Feelingless – Metal against Animal Cruelty Review

That title is great advertising. The details are even better. Feelingless is a nonprofit side project of Hugo Markaida from Spanish melodeath band Rise to Fall. Feelingless and record label Noble Demon have pledged to donate all proceeds from debut album Metal against Animal Cruelty to animal shelters in Spain and animal welfare charities abroad. I wasn’t familiar with Markaida’s other work, and reviewing a record that straddles melodic death metal and metalcore is risky business. But after reading that blurb, I couldn’t help but be intrigued.

Feelingless’ closest relatives are mid-2000s metalcore artists like As I Lay Dying and Darkest Hour. The song structures on Metal against Animal Cruelty are simple; verses with melodeath riffs alternate with soaring clean choruses, with nondescript chugging thrown in for good measure. The band’s goal is to make memorable music, not to reinvent metal. Still, the frantic aggression in the riffs and the flailing guitar solos demonstrate that guitarists Markaida and Pedro J. Monge have talent galore. Metal against Animal Cruelty also gains some variety from its numerous guest vocal appearances, including big names like Bjorn Strid (Soilwork, The Night Flight Orchestra) and a searing performance by Ville Viljanen (Mors Principium Est). To his credit, Markaida evidently poured a truckload of effort into making this labor of love come together.

At its most energetic and dynamic, Metal against Animal Cruelty packs a punch. Much of the record lays down an impressive array of aggressive riffs, avoiding the repetition that afflicts its metalcore peers. Tracks like “Peace” and “Anxiety” are shameless riff-fests, and their seemingly simple chorus-verse structures mask an impressive amount of variety in the guitarwork. Feelingless also shines at developing simple ideas through a song, like the way “Pride” weaves versions of its opening melody throughout and double-tracks two variants at its climax. This creativity in Feelingless’ guitar parts surpasses Markaida’s otherwise-similar work in Rise to Fall. The album’s best choruses are equally contagious, with “Feelingless” and “Nostalgia” illustrating how powerful a chorus can be when both the vocal melody and the guitars are thoughtfully written. These sections of Metal against Animal Cruelty are both engaging and plain old fun.

Feelingless’ overuse of boilerplate metalcore elements holds Metal against Animal Cruelty back from greatness. The gratuitous chugs are a major culprit, extending runtimes while adding zero melodic variety (“Rage,” “Anxiety”). A handful of the choruses feel phoned in for the same reason, when Feelingless combines melodically lazy vocal lines with lifeless instrumentation (“Love,” “Hope”). More generally, despite the stylistic variety and hyperactive riffing within each track, the songs on Metal against Animal Cruelty are all near-identical in their structure, their level of energy, and their blend of genres. This unchanging recipe makes the record tougher to sit through as an uninterrupted whole. Still, Metal against Animal Cruelty has enough juicy melodies to keep me going, particularly given the rock-solid middle of the album and the punchy closer “Anxiety.”

Metal against Animal Cruelty is a love letter to animals, and I’m thrilled that Markaida put this project together. The album’s themes are heartfelt and touching, addressing the unconditional love we share with our animal friends (“Love”), the agony of losing a pet (“Rage”), and the horrors of bullfighting (“Peace”) and factory farms (“Anguish”). To my relief, the music is a blast as well, with grabby guitar melodies and choruses that kept me coming back for more. The metalcore tropes make the album’s 49 minutes feel longer than they should, and trimming the less creative parts would have made Feelingless’ debut more concise and impactful. That said, if your budget allows, Metal against Animal Cruelty and its admirable cause are well worth the €8 price.

Rating: 3.0/5.0
DR: 4 | Format Reviewed: 256kbps mp3
Label: Noble Demon Records
Websites: feelingless.bandcamp.com | facebook.com/feelinglessmetal
Releases Worldwide: December 2nd, 2022

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