Artist :: Nodes of Ranvier
Album :: Defined by Struggle
Label :: Victory
Play this cut first :: Purpose in Pain (video below)
In a word :: Ready for the big time.
I’ve loosely followed Nodes of Ranvier during the last few years as they have been carving a name for themselves in the growing genre the kids call New Wave of American Heavy Metal (NWOAHM). Like most up-and-comers in that genre, however, they have been defined by blinding fast double-kick triplet riffing, machine gun snares, and gutteral vocals that lose impact by song three … but with a few flashes of absolute brilliance tossed in to keep things interesting. Still, I’ve long had faith in Victory Records to pick up established bands and the right time. With the support Victory could give to Nodes of Ranvier, I was hoping Defined by Struggle would be the album that helped separate these guys from a too-crowded pack.
And it is.
Everything about this album kicks my ass. This is the potential shown in previous efforts brought to a head. The arrangements show a greater sense of balance. The machine gun riffage is still there, but it is tempered by half-time breakdowns, guitar melodies, and razor sharp stops. This level of maturity heightens the impact of everything. The fast parts are faster when juxtaposed against the slower parts. The same goes for the interplay between loud and quiet.
A pleasant surprise on Defined by Struggle is the instrumental, “Nagheenanajar”. Too often guys in this genre rely on bludgeoning listeners with riff after riff. This cut goes through some excellent transitions and really showcases how tight Nodes of Ranvier has become. They got ambitious and totally pulled it off.
The one thing I don’t get, however, is that vocalist, Kyle Benecke can actually sing. I’m not taking American Idol or anything, but the guy could hold is own against the likes of Papa Roach or Finger Eleven. But he rarely sings on the album. It’s a bit of a tease. I’m not looking to be serenaded, but damn, the guy’s got more talent than he’s using. I guess the upside is that, as good – scratch that – as great as Defined by Struggle is, they still have more sonic territory to explore. And that’s a good thing.
Best cuts on the album are :: “Purpose in Pain”, “Sergeant Sorrow”, and “Archegos”
The Bottom Line :: Defined by Struggle sets the bar high, bringing together punks and metalheads for headbanging, fist pumping, scream along fun.