Formed in 1997, the Dutchmen of Born From Pain have made it their mission to merge the forces of metal – thrash and death – with hardcore. Over the course of six albums they have made a name for themselves, raising their profile by touring alongside Hatebreed, Napalm Death and Six Feet Under as well as playing many of Europe’s big metal festivals. 2014 sees the birth of album number seven ‘Dance With the Devil’, a record inspired by contemporary society’s many failings and instilled with a message to get its downtrodden inhabitants to rise up. Accordingly, a certain film serves as the lynchpin to the music and message…
Instrumental ‘As Above, So Below’ confronts us immediately with the influence of ‘V for Vendetta’ on this album. “Good evening London (etc, etc)…” says the voice before cascading drums and gradually building riffs elevate into a double-bass driven wall of sound. First track proper ‘Cause and Effect’ soon locks in with more of that double-bass and grooving riffs. Along with appropriate volumes of attitude, comes catchy cymbal work which perfectly reinforces the repeated intention of the vocalist(s) to “march”. On the subject of vocals, Rob exhibits a healthy dose of urban US styling in his European pipework to pull off a convincing performance throughout. Perhaps the only thing out of the ordinary in terms of hardcore/metal on ‘Dance With the Devil’ is the consistent thread of ‘V for Vendetta’ samples weaving through the album. Otherwise, tracks like ‘Eye in the Sky’ sound like a mix of early Agnostic Front and death metal, going from fast and muscular to slow and menacing. Ideal slamming moshpit material, for sure.
On the other hand, there are a number of tracks on the album (five by my count) that don’t inspire quite as much. The likes of ‘Roots’ and ‘Bleed the Poison’ come across as patchy, while a track such as ‘Truth of the Streets’ falls down due to it’s very apparent nods to late ’90s/early ’00s Slayer groove drudgery. That said, it’s not as if any of these songs is entirely bad. The aforementioned ‘Truth…’ obviously has some tough hardcore elements, like the odd great breakdown, while others – despite some peculiar rapping and self-explanatory lyrics about breathing – contain bruising passages. The best of the material outside the first three numbers would include ‘Lone Wolf’, which stomps away, and the title track which exudes a heavy ‘Cleansing’-era Prong influence. Likewise, the guest back-up vocals of ‘Nomad’ make it feel as if you’re being surrounded by a gang of burly street nasties whose sole intention is to kick your head in. (Of all the guest vocal appearances by strangely named people, this is by far the best example.)
Come closer ‘Hidden Track’ (presumably named as such because it’s what I assume is the ‘V…’ soundtrack reinterpreted) and it’s fair to say that Born From Pain have put us through the ringer with their disillusioned, dystopian message. Ultimately, ‘Dance With the Devil’ is a pretty rousing listen with enough intimidating moves and grooves to keep you hooked. As acknowledged, it doesn’t operate consistently at the arse-kicking level or indeed brutalise as effectively as, say, Hatebreed but it does keep the hardcore fires burning.