So, you may be wondering where I come into it? Nikki has a brilliant mind and is a very smart dude when it comes to the music industry, but review writing isn’t something he does a great deal of, and so he asked me for my opinion on his review, because he felt he may have been a bit too harsh, or, blunt? You’re probably thinking, then why the fuck did he ask me of all people? Good question, but I read it over, and it was a very well put together, professionally critical piece of reviewing, that had no issues with its content whatsoever.
He was worrying about nothing essentially. I always say if you genuinely think something, commit it to pen, no point in watering down integrity. This is where I then said, casually, it could have been worse, I could have reviewed it! We laughed, then it dawned on me that, I have a blog of my own, which brings us to the here and now. So, with that being said; if Nikki thought HE was being harsh, well, someone hold my beer damnit. New question; will this Raze to the occasion and impress me, or is this pyro going to go up like the Grenfell Tower; a poorly planned tragedy? Let’s find out...
We open with “Maple”, but don’t expect bacon and pancakes, this ain’t no breakfast of champions. We get a deep, brooding guitar led opening with light cymbal's littering the background, before a more surging dose of melodic metal sweeps through, and it’s promising. The clean vocals have a very delicate baritone, before Louis Dunham takes off with a soaring chorus section. The ALTER BRIDGE and TREMONTI influences plain to see, and it's going well...before the growling. As it happens, the band threw LAMB OF GOD down as an influence too, so naturally the best thing to do is combine everything, and squeal like a rabid pig over parts of a generally decent song, ruining the ever-loving fuck out of it. It doesn’t fit, it does neither the track or Louis any favours, and is delivered with about as much grace as a coat hanger abortion.
Follow up track “Better Off Alone” starts off harnessing more of a core heavy metal style, channelling further influences like MACHINE HEAD, but it also has an air of PANTERA to it in places. The heavier, guttural vocals do feel more at home here, as the instrumentation is more befitting of such a brutal approach; it isn’t jarring in any way, and the cleaner notes compliment the growls much better here. An admittedly sluggish, plodding riff carries the bulk of the track, and the guitar solo is sadly lost in a barrage of audible throat cancer, while drummer Ethan Morter smashes his plates like a bull in a China shop. Way overlayered here and it’s another potential highlight spoiled.
Next up we have their most recent single “Roachman”, and this could be considered an album highlight. When they focus on clean melody, and incorporate their Southern-tinged hard rock, they actually have something decent going, as individually it is clear they are all incredibly competent performers and musicians, all of the potential is there, but there seems to be this need for everyone to be in the limelight, and these tracks at some point or another feel clustered and congested. Again, guttural vocals not necessary here, bringing the track down, and this one simply feels like two different tracks trying to work at once. Oh, and we HAVE to mention the video. Part live performance footage from their local town hall with all eleventeen people in attendance, part stop-motion claymation footage. Remember when CKY had that video for “Inhuman Creation Station” that was all stop-motion, that Bam directed? Yeah, this isn’t that. This is more like, Morph from “SMart”, but Mark Speight sculpted him AFTER he hung himself...
The rest of the album finds itself in a bit of a pattern creatively. “C. Exigua” contains some quality guitar work and a pleasant solo, while “...Again” takes things too far, over-delivering on the fret-wankery, almost trying too hard. “Mellow Breeze” utilises some more crooned vocals for a slight change of pace but it’s quite anti-climactic, while “W.B.C.” again is very heavily layered in production. There is a lot going on here and we find another track blended in a messy, convoluted headache. Closing track “Blue Sky Vengeance” does have some enjoyable, funky bass lines that stand out because you can actually hear them here, but that’s about it for that.
As stated, as musicians, these lads can very obviously play, and they are more than technically proficient. Yes, it’s their debut album, yes, they want all the bells and whistles and yes, they have the potential to deliver some genuinely strong material in the probably near future, but they need to rein it in a little and understand less can be more. A lot of the time they don’t allow each other room to breathe, and the result is an often time needlessly noisy album. “Pyrography” sounds like a combination of pyromania and pornography...which I guess they think is hot by some means of a burning passion? It’s more like gonorrhea if you ask me; treatable but best not to have it in the first place...