18 March 2016

Drowning Pool - Hellelujah

Eddie asked me for this review with the caveat that I would maybe only listen to it once before I was sure of my opinion. This did not bode well, so I lowered my expectations in preparation. Having given it a couple of play through's, well, read on...

The first track, Push, kicks into a heavy mash of drums, guitar riffs and shouting(!), though it does hit it's stride after a short while. The song itself isn't bad, hard pushed lyrics followed by a lighter chorus, just it sounds like it's trying too hard, especially the meaning of the song, with, for me, too much reliance on swearing for the hell of it, rather than adding meaning to the song.

By The Blood starts in a more low key manner, good guitar work that seems like it's been cribbed from Linkin Park circa 2005. It's less shouty and loud than Push to begin with, the chorus ramping it up, but I still can't shake the LP vibe. Sorry guys.

Drop begins with a more electronic sound, leading to a more traditional faster paced track with punchy lyrics and drum work, and it feels like the album is beginning to hit it's stride. This track displays more fun than the previous two and I found myself nodding along to it on the bus, so that, for me, is a good sign.

Hell to Pay brings back the bass guitar beat, slowing things down a bit and (apologies for the comparison), sounds like a Puddle of Mudd release from ten years ago. Still, it's a good song, showing more restraint as the album progresses. I like it though, especially the simple but effective changes between verse and chorus.

We Are the Devil begins with a phonograph recording of a country folk song before bringing us back to the twenty first century with a simple but effective track that works in the title lyric to the chorus. It doesn't feel original but the chanting of "We are the Devil" works and, overall, it isn't that bad a song.

Snake Charmer kicks in with some nice guitar work, setting up the rhythm nicely before the lyrics enter stage right and batter your head in. This track is probably too loud and the lyrics too repetitive for their own good. I see what they are trying to do, but a bit more subtlety wouldn't go amiss. Yeah, I know, it's not country and western music, but still, sometimes less is more.

My Own Way is a catchy track, fun and punchy, more rocky than previous tracks, but what lets it down is the lyrics, it's playing on cliché's but doesn't quite have a voice of it's own to carry it. For me, it didn't quite gel but one of the more enjoyable songs of the album.

Goddamn Vultures brings us back to the heavy drum/guitar beat, one I quite like, though the intro does drag on a bit. The song itself is quite good, but again, there is a sense that it's a bit too heavy and the performances are a bit too serious. Don't get me wrong, po-faced rears it's head in many an album, but this track would have benefited by being a little on the less serious side.

Another Name starts really well for me, single electric guitar with an acoustic in support. The song is slow to begin with, reminding me a bit of an Opeth track, though the lyrics don't (which is a good thing). This could almost be a metal western song (and that's a mis-matched genre that someone needs to fill!) It's going so well until the lyrics bring in La-la-la-la as a filler. Hmmm, it was going so well, but then it recovers by heading into Smashing Pumpkin territory for a few seconds, then we return to the metal western vibe. On the whole, my second favourite track.

Sympathy Depleted is another lower key track, but seems to re-use the lyrics from My Own Way, before nudging things up gear into traditional metal themes. It gets quite jaunty and it's one of the more fun tracks.

Stomping Ground leads us back to loud, head banging land that grabs you and doesn't let go for the whole track. Not original by any means but it does what it says on the tin. The singing is more shouty than it needs to be though, and it never relents. The guitar work gives a nice break from that roughly two thirds of the way through.

Meet The Bullet starts with a controversial take on a nursery rhyme (if you're crazy and you know it, shoot yourself) before heading to repetitive lyrics about meeting a bullet half way. The style isn't bad, the lyrics, for me, didn't do it. To be honest, I don't like where the song is going. I know it's not the message the band want to put across, but the execution (sorry!) leaves it lacking.

All Saints Day, the final track of the album, goes straight for the head, loud, strident and unforgiving. It's not original, though it's quite fun, but doesn't really suit final track status of an album. It's catchy and get's your head going, but you kind of expect something else after it.

Having lowered expectations, I was a tad surprised at how many of the tracks I liked in the album. True, there are faults, namely the production (some tracks are way too loud), the shouty singing when it might be better for a sliver of softness, and "Meet The Bullet". There are some good tracks here, but the overall package is lacking.

So, overall score...

5. It could have been a bit better...

You can visit Drowning Pool's website here

You can follow them here on their Facebook page here

You can purchase their album on iTunes here

You can purchase their albums on Amazon here

You can also listen to the album on Deezer here

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