Much like the alternative rock landscape in 2002, the metal world has also had its fair share of Scandinavian bands arrive in the U.S. with authentic, vital contributions to the genre. One such band is Raised Fist, a gleefully vicious outfit that mixes the brutal production and speed-oriented brutality of death metal with the songwriting structure and lyrical approach of hardcore punk. What results is one of the most fat-free, ugly albums of the year, brimming with frenzied guitars, chanted choruses, and hoarse screaming. The production, courtesy of Daniel Bergstrand (Stuck Mojo, In Flames), emphasizes the sheer savagery that the band thrives on, capturing every muted riff and blast beat in crisp detail. But it's the songs that make this a winner, from the Motörhead-style roar of "Get This Right!" to the resurrection of N.Y.C.-style hardcore mosh chugging in "Killing Revenues" to the unbelievable high-speed death metal of "Between the Demons." More than any other metal outfit in 2002 (save Cutthroat 9 and Entombed), Raised Fist understands the straight-faced nature of the genre and isn't afraid to step into the album at full speed and never let down the high-octane approach. Alexander Rajkovic's sepulchral roar is a harsh weapon as well, barking the band's personal politics with a bitter edge. The only problem at all is how weary the album can make a listener, as the music never so much as hints at a break from the nonstop blitzkrieg until "Another Day," the second-to-last track. Raised Fist has little use for slow passages or moody breakdowns, which can exhaust anyone not in the right frame of mind to take in the assault. Still, a metal album with too many brutal moments is better than one with too little, and when taken in doses this reveals several excellent tracks that only blur when held next to one another. Although not perfect, Dedication is a truly passionate slab of hardcore metal that has much to offer to fans of thrash and death metal as well. In a year when metal hasn't made much of an impact, it's a relief to know the underground still has bands as vital as Raised Fist to pacify genre fans.
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AllMusic Review by Bradley Torreano