As the undisputed Lord of Bench Press Stats at AMG’s Skull Pit Ironworks1, I simply could not pass up reviewing a band called Pectora. Any act brave enough to name themselves thusly deserved to come under the piercing gaze of Steel, and I admittedly grabbed it with an eye toward the endless weight lifting jokes it would afford me. But something happened on the way to the Power Rack and lo and behold, this Danish act’s debut is a righteous dose of traditional dumbbell metal highly suitable for serious gym time. Their sound borrows from the 80s and 90s equally, sitting somewhere between NWoBHM legends like Iron Maiden and their grittier American cousins Metallica as the band pushes, presses and shrugs their way into your metal heart with an album’s worth of highly respectable deadlift anthems. Chug that preworkout, strap on the oversized lifting belt and let’s do this, brah!
Pectora flex their musical muscles with the opening title track and its aggressive, rabble-rousing blend of 80s metal tropes. Crunchy riffage meets rough-hewn vocals and thundering drums, all designed to pump YOU up and get your essential oils flowing. Imagine Metallica if they went traditional metal after Load and you’ll have an idea what to expect. The chorus is catchy as fook and packs more boost than a discount Creatine knock off from a Chinatown circular, and if you have any love for old school metal, you will be on board toot sweet. “Collide” maintains the squeeze with a mix of a classic Maiden gallop and Hetfield-esque bellows for a gripping, energetic run across the fields of fitness. Once again, the hook factor is surprisingly deep for such an untested band. Things shift to an epic doom sound on “Haunted Memory” which conjures images of marching into bench-off battles with head held high. Kenneth Jacobsen’s vocals really shine here, rough and edgy and hitting all the right poses.
The big standout is “The Fare” which sounds like it escaped from Draconian Times with both of Paradise Lost‘s tickets to paradise. It’s a ballsy, brawny rocker that makes me want to throw heavy cars at people who won’t shut up about crossfit. There’s a large Metallica influence in the vocals and it all comes together in what is one of my favorite songs so far this year. Elsewhere you get a dose of Pantera-like heavy groove mixed with Alice in Chains gloom on “Running Out of Days,” while “Unkindled Flame” sounds like mid-90s Metallica trying to find their inner Euro-power muse. It shouldn’t work, yet it does.
At a brisk 46:14, Untaken goes by in a flash of chalk dust and Monster Energy™. My only real complaint is that closing track, “The Arrival” could stand being slightly pared down from its 7-minute runtime, but otherwise, the album offers an interesting combination of crunch and accessibility with a rowdy, unpolished charm. Most of the heavy lifting is done by the guitar tandem of Soren Weiss and Morten Nielsen who borrows from many established bands of yore to hone a successful amalgam of crunch, melody and memorability. Their riffs pack enough testosterone to make the material feel hefty, but they know their way around a classy harmony too. Kenneth Jacobsen is a rough-around-the-edges, unrefined vocalist, at times reminding a lot of James Hetfield and at others, Chad Kroeger of Nickleback infamy2. This is not a knock on the man at all, as he does a fine job belting out the lines with attitude and edge aplenty. The real strength of the band is their writing, which samples from many classic acts without ripping any off excessively, and in the process they end up with a sound all their own. The songs are fun, fist-pumping and will stick with you. What else can you ask for?
In the world of heavy metal, one must go heavy or go home. Pectora have strained to craft a corker of a debut album impressive enough where even a jaded old-timer like Steel can feel the burn. I’m enjoying this more than most of what I’ve heard this year, so don’t be a pencil-necked geek. Get thee to the record hearing place and listen to the swole thing, then commence to heavy lifting. It’s all you, bro!