Review Summary: If Keith had been in the band his hair probably wouldn't be so damn pretty.
If there's one thing that Throwdown are no strangers to, other then people taking their shirts off, it's being at the beginning of game of line-up musical chairs that ends with glam-to-the-maxcore Eighteen Visions and furious avenging angels Bleeding Through. This supremely insular OC metalcore family certain loves trading off its various members like football stickers, but for the most part life has gone on.
I mean bands are more then just one person right"
The loss of multi-talented front man-turned-guitarist Keith Barney to Eighteen Visions seems to have diluted their sound a worrying amount; the thumping Hatebreed-style punch has been sapped leaving only the machine gun purr of new-boy Matt Mentley; this boy clearly learned to play listening to ‘Vulgar Display Of Power' and he plays with nail-biting speed but it's no real substitute for the bombastic hooks of ‘Haymaker'. There's a sad lack of any real anthems with only the ‘single' track ‘Burn' and album closer ‘This Is Where It Ends' that really succeed in getting your muscles twitching with the urge to lay some smackdowns on the soft-toys in your bedroom.
Dave Peter's usual vocals seem a little restrained with his trademarked roar replaced by a steady growl that tears like an aural chainsaw rather then bludgeoning senselessly with the fist-in-the-air choruses. The Throwdown ‘bounce' is still there but sans the various screams, shouts and backing vocals from the departed Keith it feels as though, like the riffage, it's flying with only three engines and has every intention of coming in to land.
The little things to one side, it feels as though the commercial success of the last album made them all more aware of the market they've been forced to operate in, and it's one that's doing them no favours at all. Bereft of obvious straight-edge references, featuring guest vocals from Killswitch Engage's Howard Jones and available in a cuss-free ‘clean' edition ‘Vendetta' is clearly designed to shift units beyond their hardcore fan base. It's impossible to not wonder if perhaps had Keith still been in the band this album would have gone down a whole lot better.
With ‘Vendetta', Throwdown have made a concerted step towards the metal side of the hardcore-metal crossover- whilst the usual Hardcore aesthetics of truth, honour and respect are all adhered to with chest-beating pride, they are backed by a thunderously metallic musical assault.
The album was produced by Zeuss, who as you probably already know is renowned for his work with Hatebreed, a band with whom Throwdown share more than a little common ground- the two bands tread very similar musical and lyrical paths, and if you're a lover of the ‘breed then there is definitely something for you to love on ‘Vendetta'.
There is still some genuinely quality ideas at play on ‘Vendetta'- certainly enough to warrant a purchase- Its upbeat and proud in attitude and musically it has a decent aggro pace coupled with some infectiously catchy little riffs and hooks that take you by surprise- ‘Speak the Truth', ‘Burn' and ‘Discipline' use these to the best effect, with ‘Speak the Truth' in particular taking you along for the ride with as catchy a verse as I've heard in a while, before breaking down in a deliciously evil sounding manner- its proper face-gurning, arms pin-wheeling, foot-stomping stuff; the guitar sound reminds me of ‘Chaos AD' era Sepultura at times- which is not a bad thing at all and makes me want to congratulate them for having the nuts to keep things a little dirty and gritty amidst peers who spit polish every last part of their over-produced records these days.
So, not entirely fresh and innovative, and Hatebreed still edge ‘em, but for an angry metallic punch in the face, you could do a lot worse!