Sons of Iniquity
When word came in that local punk/metal band the 33's were set to release a full-length studio album this spring, we didn't expect a massive piece of work to land in our laps.
At an impressive 16 songs in length, Sons of Iniquity is essentially a double album. Lyrically, it qualifies as a proper concept album as well.
Straddling the hardcore and pop-punk genres, the band maintains both a strong melodic sensibility and a saturated, shouty, aggressive musicality throughout the album —not unlike some of their West Coast and U.K. punk brethren.
From the full-throttle opener "Molon Labe" through the even faster thrasher "Never Say Die" (one of the band's four early-era compositions on the disc), there's hardly any down time.
Nathaniel Irvin's shouted delivery is screamed and hollered but not guttural. His lyrics make constant references to military service, brutal combat scenes, over-the-top patriotism, and mixed observations of war in general. Most are blatantly pro-liberty and anti-tyranny.
The album title refers to the Sons of Iniquity, which was a British nickname for a secret, colonial-era organization of soon-to-be soldiers in the years leading up to the Revolutionary War. The 20mm machine gun shells featured on the album cover enhance the military/war theme.
The buzzsaw guitar work between Ryan Wham and Nic Lauretano sizzles over the rumble of drummer Ryan Phillips and bassist Travis Kasey. Unfortunately, the performances don't quite lock in so tightly from time to time. Some passages and transitions sound like the drum fills are a split-second off of the main beat. Irvin's singing tends to wander off meter, too. It's not terribly noticeable, but it can be distracting.
The sinister "1086" epitomizes the band's use of metallic sound effects, pop-punk melody play, and out-of-the-blue hardcore thrash rave-ups. The quick-paced chug-chug and valiant sheen of "Midnight Porter" could easily work on an early Iron Maiden album — at least until Irvin's vocals come in. Another well-executed stand-out titled "Fig" hauls ass, too. "No! No more/not today!" they holler in unison just before the chorus of, "What a bunch of bullshit ... what about your future?/Don't you fucking care?" A listener could read into that in two ways — either the band is profoundly "pro-troops," or its pissed off like mad about the current political climate. Or both.
Aside from the minor technical flaws, the audacity and muscularity of Sons of Iniquity comes off effectively. These guys sound like five very determined punk patriots with a bone to pick with the establishment. (myspace.com/the33snsd)
The 33's open for the Battle Scarred Saints at the Tin Roof on Sun. May 22.