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The chip oil is only a little stale. - 55%

hells_unicorn, January 2nd, 2018
Written based on this version: 2017, Digital, Prime

It's a fairly metal concept, a ballsy leader and his four droogs going out on the town to beat the competition senseless with some low-end grooves and colossal heaviness, or at least that is how Billy Boy In Poison would put it. This collective of Danish tough guys are a bit too tattooed up and fond of facial hair to really pass for the original limey degenerates of A Clock Work Orange that provided the inspiration for their name, but they do attack the overall concept of a sonic beat down with a strong degree of fervency. Subtlety is obviously not high on the priority list for someone who deals in the sort of fist-to-the-face groove meets metalcore punch that put the likes of Lamb Of God and Chimaira in the higher end concert venues a little over a decade ago, but this Danish tag-along outfit goes well into brazen territory with their sophomore effort Invoker, self-awareness of being formulaic to the point of cliche be damned.

That's really the best way to describe the sort of modernity that this band deals in here, cliche, though they tend to carry it decently due to a fairly competent rhythm section and a more death metal-inspired niche that mixes things up a tad more than a typical metalcore act. Things actually open on a surprisingly strong note with "Absolution", which starts off in a raging blast of speed reminiscent of Cannibal Corpse before landing on a more mid-paced thrashing groove. On a similarly good note is the tuneful "Exodus", which brings in a somber Gothenburg vibe in keeping with late 90s In Flames, though dressed up in a more down-tuned and percussive sound that manages to still reminisce of Pantera at a few points. Other fairly strong points include the similarly melodeath tinged "Iron Grip" and the high-speed death/thrashing monstrosity "A Walk On Broken Bones", showcasing a rhythm section that is tight and well realized, and even a few inventive riffs amid the grooves.

The biggest enemy of this album is its tendency to get bogged down after hitting a few good points, often throwing out contrived mid-paced sections and holding on to them a bit too long, and otherwise shying away from emphasizing their more chaotic death metal side too much. A really good example of this is the jagged-edged shorter number "Glaciers", which spends most of its duration listening like a coasting Pantera-homage with Chris Barnes on vocals and will occasionally launch into a blinding rage only to drop off it in a few seconds. "Morcar" takes this same issue and amplifies it further, to the point of coming off like a cheap Six Feet Under imitation. Lacking any guitar solos or other external gimmicks to break up the patches of monotony, not to mention having a vocalist that is competent at that throaty death/thrash shout but not terribly distinctive, these songs just seem to drag on a lot longer than they need to.

For a gang of adventurers out looking for trouble in the big city under the cover of night, their handiwork on Invoker doesn't come off as terribly adventurous. There is a somewhat original idea at work here by taking Lamb Of God's groovy brand of metalcore and putting more of a death metal edge into it, but they fail to real capitalize on that added wrinkle and just sort of go through the motions. That's actually the basic issue with most proponents of modernity in metal, there is too much emphasis on impact-based heaviness and a lack of interest in atmosphere (save the occasional clean ballad sections like the one that kicks off "Exodus") or a sense of build up. It's an album that is just too predictable for its own good, not to mention one that falls into the trap of eschewing the technical aspects of their adopted styles, likely in order to cater to their adopted scene. It hits fairly hard when on point, but it fizzles out about halfway through and then struggles to recover.