Reviewed: March 2019
Released: 2019 – Hells Headbangers
Spearheaded by Matt Harvey (of Exhumed, Gruesome and Expulsion), Pounder is the result of three passionate musicians coming together to celebrate their love of classic rock and heavy metal.
Harvey takes on both guitar and vocals, and is joined by bassist Alejandro Corredor (Nausea L.A, Vallenfyre) and lead guitarist Tom Draper (relocated from England, having played in Carcass, Angel Witch and Crowning Glory).
Together they specialise in classic heavy metal tunes that draw from a plethora of NWOBHM influences, incorporating hints of early ’80s speed metal and a nod to AOR accessibility. Indeed, the press release accompanying Uncivilized emphasises this release as “unloading an arsenal of many-metalled majesty!”
As a nice touch, the video-nasty artwork confirms the band’s aesthetic as firmly tuned into everything pre-nineties. Of the music contained within, they describe it as “underlining in no uncertain terms just what’s so invigorating and life-affirming about the art of HEAVY METAL.”
It’s enough to build some solid anticipation, which makes it all the more satisfying when the belligerent crunch of Fuck Off And Die comes crashing in and sets the absolutely-no-fucks-will-be-given tone from which the record does not deviate.
The title track and the rampant speed metal of Red Hot Leather consolidates the band’s boisterous approach, and true to their intention, uses many of the established tricks from the heavy metal canon. Thrashier parts are offset by melodic flourishes and anthemic sing-a-longs.
Indeed, Pounder have borrowed from the greats to create a Frankenstein’s monster made up of bits of Judas Priest bolted together with parts of Motörhead and Iron Maiden. The result reminds this reviewer of the wave of bands that followed the initial NWOBHM movement and put an American sunset sheen on things – Think Twisted Sister if they had Philthy Animal Taylor on drums or Skid Row at their most muscular.
In fact, the latter comparison makes more sense when Pounder take things down a gear for songs like Long Time No Love or Answer The Call, both of which are tough power ballads that evoke a rugged vulnerability – the intro to the latter reminds me how it’s been a while since I listened to Ozzy’s Ultimate Sin album.
From a production point of view, Uncivilized lives up to its title. It maintains itself on the right side of what is appropriate for a rock and roll record. The clarity is enough that the skilled musicianship doesn’t get lost in the bruising arrangements, but there is a welcome emphasis on capturing the rude vitality of a live performance.
Matt Harvey’s voice is set quite low in the mix, but with enough of his whiskey soaked rasp present to ensure the triumphant heart of each song is present and correct.
Pounder’s strength is their wholehearted and genuine affection for the era of music to which they are paying tribute to – their enthusiasm is infectious.
If you are looking for something that offers a new sound or breaks new ground, this isn’t it. Uncivilized’s appeal sits squarely in the court of those who enjoy the old school riffs; but crucially, this isn’t a parody or novelty. It’s a celebration.
Uncivilised is the real deal.
A heavy metal record for people who like it heavy and like it metal.
Turn it up.