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Wednesday, 6 June 2018

Reviews: Five Finger Death Punch, Sevendust, My Brother, The Wolf, Meliah Rage (Reviews By Paul H)

Five Finger Death Punch: And Justice For None (Eleven Seven Music)

FFDP return with album number seven, three years since previous release Got The Six in 2015. A band that polarises opinions, I’m very much of the opinion that this band is overrated and shamelessly promoted by the rock media, such as Metal Hammer. After 2017’s shenanigans on stage with vocalist Ivan Moody stating he was quitting the band, walking off on stage and generally behaving like a right diva, it’s something of a surprise to see that the band has churned out another lengthy 16 track release, which clocks in at just under an hour. Musically, the album follows the pattern that the band appears to have produced on virtually every release. Polished, snarling heavy groove metal with the rap style of Moody supporting the aggressive riffs and patterns which are repeated throughout.

With the usual lyrical style following the pressures of being on the road (Sham Pain), the burning anger towards artificial know-alls (Fake) and self-reflection (Stuck In My Ways), it’s unremarkable. The usual calming ballads are literally distributed through the album, such as When The Seasons Change and Gone Away, the latter already getting airplay on Planet Rock and likely to give the band exposure to a new audience in much the same way that Disturbed obtained attention with Sound Of Silence last year. And Justice For None is competently put together, it just sounds like FFDP again. Big, brash, suited for arena rock and not particularly exciting. If you like the band then this will undoubtedly get you excited. If not, then you are permitted to stifle that yawn. 6/10

Sevendust: All I See Is War (Rise Records)

Sevendust are one of the early nu-metal bands that seem to have been around forever. In fact, the band has indeed put in a shift. Formed in 1994 they are now well into their third decade together. With the band holding a steady and generally constant line-up, only lead guitarist Clint Lowery has left and he’s been back in the fold for the past ten years, the band’s polished sound continues to be honed and refined. All I See Is War is the band’s 12th album, an impressive total. I admit my knowledge of the band is limited to the time when their music was used as intro themes for WWE so All I See Is War is probably the first album I’ve heard from the band since about 2004.

Sevendust play big, chunky rifffs with undeniable melody which is not unpleasant on the ear. Whilst their sound is probably a bit too polished for me, with an arena sound that fuses Shinedown with FFDP, the odd monster tune still emerges. Opener Dirty is bombastic and screams “set opener” with thundering drums, big noise and Lajon Witherspoon’s clean and instantly recognisable vocals up front. Medicated slows the pace, whilst Sickness gets the emotional treatment, enhanced by the harmonies on backing vocals. Vinnie Hornsby and Morgan Rose have played together for 24 years and hold the Sevendust sound locked in place throughout the album. There are a few turkeys tucked away mind with the mandatory ballad Not Original particularly ghastly. However, overall, the guys from Atlanta have delivered a solid if unspectacular release. 7/10

My Brother, The Wolf: Self Titled (855279 Records DK)

Five-piece groove thrash outfit My Brother, The Wolf’s current release hit the airwaves a couple of weeks ago and it’s worth investing a bit of time in. Huge, thrashy riffs dominate their sound, a combination of Lamb Of God, Gojira with an undercurrent of the sludgy Baroness thickness. Joel Bruno’s vocals are harsh, guttural and unnatural at times, the kind of sound I’d expect to make if I was choking on my own blood to be honest. It is savage from the opening strains of Last Chance Of Respite, something you don’t get until the final bars of Hold Your Horses has concluded. With a groove that is ferociously addictive, courtesy of Pete Jorkowski and Dan Wynne Jones’ vicious axe work, there’s little to dislike here, although the choruses on Savages doesn’t work at all with the metalcore harmonies disjointed. Overall, this is a brutally impressive release, with The Breaking Wheel and the thundering Burn The Witch particularly noteworthy, the latter’s thunderous rhythm infectious. Staffordshire has a good number of bands emerging and My Brother, The Wolf are a worthy addition. 8/10

Meliah Rage: Idol Hands (Metal On Metal Records)

Boston based Power thrash outfit Meliah Rage have been treading the boards since the mid-1980s. Their debut Kill To Survive was released in 1987 but like many of the bands at that time, they were rather overlooked in the rush to pick up on the thrash explosion which saw the likes of Anthrax, Testament and Megadeth follow in Metallica and Slayer’s path. For every Overkill, there are probably 100 Meliah Rage’s out there. However, with a core nucleus maintaining stability, Meliah Rage has maintained its own route, and their ninth full release, Idol Hands is a solid if unspectacular release. Like many thrash bands, influences always come through in the music, and when you listen to the Metallica sounding title track or Crushed Beneath My Heel, it’s impossible not to make the comparison with Hetfield and co and I’m even reminded of Aussie thrashers 4Arm who managed to capture the same style to great effect in their early years. 

Founder member Anthony Nicholls’ alongside other stalwarts Jim Koury (guitar) and drummer Stuart Dowie combine with Darren Lourie (bass) and retuning vocalist Paul Souza. Sentenced To Life is a bit less of a rage, with Souza allowed the opportunity to add some honest clean vocals whilst the frenetic pace allows the band to let loose at full speed. There is some superb guitar work on this album, which also taps into the majestic style of Metal Church and Megadeth amongst others. Whilst it won’t make the top 10 this year, Idol Hands is a strong release which becomes more enjoyable as it progresses. 7/10

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