This record marked Napalm’s Death transition from a pioneer Grincore masters to a not-so-standard Death Metal 5-piece.
It is an important record because the band faced many inward – and outward pressures.
Napalm Death’s classic line-up had just collapsed. Lee Dorian went on the form doomsters Cathedral. The joke at the time was that Dorian went from the fastest to the slowest band in the world. Bill Steer decided to stick with his original band, Carcass (he joined Napalm Death when Justin Broadrick exited to form Godflesh). It was good that he quit the band, because Napalm’s songwriting was suffering. Just compare the “Mentally Murdered” EP with Carcass’es “Symphonies of Sickness”, released on the same year (1989). The impression you get is that Steer’s best songs went straight to Carcass.
So, the surving members, Mick Harris and Shane Embury, went on to recruit top talent from the scene. Jesse Pintado, from the defunct Terrorizer, coupled with Mitch Harris, from Righteous Pigs, two of the best Grindcore guitar players America had to offer. The third recruit, “Barney” Greenway, came straight from UK Death Metal upstarts Benediction. With this “stellar” – undergroundwise – new line-up, they released the controversial “Harmony Corruption” (1990).
But, why “controversial”?
It was deemed too “clinical”, even by band members, and too many people accused them of “selling out”. They even went to Morrisound Studios, to record with the infamous Scott Burns, which added some substance to the latter accusation.
But why such a carrer move?
Just a year prior Tampa Bay metal masters Morbid Angel and Obituary had released “Altars of Madness” and “Slowly We Rot”, to great underground acclaim. In the same year Napalm Death released “Harmony Corruption”, Deicide unleashed their debut, Entombed spewed forth “Left Hand Path” and Obituary released their sophomore effort, “Cause of Death”.
Also, the “blast-beat-you-’til-your-ears-bleed” gimmick was already becoming stale… they just had to move on. So, all in all, “Harmony Corruption” was necessary, though doomed, release. They tried to ammend that with “Utopia Banished” (1992), which was faster and harder… but not necessarily better…
My suggestion? Stick to “Scum”, “Death by Manipulation”, “Fear Emptiness Despair” and all the records they’re releasing nowdays!