Review Summary: While not a bad album through and through, Vengeance proves to be the black sheep of Nonpoint's discography
Let me start this review by saying that Vengeance is most definitely Nonpoint's weakest album. With that said, I also feel the record is a bit misunderstood. Nonpoint is a band that literally has never put out the same album twice. When they started out in 1997 with their independently released LP Separate Yourself
they were an aggressive nu/groove/alt metal band. Separate Yourself
was something like Roots-era Sepultura would sound like, except with more slow bass parts and relatively catchy choruses. After re-releasing the album under Jugular Records (this time they named it Struggle
) in 1999, Nonpoint started working on their sophomore effort that would eventually grant them the status of being one of the best the nu metal genre has to offer. Statement
is to date one of the better pure-blooded nu metal records. It includes heavy, crunchy guitars, great vocals (Elias is a good screamer but also has soulful cleans to match), solid build-ups, that prevent any of the tracks from sounding like filler, and finally and most importantly, Statement
has great replay value - a thing so many other nu metal albums lack.
really lived up to its name, earning Nonpoint the reputation of being one of the best nu metal acts, both live and on record. But that was only the beginning. 2002's Development
showed the more melodic and calm side of Nonpoint and was a stepping stone of sorts to Recoil
, that many believe is the band's magnum opus. It's not hard to see why, either. Driving, heavy guitars, fierce drumming, perfect length, solid vocals, a great Phil Collins cover, I could go on, but I believe you all get the point. While I still prefer Statement
as my favorite Nonpoint cd - because of its rawer nature and unbelievable energy (just listen to Hive and Tribute - those make me want to mosh harder than most Death metal albums you throw at me) - Recoil
, sound-wise, is what most nu metal should sound like. After Recoil
though, the slight downfall begun. To The Pain
- being the heaviest record Nonpoint has ever put out - was a great album, but it lacked the soulful delivery of past records. Also, it had some filler which was almost nonexistent on other Nonpoint albums. Sure, "Alive and Kicking" and "Skin" remain as one of the band's best songs to date, but songs like "Code Red" and "Wrong Before" also count as one of the worst.
Quite inconspicuously the year 2007 arrived, and so did Nonpoint's 6th studio album, titled Vengeance
. It's rather surprising, that after releasing their heaviest album to date, the band decided to make an almost 180 degree turn and record an album that was their first to sound more like gritty hard rock, rather than fist pumping nu metal. One could infer that Vengeance
is another stepping stone in Nonpoint's career, leading them to a rock direction. Or then again, it might just (arguably) be the only Nonpoint album to turn out rather weak.
They say you can't judge a book by its cover. Sadly, this saying does not apply to Vengeance
. The cover is quite a monstrosity, and while the album itself isn't as bad, it isn't anything to cream over either. The main problem Vengeance
has is its ultimate repetitiveness. At first, the grooving guitarlines and Elias' gruff, mid-range vocals sound rather refreshing, but long before the album hits halfway mark, they become tedious. All in all that's quite a sad aspect, because it's the second half of Vengeance
that sounds good. The album massively picks up starting from track 7, "Hands Off", but it might already be too late for some then. Its tracks like "Hands Off", "A Way Out", "Witness" and "Everybody Down" that utilize the groovy guitars and mid-paced cymbal/bass/snare drum patterns best. The first half of the album isn't bad per se, but its way too same-sounding. With a little more experimentation and variation, Vengeance
could have been a solid appendage to Nonpoint's discography, but instead, it now stands out as the black sheep.
Another thing that brings this album down is Elias' overall effort. Both the vocals and lyrics sound blunt, especially the vocals - 12 tracks about how the world has wronged Elias, sung in an exclusively obtuse manner, is a little much to handle. An example from the song "A Way Out": Did I make this clear to you/You deserve to fight the way I've had to/What if they took your pride, respect, your life, your blood, your sweat, your tears, Your lies, your fears, your wife, your kids, your mind, you did!
. Now compare them to the lyrics from "Change Your Mind": I hope you've said your last goodbyes/And all your hoping to see my demise/Is only causing me to rise/You can try hard, hard as you can you're never gonna bring me down/You're gonna fight but I’m gonna win you're never gonna bring me down
. Now foresee there are 10 more tracks with lyrics all too similar to those two songs. Listening to Vengeance
, mostly thanks to the lyrics and vocals, is ultimately very tiresome.
There are some brighter lyrical cuts here and there, but most of them are ruined by awful choruses (see: "A Way Out"; "Breathe"). The only exception to this rule is the song "Everybody Down”, which works as an exact opposite, exhibiting terrible verse lyrics, but a good, fist pumping chorus. It's actually the best song on the whole album, having a really crazed, yet fun feel to it.
Soon after this album was released, the founding member of Nonpoint, guitarist Andrew Goldman left. Was that a sign how unsatisfied he was with the direction Nonpoint was going is only known by him, and possibly by the band too, but his departure was definitely a big blow to Nonpoint. Now, with a new guitarist Zach Broderick, Nonpoint are in the process of recording a follow-up to Vengeance
. The studio reports have been very promising so far, and a return to form is, at the moment, expected. I personally am eager to hear new Nonpoint material, and if the new album turns out the same caliber as Statement
were, the little mishap with Vengeance
can easily be forgotten.
isn't a bad album through and through, and it definitely has some great songs, but its repetitiveness and lazy style are rather off-putting. If this album is just another stepping stone for Nonpoint, it can easily be forgiven, but if it's of any indication where the band is heading with their sound, the so called "haters" might just be right - Nonpoint had their fun with Recoil, but are now past their prime and should consider retiring. Here's to hoping that Vengeance
was just a small mis-step, and that Nonpoint can fully redeem themselves with their upcoming, yet to be titled 2010 album.
"A Way Out"
"What I Do Best"