If “Jurassic Park” taught us anything (and it most definitely did!) it was that ‘life finds a way.’ As the calendar reached the close of 2013 I noted one odd quirk in that musical year – my year end accolades did not contain any album that impressed me with the sheer volume and ferocity of its power. It was a conspicuous absence, to me at least; always there had been a Cancer Bats or an Indestructible Noise Command to whet my appetite for sonic destruction.
Concurrently, I had publicly lamented my disappointment in the double album put forth by Five Finger Death Punch, which, in a perfect world, could have contended for the aforementioned position.
As the dawn of 2014 breaks over the horizon, I am pleasantly reminded that nature finds a way.
Pro-Pain has started my year off with a bang, “The Final Revolution” being an album that potentially satiates both of my needs from the previous year. It is power embodied, an album that sees a more mature Pro-Pain channel and measure their rage into definable, infectious chunks.
The maturity we spoke of above is a reference to the increased craft that is endemic to “The Final Revolution.” Sure, this is classic hardcore crossover stuff from New York as we’ve all come to define it, but there’s a polished veneer a couple inches beneath the superficial coating of grime. The attention paid to songwriting and cadence lends the record an appreciable rhythmic synergy – it’s an easy listen despite all the smashing and banging. One need not get farther than “Problem-Reaction-Solution” to hear the evidence of how far Pro-Pain has come.
The requisite heaviness and ferocity that one would expect from this genre, or from Pro-Pain more specifically, is intact and in great hands. The entire record, whether you’re at the beginning with “Deathwish”, the middle for “Can’t Stop the Pain” or the end with “Under the Gun”, brims with the kind of teeth-gnashing and righteous indignation that so wonderfully characterizes and more importantly, belongs, in this style of music.
Where the real difference is made is in the clarion melody of the guitar solos, a surprising touch of artistry that audibly separates Pro-Pain from the wandering flood of crossover hardcore bands. The sharp tones and well-placed notes that put an emphasis on playing in the pocket rather than blinding with speed or fury help to shape the pace of the entire album. Guitarist Adam Phillips should be commended for his effort, as his tuneful playing highlights songs like the title cut, continually giving the listen a reason to keep listening to each subsequent song.
The maturity and refinement that we’ve focused on thus far does not, however, extend to the lyrics or themes of the album. For all the development of the music, similar consideration was not spent on the album’s message, but that’s still okay. There’s a directness to what Pro-Pain is trying to say that is almost gleefully simple. No big words, no complex metaphors. Hell, no metaphors period. Generally, I think as music fans we look for a little more poetry from our favorite artists, but sometimes a straight ahead, no-frills freight train is good for the system. You don’t always want Isaac Asimov – sometimes you just want to relax and watch “Star Wars.” You know what I mean.
Of course, the only complication here is that the confluence of these factors as listed above ends up with an album that’s senseless to listen to for more than fifteen or twenty minutes at a time. Make no mistake, all of “The Final Revolution” is pretty good, but it’s also all pretty much the same formula throughout. Where Indestructible Noise Command varied their tempo and beat and tone in subtle ways for “Heaven Sent…Hellbound,” Pro-Pain instead gives us multiple cuts of the same thing. Even when the album ends, it’s almost shocking to the listener, because the last track is so similar in execution to the first that there’s not much to be said for a sense of the moment of a culmination of the journey.
But don’t let that minor imperfection dissuade you, though. Even if you divide the album into chunks as I suggested, the fifteen or twenty minutes you absorb at a time are excellent and highly worthwhile. In a genre choked with also-rans and bands who miss the point of rhythm and timing, Pro-Pain stands out as an accomplished veteran who is still virile and poignant in 2013. Make sure you spend some time with “The Final Revolution”.