Napalm Death has never made a habit out of resting their laurels, and they don't this time either, but things seem rushed compared to previous material. It's only been a little more than a year since The Code is Red…Long Live the Code but unlike on that effort, Smear Campaign miss the thing that made The Code is Red…Long Live the Code interesting.
The quartet pretty much continues from where they left off with The Code is Red…Long Live the Code. Again there are a couple of Swans influenced tracks. Most of these are not overly interesting, but they provide diversity. A lot of the songs are hyberblast Napalm Death as we know it, but for some reason the songs aren't that vibrant this time. Sure there are a couple of decent tracks among, but there are no potential classics. Even though the music is mostly hectic, the band often finds room for slowing things down a little. This works okay, but it's just like that little something extra is missing to back this up. I can't exactly pinpoint what it is, but it has something to do with catchiness. The only track that is really noticeable is "In Deference". It also features Anneke van Giersbergen from The Gathering, and she is definitely 'that something extra' that the song needed to stand out.
Just like with The Code is Red…Long Live the Code, Smear Campaign suffers from a rather thin production, and this affects the music as it doesn't sound very compact and powerful. On the positive side you can hear everything that is going, but it would have been nice if the band had found something in between. Overall I find Smear Campaign a little disappointing. Particularly with the last couple of Napalm Death releases in mind.