Release DetailsLABEL Peace or Die Records
RELEASED ON 12/1/2005
The Burden of Sin
posted on 4/2006 By:
Well, at least the intro is a musical piece - a solo violin echoed to hell playing a melancholy refrain. I have visions of sad little children sitting in their empty rooms on rainy days, waiting for execution. Or, I don't know, something like that. Sad.
And then, a minute in, the punchy, melodic metalcore with the shouty vocals starts and we are right back where we so often find ourselves lately: mediocrity.
Note: Rant ahead
I sometimes try to remember back to when I was still playing, to see if I really thought any of my bands were actually something the world might want to hear. I can really only think of one band that was doing anything atypical. The rest were, by and large, just versions of existing themes. Punkabilly, death/speed metal, punk, bar band, and hair band. And scads of cover bands. I think even then, if you had put a gun to my ankle and asked me, I would have said the stuff I was playing was pretty hack. It was FUN, don’t get me wrong, and I think we were cool enough for the local scene…well, maybe not the cover bands.
My point is that every time I sit down to review something lately I am struck at just how much of the same thing we keep getting in. And how hard it is to come up with new things to say about bands that are really just cover bands with original songs. Pain Link is playing essentially a cross between Demolition Hammer and Pantera. They do a more or less acceptable job with it. But my God, haven’t I heard this five times this week already? I can’t say for sure, because I was not a reviewer before…I …was one, but I think there are more clones than ever before now that we have the internet. I mean, I remember grunge and how suddenly there were a dozen second rate bands, form Stone Temple Pilots to Live to Bush crowding each other out with various degrees of quality. But it seems to me lately that, whereas there used to be dozens of hacks, now there are hundreds. And maybe there always were, but I think the internet has made it easier to find, sign and distribute bands that, fifteen years ago would be playing their local F.O.E. for dozens of hardcore fans.
Note: Rant over
What does Pain Link have to offer? As I said above, they are more or less Demolition Hammer meets Crowbar meets Pantera. I find myself bobbing along to some of the songs, but honestly I already own eighteen or so similar discs that get me moving with more feeling. I can see this band as an opening act for a dozen or so better metalcore or melodic metal bands. They are at their best when they leave breathing space for their rhythm section. When they play flat out, their limitations are pretty evident. The pumping, surging style of songs like “When Sand Turns To Glass” help the band shine, but opener “Choose Your Path” sounds like a band still working out the kinks. Unfortunately, formula demands that the opening track be a straight ahead rocker, and this band is nothing if not formulaic.
The guitarists certainly shred - in fact the soloing is one area where the band grabs back a bit of the interest that they lose in their AOR-ness. The riffs aren’t bad, but there are so many fantastic bands making fingertip bleeders out there that these just reinforce the mediocrity. The drummer sounds much more professional at lower tempos and funkier beats. His thrash and mosh style sounds incomplete. It may be a fault of the production, but I will tackle that in a minute. The vocalist is a gruff, off key singer who roars and shouts, but without much conviction. They're like Crowbar’s less angry younger brother. There are semi-clean backing vocals, but it’s nothing you haven’t heard.
The production is a culprit. The main problem is the drums. The kicks have a terrible clicking - goddamn Pantera for starting that shit - and it either ruins the drummer’s otherwise decent playing, or it hides the fact that he sucks ass. It’s so noisily confusing I can’t decide which, but his fills and accents sound completely off timed, and not in the innovative way. In the I-can’t-quite-pull-this-off way. The guitars are mid to the exclusion of crunch. They USE crunch, but the production removes it. The bass is flaccid sounding. The vocals are down enough in the mix for the most part not be annoying. But the backing vocals sometimes distract, as they are nearly as loud as the main vocals, but cleans carry louder in any mix over roars. The job sounds patchy and rushed, yet overthought.
Bottom line: this CD is just not worth paying for, in my opinion. The band may be a killer show in a little club on a Saturday night, but as a permanent addition to your record collection it just offers zero. To the band, if you care, change producers and studios, spend more time on your crunchier, rhythmically interesting compositions, and see what you can do to kick your drummer up a notch and I could be handing you some 5's and 6’s next time. If you don’t care…then don’t look too many next times. You are up against legions of bands just like you.
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