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Wednesday, October 3, 2012

Album Review: Axewound – Vultures

The trouble with supergroups is that they don’t tend to last and their shows and material only appear when their multitudinous commitments allow for it. Throw in the point that there is a tendency for their work to be seen as something of a gimmick, or the fact that their sessions together might well receive less than each band member’s full attention, and it’s a wonder how any supergroup ever makes it past the conceptual stage. Just imagine the scheduling nightmare that bands like , or must have – getting their shit in order must drive them nuts!

Of course, as consumers, there’s little that compares to the buzz that accompanies the announcement of a new supergroup. Imaginations can run wild at the potential of “this vocal” with “that bass” combined with “those guitars”. Such was the thrill when were first announced to the public. The concept was always going to live or die on just how well its constituent parts would gel. Throwing ’ Liam Cormier’s screaming punk vocal at ’s Matt Tuck and ’s Mike Kingswood and their carefully-placed shreds and smooth guitar tones was a big risk. Add bassist Joe Copcutt and drummer Jason Bowld into the package and you get a lot of eager faces banging at the venue gates and, with debut album Vultures, music shop doors and online windows.

I got a sneak peak at them back in June when they hit the UK’s Download Festival. My expectations for just where this particular collaboration was headed panned out pretty well. They gave us petulant, direct metalcore peppered with cleans and screams all underpinned by hefty double-kick and scattergun fills. The surprise for me with the album, if there was to be any, is the nature of the emotive crooning they decided to actually throw out there. Back then, wedged into a vast tent filled with thousands of people, it didn’t seem so obvious but here, with what is an obscene level of production slapped on it, it sticks out a mile. “Cold”, ugly and unyielding at every turn, and the somber orchestral ballad “Collide” are great examples of songs where the lead and backing vocals work against each other (the line “When these two worlds collide / There’s nothing left to hide” seems particularly apt), and “Post Apocalyptic Party” and “Church Of Nothing” highlight just how easy it is for the slick riffs, chord holds, slimy guitar tones and blasé song construction to suck the fervour out of these songs.

On the flip side, the title-track (featuring an unseemly, tacked-on Synyster Gates’ solo) and the thrashing “Victim Of The System” peel back the varnish and simply rip it. Head-banging, air-guitaring fury from beginning to end. Cormier nails it as the backing vocal stays suppressed to allow him to remain unsweetened. Tracks like this and the hammering drums and skidding strings of the -esque “Destroy” prove this band could conceivably have a future if they keep away from descending into the more predictable metalcore formulas.

Essentially, with the two main protagonists, Cormier and Tuck, pressing hardest of all, Vultures (not to be confused with ’s 2012 debut City Of Vultures) is more likely to appeal to the posse than fans. If you like disco rhythms to accompany your breakdowns, you’ll probably eat this for breakfast. For anyone who fancies something a little more visceral, slightly anti-establishment and with a handsome degree of integrity (all of which Tuck promised would be), view this as a project that Tuck needs to “man up or shut up” for or that Cormier needs to ditch in a hurry.

Also online @ The NewReview = http://thenewreview.net/reviews/axewound-vultures
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