New Found Power
Review by Joshua on May 27, 2004.
Hey, look, it's another "metalcore" band! Or maybe it's "sludgecore". Or maybe it's "another American band that sounds somewhere between Prong and rehashed Pantera". In any case, this is Damageplan's new CD, and I'm bored. This is an extremely average album. I couldn't think of anything that more precisely fits the status quo.
Here is how to sound exactly like Damageplan: Begin with a band playing American metal, with thrash, hardcore, and grunge influences. Listen to lots of Pantera, Prong, and old Bad Brains. Make sure there's a token celebrity, someone whose creative talent peaked in 1995, such as former Pantera members Dimebag Darrel and Vinnie Paul. Add guest musicians from whatever merde du jour is in the American top fifty, such as Slipknot's Corey Taylor, or fifty other interchangeable "nu" metal "stars"... anyone whose fifteen minutes of fame are up. Then, take a singer, have him shout a lot, and mix the vocals down to immasculate whatever power they otherwise could contain.
Wait, we're only halfway through the formula! Now, to mix things up, you need to include some actual singing, sounding exactly like Alice in Chains. Then, just when your audience starts to take interest, find some dissonant "chunky" riff, borrowed from a hardcore act like Blood for Blood. Repeat ad nauseum. Finally, have fifth graders with anger control problems write a bunch of lyrics about hitting people. Make sure there's a track called "Fuck You", or something comparably rude and angry. Now market your album as "edgy", "intense", and "aggressive", so that sixteen-year-olds who've never heard a Prong CD will snatch it up.
Finally, post-produce everything to sound like Cowboys from Hell.
This isn't a bad album; but it's not exceptional, by any means. Quite the opposite: anyone could have released this disc. That's really the problem. This is completely generic, a bunch of guys trying to sound angry and intense in exactly the same way that every other band is trying to sound angry and intense. The tragedy of the commons is the rule of mediocrity, and this disc exemplifies that perfectly.
Of course, there's some original talent here, but it's mostly well-disguised, and appears mainly later in the album. I can say great things about the timing, transitions, structure, and technical finesse one hears in "Crawl", "Cold Blooded", the title track, and "Blink of an Eye", but they're mostly grunge, and not exactly "metal". I could also say that parts of songs show considerable musical depth, giving them reasonable replay value. However, I can say no more than "parts of songs". On the whole, most of this is ill-arranged. "Blunt Force Trauma", for example, makes absolutely no sense — and, rather than the jubilant pandemonium of countless now-defunct black metal masters, the effect comes across as rushed songwriting, done so that they can make another disc and tour.
So, to summarize: The throwback reminders of Prong are refreshing, but they're counterbalanced by the fact that this is the most formulaic album I've heard in years. If you like the (much) lighter side of "metalcore", this will have appeal for you. Otherwise, like me, you'll just shrug, toss it aside, listen to old Prong CDs, and not have to worry about running into the occasional Alice in Chains tribute. This is Hatebreed lite. Very, very average stuff.
Categorical Rating Breakdown
Rating: 5 out of 10