Review Summary: 'Vendetta' is a much more refined and mature album, and it's all kinds of heavy with the more metal-based approach the straight-edge band employs.
So-Cal straight-edge quartet Throwdown offer a more refined and mature effort with Vendetta
, but make no mistake: this album is all kinds of heavy. Breakdown-heavy. Aggression-filled. Adrenaline-laden. With Vendetta
, Throwdown take a more metal-tinged turn - especially compared to the band's Trustkill debut Haymaker
- yet still infuse their music with a no-bullshit
, high-energy sonic assault that defines their overall sound and attitude.
If there is one single factor that newcomers to hardcore misinterpret, it is easily the execution of the music itself. They may not understand that the messages bands like Throwdown, Blacklisted, or Hatebreed present in their music is one of the most important aspects of hardcore music, combined with the genuineness of a band's confidence, integrity, and ideals. Those expecting songs to run for over six minutes with lightning-quick guitar solos will be met instead with a wall of distortion-charged guitars and guttural shouts and screams that have a distinct, appealing tenacity.
With Throwdown's shift towards a more metal-based approach, there are a number of significant characteristics that present themselves on Vendetta
that are different from the band's previous work. The first and likely most obvious change is the delivery of frontman Dave Peters' vocals, which have become more ardent while still packing the unforgiving toughness necessary to fuel the music. His delivery has been compared to Phil Anselmo's, but this comparison feels unjustified. Peters' lyrics again a driving force in Throwdown's vocals. On Haymaker
, Peters sounded as if each track was designed for an expletive-ridden rant, but on Vendetta
, he drops that coarse language while still barking out fervent and heartfelt messages. Throughout, Peters speaks of truth, honor, and especially sacrifice: sacrifice for family, friends, and of oneself. For example, Peters declares in Speak The Truth
that "There's no pain in what you call honor, and it's pathetic that you'll die the way you lived: with no heart, no shame, and nothing to show for yourself," and in the anthemic Give My Life
, Peters chronicles the strength of endurance and friendship, especially when his bombastic vocals sear with "For those who gave respect, my respect to you is paid; but for you, my friends that bled by my side, I give more than blood for you: I'd give my life." Throwdown's straight-edge principles leak through the music as well, such as in the album's closer This Is Where It Ends
, but as a whole, Peters' lyrics appear to not adopt a preaching position, but instead go for feverish animosity and intensity.
Throwdown are a quartet, and in tracks such as the title track Vendetta
and on Speak The Truth
, it is incredible how one vocalist, one guitarist, one bassist, and one percussionist can create such a wall of ferocity. This ties back to the band's turn towards the metal end of the spectrum; for example, drummer Ben Dussault incorporates a much more liberal use of double bass - take Burn
as an example - with merciless tom fills and unrelenting cymbal crashing. Guitarist Mark Choiniere and bassist Matt Mentley combine to develop a blistering guitar section. Choiniere especially shines on Vendetta
with his prerequisite distortion-laden, chord-driven passages, but also tosses in some incredible metal riffs and catchy hooks for additional flair. The distortion absolutely plays a considerable role in Throwdown's music, giving the band its staple muddy, yet prolific sound.
There are no ingenious passages that will make hardcore buckle, but Vendetta
clearly brings some unbridled tenacity. Throwdown did not attempt to re-write hardcore history with this album, but it certainly feels like the band wishes to continue to establish itself alongside the other frontrunners of the genre. Choiniere's riffs, especially the metal-infused riffs, are a welcome listen, and together with Mentley and Dussault, the instrumentation definitely provides an excess of heavy breakdowns, cut-throat interludes, and relentless fills. Peters' messages are heartfelt and intense, yet he is still decipherable despite his consistently shouted vocals over the wall of furious noise. In the end, Vendetta
is recommended listening, especially for those who seek a more metal-oriented approach, which suits Throwdown exceptionally well on this album. It's not going to win any noteworthy accolades or change the face of hardcore by any stretch of the imagination, but it will undoubtedly give the listener an unquestionable adrenaline kick.
Speak the Truth