To the Lions - Baptism of Fire (Cover Artwork)
Staff Review

To the Lions

Baptism of Fire (2007)


Hardcore is a genre that values passion and intensity above almost all else. And until hearing To the Lions' Baptism of Fire, the phrase "too much passion" is never one that came to mind.

It's weird to say that a band put too much effort in; that they're too intense, but somehow, the approach of this Ontario quintet backfired, if only a little.

To the Lions' frontman has such a fervor about his vocals that, at times, it sounds like he's overdoing it. Completely overpowering the buzzing distortion of low-tuned guitars or the thumping of a bass drum with just the human voice is no easy task, but that's what happens on this album. "Ride the Apocalypse" drives with a mid-tempo rhythm, but the vocals are so in-your-face that it's really hard to hear anything but them.

If you're capable of getting past the overbearing nature of the vocals, there's a lot done well on this album that fans of metallic hardcore will certainly find favorable.

"Born to Die" personifies the word 'heavy' -- the combination of incensed vocals and wave after wave of pulverizing riffs is a formidable one, and what the song lacks in dynamics it more than makes up for in speed and groove. When To the Lions get locked into a good rhythm, they know to stick with it. This is shown to be true again with "Nightmare Begins," a ripping track with rock 'n'roll sensability. Beneath the breakdowns, there's an undercurrent ripe with activity. That's what keeps these songs, and this album going.

By the end of the album, the band is still kicking, and kicking hard at that.

While the vocals can at times be a bit much, this band does have the metallic hardcore sound fairly down pat, and they've found a way to keep a sound that goes stale easily fresh through and through.

Maybe that extra passion ain't such a bad thing after all.