Defecation is Mitch Harris’ personal Tiktaalik. It’s a transitional fossil that unites the malformed punk of his earliest efforts in Righteous Pigs and the death-grind hybridization of Napalm Death. Harris closed out the ’80s by roping in his brother by another mother, drummer Mick Harris, and the duo churned out Purity Dilution, a tidy little half hour from an era when two and three minute blast fests were not unheard of.
Purity Dilution was a huge step forward for guitar Harris’ songwriting after Righteous Pigs and he has a palpable chemistry with drum Harris (amazing what a drummer who can actually keep the beat will do for you). Given their simpatico and the way Defecation blended their two prior bands, it must have been a real shock for music fans the next year when Napalm Death went full on death metal on Harmony Corruption.
That anomaly aside, Purity Dilution was a distilled dose of Harris’ songwriting sensibilities. There are the familiar riffs that would populate Napalm Death’s third wave albums once Harris and Jesse Pintado settled into the riff duties. “Scrutiny” is one Barney growl away from slotting without notice on Utopia Banished. Even the pastiche artwork evokes Napalm Death’s sensibilities. Produced by Danny Lilker, Purity Dilution’s warm, low slung chug sounds like a Napalm Death album put through a Bolt Thrower filter.
Mitch Harris played all of the instruments on a second Defecation album in 2003, but part of Purity Dilution’s charm is hearing two Napalm Death conspirators rip out a fun album that has a strong core without the baggage of their bigger band’s name hovering over the project. There’s a looseness and a freedom to the first Defecation record that makes it a charming artifact of a bygone era.