United Kingdom | Grind/Death, Hardcore Punk (early Demos)
Since practically inventing the sound of grindcore on Scum, Napalm Death underwent a major lineup shuffling, which is well chronicled for convenient comparison on the Death by Manipulation compilation. Six songs come from the group's 1989 Mentally Murdered EP and feature vocalist Lee Dorrian and guitarist Bill Steer, who would leave Napalm Death to lead Cathedral and Carcass, respectively. "Rise Above" stands out as the strongest of these six songs with its lumbering intro, which leads into possibly the most ferocious human growl ever put to vinyl. Following Dorrian's wall-shaking banshee yell, the quartet then breaks into a whirlwind of calamitous noise, characterized by the cyclical grind of Steer's sole guitar and drummer Mick "Human Tornado" Harris' ear-covering barrage of hammering percussion. Seven songs come from the Mass Appeal Madness EP and Harmony Corruption LP, both featuring vocalist Barney Greenway in place of Dorrian and the guitarist duo of Jesse Pintado and Mitch Harris in place of Steer. This new lineup tends to extend the songs past the two-minute mark and brings more variation to the band's sound with their dual guitar attack's versatility relative to the limited though still remarkable abilities of Steer as the sole guitarist. These formal characteristics become glaringly evident on "Mass Appeal Madness" and "Suffer the Children," two songs that more resemble death metal than grindcore. The tempos fluctuate throughout the songs, offering more musical variation than the oft-homogenous, nonstop, unrelenting eardrum assault of the classic lineup's attempts to incite heart attacks. Perhaps the most interesting moment of this collection comes when the new lineup performs new versions of the classic lineup's anthems "Unchallenged Hate" and "Social Sterility," offering opportunities for insightful comparison. Overall, Death by Manipulation not only captures this infamous band undergoing a controversial transition but also serves as an excellent compilation for listeners curious about the band's different musical phases.