AVENGED Sevenfold and Five Finger Death Punch have a lot to answer for. Damn them for encouraging new metal fans to pick up instruments and forming bands. Or should they really be cursed by all the metal gods?
On one level more traditional (i.e. older) fans slate them; but on another level they could be seen as a 'gateway drug' to the purer metaaaal.
All these thoughts crashed into each other as we sat down with The Charm The Fury's new release, the catchily titled 'The Sick, Dumb & Happy'.
And, at first listen we recoiled a little, but being diligent (or foolhardy) we decided to give it a few more spins, leading to much stroking of the beard, sidelong glances at those being forced to listen.
It was more rewarding than we could have contemplated. True, the whiff of A7X and FFDP, as well as a bit of metalcore surrounds some of the tracks, but overall this is a nice slab modernity in metal terms, without forgetting the roots of the genre.
Caroline Westendorp provides a strong vocal anchor throughout, but she manages to vary her style from growls to clean. Don't let the opener, and lead single fool you, as while 'Down On The Ropes' is a straightforward banger she has many strings to her bow.
By the time the second track, 'Echoes', appears the cleaner singing appears. Similarly 'Silent War' has sweet singing. They never, however, lose the grunt. That's where the slight tang of metalcore comes in but it is not enough to taint 'The Sic, Dumb & Happy'.
Indeed what the Dutch band has achieved is a contemporary metal album that has flaws, such as the short instrumental 'Corner Office Maniacs' but what could have been a release that wavers overall the socially aware lyrics and some nice guitar muscle elevates it from potential mediocrity.
Review by Jonathan Traynor
The Sick Dumb & Happy is available from the Nuclear Blast imprint Arising Empire from 17th March