Released: 2008, Metal Blade Records
Reviewer: Lord of the Wasteland
I was pretty disappointed when I found out Ché Snelting, vocalist of the Dutch metallic hardcore powerhouse, Born From Pain, had left the band for the ubiquitous “personal reasons” last year. In Snelting, the band had one of the best throats and styles in the genre and after ten years fronting them, it was clear Born From Pain had a hard road ahead of them. When 2004’s SANDS OF TIME first crossed my desk, I was really impressed with what I heard—old school metallic hardcore in the vein of Madball, Pro-Pain and Sick of It All. The band’s next two albums—2005’s IN LOVE WITH THE END and 2006’s WAR—left an indelible mark, as well, so with Snelting out of the picture, I went into Born From Pain’s latest album, SURVIVAL, more than a little skeptical. Replacing Snelting is Rob Franssen, the band’s long-time bassist, and while he sports a formidable bark that has every right to be calling out the vitriolic message of Born From Pain, Franssen simply is unable to step out of Snelting’s shadow. Where Snelting had a nail-spitting coarseness to his voice, Franssen’s delivery is much clearer and certainly better enunciated, which may appeal to some. Musically, SURVIVAL is more of the same from Born From Pain, delivering all the fist-smashing breakdowns, crunchy guitars and socio-political lyrics the band has come to be known for but there is clearly a piece missing and that is Snelting.
Thanks to the production of Tue Madsen (Aborted, Cataract, Hatesphere), the guitars of Karl Fieldhouse and Dominick Stammen sound tight and provide plenty of bone-jarring heft on tracks like “Sound of Survival,” Zero Hour” and the very Hatebreed-like “Never Die.” “Sons of A Dying World” features a melodic riff and a catchy, anthemic chorus that will surely be shouted at top volume during the band’s live set. Like their European counterparts Neaera, Born From Pain has always brought a global rather than an individual mindset to its lyrics and “Final Collapse” is no exception. Utilizing sound bytes from the conspiracy theory-ridden film ENDGAME, the band touches on population control tactics (ie. genocide) used by the world’s governments and it is certainly eye-opening to hear of outgoing U.S. Vice President Dick Cheney’s approval of race-specific bio-weapons as “politically useful.” But even without its in-your-face political agenda, “Final Collapse” remains, most importantly, a well-written song that showcases the finer points of Franssen’s vocals. Even though they are sequenced late in the record, “The Hydra” and “Endgame” propel the listener right into Born From Pain’s web of spine-crushing, straight-forward metallic hardcore. While the latter is engrossing thrash that is sure to light up circle pits the world over, the former boasts beefy grooves, aggressive vocals and a bruising drum performance from new skinsman Roy Moonen that packs plenty of punch in under three minutes.
SURVIVAL is a good record and certainly an excellent entry into Born From Pain’s five-album-deep catalogue. Maybe Rob Franssen requires one album as a sort of “palate cleanser” for fans who need to rid themselves of the memories of Che Snelting. The rest of the band holds up well but it seems Franssen needs some time to grow into the shoes of a vocalist because he just doesn’t evoke the ferocity needed to sell metallic hardcore. Scott Vogel, Roger Miret, Lou Koller, Freddy Cricien, Ché Snelting…these guys have "it." Not to pick too heavily on Franssen but there will definitely be some growing pains for fans going into SURVIVAL that they need to be aware of.
KILLER KUTS: “Sound of Survival,” “Sons of A Dying World,” “Never Die,” “Zeitgeist,” “The Hydra,” “Zero Hour”