Throwdown - Deathless (Nuclear Blast/Riot)

"What fresh madness is this?", I hear you cry, "a hardcore band on". Fear not my friends, for this album is as hardcore as the Pope is Muslim.

There are certain hardcore bands that you can rely on to produce music that gets your arms flailing and your teeth loosened - Agnostic Front, Sick Of It All, Madball - and then there's the guys who have started of heavilly immersed in the scene before drifting into the world of metal. In some instances, this is an acceptable transition. The angry, anti-establishment themes of violence and general social fuckwittery are prevalent through both genres.

The really fucking annoying thing is when a band starts off so well and proceeds to fail in an unforgivable way. Ladies and gentlemen, I give you Deathless.

Throwdown's Haymaker is a seminal hardcore album, and Holy Roller from Venom & Tears remains one of my favourite songs from this genre. So much so that after seeing it live last year, I needed prescription back pain medication after the pit. It was therefore with great sadness that Deathless opener The Scythe waddles in with a middle of the road Trivium-like riff followed by This Continuum (a slightly faster version of the intro from Fear Factory's Replica) and Tombs, which sees usually flawless frontman Dave Peters indulging in some kind of half-arsed Corey Taylor impression.

There is nothing wrong with evolution in a band. Look at early Amon Amarth - not a patch on the cleaner, more layered newer work. But what Throwdown have done with Deathless is lose all sense of individuality and produce a mediocre, mainstream American heavy metal album. The critics have been stamping the "wannabe Pantera" tag on Throwdown for a couple of albums, and, on their recent work, notably a scarily close-to-original cover of Becoming on a recent Dimebag Darrell (RIP) tribute CD, it's a fair statement to make. However, Deathless is less Pantera and more Disturbed. I like Disturbed, but the problem is, they already exist. As do Slipknot, Paradise Lost, and every other band that are pointlessly plagiarised on Deathless.

On its own, with no Throwdown benchmarks whatsoever, this is a passable album with some acceptable songs - Widowed is immensley atmospheric and a solid stoner tune, and Headed South hints at Throwdown's hardcore roots but doesn't ever really get to the point.

I hate to hate this album, as Throwdown can be so fucking good. Listening to Deathless gives me the sense of how I'd feel if I'd pulled Jessica Alba, got her home, and watched her strip off to reveal a big pair of hairy, sweaty bollocks: pretty angry and fucking diappointed.

A good mate of mine is a massive hardcore nut and has been pivotal in providing me with album upon album of hardcore goodness. Amidst a recent discussion, he quoted from Declare Your War off of Venom & Tears:

'Stay true to yourself, to your friends, and never let go'

If only Throwdown practiced what they preached.

Deathless is available now on Nuclear Blast/Riot