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Reliable suppliers of hardcore-inspired metal - 75%

Felix 1666, February 19th, 2018

"Absolute Power" - the beginning of the album indicates that Pro-Pain do not promise too much. The opener "Unrestrained" lives up to its name. It bursts through the speakers like an explosion and unites the well known stylistic devices of the longstanding band in an exciting way. The track embodies all the features that we love when it comes to the constantly angry four-piece from New York: speed, fury, straightness and a certain groove. Needless to say that an adequate sound gilds the sonic assault. The dense, robust and somewhat ugly production fits the musical approach. And this approach, needless to say as well, does not really differ from the sound that the group stands for since its debut. The members of the gang are too old for experiments and / or fans of their own music. This means that complexity and innovation are still no part of their agenda. Maybe the lead vocals sound a little bit more nasty than before, but that's no big deal.

However, the opener sets the direction for the next track. The army is in rage and the brutal "Destroy the Enemy" spreads the ideology of (justified) hatred again. The speedy verses of "Stand My Ground" also celebrate anger in pure form, but this is also the first song that leaves room for some harmonic lines. Of course, I am speaking of a very small quantum of melodies, but the chorus has a relatively clean vocal line. Don't get me wrong, this song does not add another dimension to the sound of Pro-Pain. It just picks up the formula of their previous albums. All of them had some melodic elements and "Absolute Power" also does not focus on harshness exclusively. After the first two bombs, Pro-Pain take the liberty of doing their job less strictly. The background vocals of the fifth track, for example, seem to originate from an old demo of The Offspring. Honestly speaking, the dogma of "Absolute Power" is at risk to crumble during the tracks three to six. The battle-tested dudes offer mid-paced tunes that are based on their tried and tested method. These songs do not fall short of expectations, nevertheless, I miss the steely determination that the two openers mirror. The same goes for the nearly lenient chorus of "Gone Rogue (I Apologize)". A good number, no doubt about it, but a little bit more aggressiveness would have been fine.

In view of these nuances, I guess I am in danger of losing the big picture. It is therefore time to get back to the basics. Pro-Pain avoid half-baked songs, all of the ten pieces are worth listening to. Furthermore, the material sounds authentic. This band is no gathering of clowns or actors; the integrity of the protagonists is beyond doubt. Come hell or high water, one always gets the expected dose of hardcore-influenced metal. The playtime also gives no reason to lament, the album clocks in at 37 minutes. Only the artwork is slightly mysterious, because I cannot find any anti-communistic tendencies in the lyrics. But this might be the fate of a non-native speaker. Apart from its political allusion, I like the artwork in view of its clear contours. Its clarity goes hand in hand with the musical concept of the veterans, although the album title is misleading, at least to a certain extent. Anyway, "Absolute Power" is more than "just another Pro-Pain album", but a resilient and - in its best moments - excellent work.

Yeah...this sucks - 25%

doomknocker, July 26th, 2010

Ah, the “Stone Cold” band…at least, that’s what these guys were called upon first knowing they exist by way of some random music video of theirs I caught. If I remember correctly, their hardcore/metal thing was a bit forgettable, but having a Steve Austin look-alike fronting the group lead to a few snickers, so the name wasn’t forgotten by any stretch. And since that day I’d not given their wares a second glance, though wondered if things would’ve improved over time.

And so, holding up both arms to avoid a much-unneeded Stunner (OK, OK, I’ll stop…), I plunged into their latest offering…

Straight away, I’ll start off by saying that hardcore is not my cup of tea by any stretch. From the solipsism of HATEBREED to the screaming-like-an-asshole approach of NEW BLOOD (I miss those goons…), there’s nothing really worth noting in terms of hardcore in this day and age. Plus, there’s the whole hardcore dancing thing, the straightedge movement…there’s much to decry and deny. And when it comes to PRO-PAIN and their latest, that typical anti-establishment rhetoric is present, albeit in a heavier, more groovy approach ala early PANTERA and mid-era SEPULTURA mixed with those moments where fists are pumped skyward many a time. I guess you could consider this a better alternative to their breakdown-laden early days and is very tight in compositional ability and performance…but what really kills me about these sort of rebellious-type groups is that, for all their protesting, the musical output doesn’t fit the angry scheme of things. I’ve felt more stirred by the politic-less wares of MARDUK and MORBID ANGEL just on the basis of their rage and insanity versus the truncated Republican Tea Party banter heard from these guys. Even on that musical level alone this disc leaves a lot to be desired…despite taking a more metallic road ala just-entering-metalcore-era SOILWORK, the guitar riffing, plastic-sounding drumming and all those strange sounding vocals (the cleans, the pissed-off Derrick Green rasps, and everything else in between) have the skill craft of a band with plenty of tightened chops but nothing else more to give the listener outside some moments of snickering and nary a sensation of raging against the machine. I can see this knocking their already present fan base for a loop, but for those of us who want real substance with our heavy music, the likes of “Destroy the Enemy”, “Road to Nowhere” and “Rise of the Antichrist” are there for the sake of being there, unable to draw in those pesky outsiders who may want to know what the deal is all about. Oh well.

All in all PRO-PAIN’s latest is better than their earlier works, but it’s way too vanilla and two-dimensional for me to enjoy properly. Didn’t think I’d take to this, and dammit, I was right. NEXT!