Wednesday, November 14, 2012

Bloodbound - In the Name of Metal

If neanderthals dug hair metal

Now, I'm fairly new to Bloodbound.  I was introduced to them last year via Unholy Cross because I was told they were superior to Powerwolf (which turned out to be a preposterous lie), and frankly the album just never struck me.  It wasn't bad, but mid paced, hard rockish power metal doesn't usually do much for me.  Arthemis is okay I guess but give me late era Edguy and watch me change the music to a far better band in record time.  I'll admit that "Moria" is a cool, catchy song, but after the next track or two I just always lost interest.  Unholy Cross did absolutely nothing for me, and so I had intended to just add Bloodbound to the list of okay bands that just aren't for me.

And then I saw the album art for In the Name of Metal.  Jesus Chrystler Town & Country, that is a sight to behold.  Just look at that scene.  Zombie vampire creature (apparently Nosferatu if you're to believe the graffiti behind him) with a spiked mohawk made out of what appear to be baby narwhal horns, giant hoop earrings, studded denim jacket, bullet belt, a shirt with his own face on it and a gigantic, steel plated ghetto blaster.  That is just... too much.  It's so perfectly bad, I can barely put to words how brilliantly fucking stupid the whole thing is.  It hits that sweet spot in the bell curve where it's so unabashedly silly and dumb where it becomes something awesome.  It's like Army of Darkness, or The Room if you're super drunk.  I mean, just look at the graffiti on the wall behind our mascot.  "Show me the horns!" "Metalheads!"  It's so retarded and full of itself that I just can't help but smile at it and embrace the silliness of the whole thing.  If Unholy Cross was decent but uninteresting, then the worst case scenario for In the Name of Metal was that it would at the very least be an interesting train wreck.

Thankfully, the music follows the spirit of the cover art perfectly.  I'll be the first to admit that I haven't heard a single track off of Tabula Rasa, but from what I've read and been able to gather, I can say with utmost certainty that In the Name of Metal is the exact opposite of what that album contained.  Nothing here took more than a few minutes of forethought, it's a collection big and stupid chest beating anthems.  The trad metal equivalent to Jungle Rot, if you will.  The songs here fall under one of two lyrical themes, either corny old horror movie monsters or puffing out your peacock feathers and holding your head up high with your metal brothers.  The flip flopping between Lordi and Manowar is fairly seamless, as the songs themselves all follow a pretty traditional flow of simple, head banging, fist pumping heavy/power metal singalongs with huge choruses.  Imagine a dorky mix of Hammerfall, Firewind, Dream Evil, Powerwolf, Lordi, and Edguy, that's the level of silliness and pomp you'll be dealing with, and there's no denying that it's a fucking bargeful of fun.

Now with all of that said, In the Name of Metal is far from perfect.  The second half of the album really tends to blur together with their midpaced singalongs all sounding fairly similar to one another.  "Bounded by Blood" is pretty much the only song after the fifth or sixth track that's managed to stick in my mind, but despite how similar all of the songs are to one another they do still manage to be fun while they're on.  That's the real problem with this album, it lacks that intangible that Powerwolf holds so firmly, that swagger that makes me want to return frequently.  I could probably fart the melodies to "Phantom of the Funeral" or "St. Satan's Day" at this point, so it's pretty safe to say that they're the standards to which I'll be holding most bands of the style for a while.  But even though Bloodbound here isn't quite as huge and doesn't pack quite as much heat in their trousers as their German counterparts, they still carry all of the same qualities apart from the indescribable intangibles, just not as strongly.  The drum production is particularly beefy, and the fact that they rarely pick up to double bass speeds keeps them steadily thick and powerful without being overdone.  Don't get me wrong, the guy is by default better than Phil Rudd or Lars Ulrich or something, but he tends to keep it on basic hard rock beats and basic power metal beats, just never very high speed.  Think of Hammerfall.

I'm honestly being a bit facetious in constantly comparing Bloodbound to Powerwolf, when in reality this album has a lot more in common with the works of their Scandinavian neighbors in Lordi.  Lordi for the most part writes boring, cliche, and not particularly interesting songs.  But one thing the band does fucking magnificently is craft choruses.  Man if you can seriously resist singing along to "Blood Red Sandman" or "Bringing Back the Balls to Rock" or "Hard Rock Hallelujah" or pretty much any single the band has ever released, you are officially dead inside.  That is also where Bloodbound succeeds the strongest, these choruses, even on the more boring songs like "Mr. Darkness" or "King of Fallen Grace" are at the top of their class.  The choicest cuts are probably the title track, the rerecording of "Book of the Dead", or "Metalheads Unite" ("SAY M-E-T-A-L FOOOOR ME-TAAAAAL").  The title track holds the distinction of being the song with some of the most juvenile lyrics I've heard in ages ("We'll kick your ass like a pussy bitch!"), and I absolutely have to point out that "Son of Babylon" has the exact fucking same chorus as "You Give Love a Bad Name" by Bon Jovi.  This amazingly makes it more awesome somehow, because it helped it stand out the first time I listened to the album, which kept me coming back for more and eventually led to me eventually really enjoying this album, when at first I had found it as faceless as its predecessor.

And really, that's what makes In the Name of Metal a flawed gem.  On the whole, there are maybe four songs I can see myself coming back to frequently ("In the Name of Metal", "Metalheads Unite", "Son of Babylon", and "Bounded by Blood"), but whenever I put it on I find myself enjoying the full album.  It's silly and overblown and stupid but that's what makes it fun, despite the technical flaws.  Definitely a fun album, much closer to my beloved Powerwolf than Unholy Cross was, and mix that with equal parts Lordi and Hammerfall and you've got a pretty good idea of what you're getting yourself into.  I can gather that this is a lot less serious and thought out than some of the band's previous works, so established fans may want to be wary, but if you like dumb, heavy metal/hard rock anthems with a power metal bent, then get on this.

RATING - 79%

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