Nuclear Blast/Arising Empire
Review by Rick Ossian
Oftentimes while writing or planning out a review, I run into a solid brick wall – call it a rut, call it writer’s block, call it being stumped – call it what you will, it still sucks! When it happens, I often seek the advice of my fellow writer Dr. M.J., and he asks me; “how does it (the music) make you feel?” Well, I can tell you one thing – whilst listening to TTRAW, I was having difficulty remaining seated! You may say ‘Rick, does that mean that their brand of rock is exciting?’ Indeed it is – in fact, if I were hell-bent on description (which I often am), I would say that TTRAW‘s rock is infectious, exhilarating, even all-consuming at times. Not only did I feel like standing up, I felt like moshing! We all remember how to mosh, don’t we?
I remember the first time I found myself in a mosh pit (I believe it was at a Pantera/White Zombie gig), and I felt like I was in the proper environment, and surrounded by the proper element. I have moshed frequently since then, and always marvelled at how folks were (generally) friendly about it – unless, of course, the tunes were inherently violent. I saw a big muscle-bound gent go into a Faith No More mosh-pit one time, and he had this cocky swagger about him, and a friend of mine said ‘uh oh’. Naturally, I wanted to know what the ‘uh oh’ was about. He said “just watch, Fish-Man my friend, and you shall see“. Minutes later the same gent came straggling, struggling, skulking, bloodied and bruised, STAGGERING even, out of the mosh pit. Turns out he had gone into the pit with the attitude that he was going to hurt someone. Well, the folks in the pit didn’t want THAT particular element in the pit, so they removed it/him FROM the pit. But I digress (as I often do).
The reason that I bring that story up is because there will be times when TTRAW‘s attack/delivery will make you feel like slamming into stuff – HARD. There brand of tunes often crescendos into a full-on frontal assault, and if you DON’T feel like at least standing up and dancing a bit, you should probably check your pulse. Tracks such as Torn, Suburban Romance, Dead By Dawn, hell, almost ALL of the tracks here (save Interlude, which is exactly that), will have you, at the very least, bobbing the proverbial head and tapping your toes. I found myself inevitably banging and stomping at every turn available. While most of the tracks are in this mode, you will also find TTRAW stopping on a dime and turning at the drop of a hat from full-on techno/thrash rage to an introspective, plaintive lament (almost a lullaby or a ballad, even!), sometimes shifting like this several times during the same track.
Speaking of shifting, I also found myself with jaws gaping at how much and how well TTRAW were able to pack SO MUCH into each track. The longest track, Ghosts, was right around four-and-a-half minutes in length, and it was epic in both scope and nature. Most, even prog-leaning heads, will marvel at this fact, and will probably wonder how TTRAW were doing it. In my humble opinion, they must practice a lot. I’ve been told that rehearsal will work wonders within. The vocals were another matter that involved considerable shifting. Practically every track featured Cookie Monster (growling) vocals with clean vocals intermingling with one another. A Swedish vocalist/musician once recently told me in an interview that there was a reason for this. He explained that there was a time and a place for everything, in particular with vocals. There are times when things get a bit more intense that usual, and it is THOSE points where growling comes in very handy. The more mellow, introspective spots, by contrast, would almost require a more subtle vocal approach – hence the clean vocals.
The members of TTRAW are from Essen in Germany, and were founded in 2012. They claim to be in the ‘Electro-Metalcore’ genre (??), and they appear to be a collective of sorts. The members include Gesellschaffer, Dixi Wu, Danny Guldener, Marc Dobruk, Nico Sallach, Simon Yildirim, and Stanislaw Czywil. While my German is a bit rusty, I believe that they are no strangers to danger when it comes to the recording process, having previously produced an EP titled Young, Used and Wasted along their musical journey. Let us have a look/listen at the tracks, then, shall we?
Suburban Romance, the lead off number, is full of wicked riffing and mixed vocal approaches, as are most of the other tracks. You will find some seriously heavy double-pumping in terms of tempo and especially the drumming on this one.
Wild at Heart is similar, and the term techno-thrash came to the brain briefly. I will coin a term that I’m not sure others have used before; let us dub this tune ‘borg-rock’, if you will. Yes, dear reader, resistance IS futile, as you will soon discover upon listening. The techno-thrash slam remains in the background throughout, but is NOT overbearing, at least not to these ears.
Dead By Dawn is more of a robot-thrash, I guess, if I had to call it anything. It could be JUST a tune, but again I often find myself wanting to be descriptive, so there you have it. There is some yelling and screaming, and I was again reminded of Zombie (White/Rob) and Rammstein, by turns. This stuff is super-charged, both vocally and instrumentally, and the beat is uptempo. There is some shifting and churning and turning again, by now, you might have noticed, a hallmark for these fellows. No complaints here!
Blackout is more of the same, with sort of a regular rock intro, mixed with the techno-thrash mentioned above. This is some seriously heart-stopping stuff, and must be somewhat akin to what it must sound like when one’s heart is being ripped out. At least, that’s what it sounded like to ME. Insert your own soul-shattering simile/metaphor whenever, or wherever, appropriate! This track, as is the case with many of the tracks here, was over way too soon. Short but VERY sweet.
Revolution brings to the fore some vocal FX at the outset, but some severely sincere slamming as well. Another serious double-thumper with some absolutely PUMPING drum work, and again mixing vocal approaches seems to be the order of the day.
Roadsick has a positively charged, big rock, URGENT tempo, and will make you want to dance/pogo/mosh, or whatever it is you feel the need to do when you hear something that you REALLY like. It is a no-holds-barred slam-fest, that even borders on AOR at times, but not for long, so don’t despair!
Interlude is exactly that – no more, no less, and kind of makes one wonder why on earth was it included. Perhaps the lads needed a break during recording and decided to keep the tape machine rolling anyway..?
Schoolyard Warfare takes us back to where we were before we were so rudely interrupted, and doesn’t really feature an intro at all, it just sort of barrels right into the tune! I not only found this refreshingly rare, considering most tunes nowadays have intros of SOME sort. No such tomfoolery here!
Kill the DJ may appear as a cautionary tale, and marks the first time in this review that I felt attention drawn to the lyrics: “Another fucking replay/Time to kill the DJ/ Ready to fight/No more fucking replays”. Scary stuff, eh, boss? Next time you do a gig/show, be sure not to play the ‘same old songs over and over again‘, because your audience may be ‘free/wild/pumped up’, or worse!
Ghosts is the single longest track, as I mentioned before, and has an eerie piano/guitar intro that builds into another bruising crescendo. This is, by turns, introspective, almost painful even, then pumped and ‘screaming from the dead’. It is an allegory of a woman being akin to a ‘ghost story’, which I can, oddly enough, identify with, having encountered females of this nature!
Drag Me Down is a heavy, uptempo, thrashing number, as is Torn, the closer. Both just slam in from the start to the finish, and both are worthy of the heavy, pumping beat and tearing out of the vocal chords that will undoubtedly inspire you to get up and jump about some more – that is, if you haven’t already. Excellent!