Review Summary: Mama’s Good Ol’ Fashioned Metal Album
Creedence Clearwater Revival + As I Lay Dying = Good? Despite some very conflicted influences that do not seem to add up to make a good album, Once Nothing proves that it is always possible to rock. The band released their debut album First Came the Law (January 15, 2008). Rising above the quickly-becoming-repetitive modern metal scene, Once Nothing crafts a dirty, fierce, and incredibly enjoyable first album.
Immediately noticeable at the start of this album is the guitar riff, which is disturbingly reminiscent of some of the less impressive post-grunge bands that popped up in the late 1990’s. However, a couple of bass drum kicks and the intensely screamed first line, “You want to go for a ride?” show that this is certainly not a post-grunge, punk, pop, emo “disc ‘o’ depression.”
The first song (“The Intimidator”) alone is so diverse that after an intense roller coaster of time changes, the listener is brought to the 3:00 minute mark. At this point, it seems as if the track has changed when, in fact, it is just a transition from a meaty breakdown to a more melodic guitar lick. When the song does end, it progresses neatly into the hard-hitting first few seconds of the disc’s second song (“Avoid Me Like The Plague”). The second track comes to a delightful close with a breakdown that could, quite literally, knock the teeth right out of the listener’s mouth.
The third song (“Juliet Or At Least What’s Left Of Her”) is the song that makes the whole album. The first two songs were a thrilling tour through the landscape of MetalLand. However, the third song stomps the others into submission at the 1:00 minute mark when a brief instrumental interlude turns into the very Southern exclamation, “Now, kick it!” This was later accompanied by, in the fourth song (“Gunfire Is The Sound of Freedom”), the interjection, “Ah, swing it!”
The metal bliss continues through the fifth track (“The Dust of a Town”) including a lovely intro. The real shocker was the acoustic sixth track (“My Sweet Medusa”) which serves as a well-deserved change of pace and breath of air.
Though an enjoyable head-banger, the seventh track (“Columbus Wasn’t Looking For America”) does not do anything too exciting. It is the beginning of the eighth song (“Then There Were Nine”), which crackles into life with melodic vocals and cowbell, that is truly surprising. Some strange yet satisfying screamed vocal harmonies bring the listener through the enjoyable ninth and tenth tracks (“All My Heroes Are Cowboys” and “The Truth About Me Or Someone Like Me” respectively).
The eleventh track (“Whiskey Breath”) shows off the previously subdued Southern influence without shame. The song begins with a riff straight out of a Skynryd album. The groove of this song leads, almost regrettably, to the twelfth and final track (“...And Then Came Grace”) which is a monstrous and epic instrumental track. Waiting after the last track brings the listener to a quick bonus track that ends the album with the chirping of crickets. This sound effect is normally something reserved for boring or not enjoyable acts. Needless to say, it has never been more out of place than at the end of this album.