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REVIEW: Razorback - Animal Anger Massacre Records, 2004
9/10
Razorback - Animal Anger - cover art Back around 1985 my mother, believe it or not, gave me a tape entitled Pyromania by a band called Def Leppard; I was about 10 years old at the time and this was the first piece of music I’d ever owned. Def Leppard instantly became my favorite band (and still are to this day, as scary as that sounds, though their last album was absolutely horrible). Now, if any of you have ever heard Def Leppard—and regardless of what you think of them—you surely know that the band understands the definition of “the hook.” Well because of Def Leppard I became a music fan who could never deny a good, catchy hook. Razorback is a band I’m glad I got a chance to hear (thanks Tartarean Desire) because I otherwise would most likely not have heard of this band. What makes this CD so damn good is that Razorback understands the definition of “the hook.”

With the demise of Vanize, Rolf Munkes (guitar), Pierre Fienhold (drums) and Marcus Bielenberg (bass) went on with the intention of starting a new band, a metal band, but more melodic than Vanize. They found a singer in Stefan Berggren, a recently departed member of Company Of Snakes. To complete the line-up they brought aboard former Shylock guitarist Chris Heun. The end result became Razorback’s debut album, Animal Anger, a melodic rock/metal album with some of the catchiest songs I’ve heard in a long time.

The album starts with “The Hymm,” a mid-paced metal song the borders on being straight up power metal, a great album opener. It is followed by “One By One,” a song that is more of the typical flavor on the rest of the album; a melodic verse followed by a killer chorus that harkens back to the rock explosion of the 1980s, but manages to not sound dated. The band manages to channel Last In Line-era Dio for the next track, “A New King In Town,” sounding like Ronnie James Dio vocally and accompanied by a plodding bass line, thick guitar grooves and a massive hook. Killer tune, right here! The next song “Kiss Of Death” is a little lighter in sound, but still manages to captivate with another brilliant chorus. “Fire And Rain” tones everything down a bit with a more mellow approach similar to old school Whitesnake, another extremely catchy tune. Next up is “Release Me,” a frenetic up-tempo jam that starts out sounding a bit like the Dokken/George Lynch live favorite “Mr. Scary.” The song is a bit light on the hook, but it’s still a decent song and the same goes for the next song “Lone Wolf.” Everything picks back up with “Eye Of The Storm,” which starts with a dark, lightly plucked chord progression and has Stefan bringing it up a few octaves right before the song kicks in: Goosebumps! Unfortunately, he abandons that range for the rest of the song—and album, for that matter—which is too bad because he nailed it on that one. Dio is once again channeled on the heavy, hook-laden fist-pumper “Bastard.” The album ends on a mellow note with the short orchestral, acoustic ballad “Dead Man’s Song;” slightly out of place, but still a great song and an excellent ending to a killer album.

I usually don’t like to go into detail song-by-song, but this one deserves it. The album is essentially a melodic rock album with touches of metal similar to what we hear from Masterplan. The worst song on the album is a good song. They’re catchy as hell, and 100% quality. If you like old school 80’s rock/metal, but want something without the cheese then you should definitely seek out this album. Apparently the band have just begun recording the follow-up to Animal Anger, and here’s hoping this new album follows the standard set by this brilliant release.

written by Ken Wood

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Tracklist
1. The Hymm
2. One By One
3. A New King In Town
4. Kiss Of Death
5. Fire And Rain
6. Release Me
7. Lone Wolf
8. Eye Of The Storm
9. Bastard
10. Dead Man’s Song

Playing time: 43.04

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