Review Summary: Br00tal.
Oh dear god.
Axewound, the side project of Matt Tuck, with Liam Cormier of Cancer Bats on lead vocals, has been showing up in music news headlines since May 2012, and turned a few heads with their performance at Download in June. Considering that the majority of the members in this super-group come from metal-core bands and the fact that Matt Tuck promised that the group was ‘Metal as f*ck!’, does this record provide the metal grinding performance promised?
No, of course not.
What you do get is 40 minutes of nerve-grindingly repetitive metal-core with most songs containing a breakdown. The occasional solos, which are the best part of this record, are drowned out by the incessant rhythm lines, which are nowhere good enough, nor interesting enough to be killing off the slightly interesting solos.
The vocals, the vocals. When Liam starts screaming, the interest level drops rapidly. The raspy quality of his screams is just irritating and downright boring. It isn’t even the style, more the fact that he has little to no range in them. The topic matter isn’t much better either. Throughout, all that you obtain from the songs themselves is the fact that the members are trying really, REALLY hard to be ‘metal as f*ck’, but in the end comes out as a half-assed metal-core record. In ‘Exochrist’, the group tries to bring the usually metal topic of religion into their music, and manages to turn it into a repetitive mess, and end it with a typical core chugging riff. If this wasn’t enough, they continue down ridiculous paths with the song ‘Collide’ which seems to be heavily influenced by the Lamb of God song ‘King Me’. However, Axewound doesn’t quite hold the entertainment value that LOG do, and creates a boring pop-metal blend that is found throughout this album.
This is literally a horrible mashing of Bullet for My Valentine and Cancer Bats, with some added breakdowns and chugging. At least in a Bullet for My Valentine record you get a few riffs. This attempt at a metal album is not successful. Not in the least. Despite Matt’s attempt in ‘Destroy’ to make brutal metal comes off exactly the same as every song, not to mention that the rhythms are extremely similar to those on ‘Cold’.
As a whole though, this album doesn't feel very matched. The two vocal method which is found throughout most modern metal-core is used well enough, but still feels forced. Surprisingly, the duo of Liam and Matt goes fairly well together. However, considering this style has been abused to such a degree, it makes this feel tired, and not as effective as it could have been.
The other members of the band are quite clearly there, especially Jason Bowld on the drum-kit, who is clearly bashing away on many of the songs found on this record. However, after a couple of songs, the beats get tired, especially the gap fills that are littered throughout this album, especially in Cold. It's very sad to note that the bass guitar is almost completely inaudible on most of the songs, with the exception being 'Collide' during the cringe-worthy piano-clean line.
The guitar tone on most, if not all of the songs is the standard high bass, low mid tone that is favoured by most metal musicians today. Adding to this bland, boring tone is the tuning, which sits in the Drop B range. The loaded guitar tone and tuning makes the songs sound very flat, not at all energetic, and most importantly not enjoyable. Especially during the breakdowns, which most songs are centered around, they feel like they were strummed out whilst bored, and not the focus of the group effort.
A note must be given to Mike Kingswood for his solos, notably the one at the end of Burn Alive, which is dripping with Wah and cliche goodness. This is the only highlight of this album.
I’m sorry Matt Tuck and Co. but a ‘brutal’ logo does not make good music.