The opinions on this band are pretty much split. People either love or hate them. I’ve seen them live, and they are a great live band. That said, this album is lacking, like the other two.
We get it, you love Metallica. Even though the previous album had too much core to be good for it, at least they combined core and thrash riffing/soloing, which was an interesting combo. Here, though, they’re trying to bring back Bay Area Thrash and totally lose the core, but they don’t manage either. Most of the time Heafy sounds like a cheap Hetfield imitation, and the rest of the time he’s utterly forgettable. It’s great that he’s stopped the outright core singing, but he can’t quite get over it. A lot of the choruses would fit on Ascendancy. The solos are good and more fitting than on Ascendancy but too short (I think another reviewer mentioned that). A lot of the riffs are thrashy and bring to mind Bay Area, but they’re not distinctive enough. I listened to this album at least five times, and I honestly can’t remember any one riff to distinguish the songs. The lyrics are pretty godawful most of the time, but there are plenty of bands that have idiotic lyrics but still incredible albums (Priest comes to mind). The drumming in the previous album was one of the better parts: on here, it’s pretty generic and forgettable. In the tradition of Ascendancy, there’s one terrible song on here (This World Can’t Tear Us Apart) that seems designed for radio play. The rest are nice to listen to, at least the instrumentation, but aren’t memorable and don’t expand any musical territory at all.
Speaking of instrumentation: the last track. There are plenty of bands that could pull of instrumental tracks if they tried. Some of the songs on Ascendancy would’ve been better without vocals. This one, though, doesn’t work. It’s just a riff collection. There are plenty of nice riffs, but they don’t flow together at all. This is a great example of how not to do a great instrumental. For opposite examples, see Upcoming Devastation by Destruction, Inquisition Symphony by Sepultura, Call of Ktulu by Metallica, Cosmic Sea by Death (a little more experimental but still illustrates the point), etc. These are how instrumentals should sound – coherent songs that develop ideas they present, just lacking vocals.
I spent a lot of time talking about what’s wrong with this album. Even so, there’s more good than bad here. Even if the band isn’t doing anything new, it’s nice that they’re bringing back some of the Bay Area sound. If nothing else, kids that hear this may check out classic Metallica, Megadeth, Exodus, Overkill, etc, and it will have done some good. It definitely doesn’t deserve all the hype from magazines and such, and these guys aren’t the saviors of metal. It’s a fun album to listen to, but lacks anything to really set it apart.