Hurtlocker - _Embrace the Fall_
(Napalm Records, 2007)
by: Jeremy Ulrey (7 out of 10)
Chicago's Hurtlocker were seemingly scarfed up by Napalm Records to diversify their portfolio, the band's punishing yet groove laden riffage sporting all the Americanisms that the rest of the label's roster has been notably bereft of. And if Napalm hadn't gotten there first, Roadrunner would have doubtless picked up their slack, with Hurtlocker's brand of Machine Head meets Hatebreed trend treading providing potential dream touring match-ups with the likes of Slipknot and Still Remains.

I sense a certain vitality in chugging anthems like "I Am Napalm" (blatant label salute or sheer accident?) and the Vinnie Paul-invoking "Deserving", but even moreso I'm overcome by a sense of déjà vu; this shit has been done soooooo many times by now. That said, there are bands out there that manage to do it fairly well -- Killswitch Engage and God Forbid come to mind -- and the secret to their success is usually an appreciation of melody and tempo changes, without which one lacks the tools to complement the intentional catchiness of the songs' grooves, and this is what ultimately makes bands like Hurtlocker come across one dimensional. Individually, there are no poor songs on _Embrace the Fall_, but the cumulative effect is one of flagging attention as one similarly paced thrasher after another runs a relentless train on one's patience.

AND: does anyone actually buy into the marketing of this band as thrash metal instead of metalcore? Sure, there is an obvious debt to old Bay Area bands like Exodus and even Metallica in the pummeling riffs and galloping percussion, but guess what? All metalcore bands sport those same influences to varying degrees; that's why they call it "metal"-core (a term I for one despise on account of its complete lack of imagination, but it's too entrenched to fight this far down the line, so if you can't beat 'em...). And yeah, I know, the labeling of the music has little to no bearing on the actual tuneage itself, but since much of the metal community swallowed the bait hook, line and sinker for last year's _Fear in a Handful of Dust_, I figured it was worth a mention for those that slept on the band last time out, but nevertheless aren't looking for any Victory Records / post-Pantera metallic influences muddying their breed of undiluted old-school thrash. Bottom line: there is nothing here that bears more than a passing resemblance to '80s metal, but, on the contrary, nearly everything on display is pretty fucking well in line with what's going on in the post nu-metal 'core scene. Caveat emptor.


(article published 4/11/2007)

1/2/2006 J Smit Hurtlocker: Here Comes the Pain
11/24/2005 J Smit 8 Hurtlocker - Fear in a Handful of Dust
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