“Death By Manipulation” is the compilation of 3 NAPALM DEATH buried in time EPs. It’s not only important because it shows rare stuff by one of the groundbreaking Extreme Metal bands, but especially because it shows the transition (although in the opposite direction) between their old rusty stuff and the modernized Death Metal they began to make later.
The first EP shown is “Mass Appeal Murder” (1991), which has aggressiveness, great riffs and a rotten overall atmosphere. It follows the straight-forward but a bit uninspired vein of “Utopia Banished”. The vocals are simple (without the Grindcore high scream, except in one song), the sound very drowned and corrosive. The title track is without doubt the best, with interesting breaks and captivating rhythm, but repeating the sins of “Utopia Banished”, the next tracks are very boring. It’s important to note that “Mass Appeal Murder” was released in the exact moment in which NAPALM DEATH was letting behind direct Death Metal to adopt a much more modern sound, so it’s the end of an era that had its climax with the extraordinary “Harmony Corruption”.
Songs 5-7 belong to “Suffer The Children” (1990), which contains the re-recording of the title track (one of the best Death Metal song ever made), a new modernized version of “Siege Of Power” (originally on the ugly, dirty “Scum”) and “Harmony Corruption”, an electronic instrumental song that hurts you ears badly… well, “Suffer The Children” contains “interesting” stuff (meaning that word that musically it’s totally worthless but an important collection piece to die-hard fans).
Tracks 8-13 represent the EP “Mentally Murdered” (1989) and it’s the greatest piece of the collection… it features Lee Dorrian as the only vocalist (who left the band months later) and it’s a very ugly and underdeveloped disc, smelly and tangled production and the only gearing of the compilation that is a great deal by itself if you ask me.
Well, the three EPs named above are the mains skeleton of “Death By Manipulation”, but we also have as bonus a split 7 that NAPALM DEATH/S.O.B. recorded the same year than the previous one, of very weird, experimental and uncompromising sound and which marked the first Death Metal approach of the band, although the Grindcore rusted and raw atmosphere is still kept alive… want even more? Have 3 live tracks that are a real garage symphony.
I don’t see ANY interest “Death By Manipulation” can hold for “the people”, but for fans is a very recommended piece… it shows the most underground side of a band that had always kept an underground spirit, a collection of pieces that represent the backstage of what NAPALM DEATH did between album and album, in years that were without doubt their most glorious. What is me, couldn’t live without this. (Online February 13, 2006)