Wednesday, December 12, 2007

Nonpoint - Vengeance CD Review

Did anyone even know that Nonpoint was releasing a new CD this year? I thought they had long dropped off the musical radar with their most recent release being last year’s live album, Live and Kicking, and their last proper release being To the Pain in 2005. It seemed like the band was probably closing up shop, especially since their sound hasn’t really been popular in a while. Still, Vengeance appeared on store shelves in the middle of November with little to no fanfare. Maybe part of the problem was that it was released through Bieler Bros Records instead of their previous label, Lava.

Regardless of who released Vengeance, as soon as you listen to it you’ll know that you’re listening to Nonpoint. They haven’t changed much and this album feels like a natural progression from To the Pain where the band took on a more hard rock oriented approach with little of their early career rap-metal influence showing through. Vengeance is definitely Nonpoint’s most stripped down and raw album to date, that's for sure. The production is just good enough to keep the instruments separated, but beyond that this album feels very gritty and raw, which isn't necessarily bad.

This is also probably the band’s least heavy album, outside of Development. The nu-metal edge that some of their songs used to have is all but gone and replaced with a hard rock tone and feel. The only elements that feel “metal” anymore are the occasional pseudo-breakdowns (such as on “March of War”) and the rare scream (as heard in “Wake Up World”). The music often moves along with a strong bar rock influence that, at times, makes the album feel very basic, but on the flip side it also gives it a very “real” feel that has been lacking in previous albums. Knocking the sheen that glossed over their previous albums off gives the band a little more attitude as well.

Of course this wouldn’t be a Nonpoint album without the requisite slow tempo, hard rock ballads, in this case the songs “Breathe” and “A Way Out”. “Breathe” is actually one of the better songs on this album, showing a band pulling back their sound to make a more sparse and moody piece. It would easily fit in on modern rock radio between anything from Evans Blue or Trapt, which to most won’t really sound like praise, but it sort of is supposed to be.

In the end, though, it all comes down to whether you’re still aching for the brand of nu-metal tinged hard rock that Nonpoint is playing. Its peak in popularity has already been reached, but kudos to the band for continuing to do what they love, no matter what the current trends. If you don’t go into this album with too snobbish of an attitude, you might find some moments to enjoy.

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