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Pushmen

The Sun Will Rise Soon on the False and the Fair

(The End; US: 30 Apr 2013; UK: 30 Apr 2013)

Fake aggro and tired posturing? Here you go

The Sun Will Rise Soon on the False and the Fair is a pretty ballsy, Fairport Convention-y kind of album title for a thrash/metal band to slap on a relentless album of smash-mouth power chordage, and it carries with it a certain promise: the promise that there will be more to this release than just the usual by-the-numbers aggression, pummelling drumming, and finger-blistering fretwork. All that stuff is pretty stale by now, having been done countless times before, and Pushmen’s album title (and even the cover art) held out the suggestion—no, the promise—that this particular outing would cover some different ground. Alas, none of that happens. This is a thrashy, shrieky, noisy, not very original record. So much for ballsy titles.


Well, okay, but are there riffs? Are there grooves? Sadly, not as many as there should be. Overall, in fact, this record just isn’t very appealing. The problems start up front, with the very first track. “Child From Chaos” offers up an uneven, stop-and-start guitar line that sounds yanked from the middle of some prog opus, and the fact that it’s smothered in distortion and backed by a relentless rhythm section doesn’t make it any more listenable. Before long the screaming vocals kick in, and it’s pretty much game over. Craig Moore has an okay voice, but there is nothing particularly outstanding about it, and it has one setting: loud. The vocals throughout are shrieking, gritty, hoarse and about as melodic as a box of cans falling down the stairs. Now, none of this is especially damning for this genre of music. What is damning is that none of this is memorable in any way.


Tunes follow one after the other, and while there are moments of okay-ness, none of the tracks really gel from start to finish. In a weird way, Pushmen are almost a kind of jazz band, in that their music is felt from the head up—the wonky time signatures, the tempo shifts and so on—rather than from the hips down, in the mesmerizing groove that marks the best metal of whatever stripe (Electric Wizard, Kylesa, Venom, whatever).  Probably the best track here is “Born Again Too Late”, with its downtempo doomy vibe, and “…Silenus Beside Me”, which is built around a solid, straightforward riff. At such moments the listener gets a glimpse of a band that’s struggling to find its voice, and the record that might have been.


Unfortunately, those moments are brief. More representative are tunes like “Vortex Philosophy Blues” with its constantly shifting sections that never allow the tune to settle in and rock, and the truly unlistenable “Blaze Some More Hate”, a song which labors under the false assumption that screaming even louder than usual will ramp up listener interest.


Pulling members from many other bands, including Made Out of Babies and Heartless bastards, along with drummer Kevin Fender of the Sword, Pushmen certainly looked to have the makings of a solid band. The Sun Will Rise Soon… just goes to show that nothing is guaranteed, however. Some listeners might enjoy it, especially those on the math-rock side of the thrash spectrum (um, are there any such?), but for most of us, Pushmen just end up trying too hard to do too much with too little.

Rating:

DAVID MAINE is a novelist and essayist. His books include The Preservationist (2004), Fallen (2005), The Book of Samson (2006), Monster, 1959 (2008) and An Age of Madness (2012). He has contributed to The Washington Post, Publishers Weekly, Esquire.com and NPR.com, among other outlets. He is a lifelong music obsessive whose interests range from rock to folk to hip-hop to international to blues. He currently lives in western Massachusetts, where he works in human services. Catch up with his blog, The Party Never Stops, at davidmaine.blogspot.com, or become his buddy on Facebook (or Twitter or Google+ or whatever you prefer) to keep up with reviews and other developments.


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