Review: Pounder “Breaking the World” [Shadow Kingdom]

Review: Pounder “Breaking the World” [Shadow Kingdom]

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Score 40%
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The second LP from California’s classic hard rock rompers Pounder takes us back in time for cheesy fist-pumping riffs reminiscent of bands your dad grew out of when he retired his leather vest.

This side project consists of a trio of veterans, each from a much heavier and more serious genre: from technical blackened thrash band Gruesome, brutal deathcore group Exhumed, and punk band Nausea… so you’ll be as surprised as I to see song titles like ‘Never Forever’, ‘Hard Road to Home’, and ‘Give Me Rock’ or hear the woeful rhyming couplets of ‘mesmerised/eyes, ‘night/lights’, and ‘streets/feet’. The album is littered with ‘oh yeah’s and ‘whooooah’s and there’s enough corny sound effects and head-tilting cackles to make you either nod your head or wince, depending on your persuasion. The album, nay the project, seems like a perfect opportunity for these old hands to blow off some steam and have fun making tunes that wouldn’t look amiss on Rock of Ages, and they do it with glee.

It’s refreshing to not only hear but feel a bassist groove up a dense, crisp tone for the band to work with; the drumming is skilled and always cues up the guitars nicely for their regular limelight licks or bouts of shameless self-promotion; the production and sound quality are great, but then one would expect nothing less owing to their collective experience. The music is well crafted but offers little new to a genre that, as Indiana Jones put it, ‘belongs in a museum’.

Where the album falls down is not in its lack of originality, but the lyrics and vocal performance and the temerity with which they so often, and undeservedly, take center stage. Not only are the 1980’s ZX Spectrum motorbike game lyrics bad, but the grating delivery stand too proudly in the mix to make for easy listening. The songs are overly long, which is clearly to show off the sweet lead solos and joyful dexterity of the bass playing (which is the band’s obvious strength) and, thankfully, the keyboard cameos and naff backing vocals are nothing more than infrequent interruptions.

From the clichéd band name, album cover, and song titles alone, one should know what to expect… just try not to roll your eyes out of your head when you hear the likes of ‘I need it hard, I need it fast, I need it right now, I’m gonna get it, I’m gonna take it’. Stick to what you know and don’t give up the day job, fellas!

Release date: January 29, 2021

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