Released: 2006, Lifeforce Records
Reviewer: Lord of the Wasteland
With a new label (Lifeforce Records) and a new vocalist (Kasper Thomsen split days before 2004’s CONFUSION BAY was released), Denmark’s Raunchy once again bring their “futuristic hybrid metal” to fruition on DEATH POP ROMANCE. Not much has changed in the two years since CONFUSION BAY was released and the NATURAL BORN CHAOS-era Soilwork influence is as strong as ever. Unfortunately, a certain degree of patterned sameness is found in most of the songs here and it almost seems as if the band approached writing the album by using a “How To” template. With little differences between them, one song tends to bleed into the next creating one, long, interchangeable—albeit melodic—song. That aside, the songs are awash in studio-generated bells and whistles and slick production, chugging riffs are around every corner and the band can write a hell of a hook-filled melody making DEATH POP ROMANCE one of the most listenable albums I have heard in awhile.
“Abandon Your Hope” and “Phantoms” could have been lifted from any of the last three Soilwork releases, with Kasper Thomsen’s harsh vocals in the verses intermingling with lush, clean vocals in the chorus and a backbone of keyboard-infused trickery provided by Jeppe Christensen. On “Phantoms,” especially, the thick riffs of Lars Christensen and Jesper Tilsted complement the machine-gun drumming of former Hatesphere skinsman, Morten Toft Hansen, creating a really full-bodied sound. Thomsen harmonizes well with Jeppe Christensen on “The Curse of Bravery” and this vocal dynamic is everywhere on this CD. Some stuttering riffs on “Remembrance” really stand out and its follow-up, “Live The Myth,” is perhaps the song that best embodies Raunchy’s sound. The track is speedy and heavy, breaks for a melodious chorus and is peppered with plenty of meaty riffs to getinside your head.
The chance of seeing Raunchy on these shores is pretty slim, so I can only speculate, but I trust one should enjoy DEATH POP ROMANCE for what it is—a slick helping of European modern melodic metal—because there may be less behind the spit-and-polish than what initially appears. After seeing fellow Danes, Mnemic, a band with much in common with Raunchy, in concert last year, I was disappointed that their studio recordings were vastly superior to how the band sounded live and I trust the same can be said of Raunchy. Fear Factory, Mercenary, Strapping Young Lad and bands whose studio wizardry and reliance on samples and keyboards is difficult to translate on stage. The songs are certainly more organic-sounding but they also lose much of the pizzazz that makes them so appealing in the first place. The familiarity found from song to song on DEATH POP ROMANCE borders on the generic and while infectious melodies and catchy songwriting will draw a listener’s ear, there has to be some substance to keep them there and Raunchy still has yet to add that crucial element to its music.
KILLER KUTS: “Abandon Your Hope,” “Phantoms,” “Remembrance”