Artist: Bound in Fear
Album: The Hand of Violence
There’s a colloquial saying that I’m sure you’ve heard—that you can get dealt any hand in life. Or maybe you’re just dealt a bad hand, or a good hand, or anything like that. You get the picture—life has infinitely routes it can take in it’s journey to one ultimate outcome, and, somewhere along the line, someone felt it was akin to getting dealt a losing poker hand, or a bum euchre deal. Pretty universally this saying comes up passively—that you, myself, whoever got dealt a hand—never the other way around. The hand doing the dealing is never addressed, but it’s just as much a part of life; the same way someone can receive a shit deal, someone can inflict it, as is often the case—or definitely the case when it comes to deathcore dealers Bound in Fear. Breaking into the heavy music community with their debut EP not too long ago, this downtempo-tinted deathcore outfit have crafted a niche for themselves among the ungodly heavy, and The Hand of Violence is excellent evidence of this. Melding brutalizing deathcore with low and slow elements that draw from doom, atmospheric and black metals alike, Bound in Fear are brooding and beastly, dealing death, destruction and—of course—violence to anyone who might step in their path.
When an artist sets out to create a record, often times, there is an end goal in mind. Fair, right? Well, if that’s the case, then the end goal in mind for The Hand of Violence is undoubtedly…well, violence. The better part of an hour, The Hand of Violence deals in straight up deathcore with moments that channel turn-of-the-decade downtempo elements in a way that manages to be as tasteful as it is immolating. Percussionist Alex Richins serves as the group’s foundation, working with guitarist and producer Keir Campbell as well as guitarist Ben Sutherland to create track after track of pure devastation. Richins’ work on “So Long, So Cold” is one such example of his dynamism, weaving scathing blast beats hither and to amid a raucous display of bone-busting chugs and bare-bones riffs that give a simple-but-effective effect of pure ruthlessness. Here, Campbell and Sutherland work to build nothing but beefy riff after beefy riff as if the duo worked for a slaughterhouse. Elsewhere on Hand of Violence, the duo show a more well-rounded dynamic. “Condemned” or “Absolution” are two excellent examples of this, with a more overt metallic influence to combat some of the over-the-top downtempo-infused intensity that Bound in Fear bombard the listener with. Likewise, “Hate Circuit” sees bassist Joss Wheatley’s role become crucial, adding a thick, grisly and groovy undertone to each riff and chug, adding hints of bounce into an otherwise dense and gritty cut. Bound in Fear work together as a music unit excellently, making more than just “slamming brutal downtempo whatevercore,” or whatever it is that’s trending these days. Instead, the group focus on creating dark, heavy music—regardless of conventional labeling—that succeeds in the one all-important goal that Bound in Fear appear to have set for themselves: aggression.
Where Bound in Fear have no trouble in conveying perverse and punishing brutality with their instrumentation, the very same holds true with their vocal element—if not more so. Frontman Ben Mason’s notoriety has skyrocketed in recent months, and it’s frankly very well deserved. Mason’s voice is monstrous throughout The Hand of Violence, wreaking havoc with grisly, guttural bellows and blistering screeches. Songs like “Hate Circuit” are an outstanding example of Mason’s prowess when it comes to his low end, just as cuts like “So Long, So Cold” highlight variety—and also 2019’s single greatest mosh call courtesy of Bodysnatcher’s Kyle Medina. “Void of Life” is an example where Mason’s work is strong—but perhaps not up to par with the remainder of The Hand of Violence—just as the cuts before it that open up the record are among his stronger offerings. Ultimately, there is some slight fluctuation; “Void of Life” as a whole is a weaker song on the record, and everyone bears some of that weight collectively, be it the uninspired lyricism or all-around complacent songwriting. The flip side is that where “Void of Life” might not shine, the remainder of the record sure as Hell does. “The Rot Within,” “Hate Circuit,” “Absolution” and the record’s title track are immense and enjoyable from start to finish, defining Bound in Fear’s debut effort as one with infinitely more high points than it has low ones—in large part due to Mason’s ungodly vocal prowess.
Bound in Fear took a metered risk in crafting The Hand of Violence the way they did. Why metered? On one hand, it’s bound to appeal to some chunk of the heavy music following—it’s heavy, well-produced and hits hard, what isn’t to like? On the other hand, by going balls-out in crafting a record that seems to geared to be as lopsidedly ruthless and aggressive as possible, they ran a very real risk of it being overwhelming, dense or boring. It is none of those things. The Hand of Violence is as fun as it is furious, and succeeds in keeping the listener hooked. While it isn’t without its flat spots—or flat spot—most records aren’t, and for a debut full-length release, The Hand of Violence deals a royal flush.
For Fans Of: Bodysnatcher, REX, Feign, Traitors
By: Connor Welsh