Hard Times Hanging At The End Of The World EP

Written by: PP on 28/04/2009 19:25:56

The next meal on my proverbial review plate is the New York City based experimental thrash metallers Children and their new EP "Hard Times Hanging At The End Of The World". It's another record that I've been struggling with for the past few weeks, thanks to its 41 minute length spread over just five tracks, and it's tendency to genre-hop like a bunny in speed between 80s thrash metal, progressive metal, experimental metal, and punk influenced hardcore, among other things. Sounds like a train wreck on paper, I know, but somehow Children make it work so it's not a total disaster.

The first track on the EP, "Advanced Mind Control", is a good example of just what's cooking. It starts off slowly with some psychedelic effects and a simplistic guitar lead, but once the track gets going, you'll notice that instrumental prowess is like candy for the ears. From around two minutes in, you'll begin to hear loads of tapping notes and melodic scales running around wild during the extensive instrumental passages. If that sounds like your run of the mill prog metal, don't fret, because Children's expression has much more to do with punk, hardcore and groove than the slow buildups and extensive climaxes of classic progressive music. Instead of wasting minutes upon minutes on progressive wankery, these guys are all about assault-riffs and precision-guided leads that combine 80s old school thrash metal with modern production and "Master Of Puppets"-era Metallica-esque riff/solo worship. All hail twin-guitar soloing, is what I'm thinking throughout the record, and this is not in the classic Gothenburg/In Flames sense, but rather in a more experimentalist 'let me go this way and you go the other way' sort of thing. Basically, technical & thrashy guitars are not just the name of the game, they're also the rules, the referee and the players in it: every song on the EP demonstrates that the two axemen definitely share a taste and ability to write sick melodies.

Unfortunately, there's little more to offer on the record than that. Drumming is more or less forgettable, and the vocals aren't much to hooray for, being a combination of scratchy yelling and screechy screaming, with an odd nuance of old school James Hetfield anger in the voice. Don't start drooling yet Metallica fans, as I have to say that I'm glad they aren't used more extensively on the record. Another example of the full-on focus on guitars can be found in "Power Spirit", which is also the best track on the EP. It has a pretty boring start (which seems to be the case on most tracks) but once the song gets going in the form of some excellent chord-texture around 2 minutes in, oh boy, the listener is in for a ride. Thrash metal combines with a punk vibe and a love for melody, and did I mention yet that the guitars on the record are sick? While other songs have been intensely focusing on technical leads, "Power Spirit" shows that quick chord progressions and tremolo shredding in the right places work equally well, even though the soloing appears on this track as well. Then suddenly, the song just stops and is replaced by Latin-styled acoustic guitar for about two minutes before a contrast arrives in the form of an electric solo and the song ends. A strange and somewhat unfitting, albeit intriguing ending to a fantastic track.

...which leads me to my biggest criticism about the EP: almost every killer 3 minute passage of guitar masturbation goes hand in hand with another 1-1½ minute one that feels like complete filler. Some compression/squeezing out all the unnecessary bits would do this record wonders (especially on "Nuclear Bummer"), and if the guys are able to deliver more compact (say, 4-5 minute) packages of what's going on here, they may be onto something. Finally, a word of advice guys - the Myspace page is a nominee for one of the ugliest designs I've ever seen. Some effort into this department and there's no doubt in my mind more people will find your music.


Download: Power Spirit
For the fans of: Experimental thrash, "Master of Puppets"-era Metallica
Listen: Myspace

Release date 12.05.2009
Kemado Records

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