Welcome to Check Your Mode

The all-inclusive, ever-changing, and uncomfortably flexible guide to all things music in the 2010's.

Wednesday, August 4, 2010

Overkill - Ironbound: B- / Heathen - The Evolution of Chaos: B- / Orphaned Land - The Way of the OrWarriOr: B-

The 2000's were fraught with old, washed up metal bands resurrecting themselves from the limbo of public consciousness and making records of original material, but, more likely, making records of covers and proceeding to collect their tour earnings. Some, like Metallica, made longtime fans question their legacy, then, in my opinion, regained those fans' trusts whiles others, like Megadeth, had arguably never left in the first place. I mention the biggest examples, but there were countless groups like Tesla, Poison, Night Ranger and Def Leppard who took advantage of the decade's fetish for the past in order to make a few extra bucks (although I will mention that Def Leppard's attempts were far less craven than that of their counterparts).

And so it seemed that, with the release of albums by Overkill and Heathen, that trend was going to continue. Heathen's last album was released in 1991, so The Evolution of Chaos was seen by many as the band's comeback album and Overkill had always released albums no longer than two years between each other since 1985, and Ironbound found the band, like a stubborn mule, trudging on into a new decade.

Despite both albums being awaited with bated breath by fans of both bands, both The Evolution of Chaos and Ironbound sound just as waterlogged and hackneyed as anything Kiss or Foreigner would have cooked up in the mid-aughts. Double bass rumbles, guitar solos spray at you and not a damn thing sticks. It's all very listenable, but the music doesn't have much character, attempting to just blind you with technical skill as opposed to engaging you to enjoy the album with the band.

I can understand why Overkill would release something like this, as, after releasing seventeen albums in twenty five years, ideas are bound to get recycled, but Heathen have little excuse for what they've come up with. As I have criticized some Megadeth albums for being too much grit and not enough art, Heathen just hope to dazzle you into liking The Evolution of Chaos without your blood so much as coming to a simmer.

Now, it seems unfair to group Orphaned Land with Heathen and Overkill, because they have been around for far less. Still, for however young they may be and however different their style of metal is, my overall reaction remains the same. To their credit, the band does have a good song in the opening track, "Sapari", but the rest of The Way of the ORWarriOR is so long, convoluted and cluttered with unnecessary guitar solos, guttural screams and suites, that I'm face-palming long before the album's first half even ends.

I want to reiterate that neither The Evolution of Chaos, Ironbound nor The Way of the ORWarriOR are sonically displeasing. In fact, the fretwork on The Evolution of Chaos could be in the running for the best of the year. But if these bands don't learn to write more songs instead of solos and concepts, they're going to be doomed to careers of mediocrity. Some may be OK with the relentless guitar wank, but it must be kept in mind that there is a great difference between musicians and niches.


No comments:

Post a Comment