Animalize – Meat We’re Made Of Review

Heavy metal. Trad metal. Dad metal. It all boils down to the same thing, really: galloping guitars, soaring vocals, a dose of cheese (don’t forget to take your Lactaid, old timer!) and enough triumphant riffs to get those creaky, arthritic bones a’janglin’. So it was with nagging nostalgia that I  picked up Meat We’re Made Of, the first full-length from France’s Animalize, a group who traffic in a form of classic heavy metal firmly entrenched in the 70s and 80s. These promos tend to fall into the grasping, grubby mitts of other AGM lifers, but taken as I was by the cover art, the album title and the promise of tunes inspired by 80s cinema, I had no choice but to give this throwback a spin to see for myself if these French fiends have what it takes to jettison me back to that magical decade in which I was born. Roads? Where we’re going, we don’t need roads. Just leather.

This is usually the part where I provide an overview of the band in question’s sound by providing a handful of groups who play a similar style or whose music evokes a similar feel. Shared references are indeed a helpful shorthand. Here, however, that approach would be an exercise in overkill (or a clever way to meet the minimum word count). Truth be told, on Animalize’s latest, you really don’t need a band list because if you’ve spent any amount of time perusing heavy metal tunes, chances are you’ve already heard a lot of what’s on Meat We’re Made Of. With equal doses of chugging speed metal and old-school heavy metal, no wheels are being reinvented here. But for what Animalize lack in originality, they make up for in musicality, energy, and a joyous revelry in bombast. They’re to be commended for keeping things fun n’ catchy, even as the overall approach runs the risk of wearing on the listener. 

The same cannot be said for album opener “Samouraï de l’Univers,” a mighty tune that borders on power metal without completely crossing over. It also introduces Animalize’s secret weapon: trad metal theatrics aside, these gents have chops, and it shows. “Back from the Sematary” is probably my favorite cut, partially because of the mountainous riffs, catchy chorus and unrepentant harmonizing, and partially because it’s most definitely about the 1989 horror classic that I shouldn’t have seen as a nine-year-old. “Wait,” I hear you say. “Where are the 80s synths and gang chanted vocals?” Don’t you fret! The next three tunes cover these requirements in quick succession. “But,” you continue, ruining my day, “Isn’t it time for a ballad?” Enter “Escorte Funèbre,” a decent number that picks up the pace enough near the song’s midway point to avoid any unintended groans. “The Witch You Are” is a late album banger, featuring 70s back-up vocals, effective croons, and more hooks than an overstocked JCPenney. With earworm choruses, thick riffing, unexpected technicality, and enough heavy metal anthems to get you twirling happily in your hoveround, what could go wrong? 

Not a lot, but enough to be a bother. The Meat We’re Made Of is a fun listen and with a tight run time and very little in the way of bloat, it’s hard to truly dislike what you’re hearing. At the same time, though, Animalize have fallen into the trap that houses the web-covered skeletons of so many other trad bands: no matter how proficient, (and these gents are indeed that) the chuggin’ and gallopin’ all start to sound the same after a while. And even though there are some stand-out tracks and impressive performances, by the time “Esprit de l’Asile” ends, it’s hard to remember much beyond a few specific songs and a handful of mighty moments.

The Meat We’re Made Of is a mixed album from a band who have the potential for much, much more. Animalize prove they have what it takes to craft a beefy, enjoyable heavy metal tune with a catchy chorus that makes your fist pump and your head bang. In their debut, though, they lean too much into the “traditional” of it all, delivering an enjoyable but not entirely memorable record that often feels like heavy metal paint-by-numbers. But given enough time and a willingness to stretch the confines of their chosen genre, and I’d be happy to order a second helping from these leather-clad Frenchmen. I hear meat’s on the menu.

Rating: 2.5/5.0
DR: 7 | Format Reviewed: 320 kbps mp3
Label: Dying Victims Productions
Websites: animalizeband.bandcamp.com | facebook.com/animalizeband
Releases Worldwide: June 30th, 2022

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