You might think that metal, in all its forms, has pretty much gone as far as it can. Some artists have taken it to its melodic and symphonic extremes, others to technical and aggressive heights. Some paints other-worldly pictures, others just want to lay down the heaviest groove. Pain is a band which seem to explore all of these avenues, and more besides. Cycle of Hate is proof.
Breathless sets the scene perfectly wandering between screaming lyrics and traditional deliveries, chugging guitars, razor wire fretboard work and bluesy interludes. It isn’t just about power, it is about dynamic too and it is the ebb and flow of the sonic powers at work here which always keeps things interesting.
Vocals are for the most part…unintelligible, and I mean that in a positive way, more a force of nature than a lyrical device but this is often tempered by more coherent deliveries, rapped, sung, spoken word, soft, aggressive, demonic…you get the lot. But then this is a sound built around power and force, one dealing in poignant and purposeful issues… I’m guessing.
It is the title track that I find myself most drawn to most. After lulling you into a false sense of security with some gentle, arabesque guitar cascades, Cycle of Hate then really sucker-punches you. An explosion of raw riffs, thunderous drums and tortured screaming vocals hit you, but as before it is the ability to blend spiky crescendos with more understated interludes which keeps you engaged.
But despite the bombast and musical bravado, the incendiary riffs and tsunami rhythm section, the song is underpinned by those most evocative eastern sounds and by the half-way point decides to capitalise on this intrigue. The interlude has fun exploring such drifting tones and oriental sonic spice before working itself back up into a frenzy and charging back into the maelstrom.
Across six songs, Cycle of Hate covers a lot of ground. It is rooted in the most extreme sounds, for the most part, but it is Pain’s ability to blend many facets into the mix, from more conventional rock to eastern vibes, lulling dynamics and sky-scraping heights, traditional analogue and exploratory digitalism, the past and the present, the here and there.
If you don’t think that metal has anything to say to you any more, give this a spin, I’m sure it will change your mind.