Evil Chains

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There's an episode of the Internet cartoon Homestar Runner in which one of the main characters develops a half-dragon, half-man character by the name of Trogdor. This pencil-drawn character terrorizes small-town peasants living in thatched-roof cottages, and effectively "burninates" them down to smoldering ashes. That's sort of what the cover and inside drawings of Evil Chains look like, but without the intentional humor and awesome storyline. A fine-tooth comb applied to Battletorn's debut record would reveal influences of hardcore punk and bare-bones no-frills speed metal mixed together in equal measure. Ferocious 16th-note rhythm playing and machine-gun snare playing that wouldn't sound out of place on a Helmet album are the anchors here, and lead vocalist Beverly shrieks with the best of them -- but the distortion on her vocals is a tiresome thing after a while, and only hinders the experience of how truly powerful her delivery can be at times. At 18 tracks, Evil Chains' brevity is similar to most albums of this ilk, and that's definitely a good thing, because any more and fatigue would set in (which may explain why their live concerts range anywhere from the neighborhood of five to 20 minutes). Perhaps a few more fills and guitar solos would relieve the monotony of the onslaught, but not likely. Metalheads and punkers alike should rejoice and bathe in its energy. Everyone else should proceed with extreme caution.

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