Review of the Album Smear Campaign by British Death Metal Band Napalm Death
British death metal band Napalm Death has established a musical tradition with their grindcore style of death metal music that is fast, relentless, and just downright heavy. Their 2006 studio album called Smear Campaign continues the trend that they stuck to since Mark “Barney” Greenway joined the band in 1990. However, Harmony Corruption was kind of like a traditional death metal album but since about 1992, this grindcore style that we have been used to hearing has been in place in the band's musical approach.
One Way In Which Smear Campaign Is Different From Other Napalm Death Albums
An intro starts off this album and it has a very strange title. This one is not like the short song Discordance that we heard on the Utopia Banished album but this is rather a short choir influenced symphonic like song which makes these guys different at least for a short time.
Smear Campaign the Review Part One
Then we have no time to relax as the fast song Sink Fast, Let Go bombards our senses and this song is lyrically trying to say that we should not trust GOD but rely on ourselves and make our own choices. Fatalist is a song that tries to tell us that at the end of life as we are about to die it is a joyless parade as the song says but such a characterization of life is biased though. “When All is Said and Done” makes reference to the idea that faith is crumbling and that religion and science are fighting a sort of war. There is no topic perhaps more controversial these days than religion and many do not like the idea that prayer helps people get through life. As we go through this album, the common theme lyrically that is presented is an anti-religious theme.
Why the Album's Title Is Significant
The album's title is rather significant considering that the United States is now in a primary campaign to nominate who is going to run against Donald Trump in the 2020 US Presidential Election. A smear campaign is a campaign that is run against an opponent to smear them with dishonest attacks against their character. This has become a thing that has happened too often in American politics. But Smear Campaign was released at a time when there was much going on including the second war in Iraq and the fallout from Hurricane Katrina.
Smear Campaign the Review Part 2
As usual, the music of Napalm Death would be good to listen to on a rainy, cloudy day considering that these guys are from the city of Birmingham in England. The growling of Barney may be even more intense than 14 years prior on the Utopia Banished album. These guys usually know how to start off an album in a strong way. But the start of this album was an interesting contrast I can say that. It did not start off in the usual predictable fast, grindcore way that we are used to hearing from these guys and they tried something different probably to make themselves stand out among the dozens of death metal bands. There is still that other raspy voice that sounds kind of like a snake and it can be annoying but for those of us that are able to sit through and appreciate the evolution of the band Napalm Death from a mostly punk influenced death metal band to a mixture of death metal and grindcore can really notice at least that the riffs are decent. Smear Campaign is actually a concept album and the lyrical approach in this album is that it is criticizing religion in general and even I can notice this trait. The song Fatalist asks the question of why certain prayers were not answered when people needed help. “Freedom is the Wage of Sin” is a song that criticizes the very concept of living in a free society as we are still facing oppression. “Short Lived” is a song that has the bass line sound that you can hear for a brief moment as the song is about how people are led into having a mediocre kind of life as religion drags them down. I guess the band members of Napalm Death are opposed to the idea of religion as an institution. “Shattered Existence makes reference to what is called “cancerous corporate elite.” The song Warped Beyond Logic once again is an anti-religious song criticizing the very fact that Jesus died for the sins that were committed but the song is trying to say that those were other's sins and not mine. If you are one of those people that does not follow Christianity or any other religion then Smear Campaign would be an album for you to check out and listen to. Smear Campaign is an album that has good riffs but the one flaw in this album is that the structure of the songs is for the most part that rough grindcore style. However there is one interesting aspect to this album that makes it different from the others and that is the guest vocal appearance of Anneke Van Giersbergen formerly of The Gathering as she does guest vocals on the first song and on the 7th song called In Deference. The beginning of this album like we said is an interesting and good way to start it. Even with the weakness of the same song style for much of this album, Smear Campaign is a good release from one of England's best death metal bands.
© 2020 Ara Vahanian