Threat Signal - Under Reprisal (Cover Artwork)

Threat Signal

Under Reprisal (2006)

Nuclear Blast

Say what you want about the hardcore/metalcore scene, but get it out quickly, because Threat Signal have the potential to turn it on its head. The Canadian band's Nuclear Blast debut, Under Reprisal, is so powerful, so heavy, and just so damn enjoyable, it scares me to think what they'll be capable of on their sophomore record.

Anything resembling metalcore these days usually isn't worth anyone's time, but these guys are a long way from skinny kids in tight jeans with bad hair. The clean singing contained on the album may turn off a few casual listeners, but rest fucking assured, this is not Underoath. Frontman Jon Howard is all over the place vocally, utilizing low grunts, high-pitched (and absolutely chilling) screams and a raspy, melodic singing voice, all of which shine through and overpower everything else on the disc, rockin' as it might be. Listen to "One Last Breath" for further proof. The singing (think Linkin Park without the whine, and a hell of a lot more attention paid to the composition of the melody) is heavy in itself, and never wears out its welcome (think 15% of the finished product). The screaming alone is worth the price of the disc (or the time spent downloading). The guitars are simply fantastic here as well. The riffs are surprisingly varied for a hardcore release, yet still just as "br00tal, d00d," and the inclusion of some mind-numbing technical solos doesn't hurt one bit. The shredding on songs like "Counterbalance" or "Inane" bring to mind Pantera playing Fear Factory or some other such concept. The breakdowns, of which there are plenty, come naturally, and actually end up as one of the true highlights of the band's overall sound. The rhythm section is perfect, providing plenty of reason to bang your head, and I can't think of an album in recent memory with a better amount of restraint on the double-bass pedals (you know we need a break, fellas).

The songs themselves are well-written, save for a few somewhat generic lyrics (see "A New Beginning"), but nothing comes off cheesy or uninspired. The only song really not up to par with the rest is "Now," which just sounds like it was a bit rushed (maybe hence the title?). Another small complaint is that some of the best and/or most diverse parts of the songs (usually the technical or ambient stuff) are usually over before you can take them in. Stretching them out a bit for the next release would do them good, and secure them as one of the few hardcore bands of late that can keep it interesting.

I do not attempt to sway you if you obviously won't like this. This is a punk rock website, after all. However, if you are at all a fan of hardcore, metal, metalcore, metallic hardcore, Pantera (minus racism), Fear Factory (minus suck) or just anything really heavy that you can rock out to without boring yourself to death, there's a good chance this is for you. Very strongly recommended.