Primed Time is a song that talks of a world in which people do not trust in each other. When there is no trust between people, the chaos that it causes can be irreparable at times. The song Armageddon X 7 is a song that tells of the horrific effects of countries using nuclear weapons. Often times as the song says there are smiles and handshakes but there are no real moves by either side in a dispute to disarm these dangerous weapons as diplomacy is just a code word for talk. Even today in 2018, too many nations still have a stockpile of nuclear weapons. Fasting on Deception is a song about having a friendship that turns into a massive cycle of lies and deception. Some people are just not meant to be our friends.

Last thoughts about the album Fear, Emptiness, Despair

But overall, Fear, Emptiness, Despair is a decent death metal album that has traditional death metal sounds mixed with some grindcore. It is still not the band’s worst album but also not their best one either.

© 2018 Ara Vahanian


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