Rich Man's War... Poor Man's Fight
posted on 3/2006 By:
Those of you who’ve been familiar with Herod for a few years will remember their origins as a middle-of-the-road melodic metalcore band whose early work suggested a short and utterly forgettable career to come. Fate struck when vocalist Judah Nero joined the collective and the band recorded 2004’s For Whom the Gods Would Destroy, which saw the band ditch the plodding ‘core in favor of a much more traditionalist sound. Though the album paid admirable homage to metal champions past, Herod’s residual hardcore influence ensured a lukewarm reaction from the metal press. It’d be hard to justify a similarly tepid response to Rich Man’s War, Poor Man’s Fight. Herod have jettisoned the last of the hardcore, and what’s left over is pure early-eighties metal worship with a slightly modern sheen.
Contagious choruses and old-school horns-up riffs are the order of the day here; the primary influences seem to be the golden years of Metallica and Iron Maiden, and Herod have developed an appropriate knack for balancing the former’s knife-edge intensity with the latter’s melodic histrionics. Though Judah Nero has now left the fold, his replacement Jason Russo fills the gap more than adequately. His voice is largely rougher than his predecessor’s, but unlike Nero, Russo sometimes strays into Bruce Dickinson territory, and these forays into falsetto can sometimes be a little too much to bear seriously. Similarly, guitarists Jesse Benker and Greg DiPasquale display fantastic fretboard dexterity both in their harmony-laden riffing and in the album’s multifarious solo ventures, but the guitar heroics have a tendency to outflash the songs themselves.
By and large, though, Herod have put together an unusually strong and cheese-free collection of hooky, chorus-driven metallic rock songs. Aggressive, thrashy drumming and a just-clean-enough production top off the blend and leave the band with a very well-rounded album that’ll surely win them plenty of fans. This style of metal isn’t my forte, but any reasonable listener would acknowledge that Rich Man’s War, Poor Man’s Fight is a fine-tuned and thoroughly detailed chunk of traditional/power goodness.
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