Two years after the groundbreaking “Harmony Corruption”, NAPALM DEATH returns with an album in the same vein of its predecessor, meaning an identical musical concept dealing with simple, heavy and straight forward riffs, evil growling and punkish lyrics, but in some way, “Utopia Banished” is notoriously weaker. And not only because the surprise factor was lost in this album, but also in terms of songwriting this shows a bad lack of ideas compared with their earlier always-punching stuff.
The main problem of this disc is the missing of variety. That makes the music to turn an overwhelming burden after a few songs and although it has some highlights and specially “I Abstain”, which is a bit more complex, the rest of the tracks are quite boring and there are not even pieces of the awesome vocal games this band used to make. Most of the time is the same monotone low growl, without the Grindcore-like choruses that made “Harmony Corruption” voices so strong. It’s evident that Mick Harris’ loss (he was the only original member remaining in NAPALM DEATH) affected the creative process and the band now fronted by “Barney” Greenway kept rolling the same machine but without a really important gearing.
About the structure of the music this album doesn’t have anything new to give, except maybe by a more technical drumming (new guy behind the cans), but the strings follow the same dose of distortion, directness and chainsaw-like heaviness. In other words, this album is just a “Harmony Corruption” much less sophisticated and the simple deed of owning that jewel makes this album rather worthless indeed. (Online January 29, 2006)