Strength in Numbers

The Veil

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Like many "metal" bands of the mid-'00s, New Jersey natives Strength in Numbers like their thrash, their hardcore, and even their emo in fair and even quantities; and they proceed to splatter the hard and the soft all over their 2005 debut album, The Veil. This duality is also explored via the use of two full-time vocalists -- one screeching, one actually singing -- who counter-balance each other as regularly as the band's dual guitars, for an ongoing battle between harsh vs. clean that seems inescapable in the post-Nirvana universe. At least it tends to work here, and typical Strength in Numbers fare such as "Gods of War," "The Awakening," and "Houdini" play to one's most visceral and heartfelt instincts at any given turn -- and often at once! To that end, among the more obvious "sons of emo" contained here, "Eight Breaths Per Second," the title track and "Reach to Die" are particularly melodic throughout, but inevitably launch into all sorts of violent thrashing at some point. Elsewhere, the dramatically named instrumental set piece "Devoured by the Bridges Aflame" wins the coveted, most metallic song title award (by a hair -- see "Gods of War," above), and "Frostbite" the purest hardcore-spirit prize, thanks to its gang-shouted animosity. In conclusion, all things considered, The Veil is a mostly entertaining and compelling experience; formulaic, yes, but compelling, and a fine start for this young band.

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