Pure Reason Revolution
Hammer & Anvil


2.5
average

Review

by Eric USER (161 Reviews)
October 18th, 2010 | 55 replies


Release Date: 2010 | Tracklist

Review Summary: Optimistically speaking, Hammer and Anvil's poor showing and stagnancy only accentuates what they did so well on The Dark Third.

It may have been due to the bleakness of the skyline or the monotonous pitter-patter of my footsteps on the concrete, but upon running past the Baltimore Zoo last week, an odd thought crossed my mind: what if one of those gargantuan, gnarly lions got sick of lying around eating steak all day, hopped over its measly fence, and darted to Chipotle across the street, dishing out a few flesh-wounds to bystanders along the way? I doubt the British prog-rockers Pure Reason Revolution have ever been to the Baltimore Zoo to see the lions or have contemplated their escape, but they’ve certainly done some taming of their own. After some above-average outputs, Pure Reason Revolution arrive at Hammer and Anvil, a saturated concoction of elements of prog, electro, and rock, that fails to flesh out the band’s once-overflowing potential.

It wasn’t all that long ago that Pure Reason Revolution were living up to their epic name. The Dark Third, with equally-epic album art to complement, was a modernized, alternative ode to the power of prog. As dark and dulcet as Hershey’s Extra Dark, Pure Reason Revolution’s debut was even, dare I say it... fun! Amor Vincit Omnia catapulted the band forward conceptually, as electronics were thrust to front-stage, emitting a Muse-like follow-up that trimmed the fat off of The Dark Third, the progressive aspects. Problem is, “the fat” is what made Pure Reason Revolution somewhat extraordinary. Yet, the second LP was still fairly dense and the serious shift to electronics could be hailed as ambitious, if nothing else. Fans of the band had reason to complain maybe, but with a few standout tracks, this was no bust of Ryan Leaf-like proportions.

On Hammer and Anvil though, I believe we have ample reason to hang up the speakers and pledge not to be interested next time we see another enticing album cover from the prog rockers. Pure Reason Revolution is treading water on Hammer and Anvil, refusing to all-out drown, but refusing to move anywhere interesting. They’ve decided to stick with the electronic-based sound of the previous LP, not an inherently bad trait in itself, seeing as they left room for themselves to grow from Amor Vincit Omnia. From the onset of “Fight Fire” though, it’s clear we’re not going to see much growing. As repetitive as my footsteps on that murky run in Baltimore, the chorus is belted out by the lone female member of PRR in the same trite manner that the hilariously trite lyric was written, “Fight fire with fire!” (x 1,000,000). The song’s sole saving grace, as is the case too often, is the surprisingly crisp beats that fill up the background. “Patriarch” and “Never Divide” follow in similar fashion. “Fill” is certainly apt word choice, too. The band leaves no empty space on Hammer and Anvil, unlike their debut. Dual vocal harmonies, overused keyboards, unabashed beats galore, PRR threw everything at the wall hoping something would stick. The result is predictable- aspects like the well-crafted beats hit their mark here and there; but more often than not, the positives are overshadowed by the billows of gimmicky implements along the way.

They crop what used to be elongated, interesting epics into stale, uninteresting ditties. The main problem with the songs when taken individually is Pure Reason Revolution’s insistence on restricting themselves, keeping the songs around 4 minutes, and not letting the metaphorical tigers out of their cages. They have the keys, as evidenced by The Dark Third, which is why their strict resistance is even more frustrating.

To be fair, certain points of Hammer and Anvil stick out as particularly potent. Given the time to flesh out their songs and add innovation a la spectacular atmosphere and a sultry aesthetic, they’re capable of success. There’s remnants of this excitement on Hammer and Anvil in the closing two songs, the only ones that manage some semblance of atmosphere. Through less convolution and more deliberate songwriting, “Open Insurrection” and “Armistice” save the album from total disappointment.

All style and grace that Pure Reason Revolution exhibited with such candor on their debut have devolved into a stagnant elctro-mess that tries to be too many things at once, and in the process cages all the creativity and freshness that made The Dark Third so appealing in the first place. Give them some credit for making a jump from debut to sophomore album, but wading around in the same ideas is anything but progressive. The haphazard jumble of rock, progressive, and most notably, electronic, elements is more disorienting than it is pleasing. Optimistically speaking, Pure Reason Revolution only accentuates what they did so well on The Dark Third by underperforming on their latest. Where there was pure excitement and innovation, there’s now stagnancy. If only they had taken a little risk and let those damn lions out of their cages, if only for the pure thrill of it...



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user ratings (55)
Chart.
3
good

Comments:Add a Comment 
EVedder27
October 18th 2010


6088 Comments


I refuse to read until I get some album art and a tracklist

SeaAnemone
October 18th 2010


20981 Comments


on the way Mr.

it was there before, but something got screwed up : (

Digging: Viet Cong - Viet Cong

Bitchfork
October 18th 2010


7584 Comments


This is like a really rushed version of something you'd write so I'm not digging it. Also, ffr, when reviewing an album not yet in the database, put the album in the database separately from the review so it adds the tracklisting and album art. Then post the review once that's gone through.

SeaAnemone
October 19th 2010


20981 Comments


stop being such a Bitch. I assure you, it was here with art, tracklisting, and 3 ratings earlier. then, somebody added it in AGAIN without any of that stuff. I asked the mods to delete that one, which they kindly did, but they also deleted the tracks, art, and ratings off THIS one by accident, I presume, which I could not have known.

Deviant.
Staff Reviewer
October 19th 2010


31634 Comments


Just get them to link this with the actual album

Digging: Theo Parrish - American Intelligence

Bitchfork
October 19th 2010


7584 Comments


I was writing that before anyone else commented so I had no idea stop being such an anemone.

SeaAnemone
October 19th 2010


20981 Comments


thanks Dev, didn't realize there still was a good version.

and ugh this review needs trimming I just didn't know what to cut!

Foxhound
October 19th 2010


4570 Comments


no artwork no readie

AnotherBrick
October 19th 2010


9772 Comments

Album Rating: 3.0

your rating makes me so sad. i was looking forward to this album so much.

SeaAnemone
October 19th 2010


20981 Comments


if you liked their last you might like it... it's no Dark 3rd though

SowingSeason
Staff Reviewer
October 19th 2010


17025 Comments


good review man. i'll pos even without artwork ;)

Digging: Have a Nice Life - The Unnatural World

Ire
October 19th 2010


41829 Comments



I refuse to read until I get some album art and an img of a psyduck with hipster glasses saying something quite unfitting much like this dumb comment that has nothing to do with the review.


AnotherBrick
October 19th 2010


9772 Comments

Album Rating: 3.0

i was really hoping they bailed on the electronica sound they developed on their last and went back to their debut sound. i had the dark third at a 5 for awhile and their 2nd was a 3.5 for me. real bummer, although i had no idea that you had ever heard of them, doesn't seem like your type

couldwinarabbit
October 19th 2010


6996 Comments


first paragraph is supercool. Great review...nice to not see a 4/5

on a not completely unrelated to this album: you had to run on conrete that fucking sucks.

SeaAnemone
October 19th 2010


20981 Comments


yeah i needed to write something not-positive

and yeah i run on pavement / roads / concrete 90% of the time living in Baltimore

and yeah album art now

couldwinarabbit
October 19th 2010


6996 Comments


Sea (clever pun plus 10 sputnik points) in Canada we don't have pavement (exept the band...I'm a roll) so we get to run on nice not knee wrecking dirt...except the bastards always found a way to make me fun at least 100m on sand every race.

AnotherBrick
October 19th 2010


9772 Comments

Album Rating: 3.0

you fucking live in baltimore? i am so incredibly jealous of you, you have no fucking idea

lobby
October 19th 2010


1251 Comments


I heard Amor Vincit Omnia, but I might give this one a miss

crazyblinddude
October 19th 2010


3389 Comments


Nice review. You seem to be a little harsh on these guys, but my rating wouldn't be too far off from this tbh. Perhaps a 3-3.5.

It is a shame they decided to go in this direction, though it was somewhat expected, in all honesty.

SeaAnemone
October 19th 2010


20981 Comments


Crazy: thanks! and I went into it hoping for the best. And to be honest, this is yet another time the rating system is oh-so flawed... in reality I have a tough time calling it "average," but I couldn't decide between "poor" and "good," so it was the logical choice.

Brick: sorry... not the biggest fan of them haha, there's a ton of cool shows in Baltimore actually but I hardly ever end up going, can't find time usually.





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