Source of Rage – Witness the Mess Review

Uh oh. The dreaded phrase, that cursed moniker. Boasting hooks, riffs, breakdowns, what could possibly go wrong?? Yes, Source of Rage is “modern metal,” and thanks to the ever-illustrious Carcharodon and his Everture-themed death by blandness, I feel dread coursing through my veins. But hey, when the Promo Gods shrug their broad shoulders and a Metalville release Witness the Mess topples from an almighty schlong, you don’t question (1) why modern metal is tucked in the divine crotch somewhere, or (2) why modern metal gives the Promo Gods such a hard-on. The gods work in mysterious ways. Glory fuckin’ be.

Modern metal, in spite of its negative connotations, is as ambiguous as “progressive metal.” In the case of Germany’s Source of Rage, you can expect a melodeath-tinged metalcore album with a healthy dose of heavy metal excess and a hint of djent. From galloping Gothenburg riffs to bone-crushing breakdowns, squealing pinch harmonics and fretboard-shredding solos, it’s a guitarist’s album, with fry vocals, tastefully strewn cleans, and drums tossed in there for good measure. Recalling everything from Kingdom of Giants, The Sorrow, and countrymen Machinemade God, Heaven Shall Burn, and Neaera, it’s ultimately a disappointingly toothless album with painfully lopsided performances with moments that merely hint at greatness.

Witness the Mess‘ highlight reel almost entirely consists of guitar riffs courtesy of Oliver Roffman, but when they soar, they soar. “The Eyes of the Restless” and “My Silent Hollow Self” have blasting wall-of-sound blasts that recall Heaven Shall Burn‘s “Endzeit” or Neaera‘s “Spearheading the Spawn,” while the plodding melodic plods of “Construe the Last Word” feel straight outta Soilwork‘s Sworn to a Great Divide. “Purify Me” and “Aware” in particular channel frantic metalcore a la Kingdom of Giants, dealing in a full exploration of their respective central Gothenburg riffs: from meathead breakdown to scene-core gallop to djenty squeal, divided by intriguing rhythmic and dissonant hiccups. Acoustic interludes grace “Construe the Last Word” and the intro title track, giving a tasteful respite to the crispy riffs. Guitar is an easy highlight and Roffman gracefully carries the album from movement to movement with riffs, licks, and leads galore. Other than guitar, solid clean vocals appear sparingly, giving further The Sorrow-esque emotional weight to tracks like “Construe the Last Word,” “My Silent Hollow Self” and “Path Ways,” while blastbeats inject “Aware” with an energetic jolt.

While Source of Rage does their damnedest to construct a consistently interesting album with a variety of riffs and influences galore, Witness the Mess suffers from extremely lopsided performances that say otherwise. Guitarist Roffman suffers from extreme back pains carrying his supporting cast upon his back, tossing riff after riff at us with a reckless abandon that rivals Inhale Exhale‘s John LaRussa – while his compatriots the three Krause brothers cannot hold a candle. Drummer Riko Krause offers a safely reliable performance that rarely extends beyond keeping the beat, and bassist Thilo Krause has virtually no presence save for a fret slide in “Construe the Last Word” and noodle in “SolitudeFortitude.” While vocalist Marko Krause offers a manic fry bark and emotional clean vocal performance reminiscent of Björn “Speed” Strid or Mathias “Mätze” Schlegl, the mix buries and muffles them into a mere whisper, making it difficult to appreciate. Already shifting sands to build this Mess upon, Source of Rage does little to justify its bloated fifty-minute runtime due to all these issues, furthermore capsized by composition snafus like excessively repeated riffs in “The Louder, the More Right” and “My Silent Hollow Self” and cringe-worthy spoken word in “SolitudeFortitude” and “Dark Project.” An excessive thirty-five minutes in, tracks like “Aware” and “SolitudeFortitude” fall into forgettable territory, in spite of some interestingly dissonant flourishes and Monuments-esque wonky riffage.

If there’s a mess to witness here, it’s three-fourths of Source of Rage. Roffman offers a powerful guitar performance in a labor of love that balances metalcore and melodic death metal with tasty balance that saves the act’s sophomore effort from utter depravity. It’s a shame his supporting cast and flat production can’t keep up. While it’s far from the worst “modern metal” to grace my jaded eardrums, there’s still little to write home about. Excessive length, lackluster performances, and some shoddy songwriting derail what could have been a simple ride of kickass riffs. Witness the Mess: Oliver Roffman’s chiropractor bills and ultimately, divine schlong mediocrity.

Rating: 2.0/5.0
DR: 8 | Format Reviewed: 320 kbps mp3
Label: Metalville
Releases Worldwide: July 22nd, 2022

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