By Phil Cooper

Artwork for Uncivilized by PounderFormed in 2016 by main singer/songwriter Matt Harvey, who recruited Alejandro Corredor and Tom Draper, an ex-member of Angel Witch. The band is rounder out with the inclusion of session drummer Carlos Denogean. Pounder recently signed to Hell’s Headbangers and have offered up their debut album. Having already released a demo and 7” vinyl EP, Pounder have been working to get their sound widely available and perfect their take on the classic style of heavy metal. Citing main influences from the NWOBHM era of metal yet looking to put a California twist on the sound.  Looking to prove themselves, how much metal can be expected from their debut album?

Opening with the none Granny friendly titled ‘Fuck Off And Die’, Pounder state their intent and style right from the get go. Pounding drums and a duel guitar attack herald the arrival of the band and the NWOBHM sound is instantly recognisable. Once the high-register vocals kick in the guitars settle into an early Maiden esque galloping rhythm while the rhythm section echoes more of a early thrash sound with the drums providing a furious double kick drum attack. While the break down of the track is well crafted and catchy, complete with reverb drenched ‘woahs’ it does feel slightly out of place. The guitars kick back in with a call and response style solo and the furious drumming resumes bringing the track full circle to its attack like intro. The final full rousing round of ‘Fuck off and Die’ features the full band and really makes this an anthem for anyone who feels angry or hard done by. The only criticism is that with the break down it drags the song out possibly longer than necessary, it may work better as a shorter more aggressive punch without it.

Following on from the opener is the title track. The style that’s already been laid continues unabated with ‘Uncivilised’ containing more galloping guitar riffs, explosive drumming and thundering bass lines culminating in a heavy metal assault. It is also very catchy and features one of the best lines written in metal ‘What a feel for you is crude and primitive’. ‘Red Hot Leather’ features more of an early thrash sound it, with the rhythm section propelling the tempo of the track and the ride cymbal getting a lot of use in time with the double kick drums. The guitars follow suit with tremolo picked riffs and attacking power chords.  With reverb washed acoustic guitars providing an arpeggiated intro, ‘Long Time No Life’ echoes more of the LA ‘80s metal scene. With a bigger production sound to it with the backing harmonies there’s a softer cleaner approach than the previous tracks. Not that there isn’t any bite to the track as the full band kicks in for the pre-chorus delivering a heavy weight punch before the anthemic chorus itself kicks in.

It’s back down to straight forward headbanging with ‘We Want the Night’. A solo drum groove kicks it off before the full band delivers a high tempo head down no-nonsense track. It’s the shortest offering on the album and packs all the heavy metal ingredients in, from a shout along chorus that an audience can get behind to a blistering guitar solo. Can certainly see this track being a live favourite. The latter part of the album is rounded out with ‘The Mists of Time’, ‘Answer the Call’ and ‘The Evil One’.  ‘The Mists of Time’ is another slice of pure NWOBHM style heavy metal fitting in with the firmly established sound. ‘Answer the Call’ provides another grand, lighter in the air moment. A steady intro leads into a mid-tempo track that gradually builds throughout.  The guitar solo is an unapologetic air guitar anthem, not as fast nor furious as before, it is well crafted to match the dynamic growth of the track. ‘The Evil One’ opens with a twisted vocal sample before a ‘Hells Bells’ pitched church bell brings in the band. A fast paced, hard hitting thrash like track, ‘The Evil One’ captures a lot of the elements of the song writing and structure of the album and brings it to a well rounded close.

Pounder have successfully delivered an excellent heavy metal album. Heavily leaning on their NWOBHM influences, in just eight tracks it does what a good debut album should. It introduces the listener to the sound and style of the band, showcases their abilities as musicians and songwriters and leaves the listener wanting more. It doesn’t sound like a carbon copy of the heavy metal sound of England circa 1975-1982 nor is it a rehashing of ideas from bands of that time. ‘Uncivilized’ provides a fresh take on a classic heavy metal style with a personal twist of the band as they add their own stamp to the genre.

  • ‘Uncivilized’ is released on 22 February. You can get your copy HERE.

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