Project Pain - Brothers In Blood - (7/10)
Published on January 13, 2018
Having previously heard nothing from these Dutch thrashers, I’m going in blind! Utrecht’s answer to Exodus, Project Pain, have already released two solid full-lengths independently – but with not much progression in their sound. Not that there needs to be – hell, AC/DC built an entire career around not changing. This is thrash metal done the old school way, loaded with shout-along chorus lines, razor riffing and breakneck speeds. Thankfully, Project Pain inject the necessary dynamic variety with occasional mid-paced grooves and even a blast-beat here and there. Let’s not forget the odd memorable chorus, to ensure newest album Brothers In Blood (a nod to Exodus perhaps?) at least leaves its mark, even if it’s not going to be a game-changer.
Considering this is the band’s third independent LP, the production quality is great – perfect actually – for a retro thrash act. Everything is clear, whilst maintaining that raw old-school vibe. I especially love the clattering drums which almost mask the guitar tone, but not quite. Kristof Mycka’s bass is always audible and almost reflects Bauke Goudbeek’s vocals with its similarly raspy timbre. Speaking of Goudbeek’s pipes; imagine Tom Angelripper circa 1996 but with none of the black metal influence, and you’ll have a pretty good picture. His Dutch-tinged barks are certainly suitable to the style, and the guy is surprisingly intelligible. He makes it difficult to resist raising your fist and yelling along with the chorus of “Eternal Flames”; but he’s most effective when rattling off lyrics at lightning speed, like the sharp burst of “Decay”.
Some of the riff work is strikingly pleasing. Kudos to Project Pain for knowing where their boundaries are; keeping the riffs mainly simple and letting the solo sections steal all the virtuosity. I was hooked instantly by the first thirty seconds of opener “Primator” and its irresistible chugging groove. Of course, no track settles into a medium tempo for long, which I often consider a shame as that would add yet more points of intrigue. Thankfully, there’s the multi-faceted “Final March” which alters between blasting ferocity and steady martiality, and the sprawling title-track which brings the hammer down in its mosh-hungry chorus. I can’t get enough of that one-note triplet rhythm! As entire tracks, the highlights are those that bring something a little different to the table, such as the interesting drum patterns and catchy hooks of “Regret Nothing”.
Structurally, this album is well put together. The brief interlude “Fueled By Fear” was a splendid idea, both preparing you for the onslaught of the final two tracks, and for being a lyrical precursor to following track “Driven By Hate”. Lyrically this is nothing special but, then again, does this sub-genre really need to be? Havok tried to be lyrically progressive last year and look how that worked out for them… In fact, closing anthem “I Don’t Give A Fuck” almost seems like a direct reaction to the Denver quartet’s conspiracy theorist attitude. Take the chorus for example: ‘Global warming? Deforestation? I don’t give a fuck.” Beautiful. Oh, and the way they choose to round off the entire album? Even more beautiful. I won’t spoil it.
If you’re looking for innovation in your old-school thrash, simply glance at Brothers In Blood’s Repka-esque album art and realize that you’re looking in the wrong place. Project Pain may not deliver anything unique, but it was exactly the solid slab of thrash metal that I needed to kick off my 2018.