Friday, October 22, 2010

Vengeance Track-by-Track

If you haven't read the main review of this album, you can check it out here.

Wake Up World - Slam, bang, and we are off and running.  The raw vocals, pounding riffs, and overall rolling energy of this track kicks this album off right, firmly establishing the territory we're going to be in and making a valiant attempt at socially conscious thematics, which largely succeeds in this humble reviewer's opinion.  The finish grinds and washes it out.

What I Do Best - The pounding toms and low burn of the guitars in the intro get the followup kicking harder, using some tricks from the alt-rock book (quiet 4 bars, loud 4 bars) in classic fashion, with interesting angular riffs.  The chorus switches it up with some beautiful rhythmic shifts that shuffle about and hang in the air beautifully.  Elias Soriano's controlled rasp, angry and bitter, drives it all along, throwing up a middle finger at the song's target.

Vengeance - Without stopping for breath things jump straight into this quick track, which repeats the same bag of tricks from the previous two songs while adding some new tricks in the chorus, letting moments breathe more.  Guitars and bass are still loud, punchy, and aggressive, with chugs and harmonics roughing up the sound.  It's gritty, and it's fun.  I was starting to tune out, to be honest, because the very beginning of the track sounds so much like what we've already covered with the first two tracks -- but by the time Soriano yelled out "burn the city to the ground", I was back in.

Bring Me Down - The filtered, effected strains of this intro explode into a straightforward, bluesy riff.  It's got an oddly southern kick, with a focused swagger coming alive in the presence of the instrumentation.  This track feels like classic rock, as far as the riffs are concerned, but with an edge of the newschool coming through.  I felt a heavy similarity to Sevendust out of this band for a moment during this track -- as much in the determination at the core of the song's message as in the music itself.

March of War - Things get very, very interesting as this track kicks off.  Heavy syncopated chugs and mutes shake things up completely, and when the bass pounds in with the sparse verse beat, atmopsheric guitars swirling high above, you're not ready at all for the return of the choppy shuffle from before.  The chorus, alternating between chop and groove throughout, harnesses the tension and drives it home.  Soriano can scream, and they definitely know how to use vocal effects tastefully on top of it.  Add in a spacey, ambient bridge that turns into the march of war drums, and you've got a stellar alt-metal track.

Breathe - This track is aptly titled, because it's the first real moment where the album stops to take a breath.  A slow walk begins, as the groovy bass and ethereal guitar wash over a tasteful, simple beat.  Soriano's vocals, tortured, raw, and emotional, strike a chord with any listener who feels they can relate.  And with such a universal theme - "I just need some time so I can breathe" - I'd be surprised to find a listener who wouldn't.  Goldman shows off in the most memorable way yet in the form of a guitar solo that lasts just as long as it needs to, reaching up and down as necessary through the scales, and making every note count.  As the chorus repeats again, this track lives up to its name again, as its admittedly rather formulaic structure makes it incredibly comfortable.  There's a very good mainstream sensibility; these guys know how to write songs.

Hands Off - Ready to get up and groove again?  Good, because this fun little romp is just the track to do it.  Slurred, bouncy riffs and tightly wound distortion on the instruments bring back the swagger from previous tracks with a bit more of a smirk and a wink than before launching into pure agression.  It's a good follower to the previous track, a return to the energy with a new twist.  Soriano cops a little bit of Jon Davis in this one, which your mileage may vary on.  I think it works, but I think I might feel differently under different circumstances.

A Way Out - A quick half-time riff turns into another power groove, with KB and Goldman playing call-and-response with Soriano, moving into a straightforward rush of a chorus.  Interesting uses of guitar effects in the next verse spice things up and intrigue those who listen closely enough to hear these sorts of things.  This track is sort of a plateau in the album, sustaining the energy from Hands Off while streamlining it a bit.  If Breathe was walking, and Hands Off was running, this is a bit of a jog.  The chorus vocals rise triumphant and optimistic, and by the end of the track, things really start to get epic.  A gradual beat buildup and breakdown outro, with a bit of a drum solo from Rivera, provide a grand finish.

Change Your Mind - Another zig-zagging, southern fried riff through filtration leads this track off, kicking up into a simple groove under somewhat of a rap.  Again, high energy, sustaining.  At this point it does seem to kind of blend, and I did lose focus a few times during this track.  But the bridge of rolling tops and heavy, crushing riffs with pinch harmonics brought this one back into solid memory.  Now that's how you do a breakdown.  Soriano doesn't let up on his melodic rasping.

Witness - If you don't bang your head at any point during the intro of this one, you're not human.  It's that good.  A quick, snappy verse with overdubbed, vaguely haunting vocals kick into a big, epic half-time chorus, with plenty of hang time and empty space traded off between loud, brutal powerchords.  Things start to calm down in the bridge, becoming subdued and stripped to a single driving unison between Goldman and KB as vocal snippets swirl in the background, and become clear into a wide, melodic section, lapsing back into the chorus with ferocity.

Everybody Down - The band really gets full mileage out of the loud/quiet dynamic here, while also playing around with quicker rhythms and shuffles and slower grooves.  The shout-along chorus makes this one stand out in the crowd a bit.  At this point, the band is using familiar techniques and styles -- really, tricks they've been using the whole album -- yet making it work.  Until the bridge, that is, where things get incredibly restrained, silence punctuated by sharp stabs of all four musicians in unison.  They then build the beat back up, a long climb up to a more conventional heavy breakdown.  I can't help but feel this is one hell of a fun song to see Nonpoint do live.

When It's Over - The closer starts off big and slow, with heavy bends on the guitar bringing back the drunken swagger of the whole album.  It feels right - like a summation of the album, just what a closer should be.  We're treated to another romp between the worlds of groove and drive.  The use of overdubbed vocals in the chorus is a nice touch, and expands the sound a bit.  Once again, a left turn is introduced at the bridge, another trade between shimmering tension and pounding grind.  The absolutely abrupt ending, perfectly in time with the lyrics ("When it's over, it's over") brings a smile to the face.  Excellent touch, and a nice little flourish to cap it all off.

6 comments:

  1. thanks for checking me out bro. good review, might even check it out

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  2. Good suggestions, I'll check out these tracks. Check out my blog sometime! It's @WereAndWillBe.blogspot.com. Be sure to follow as I'll follow yours! Thanks :)

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  3. thanks for the suggestions! Very good reviw.

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