Cougar Den


Written by: PP on 19/03/2009 12:43:29

I was under the impression that Cougar Den's debut album "Keepondrifter" was released in January this year, so I've been listening to it intensely over the last couple of weeks, until I noticed that it actually came out state-side in late October. Whoops. But instead of throwing all the work into the bin, I figured I might as well review it, especially considering how well it aligns with my own (and hopefully some of your) tastes. So what are we dealing with here? Think Frank Carter (Gallows or the Since By Man dude) sounding yelling/screaming vocalist at the helm of a Norma Jean / Since By Man styled chaotic hardcore/metalcore unit, and you've basically got Cougar Den in a nutshell. They might not be the most original bunch, but since they do the style really well, I don't see a problem of referencing several seminal bands.

Many of us mourned deeply the disintegration of Since By Man, whose album "Pictures From The Hotel Apocalypse" is something I consider a classic in the technical hardcore/screamo genre where Norma Jean and others are positioned. If there ever was a more natural progression onward from that record, then I'm pretty sure "Keepondrifter" would be it. Similar trebled tremolo shredding dominates the soundscape, which is only broken down by the occasional breakdown nodding towards "Redeemer" era Norma Jean. Especially "East'll Meet West Anyway" follows closely the path created by the latter album.

If you're looking for the catchy bits on the album, then you should tune straight into the album opener "Ash Not Dust", which is like straight from the Since By Man playbook, albeit the vocalist doesn't sound as insane here. The atmosphere is chaotic overall, and many passages remind you of the really old screamo bands in the form of Hot Cross, Funeral Diner and the sort. In practice that means somewhat of a low-fi atmosphere, which trickles with high-pitch melody whilst their screaming vocalist sounds just about the sort of person you'd imagine going batshit live, throwing himself around the stage to the awe of the concert goers.

But although "Keepondrifter" has its moments, there are also a number of passages that just seem somewhat anonymous to me. It's not that any songs are bad as such, because every song has me rocking out, feeling like some nearby walls are in a need of some proper bashing. The problem is more that there are too many songs that just repeat the Norma Jean/Since By Man formula without actually sticking into mind over the long run. Does that make them bad songs necessarily? I don't think so. It just means that I can't grade these guys a higher grade than a


Download: Ash Not Dust, Burn The Vatican, 9.4.06
For the fans of: Since By Man, Norma Jean, Hot Cross, Funeral Diner
Listen: Myspace

Release date 30.10.2008
Init Records

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