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(54:30, Hands of Blue Records)
TRACK LIST: 1. Time Wasted 4:21 2. Lights 4:00 3. Days Gone 3:05 4. For Randy 4:46 5. Hopeless 3:51 6. Burning Life 3:31 7. Heroes or Enemies 3:11 8. No End 3:57 9. MVTZM 3:18 10. This Bitter Pill 3:06 11. Rise and Fall 3:52 12. Ashes to Ashes 4:44 13. Wake Me 4:12 14. Into Eternity 4:38 LINEUP: Torre Carstensen – vocals Will Storkson – guitars Andy Wayne – guitars Yasushi Kajita – bass Adam McKibben – drums
Prolusion. The US band MY VICTIM was formed in the late 80's, and has been an active live unit throughout their by now long history with hundreds of live performances given over the years opening for and playing with a substantial amount of well known bands in their local base of San Francisco. Their debut album "13" was released in 2009, and three years later it was reissued by the fledgling German label Hands of Blue Records.
Analysis. If I should make a brief summary of the type of music explored by this experienced US band, I'd probably describe their style as a fairly equal blend of old school heavy metal and thrash, arguably topped up by a slight touch of grunge. I suspect I might add that the songs in general tend to be fairly basic, with a primal touch to them, relying on intensity more than anything to create and maintain intensity. Not that their material is of the kind that will be easy to replicate by others, as this is a unit that comes with its own set of challenging details, and you won't find any compositions with advanced structures here; nor will you encounter arrangements with an elaborate build or complicated development. This is music that heads for your throat straight away and hangs on for dear life. The most basic elements, to my ears, are bass and drums. The former generally stays hidden and fairly subservient, the latter opts for a steady and intense delivery rather than providing quirky, unexpected fills and patterns. Again without implying that these instruments are limited to motifs easy to perform I might add, but fans of instrumentalists like Alan Holdsworth or Alex Lifeson won't find much to their taste when listening to the rhythm foundation of My Victim. To put it that way. Guitarists Storkson and Wayne provide the dominant parts of all compositions with their guitars. Massive, brutal riff patterns, playful dampened but grimy circulating riff motifs and just about anything in between these two are what they deliver. Hammering, marching and otherwise dominating guitar motifs, where chugging massive riffs and quirky compact constructions saw through the arrangements like a hot knife through butter. As slow old school heavy metal, as primal old school thrash with hardcore tendencies like good old Anthrax used to employ or as somewhat more elaborate old school thrash referencing the NWOBHM orientations bands like Metallica made popular. My Victim is a band familiar with all of this and then some more, hence my initial nod in the direction of grunge as well. Or to be more precise, in the direction of Soundgarden. Lead vocalist Carstensen is perhaps the main reason for me tossing Soundgarden into this description. He has a delivery that alternates between gruff talk-like vocals in the manner of James Hetfield and more intense melodic and dramatic vocal expressions that have their fair share of similarities with Chris Cornell's delivery. Frequently combining both, as well as opting for a more clean and overall melody based approach on set occasions. The latter more often than not whenever the band hits a chorus section. My Victim is one of few bands of this kind that are unafraid to construct chorus sections of the singalong variety, and hats off to them for this little detail that does add just a touch of AOR to the otherwise mostly intense and primal old school metal landscape. Another somewhat unusual but welcome detail that does set this band apart from the others exploring similar waters is the frequent use of subtle, melody based guitar solo runs, at times also opting for some delightful, frail dampened overlays. A detail that does elevate quite a few of their compositions I might add, at least to those fond of material that employs contrasting elements to build and maintain tension.
Conclusion. If you're a fan of old school heavy metal and thrash as well, My Victim is a band that merits a check. Intense, energetic and powerful material is this band's forte, basic and primal yet with some carefully employed details of a more fragile nature that generally elevate the overall experience a notch or two. A strong debut album from an experienced band.
OMB=Olav M Bjornsen: July 3, 2013
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