The Pain Remits EP
posted on 7/2006 By:
How do you quantify mediocrity? Can anonymity be judged accurately relative to itself? As much as I approve of the recent shift towards genre alchemy in heavy metal, all the riff-melding produces a lot of bands like Slave Zero—faceless blends of thrash, death metal, and hardcore that provide nothing of any particular note, but don’t foul up enough to really be worthy of harsher criticism. The Pain Remits is modern-day vanilla metal, and while there’s an audience for it, the field is far too crowded for Slave Zero to make an impact as they are.
The upside is that The Pain Remits EP is in almost every respect a very professional-sounding album. Some degree of competence is to be expected from this band—this is their third release, despite their unsigned status—and they deliver here. The layout and packaging are slick and attractive, and the cover features one of the more immediately memorable pieces of album art I’ve seen in a while. The production, too, is impressive for a band with no label support; guitarists Eddie O’Malley and John Roche summon up a gritty, rumbling tone that might benefit from a little extra punch, but is otherwise spot-on. The drums are clear (if a little clicky) and the bass is shockingly audible, which is more than some big-name producers can manage at times (I’m looking at you, Steve Austin).
The downside is that…well, there really isn’t a whole lot more to say about this release. The music itself is virtually indistinguishable from much of All Out War’s late-nineties output, albeit with a more distinguishable death metal feel. It’s a style that relies almost entirely on churning out huge, savage grooves, and Slave Zero simply doesn’t have the knack for servin’em up in the appropriately memorable fashion. Once in a while they’ll hit home with a riff or two (“Relief”) or a trad-metal soaring lead, but other than that the music is entirely pedestrian. Graeme Flynn’s hardcore yell is far inferior to his less-often-employed scream, and Bob Ryan’s anemic drumming sucks the energy from much of Slave Zero’s music.
Good attempt, fun for the band to make no doubt, but not really worthy of your attention.
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