Taking stock of the last two decades, American nu-metal stalwarts mold one of their best albums.
Twenty years on since the release of this group’s eponymous debut, the quartet from Kentucky finally stop struggling with different stylistic tangents they’ve been going off on for some time; more so, the post-grunge collective eventually stumbled on a stabile line-up and aligned themselves with what originally was the band’s chosen genre. Somewhat muddy, albeit inventive and detailed, metal suits the veterans, fronted by founder Hugo Ferreira, best, which is why “The Sum Of All Things” is just that: the volume of its individual parts with a hint of something much bigger.
The Louisville combo are not the sort of ensemble to unleash an assault on their listener from the start, opting instead for building a dread-filled tension, and once Ferreira’s effects-drenched vocals have crawled over the strum into “Alone” to creep up on you, melodic riffs feel not only welcome but also merciful, and Sebastian LaBar’s molten solo brings on a blissful respite. Yet if the flailing “Walk That Way” doesn’t offer a similar breath of clear air, the infectious, organ-padded “Twisting And Turning” proposes a cinematic route down to one’s psyche – with instrumental lines following the piece’s title, before the piano-led “Can’t Find This” wraps power-balladry in sweet harmonies.
Still, whereas “Compound” rocks with a lot of panache, “Living Here Without You” negates its raging pain with suburban ennui that’s difficult to relate to, unlike “Pushover” that pulls a punchy drama and spices everything up with a violin, but the saving grace of “Take Me I’m Broken” would be its mighty groove, while the appeal of “Words To Say” will depend on an instantly gratifying chorus. Even more immediate seems “Ten Years” which shows how comfortable the foursome are in an acoustic skin – a point emphasized by the album’s bonuses: fresh, nuanced takes of the band’s early cuts “Breakdown” and “Down And Out” – whose retro slant must win the band new followers, yet the record’s titular finale treads on familiar grounds, keeping old fans just as riveted.
And this is all the collective need to begin another decades-long run into the future.