Wednesday, 20 November 2013

Usual Locations part one: Throwdown Syndicate

Well then, this is a new series. Now I'm going to look a bit more towards the usual suspects of places where you'd find usual music. The reason I decided to write this one was mainly because for the first time(and hopefully not the last) somebody actually wanted be to write about them. So thank you for asking.

Throwdown Syndicate is a band from Washington D.C., they play a variant of Rap Metal, or Ghettometal like they want to call it. I have to admit that as soon as I read the music description my back went up a bit. Metal/Rap. Not usually a mix I'm to fond of. I still remember the Nu-metal days, and those were not good days. But having said that I did have a copy of Limp Bizkit's Significant Other and Linkin Parks Hybrid Theory. Those albums have since gone their merry way of become Two fierce beer coasters. And it certainly didn't help when the first song is called Ghettometal. Thankfully these guys are nothing like the bands I've mentioned. Their a lot closer to Rage Against The Machine and WAR. Probably more the latter than the former. Which is great as I love both bands, RAtM is still close to my heart if only purely through their 'Killing In the Name' song. They've mentioned Bad Brains as a major influence. Now admittedly I've never listened to them, so I can't really comment on that one. But there is aspects of hardcore and punk on display here with plenty of blues and funk thrown in for good measure with thrash riffs spicing the pot. The only other band I could probably mention in the same breath as these guys is Body Count, the main difference being is that Throwdown Syndicate have written better songs and sound like they mean it.

The first two maybe three listens I was a little bit skeptical, but with further listens I've really started to enjoy most of the songs. First of all I have to say that I do love the groovy funk riffs and the fit perfectly with James Reeves vocal style. The problem I am finding with a couple of the songs is that they feel a little half finished. Take for instance the song 'Shaman' it does start of with this rather nice funky riff a la WAR, the drums do this nice little jazz rhythm and the bass. Oh my gods the bass on that song is HUGE! And it feels like it's building up to something, something big, something HUGE! With James spoken word floating on top. Then a guitar solo comes in sort of out of nowhere, and yes the guitar solo is good. This crescendo keeps on coming, but the peak never seems to come. And then the guitar solo fades and the listener is sort of left hanging, wondering what happened.

But then the song 'Shame' aside from the intro samples, that song just rocks. Plain and simple. I can well imagine it being a concert favourite. The riff is brilliant. The drums are again very very groovy and bombastic. The untitled song is another great song, thrashy as fuckery, funky like a gone off cheese, and James seems to be channelling the spirit of Derrick Green. Again here the instruments really do sync together. 'Discontent' is another song I would love to feel in a live setting. James goes straight for the jugular on this one, and does it great.

There are some great ideas being thrown about, some stick while others don't. Most of those that don't could, the ones that don't is the use of samples. James has got a very good voice and sounds very much like he's used to command. This band seems to be very much a labour of love and you can hear that in his earnest vocals and lyrics. He deeply cares about the subjects that he's singing about and that adds an extra layer of enjoyment for the listener. His guitar playing is well played and does some great riffage, and decent solos. His bass playing in some cases though sounds a lot better, and that is saying something. I always love hearing the bass taking a bit more of a centre stage to provide the groove. The drums seem a bit troublesome in the first song and the instruments don't mesh very well on there but it sounds like it would just take more practice to get over than anything else. but after that they seem to pick up the pace and give decent backing to the music, and as I said before on the song Shame and Discontent you can really feel and hear some great rhythms. The drummer Andy Och on the whole is a great choice.

The bottom line I would say is that this is a band that is worth following and see what they do.They've got the ideas, they've got the chops and they've got the attitude.
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