I usually blow by the 'intro' on most metal albums, not expecting much let alone a real forecast of things to come. Yet, the Intro for Knoxville's Downslave's first full length work Cost of Freedom was intriguing and a promising beginning: some heavy thrash metal, part old and new school, with some searing fret work and a spirit of melody. This could be interesting, a sign of things to come, or not.
Unnamed and Cost of Freedom follow the auspicious beginning with more heavy metal, mostly an assesrtive combination thrash and speed metal, with a real sense of old school melody and groove. So far so good. I'm thinking a modern heavy metal version of Texas Hippie Coaltion. Brad Parker reminds of Big Dad Ritch without the versatility, but more screamo. Kudos to Scott Kirkland as he really soars on these tracks; it's good to hear strong guitar solos in modern metal.
But with Total Aggression, Downslave digresses and deteriorates in what can only be described as some bastard blend of the aforementioned with hardcore. Parker's whiskey gruff vocals turn to a nasty and irritating blend of hardcore and screamo. Coupled with the pervasive vulgarity, your mind and ears end up being sodomized for the next four songs. What is Parker (and Dowslave) so angry about? Beats me, but the root cause could be the simple bitterness and violence in their hearts.
These several songs seem to be big on riffage, harshness, and hardcore, but low on originality. I can't remember if our sterling guitarist even ripped off a solo; I wanted things to move along to the next song as quickly as possible. Returning to the previous reference, Downslave sounds like a hardcore metal version of THC, without their clever hooks and accessibility. As it stands, the belly of Cost of Freedom is good for head banging, fist pumping, and hard moshing, but not for intelligent thought or musical ingenuity.
Things take a moderate turn for the better beginning with Hated where, you have to wait for it, some groove returns and Kirkland shines. Like bookends to the beginning Test of Time and 1930 return to the magic you hear at the start. This is especially true of the closer 1930: less the harsh hardcore and more the aspiring, bold, intense modern thrash with a spirit of melody. While the large part of Cost of Freedom is devestatingly harsh and redundant modern hardcore mixed with metal, they get a better than average grade for the aforementioned brilliance.
While the large part of Downslave's Cost of Freedom is devestatingly harsh and redundant modern hardcore mixed with metal, they turn brilliant when they offer heavy traditional thrash with strong lead guitar and a spirit of melody.
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