Throwdown - Venom and Tears
Record Label: Trustkill Records
Release Date: August 7, 2007
Relax – I’m not going to try and convince you that recreating the steel is some kind of artful craft. There was one Pantera once, and that’s really all there ever needed to be. But did those metal masters not promise to “cast a shadow” when they kicked the bucket? I’ll cut to the chase: Seemingly raised on a healthy diet of equal parts Trendkill and Billy Blanks workout tapes, Throwdown have mastered manipulation of that fair line between kill and overkill.
The riff is getting reborn all over the place, from the dissonant pseudo-blues hooks of Every Time I Die to the disgustingly rehashed Avenged Sevenfold version of 80’s metal, and so it’s pretty easy to come off damn cheesy at this point in metal by building a house on squealing artificial harmonics and bending licks. That is, unless you’re actually delivering an ass kicking, instead of emulating the asskickings of those who have come before you. See, Throwdown may not have invented their style of uber-straightforward heavy metal, but Venom and Tears plays like the metal manifesto for 2008 because it’s so well executed. This isn’t Pantera-via-Coalesce-via-Every Time I Die-via-whatever. Throwdown cut out the middle man so that the only thing between you and the rock is your ear plugs.
A lot of the credit there can be given to guitarist Mark Choiniere, since a bludgeoning of this magnitude could never have been laid to tape without him. But the main factor that sets Throwdown apart from every other interchangeable angry muscle band of our day is the vocals. “Singer” Dave Peters sounds even more Anselmo than Phil Anselmo does these days, especially on the whispered verse of the album closer “Godspeed” or the outraged verse ranting of “Hellbent (for War).”
Again, the album works so well because of the way it’s put together. It just flows. Even the semi-breakdown in “S.C.U.M.” didn’t piss me off like breakdowns usually do, because it’s not forced. Metal’s a tough beast to master because it has to roam free: restricting metal to the confines of verse-chorus-breakdown over and over again makes it more formulaic and pointless than any pop song. There’s no chaos there – it’s all a cash-in. Do not be duped!
On the other hand I was pretty put off by the album artwork, which is basically a bunch of pictures of a chick with a snake on her body. I always found it annoying when groups like Atreyu or Hinder (shutter and shutter) would put a naked girl on their album to see if it boosted sales; it just seems like the most stunted 1980’s train of thought ever. I’m not exaggerating when I say that I would have just completely overlooked this album in stores, mentally associating it with wuss-rock acts like the aforementioned bands, had I not heard a track or two from a friend prior. I guess it’s true when they say never to judge an album by its cover…but still, I feel it’s fair to judge a band by its clichés.
Plus, I mean, their name is “Throwdown.” Unless you are “Hatebreed,” you can’t really be less imaginative in the title department. But the scene of moshcore or hatemosh or chubby-facial-haircore should have absolutely no problem punching somebody in the face to this soundtrack, and besides, I can’t stress enough how appreciative I am of metalcore bands that actually do something on guitar!