Released: 2006, Magic Circle/SPV
Reviewer: Lord of the Wasteland
Chicago’s Bludgeon is clichéd metalcore, without question, however their sophomore release, WORLD CONTROLLED, is heavier and tighter than the other ten thousand metalcore albums vying for attention in today’s flooded market. What immediately stood out on the accompanying press sheet was the fact that Manowar bassist Joey DeMaio handled production (the album is the first to be released on DeMaio’s imprint, Magic Circle Music) and vocalist/guitarist Mark Duca wrote all but one of the eleven songs on WORLD CONTROLLED. The music is chock full of groove with thick, rumbling bass lines from Chris Studtmann and along with drummer Ryan Blazek, the two form a bruising rhythm section. Duca’s vocals are firmly rooted in the tough-guy hardcore esthetic and his throaty, venomous delivery is not unlike that of Hatebreed, Sworn Enemy or any other number of nonspecific hardcore shouters. Lyrically, you’ve heard it all before, though. There are no clean vocals or keyboards and this is not a band shooting for MTV airplay based on their looks and image. Instead, WORLD CONTROLLED is an exercise in punishment that is primed for moshpit mayhem, chaos and disorder. Just enjoy it for what it is and don’t look too closely.
“Unholy Murder” rips with crunchy guitars and thunderous drums but Ryan Blazek needs to lay off the double bass a bit. It literally does not stop from beginning to end and after 37 minutes, it’s like a jackhammer to the skull. Pantera’s influence rings through on the riffs of “Carnage Begins” and “Consumed,” which is like a revisiting of A VULGAR DISPLAY OF POWER fourteen years later. Bludgeon has cornered Pantera’s use of the thrash metal breakdown and “Refuse The Truth” and “Hunt Or Be Hunted” are prime examples, going from thrash-based riffs to a slowed-down section that kicks buckets of ass. Duca’s vocals are certainly the weakest part of Bludgeon’s sound. Generic in delivery and lacking any real fire, Duca comes off more as a poor-man’s Jamey Jasta than anything else. Also, the riffs of Duca and Carlos Alvarez never really get off the ground. Yes, they bludgeon (pardon the pun) but are completely forgettable without a single riff standing out from the rest. The final track, “Out of Reach,” is an abomination that embodies rapped/spoken hardcore vocals, simplistic riffs and plodding drums. Not the way to end an album.
WORLD CONTROLLED is not a bad album but in the crowded sea of metalcore, Bludgeon would be way down the food chain. European bands like Heaven Shall Burn, Neaera and Cataract seem to be the only truly bright, shining moments this year in metalcore and their respective releases trample WORLD CONTROLLED with ease. Don’t get sucked in by seeing Joey DeMaio’s name attached because this has all been done before by far more competent and engaging bands.
***The tracklisting on the back tray liner is out of order, as is the listing on the band’s graphically-spiffy website, which was different yet again, however, the booklet has the correct order. Not the band’s fault but a pretty critical oversight for reviewing purposes, nonetheless.
KILLER KUTS: “Unholy Murder,” “Carnage Begins,” “Consumed,” “World Controlled,” “Hunt Or Be Hunted”