“Fear, Emptiness, Despair” represents the beginning of NAPALM DEATH’s “third” era, softer and much more experimental than the previous ones. If the band’s main musical characteristic was a strong cacophonic violence, now they keep the heaviness alive but becoming much more “listenable”. “Fear, Emptiness, Despair” is the most easy-listening NAPALM DEATH album so far, with repetitive riffs, no solos and a constant vocal line… on the other hand, the atmosphere is incredibly oppressive and thrashy in some way.
Many die-hard fans of the band felt betrayed by the new path taken, but as I see it, it was a big step forward. After the mediocre “Utopia Banished” it was clear that the extreme Death Metal times were over and a renovation was necessary… and well, “Fear, Emptiness, Despair” is a much more modern and “untrue” sound, but damn it… it’s dense as hell, a heavy burden for your stomach anyway.
The only real problem I see in this album is the lack of variety, because all songs show a very similar attitude and pose. There are not rhythmic changes or elements to individualize each track, but on the other had, the disc has the proper length for not to bore you at all… great stuff! (Online February 15, 2006)