Album Review: Cowards – “Rise to Infamy”

Album Review: Cowards – “Rise to Infamy”

Cowards are from France and they play what is best described as metal with elements of sludge/crust and black metal. So yeh..its pretty heavy. This is the bands second long player and it comes out via Throatruiner Records on vinyl/digital in Feb 2015.

Cowards material features blasts of fast discordant metal with howling screams and are just as comfortable slowing it right down, getting really low and gutteral. There are more than a few exceptionally meaty ‘chug-chug-chug’ moments and other sections where the guitars just drone on notes too. Basically Cowards are a band that play at two extremes and rarely anywhere between them. It’s dark and relentless music that might tire a few listeners after only a few songs though.

The opening track “Shame Among Shame” is a 6 minute epic full of contrasting metal/sludge/doom stuff and is loaded with noise, feedback and bigger-than-big guitars. It’s got a little bit of everything that you’ll hear throughout the rest of the album.

Track #4 “Beyond My Hands” plays with some great string bends in its beginning and creates a dark kind of ambiance before the vocals and rhythm kicks in. Album highlight in my opinion.

Track #7 “Anything But The High Road” is an unexpectedly short track with a haunting field recording (media sample?) of a woman talking at the start for a few seconds and then the group storms back in for full effect with the established hugeness and aggression.

There are definitely some interesting idea’s at play throughout the 10 tracks and it feels very consistent and blends together well. The vocals are more like howls and screams which will either do it for you… or they won’t. It suits this stuff because you don’t exactly sing along to it and the lyrics are completely indecipherable from the performance, but it could have been made more interesting, whether that’s through better use of tones, technique, or even other vocals?

The mix is uncompromising and raw. Clearly some serious effort goes into making something sound so huge and yet out of control at the same time. The artwork though.. I dont like. Anytime violence is depicted against a woman, I feel like we’re crossing a line that is getting easier and easier to cross. It’s unacceptable in this social and political climate… or is that just an Australian thing? Yes it is stark, confronting and uncomfortable to look at (in a sense sort of fitting for the music) but it’s my opinion that it’s a poor choice. There should be zero tolerance for that with respect to women and it’s a shame that no one stopped it or urged the band to use a different image.

2.5 / 5

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