It’s always a little unnerving when you see a new release from someone who, whilst exists as a stalwart of the metal scene has, nevertheless, lived in the relative shadows, playing his part but never the main attraction, always a team player, part of the squad, someone who has trodden the boards with some of rocks biggest names but craves the limelight, the prestige, the glory, the adulation, the thrill of the spotlight….now is my chance to shine you can hear this album shouting from the rooftops.
So, to Jim Davies. I met Jim a few times back in the day, at various gigs and after show parties (not as glamourous as it may sound by any stretch) whilst he was the guitarist in Pitchshifter, as they abandoned their industrial roots and embraced a sleeker, more nu-metal/dance influenced sound that culminated in what was at the time, a ground breaking effort in www.pitchsifter.com, which employed a ferocious sledgehammer guitar along with discordant dance beats, infectious dub rooted bass and J.S Clayden’s patented sneering vocals.
At the risk of getting slightly side-tracked, that album was well ahead of its time, melding various metal, industrial, grind and dance sounds, it stands up today and a lot of the credit for that can be laid at the feet of Davies. His guitar sounds are instantly recognisable not only for Pitchsifter and on this his debut solo album, but he was also responsible also, in part, for feeding into Prodigy’s more metallic leanings being, as he was, their live guitarist for a number of years and contributing his layered, heavily processed riffs to The Prodigy’s landmark release ‘Fat Of The Land’.
But to today and following a litany of stalled projects (one involving sadly now passed Prodigy totem Keith Flint), Jim Davies, has returned with this collection of songs. So, what’s it like? Well imagine if you will, Prodigy released a new album, without the snarling Flint vocals, or the talent for hooks and melody of Liam Howlett with a bunch of leftover Nine Inch Nails riffs and you’d be knee deep in Headwars. It’s not that this is bad per se, tracks such as Control + 1, are competent slices of dance infused punk, all grimy, sledging guitars and at times foot tappingly catchy BUT it’s nothing you haven’t heard on albums from the beforementioned Pitchshifter, Prodigy or Linkin Park for example.
As the album progresses as does the sense of impending doom and a general feeling of malaise. It’s all safe, by the numbers, dance inflected rock, that doesn’t shift gears throughout it’s slightly tortuous running time, as it slinks off into the distance, tail between it’s legs, reflecting on what could’ve been an inventive and exhilarating project given the pedigree on offer here, but this is very much a wasted opportunity given the breadth of talent involved. Whilst it can be commended for a spectacular production job that really puts you in the room where this album was recorded, it’s just a little dull and derivative.
(4/10 Nick Griffiths)