Review Summary: hardcore/metal....not death metal + breakdowns
Does anyone remember when the bulk of metalcore actually had its roots planted firmly in hardcore soil? With the vast majority of acts in said genre basically being either a thrash or death metal band with breakdowns, the term metalcore itself is actually becoming a bit deceptive. Turn back the clock to the late 90’s and early 2000’s and it’s a lot easier to see why the term was invented in the first place. Hardcore bands like Waterbury Connecticut’s 100 Demons
, and others, began drawing on their metal influences to add some heaviness and technical prowess to their hardcore ethic and attitude. This formed a potent combination that has since been greatly watered down by bands that added more breakdowns, more flash, but left their heart, credibility, and creativity at the door. 100 Demons deliver in this 2004 album a very solid effort. The tunes on the cd are nearly as awesome and memorable as the artwork that encases it.
The album opens up in a fairly furious fashion with the aptly named track “Time Bomb”. A clean but tense guitar intro soon gives way to thick distortion coupled with unyielding double bass. The hardcore influence on the intensity of this track is immediately more noticeable compared to other “metalcore” songs you may have heard at the time, or since for that matter. That hardcore urgency remains poignant throughout the remaining songs. The disc has plenty of meaty metal riffage, many songs even have some shredding. There are, however, an equal amount of straight up hardcore punk riffs and progressions, which are noticeably absent from many of today’s popular metalcore acts, like Parkway Drive for example. 100 Demons are also good at delivering some punishing breakdowns, the most devastating being found on the last two tracks. They do a good job with the placement of the big mosh parts, and also managed to avoid putting too many on the album. There is also alot of groovy two-step riffs, so the cd as a whole is perfect for rocking out in the car, or throwing down at a live show. The drumming on the record really adds a lot the enjoy ability. Rarely will you hear so much groove and intensity out of the same drum kit. As much modern metalcore style as there is in the drumming, your also going to hear a lot of breaks that will remind you of bands like Madball and Agnostic Front.
In many ways, the sound instrumental section of this band is going to remind you of Hatebreed’s 2002 album, “Perseverance” which I would imagine many bands would take as a compliment, I know I certainly would. You’ve got great big Marshall Guitar tone, which has the impact of a sledge hammer, and still enough clarity to cut through the mix. Standard issue, loose and aggressive hardcore punk bass tone. The drums sound good in the mix, and actually sound like a real drum set, not a collection of electronic triggers. The trademark top shelf production by Zeuss takes the bands already great sound and puts it on steroids, which is why Zeuss is the man. As much as 100 Demons slick metal influenced hardcore equals, (or even exceeds at times) their contemporaries, (Hatebreed) one area where they fall slightly short is catchiness. Most of the songs are quite memorable, but they fall short of infectious.
Pete’s vocal sound is definitely one of the highlights of the album. He utilizes more of a booming yell than the typical screaming used by most bands, if you were to ever see Pete in person, the sight of his bullish frame would explain very concisely why his vocals sound as big as they do. This unique sounding yell is what you will hear on the majority of the roughly 25 minute long LP. However Pete also has a decent singing voice which he showcases on one of the strongest tracks; “Repeat Process” One of the best things about these clean sung parts is that they actually take influence from hardcore punk, and not emo, or pop punk. “Hardcore” bands using a singing style from those latter genres have the problem of that style of singing clashing too much with the heaviness in the rest of a song, although bands are still trying to force the combination. While the sound of the voice is very pleasing to the ear, the lyrics are only ok most of the time. On one hand, this is a tough-guy band, so no ones expecting literary immensity, but lines like “Something terrible, has crossed my mind, f*cking miserable, all the time” will cause a respectable song to fall flat on its face.
If you miss the days when metalcore was more of a 50/50 mix then I’m actually surprised you don’t own this record already. If you don’t have it however, this is a really solid disc for your collection. It is sound in most areas, weak in few, great in some, and distinctive thanks mostly to the drumming and vocals. 100 Demons really pull off the "Hatebreed" style of hardcore better than almost any band you'll come accross, and in a righteously devastating fashion.