Review Summary: Pounder? I barely even know her!
Guitarist/vocalist Matt Harvey may be best known for his contributions to thrash and death metal with groups like Exhumed and Dekapitator, but he still has room in his heart for good old-fashioned classic metal. Pounder was seemingly born from this passion and offers a furious take that could only come from guys with a more extreme background. If 2018’s Faster than Fire EP was a warmup, then we can consider Uncivilized as their first main course.
True to form, the musicians’ death metal origins result in a noticeably intense yet still melodic take on power metal. The production is incredibly clean, allowing every instrument to stand out in the mix as the guitars are fast and fiery, the bass is grimy, and the drums rarely waver from their relentless double bass blasts. There are times where things may feel too precise, but the sheer force gives the songwriting an extra boost that might not have been there with a more antiquated approach.
Unfortunately, Harvey may have a decent growl on him, but his clean vocals leave a lot to be desired. His odd wheezy approach is often drowned out in the mix and completely overwhelmed by the instrumental intensity. The power ballads “Long Time No Love” and “Answer the Call,” already rarities in this scene nowadays, are nearly derailed by strained warbling while other would-be scorchers like the title track and “Red Hot Leather” yearn to be delivered by somebody like Tony Moore or Jean-Pierre Abboud. Thankfully the heavier guitar focuses on the Riot-esque “We Want the Night” allow it to rise above this handicap.
Plenty of debut albums have been brought down by bad or out of place vocals but even at its worst, Pounder’s first album offers a ton of potential. The instrumentation is excellent, and the writing is memorable, so I can only imagine how much more powerful it’d be with somebody else at the helm. I imagine there’s a sizable enough crowd that can overlook this flaw, but Traveler’s debut is a better executed example of this style. I may have to give this a lower grade than I honestly want to, but I’m keeping an eye on these guys all the same.
“We Want the Night”
Originally published at http://psychicshorts.blogspot.com