Review Summary: Raised Fist trade anger for catchiness and substance for melody.
Raised Fist came out swinging from Sweden in 1993 and rose steadily from then until they peaked in 2006 on Sound Of The Republic. On that album the band decided to experiment a little more with hooks and melodies but managed to retain the anger that fuelled their earlier releases. This made for an album that was memorable and had substance to it. The band seems to have attempted to ride the success of Sound Of The Republic on 2009’s Veil Of Ignorance but without quite succeeding.
For lack of a better term, the band seems to have headed in a more “mainstream” direction. Although Veil Of Ignorance is based on the band’s trademark, angry, punk-influenced, hardcore sound, the album features more hooks than probably all of their past releases combined. So while the album may feel more enjoyable instantly than any other in their discography, it lacks the substance to stay this way. While Sound Of The Republic did make a few uses of melodic hooks, the brilliance of that album came from the restrain the band showed, seemingly picking out the specific moments where a hook could come pick up a song and make it truly memorable. This restraint isn’t shown on Veil Of Ignorance. Hardcore is supposed to be a strong hard hitting style of music and this new over-usage of melody takes away greatly from this aspect. They most definitely haven’t completely lost it though. City Of Gold shows the band using what they had mastered on their last release with its smooth transition from a slower, melodic bridge to a driving heavy guitar riff and Volcano Is Me sounds like a classic Raised Fist song with a production boost.
Which brings up another factor: the production. Every Raised Fist album to date has had a somewhat gritty production (the older ones obviously moreso than the newer ones) which complemented Hagman’s raspy yells an added to the general anger of the music. However, Veil Of Ignorance suffers slightly from its clear production which takes away from the overall power of the music.
Hagman has always been the really unique part of the band. His raspy, emotional shout cannot really be compared to any other in the genre. He seems to have lost less of his passion than the rest of the band and comes out sounding like his usual angry self. Sadly, when the music doesn’t pack the same punch it is hard for the singer to do so too and this is apparent on the album. Although the anger in the vocals is still quite apparent, it doesn’t manage to carry the same fervor as earlier releases.
So although Raised Fist haven’t totally lost it, they’ve taken quite a steep fall on Veil Of Ignorance. Still definitely worth checking out if you are a fan of the band but not the best place to start if you aren’t. Unfortunately, it sounds like the band might have tired itself out... or maybe Hagman should just try finding some new musicians.