Sound: While the era of metalcore being flavor-of-the-month has passed quite some time ago, that certainly isn't stopping the bands that got to reap the rewards from that heyday from continuing to make the music they were making in the first place. And while it has been half a decade since popular groove metal/metalcore band Throwdown had released an album, they kick off 2014 with their new album "Intolerance," which, according to frontman Dave Peters, is intended to be a delight for the original Throwdown fans that may have been thrown off by the style that their previous album, "Deathless," brought to the table.
The first things to take note with the album is the length: this is the shortest studio album Throwdown has released – clocking in at about 28 minutes; with only two songs reaching the 3-minute mark, and with songs like "Fight or Die," "Borrowed Time," "Avow," "Hardened by Consequences," and "Cut Away," not even bothering with intros. At face value, this may make people believe the album to be a meager effort, but it in fact plays into the minimalist mentality of "less is more" – and that same mentality goes for the variance in sound. "Intolerance" doesn't waste time with the "bells and whistles" – it's a very stark album that gets right to the point with raw, hardcore metal: guitar-lines are heavy and simple rather than complex, the bass-lines stay in line with the guitars and don't travel on their own path, and the drum-lines are filled with plenty of crash cymbals. There are no "black sheep" songs on the album, and the differences between tracks are pretty nuanced. Songs like "Hardened by Consequences," "Without Weakness," and "Defend With Violence," have the most impressive drum-lines, which follow a thrash metal style with a lot of drum-fills and double-bass pedal rolls. "Hardened by Consequences" also has a short guitar solo that acts as a quick shot of melody into the bloodstream of heavy-chugging noise. Dave Peters' vocals in the verses of the song "Intolerance" border on death metal growling, but throughout the album, his voice is still the signature throaty metal style that can be heard on any Throwdown album. "Intolerance" also features a brief tease of a guitar solo, and if that leaves you feeling blue-balled, don't worry, because "Born & Buried Alone" will properly satisfy. While "Born & Buried Alive" has one of the slowest tempos on the album, it also has the most elegant guitar solo on the album. // 7
Lyrics: Much like how the sound aspect follows Throwdown's "tried and true" method, the same goes for Dave Peters' lyrics. The general theme of the lyrical content is very contentious, with equal parts angst and self-empowerment, which makes it a good album to listen to while rigorously working out (or playing video games, if you're not the physical activities type). Notable lines include "pain is not the enemy" in "Suffer, Conquer," "live without weakness/ die without fear or regret" at the end of "Without Weakness," "Liberate me, liberate me/ from my mortal enemy/ liberate me, liberate me/ liberate me from myself" in "Condemned to Live," and "hardened by consequence/ adversity has made me what I am" in "Hardened by Consequences." Songs like "Avow" and "Cut Away" are songs about the straight-edge lifestyle, which is sort of like being a monk; you know, if monks were allowed to get sleeve tattoos and mosh. Some song lyrics also have blunt post-modern commentary, with lyrics like "what the f--k has this world come to/ I just don't know" in "Fight or Die," and "just what we need, another victim of austerity's hand" in "Suffer, Conquer." // 5
Overall Impression: From the "glass half-empty" perspective, nothing new is being discovered or brought to the table in this album, but from the "glass half-full" perspective, this is good fuel that Throwdown brought to keep the fire of metalcore alive and burning. The homogeneity of the songs on the album seems to work in cooperation with the short length of the album, and instead of picking and choosing which songs you like and don't like from the album, it works better as a collective. "Twenty-eight minutes of 'no bullsh-t' metalcore" is the best way to sum up what the album offers. // 6
- Sam Mendez (c) 2014