I came across Nonpoint after I heard Bullet With a Name on the radio, so naturally, To the Pain was the first album I bought of theirs.
After hearing nearly all their CDs, and being a big rock n metalhead, I can honestly say this. To The Pain is Nonpoint's best CD and this is one of the better albums in rock these days and you are doing yourself a massive disservice by writing off Nonpoint as "another nu-metal band."
This is my first review, so comments are welcome, but I'll be reviewing the album track by track. All songs are rated on a scale from 1 to 10, 1 being suck ass 10 being the quality equivalent of something along the lines of Metallica's "Master of Puppets" (i.e. kick ass).
1. Bullet With a Name
--- The first track on the album wastes no time to throwing you into the middle of the maelstrom that is "To The Pain." The song has a central riff that sounds like a sped up version of Pantera's "Walk." The song structure is fairly simple, but its energy is undeniable. The riffs and vocals explode with a ferocity that's hard to find even in the most hardcore metal bands. In all, a fine start and one of the best songs on the CD.
2. There's Going to Be a War!
--- This song is one of the better examples of the much-improved guitar work. A typical weakness in rock and/or nu-metal are the boring verses, but this is a song that actually incorporates a verse that's more addictive that the chorus itself. Hostile lyrics, "take them by the neck, drag them around, kicking and screaming, showing the law of cause and effect." Hell yes... but dulls to some of the future tracks after repeated listens.
3. The Wreckoning
--- This song is pretty routine until we get to the chorus, "This is the wreckoning, that you feel happening..." The guitar, bass, and drums ass line up with this jackhammer riff that spits out in between Elias's vocals. It's the musical equivalent of being beat down by a wrecking ball.. which ironically enough, is the subject of the song. The vocals start to show a little repetition in this song but are strong nonetheless. The screaming fits the song's lyrical content. Fast-paced and destructive.
4. Alive and Kicking
--- This was one of my early favorites when I first bought the CD, and coincidently became their second single. Again, lyrics are not too shabby. I may mention the lyrics alot, but comparing them to Nonpoint's earlier albums, you can see why I'm so pleased. They are a massive improvement, especially over "Recoil." The nifty little bass-line is what gives the song a more haunted edge, but guitar and drum work is pretty routine. To be honest, this song is pretty average, but you'll find yourself listening to it and enjoying it nonetheless.
5. Explain Yourself.
--- This was another early favorite. Easy to latch onto, and ridiculously catchy. This one is a bit softer and more melodic than the previous tracks, but features a damn cool trumpet (i think) solo in the middle. Though it kind of makes me wonder why they couldn't throw in a guitar solo, but I'll get onto that later. Very decent song, though its still a little routine. Good use of bass slapping before the midsection.
--- "Yo Soy Lo Que Soy No Me Voy, Buscandome!" nuff said. This song has an odd sense off urgency, and travels at a breakneck pace once the chorus kicks in, and it stays that way up to the end. The mid-section is the only major disappointment. Its that same "random vocals/talking" bullcrap that I hear way too often, again, put in a guitar solo for god sakes.
7. To The Pain
--- This is probably the best song on the album. Its another heavy diddle, but this one has soul. The chorus has a sort of emotion that can't be denied, you can feel the frustration and anger that practically bleeds out of the speakers as Elias boats, "I'm on the ground with 110 men beating the life from me. I shake off most of them to reveal my shattered bones.." Its something many can relate to, and I haven't heard the feeling more accurately portrayed in music since this song. Its very honest, and the song has some great music going for it too. This time the vocal, slowed-tempo of the midsection does not harm the song. It adds another dimension to an already deep song. Some screaching guitar and pounding drums end this song perfectly. One of Nonpoint's best.
--- By the time this "half-time" song pops in, its a breath of fresh air. Kind of like a track that allows you to catch your breath. Some electronics and very classy bass work going on here, its worth repeated listens and will get stuck in your head. The first of 2 instrumental tracks, but not the best one.
9. Explain Myself?
--- This song shouldn't be as good as it is. Pretty by-the-books stuff, but wow, it demands to be heard. The chorus will drill itself into your head and you'll find yourself singing it when you're at the gym or in a fight. Some good work on guitar at the finish employing some harmonics which seem to pop up throughout the album. The only song that has a guitar solo as well, but lucky for the listener, its a short and sweet one. And of course, great lyrics.
8/10... maybe 8.5
--- The most solid and easy to access song on the album. Good central riff, great midsection and varying tempos. The clean guitar at the end is a great way to lead into...
11. Code Red
--- ... this song. The first of what are in my opinion, 2 throwaway tracks. There's nothing exactly wrong with this song, it just pales in comparison to the rest of the album. The beat set by the drums is kinda catchy, but the guitar and bass work is dull. The only think that sets the song apart is the special guitar effect used to create a sort of "alarm" sound. Unfortunately, the same technique was already used by Metallica in "The Unnamed Feeling" and just sounds like its thrown in the song for the hell of it.
12. Wrong Before
--- Another snoozer, its mainly bogged down by the verses. This song actually sounds like it was something taken from one of Nonpoint's previous efforts, "Development" to be more specific. The midsection is the only thing saving this song, with some nice tremelo picking on the guitar and decent enough vocals, "the pack is circling, the pack is circling.."
13. The Longest Beginning
--- Just when you're about to take the disc out, this track comes in. The bass really shines and drives the entire song from start to finish. The bass slapping is expertly done (kinda makes you wonder if maybe Flea dropped by to help out...) and the in-n-out wah pedal work on the guitar is great for the majority of the song. The ending blends seemlessly into the final track.
14. The Shortest Ending
--- The final song is basically a sigh of relief. It actually feels like a final track and isn't just titled as such. The chorus works well and though the song is not near as compelling as some of the earlier tracks, it wraps up the album well. The only real weakness here is another boring mid-section, with some odd guitar/vocal work.
Judging by some of the scores I gave, you might debate whether this truly is Nonpoint's best CD. Honestly, it's in a close race with Recoil. But this album never seems to go away, I always end up popping it in for a listen nearly everyday. It is worth mentioning however, that this CD was conceived and produced in or around one year after the release of Recoil. Which makes you wonder, if this is what they're capapable of within a year... what kind of music could they be making if they were given some time to actually work on the music?
As it stands, this is a flawed, but powerful album. The guitar work shines in many cases, which makes me wonder why they haven't thrown in some solos, but I digress. Go out and buy the album if you're into the heavier element in music, you will not regret it. This is a very good band, with enormous amounts of talent, and a sound that gets better with each album.