"This war…is relentless!" comes the commanding bark of vocalist Ché Snelting and the gang shouts of his band mates in BORN FROM PAIN. It is a most appropriate introduction to an album that is every bit as explosive and riddled with bullets as any battlefield scene from anywhere in the world. This is the hard stuff, folks. It is metallic hardcore (crossover even) that has absolutely nothing to do with ill-fitting girly pants, eyeliner, or the faux anger of a suburban mall kid. BORN FROM PAIN clearly takes its cues from groups like AGNOSTIC FRONT, SICK OF IT ALL, MADBALL, and even more metallic bands like PRO-PAIN, and not from…well, you know the list. And that includes socially relevant lyrics, not the stuff of Orange County tear-squirt relationship breakups.
It has been a few years since I listened to a BORN FROM PAIN album and, if memory serves, I was not all that impressed at the time. That was then and this is now. What matters is that "War" hits like a sledgehammer to the face. Once the fist-pumping shouts of "Relentless" have faded, "Behind Enemy Lines" (with guest vocals from NAPALM DEATH's Barney Greenway) blasts off with a lethal thrash riff, one of many that grace this heavy hitting monstrosity. In addition to Snelting's incredibly convincing shouts of rage and indignation, the guitar tone on this bad boy is dark, leaden, and gritty as hell, the perfect companion to the knuckle-busting drum/bass sound. "War" just plain feels heavy. Whether it is the lock-step groove that appears at various points throughout, old school thrashing, or the morose melody that permeates a song like "Stop at Nothing", the intensity is suffocating and the anger real. The manner in which "The War is On" builds from a kind of sonic despondency to an all-out assault makes the neck hairs stand at attention. Even six-minute instrumental "The War is On" is a strong cut. Far from a filler track turned instrumental due to a failure to compose lyrics, the feelings conveyed are best left to guitar, bass, and drums. There are opportunities galore to sing along too, "Eyes of the World" one such example. You also get guest vocals from Lou Koller (SICK OF IT ALL) on the catchy "Doomsday Clock", Jan-Chris de Koeijer (GOREFEST) on "Bury Me Fighting", and backing vocals from the members of BARCODE.
If you are a sucker for well-written hardcore with a significant metallic element, which does not equate to metalcore, you will dig the hell out of "War". Some bands just get it right, and "War" proves that BORN FROM PAIN is one of them. Now get ready for a beating.