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Obstruktor – Wrong Hands

Wrong Hands
by kenn staub at 07 October 2020, 4:59 PM

Billing themselves as “a young metal band \[that] delivers a mean and refreshing mix of thrash, speed, and death metal,” OBSTRUKTOR released their debut album, “Wrong Hands,” in mid-summer. “Wrong Hands” is a do-it-yourself project, the trio from Haarlem, Netherlands not only wrote and performed the album, but were also responsible for its recording, mixing, mastering, and publishing. This lends “Wrong Hands” an old-school aesthetic, reminiscent of punk’s early days when band members did it all in an effort to be heard. Herein lies the album’s strengths, as well as its weaknesses.

There is something in each song on “Wrong Hands” that I really liked, whether it be a catchy refrain, a headbanging beat, or a grinding rhythm. That being noted, however, each song also features such abrupt and frequent shifts in tempo and style that it becomes hard to settle in and embrace what the band is doing. It is as if OBSTRUKTOR is trying on various personas, throwing them out there to see what sticks instead of developing one sound. Further, the mixing of the album does them no favors. For instance, the drums often have a hollowed-out quality that is too prominent in the mix.

A sampling of songs from “Wrong Hands” gives a synopsis of my overall impressions. “Cry For Justice” is the first track that got my attention. It started with a great rhythm highlighted by rat-a-tat drumming and distorted guitars. Just as I was getting into it, the song abruptly shifted, straying from the original theme that had me initially digging the tune. “The Pile” opens solidly, methodical drumming with bursts of guitar in a marching beat that settles into a grooving refrain. Once the vocals starts, the song’s structure becomes more discordant and somewhat muddy. “Threat To The Menace” is marked by a doomsday-like rhythmic refrain that gives way to a style change that marks the start of diminished musical cohesion. At times the singer takes seemingly forced excursions into the upper end of his range that aren’t necessarily needed. The style changes were better set up in “Sleep,” a song that has an almost SABBATH-like quality in its opening and closing. “Black Fumes” shows OBSTRUKTOR’s speed metal chops with a nice riff coming through, whereas “Powerlords” has a hardcore punk feel with a refrain that could have been used more.

Wrong Hands” is a no-nonsense album, what you hear is what you get. It shows a band that is capable of mining several of metal’s subgenres to great effect, particularly when it comes to putting down a rhythm. There is a need to blend these styles more coherently or settle on a central theme upon which to build around. The musical ability is present, OBSTRUKTOR just needs to play more to their strengths, sticking with them and avoiding forays that don’t add to the whole.

Musicianship: 7
Songwriting: 5
Memorability: 5
Production: 4

2 Star Rating

1. Orbit
2. Wrong Hands
3. Cry For Justice
4. Atomic Holocaust
5. The Pile
6. Threat To The Menace
7. Sleep
8. Black Fumes
9. Powerlord
10. Placebo
Bas Leurs – Guitars/Bass/Vocals
Jesper Te Beest – Guitars/Vocals
Max Buljis – Drums (synths on Placebo)
Record Label: Independent


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