Sound: Those who have followed Slapshock throughout their entire career surely would have noticed how as the years progress, so does the band's music. With their beginnings influenced by the sound of acts like Korn and Linkin Park, Slapshock gradually delved into heavier territory, eventually eschewing the rap-delivered tales of angst and aggression and groovy riffs that characterized their nu metal years. What replaced it was a more melodic and streamlined style of heavy music that's more akin to the sound of A Perfect Circle than Limp Bizkit. This musical evolution of the band manifests itself everytime they release a new album. 2009's "Cario Brutal" is certainly no exception.
Taking their musical evolution a few steps further, "Cario Brutal" finds the band straying further than ever from the label of alternative metal and beginning to embrace metalcore as their style of choice. More prominent double bass drumming, thrash-influenced riffing, mathematical licks, heavy breakdowns and melodic songwriting define Slapshock's new form; although beneath the layers of a more powerful sonic assault, traces of the band's sound during their "Novena" years are still audible. It is evident, however, that their progression into this new style is being taken slowly, as their new sound still lacks the twin guitar melodies and guitar solos which would certainly make this record sound much more interesting. // 8
Lyrics: While the band's musical development on this record is very impressive, they seem to have forgotten to tweak their lyricism to suit their heavier approach. Stories about confidence, angst, longing and loss, along with the music, would have made more cohesive songs had they been conveyed through better lyrics. The best lyrics are from the title track, which is also the only song whose lyrics are written in Filipino. It seems that the band had simply carried over their lyrical ideas from the past for this album, which was supposed to be a step towards the future. What gives this average lyricism a save is singer Jamir Garcia's vocal performance, which for the most part succeeds in expressing the emotion found in the lyrics through his aggressive and melodic delivery, along with the occasional addition of growls and screams which further emphasize either the aggressive or emotional side of the songs. // 6
Overall Impression: With "Cario Brutal", Slapshock unleash their heaviest and most technical offering to date. It serves as another testament of Slapshock's continual growth as heavy metal musicians, and while it may not be their best offering, its release shows how close they are to achieving it. With their US tour preceding the album's conception, it's convincing that this album took influence from present day American metal leaders such as Killswitch Engage, As I Lay Dying and even Lamb Of God, creating a heavier and more intense record as compared to their previous releases.
One thing about metal fans is that they're very open and enthusiastic to anything that's heavier than it already is. With Slapshock delivering just that, fans won't be disappointed. And seeing that the band has evolved more than ever with this record, it's more exciting than ever to see what they come up with next. // 8