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Slam One Down - 78%

astathica, April 27th, 2016

I'm not going to lie, I only came across this album during my current favourite free time game: install Chrome MA plugin, open Spotify, browse through the "random band" pages and listen to whatever is available on Spotify. Aside from learning about a good few new genres and a load of bands, you come across some real nice things you'd normally not have discovered. This one of those.

After the intro, which is actually pretty sinister-sounding for what is essentially a rather monotonous grocery shopping list, the first real track kicks off and immediately the love for Machine Head is almost tangible and the track opening really is reminiscent of the start of Burn My Eyes' "Davidian". There's a good splash of powerballs southern-style Pantera-esque influences here too, and some other hardcore tropes are used well (those shouty choirs in Last Man for instance, and the tough-guy lyrics on Payback amongst others). The tracks follow each other quickly and differ just enough to keep you interested, whilst the acoustic intro to Cut Me Down and even moreso Hell Doesn't Want Me and About Me shows why the vocalist should stick to his throaty shouts and grunts, rather than trying to pretty things up with clean vocals - don't get me wrong, this is something that for me doesn't work with their two most obvious influences either, so it could just be a gripe I have personally. It's just not executed well, and sort of misplaced. This is especially noticeable on About Me, where the intro cuts off abruptly and the "real" track kicks off, which is nothing short of one of being an epic of some proportions, and amongst the best on the album. Such a juxtaposition.

The riffing is pretty solid, nothing original but at least it's played really nicely tight, which is really the only option when wanting to succeed in this genre. Especially the bass sound is, when audible, really a nice touch. The guitar solos aren't of as high a quality, but they're functional and sparse. Sadly the drum sound isn't really my cup of tea, especially the snare drum is really brickwalled into a generic snare sample sound whilst the kick loses all impact because of the loss of dynamic range - this becomes very apparent in the cleaner parts and intros. Because of this, the drums are starting to drag the album down a bit along the way, over the course of the 57 minutes this album extends to. Luckily the production keeps up for the most part, with the sound thick and yet quite transparent.

Despite the (over)production issues here and there, and minor mishaps in songwriting the entire album is actually quite recommendable. Tracks like the opener What I've Done and the title track really show what this band can do, and they can groove as well as thrash. The musicianship is actually really good - I'm still sad that the obviously gifted drummer didn't receive a better production - and there's tons of fun riffing and great ideas in here. If they work on ironing out those few bugs, the follow-up to this can be the actual ticket to (bigger) success. This really isn't different in terms of quality to what Roadrunner has released in their biggest days, and that's saying something.

Get this if you're into: bands like Machine Head, Pantera, Skinlab, and the borderline between metalcore & hardcore
Don't get this if you dislike: breakdowns, tough guy lyrics, beer jokes, and any of the above