Absolute Power

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It has been said many times but bears repeating: Pro-Pain are a very angry band. And the alternative metal/hardcore firebrands expressed plenty of anger on 2005's Prophets of Doom and 2007's Age of Tyranny: The Tenth Crusade, both of which were recorded during the George W. Bush years and found Pro-Pain expressing their total disdain for neocons and Bush's administration. But Pro-Pain, for all their blistering rage, obviously love hooks, so it isn't really surprising that they made a conscious effort to be relatively melodic on 2008's No End in Sight and continue in that vein on 2010's Absolute Power. That is not to say that Absolute Power sounds anything like a Creed album; this 37-minute CD packs an intense, head-kicking punch, and there is no shortage of punk/metal thrashiness on "Unrestrained," "Road to Nowhere," "Destroy the Enemy," and other tracks. But while Absolute Power offers plenty of intensity and plenty of anger, it also offers melodies and hooks. Another thing it offers is a fair amount of variety. Pro-Pain do some things on Absolute Power that one wouldn't expect -- for example, using female background vocals on "Road to Nowhere" and incorporating elements of black metal on "Hate Coalition." Gary Meskil's hardcore-style bark turns into somewhat of a black metal rasp on "Hate Coalition," a tune that even includes some blastbeats (which are atypical of Pro-Pain). But as surprising as it is to hear Pro-Pain experimenting with black metal on "Hate Coalition," they still sound like Pro-Pain. This CD underscores their ability to try different things without ever letting listeners forget that they are listening to a Pro-Pain album. Absolute Power isn't among Pro-Pain's essential releases, but it's a solid effort -- and longtime followers will be glad to see them continuing to bring the noise after 19 years in the mosh pit.

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