"This doesn't even sound like the same band that recorded 'Unbroken'", I thought to myself while listening to A PERFECT MURDER's "Strength through Vengeance". Well, that's because it's almost not the same band; three-fifths of the unit turned over in 2004, leaving only guitarist Carl Bouchard and drummer Yan Chausse to find new parts for re-assembly. In a nutshell, the Canadian quintet went from playing metallic hardcore to thrashed up metal that's got a lot in common with the PANTERA sound (sans the Dimebag shred factor), especially new vocalist and non-Canadian (Nashville, Tennessee) Kevin Randel. Christ, Randel even does those Phil Anselmo low-tone spoken word croaks! I suppose I shouldn't beat 'em up over it though, as somewhere around 25,000 vocalists in Swedish-inspired (or just plain Swedish) melodic death metal bands mimic the style of Tomas Lindberg. Besides, Randel performs the style with aplomb.
So what about the tunes? There are some competent rippers, such as the title track and "Black Hate Machine". There is also a song called "Snake Eyes" that wouldn't have been out of place on "Reinventing the Steel" (think in general terms about the main riff from "Revolution is my Name"). While we're comparing, I might add that the guitar solos remind me of Kirk Hammett (circa the self-titled METALLICA album). Setting aside an unnecessary and unmoving instrumental, "Time Changes Nothing", everything else is pretty average fare. It's heavy-ass metal with a good sound (thanks to producer, co-arranger, and rhythm guitarist on the album, Pierre Remillard) that I want to like more than I actually do. It certainly doesn't suck, but it doesn't leave much of a lasting impression either.
"Unbroken" may not have been the most original metalcore release of 2004, but it comes off better than "Strength through Vengeance". The songwriting is superior and the band sounds more confident. Oh, well. I'll still check out A PERFECT MURDER when they come around on the SOILENT GREEN tour.