Butcher Babies are a five piece hailing from Los Angeles and currently ready to unleash their second album. Forming in 2010, the two girls who handle vocals and three guys bring a brand of nu metal meets groove meets djent with shock and horror themes. With links to Amen and Scars Of Tomorrow in their line up, this band promises much, but can it live up to it whilst they tell us to take it like a man?
The album is your typical modern metal release – 12 songs, 45 minutes in length and an average track time of round 3:30. What initially stands out about this release is how the band have claimed they are taking the album ‘back to their thrash roots’ but it comes across more nu metal and djent than thrash like or the “neo Thrash” tag which many American reviews and critics have tagged to them. Sure, it has an angry edge to it vocally and musically, but it lacks the spark and energy which makes thrash what it is. Coming off as more metalcore with blatant Meshuggah and Slipknot worship, it has a real hollow tone to it. It’s loud, it’s heavy but not really that intense and it’s a shame given some of the lyrical themes. The riffing is good, but the sound just doesn’t do it any justice.
Vocally, the album is predominantly screamed. Harsh vocals with that distinct venomous delivery and ‘core’ edge to them which is prevalent amongst modern metal bands make up the majority of the vocal work on this album and you can tell the two girls apart when they sing as one has a slightly deeper/lower growl, but again, this style has been done to death. It works well with the music backing it up, but the girls really shine when they actually incorporate the clean vocals or when one does clean and the other harsh. The overall musical sound is straight out of the early 2000’s and given the fact they scored a support with Marilyn Manson, someone who lost all significance and importance after the early 2000’s, it kind of fits. Maybe this is just a case of 10 years too late?
There are some stand out moments though in this mediocrity. “The Cleansing” has some real melodic hooks to it, a punchy chorus and some of that clean and harsh vocal interplay I mentioned before going on and it has a decent groove to it, sadly the drums are on a “St Anger” level of awful (well not that bad but you get the picture!) and “Gravemaker” does set a good sense of feeling with its moody sound and approach. “Never Go Back” is a straight up ‘classic Nu-Metal’ styled track which will give the generation born in the 1980’s a good nostalgia kick and the highlight of the album is “Thrown Away”, a very clean, atmospheric and melodic work which is what I would have liked to have heard more of on this release.
Ultimately, “Take It Like A Man” is an album which came out 10 years too late, by a band who seem to have been put together to help ride the wave generated by the “Class of 1997-2004” nu metal reunion thing going on right now which has seen bands like Coal Chamber, Limp Bizkit, POD, Hoobastank and others who were big round then coming back out of the woodwork. They’re popular with the mainstream metal community and you can see why – two attractive front women and a ‘modern retro’ sound for those who didn’t actually grow up with Nu Metal and had to suffer through screamo, but ultimately, the only thing I can take like a man from this release is that when it comes to Nu Metal and all things trying to capture that vibe or claim it is influenced by thrash, I can call bullshit on it. Despite some good moments, a decent heavy sound and a niche appeal which will surely guarantee them sales and regular festival slots, this just doesn’t seem to work or set anything on fire.