Pounder – Breaking the World Review

Pounder’s 2019 debut Uncivilized was covered here by Lokasenna, and since he seems to have quietly and non-suspiciously disappeared, Steel Druhm has seen fit to assign follow-up Breaking the World to yours truly. I have no illusions about why Steel has done this. It’s obvious that he believes I will end up crucifying myself before the commentariat, either by being unable to resist making unsavory jokes about the band’s name, or by going into full Skelator mode by lavishing praise upon yet another heavy metal album with questionable vocals. But just to prove that 2021 is the year that Holdeneye reaches maturity, I’ll refrain from making jokes like, “Pounder? I hardly know her!” How adolescent and utterly cringeworthy! I would never make a joke like that! And to prove that 4.0ldeneye has gained some discernment over the years, let’s just get this out of the way: Pounder writes some fun heavy metal tunes, but those songs are nearly ruined by a singer who cannot sing.

Formed as a classic heavy metal outlet for Matt Harvey (Exhumed, Gruesome), Alejandro Corredor (Nausea), and Tom Draper (Carcass), Pounder writes music for fans of bands like Accept, Scorpions, and Manowar. Driving rhythms, classic guitar solos, and memorable choruses show up on just about every track, and it’s hard to fault much of what the band has done here musically. “Spoils of War” sees the band charging into battle with a speed metal anthem, “Hard City” blends Ozzy, Scorpions, and Iron Maiden to decent effect, and the title track stomps like a Manowar battle hymn. “Give Me Rock” sounds like a classic Twisted Sister song and “Never Forever” has a chorus that soars on the backing vocals of Draper and Corredor. In fact, the backing vocals are so good that they almost made me forget about the elephant in the room. Almost.

The elephant in the room is a big one. I’m talking at least a 12,000….pounder. Matt Harvey sounds hideous on this record. He sounds like the love child of David Draiman and Dee Snider — a love child that didn’t manage to inherit a single ounce of his parents’ talent. Even Mrs. Holdeneye, who thinks that all of my music is universally dreadful, told me to mention that she thought his vocals are especially bad. I get that he’s an accomplished death metal growler, but I just don’t understand why he wouldn’t relinquish lead vocals duties here, especially when the back up vocals are so solid. In fact, thanks to Draper and Corredor, the choruses from “Spoils of War” and “Give Me Rock” haven’t left my head since the first time I heard them, and this is despite Harvey missing note after note. Some bands can pull off the whole “our singer isn’t great but at least they’re unique thing” like Megadeth, Motörhead, and Skelator, but Pounder is not one of them.

Fortunately, the well-written music also happens to be well produced. Breaking the World sounds like some of the great 80s albums that it emulates, a fact that greatly enhances the record’s enjoyability. While Lokasenna noted the band’s songwriting as a weakness, I’d say they’ve remedied the problem. It’s a testament to the band’s skill that I had trouble getting these tracks out of my head despite absolutely hating the lead vocals. And say what you will about Harvey’s voice, the man knows how to write a riff.

On a positive note, Pounder’s songwriting has improved since Uncivilized. There are some great heavy metal tunes to be found here, and the backing vocals saved this from dropping below “Disappointing” on the scoring scale. But the band needs to seriously consider taking the mic away from Harvey. Until they do, they’ll continue breaking the world, one bad note at a time.1

Rating: 2.0/5.0
DR: 8 | Format Reviewed: 320 kbps mp3
Label: Shadow Kingdom Records
Websites: pounderheavymetal.bandcamp.com | facebook.com/pounderheavymetal
Releases Worldwide: January 29th, 2021

Show 1 footnote

  1. Report to HR for sabbatical planning. – Steel
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