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Byfist – In The End

Byfist
In The End
by Ian Yeara at 30 November 2020, 9:40 PM

As a disclaimer, anytime a Metal album has a song about Metal my eyes just instinctually roll themselves right out of my head. I get it, MANOWAR was cool in the 80s and people who like traditional Metal like their self-referential lyrics and talking about how Heavy Metal is the greatest thing ever, but to me it just comes off as a lack of creativity.

BYFIST is a “Power Metal” band from San Antonio, Texas. I use air quotes there because this is closer to Speed Metal than Power Metal to me. There’s very little focus on melody and harmony, the focus is entirely on the riffs which are actually pretty solid, but I wish there was more melody in those riffs.

I’m going to cut to the chase, I did not enjoy this album, but I’m not going to hold the band accountable for my personal tastes. Speed Metal, Heavy Metal, traditional metal, US Power Metal, all labels that apply here and I’m not a fan of most bands in those categories. Every now and then I find bands that fit more into those categories, like WITHERFALL or CHILDREN OF THE REPTILE that I genuinely enjoy, but it’s pretty rare. It’s hard to explain exactly why I don’t like this genre, on paper it sounds like something I would enjoy, but in practice I find most traditional Heavy Metal to be extremely generic and uninspired. Yeah the riffs are cool, but what are good riffs without inspired harmony?

The only time we get any kind of harmony on this album are during guitar solos and otherwise instrumental sections. Aside from that, verses are just tepid and boring and the vocalist does little to spice it up. Let me be clear, Raul Garcia is a fine vocalist and for people who like bands like DEATH DEALER and CAGE this is exactly up your alley.

No frills, no keyboards or strings, just guitar, bass, drums, and vocalists, I know for many people that is one of the most appealing aspects of traditional Heavy Metal, reminiscent of a time before Europe ruined Power Metal with their orchestras and keyboards. I’m obviously being sarcastic, but I know people who think that way. To me what European Power Metal gets right about Power Metal is adding depth and complexity to it. "In the End" has no depth or complexity, it’s the same riffs over and over again, it’s the same shrieks and the same gutteral mid-range singing.

The vocals absolutely belong on a speed metal album, the issue being here aside from a few songs we don’t get many truly speedy tracks, lots of mid-tempo romping that doesn’t really go anywhere. I feel like I’m spiraling away from my original point so let me wrap it up. I find this kind of Heavy Metal to be boring, and on top of that, if you don’t like the vocals (which I don’t) then you’re left with nothing of any interest. No hooks, no melodies that you want to hear again, just riffs and more riffs.

Alright, I’ve spent a good amount of time being negative, time for some positivity. The guitar riffs really are good, Ernie B and Nacho Vara are excellent guitar players and I have nothing bad to say about them. The drummer, Scott Palmer is also really good, there are some moments in songs like "With This Needle Thee I Wed" with some surprisingly complex rhythmic patterns and some back and forth with the drums and bass, same thing on "Epitaph" and these are the moments I liked most. You can have mid-tempo songs in Power Metal that are still interesting, but you have to have enough variety in your rhythmic patterns and for most of this album, they don’t do that, even though clearly the band is talented enough to play some polyrhythmic sections.

The only song that actually stood out to me on this album though is of course the longest one, I’ve said it before and I’ll say it again extended song forms are always more interesting, you get more time to actually develop and build your song so you can have a climax that’s actually impactful. "With This Needle I Thee Wed" has some really cool ideas and I love what the drummer is doing, the bass is getting some time to shine and this time the verses are actually interesting mostly due to the rhythm section filling in that empty space underneath. This song actually reminded me a lot of early FATES WARNING which might not be my favorite era of FW, but I’m not going to try and say early FW was bad, just not my cup of tea.

Production is average at best, and the hooks just aren’t there. As for the instrumentation, a lot of people will like this album a lot, if you like early FW and more traditionally inclined Power Metal this album will hopefully tickle that spot for you.

I don’t really have much more to say about this album so I’ll finish it with this: I hate celery, I know plenty of people like it and I know how healthy it is for you, but I cannot stand raw celery. That’s what this album was for me, I forced myself to sit through it and I think because of how I had to force myself through it I ended up disliking it even more than I already did. If you’re a european Power Metal fan, there’s nothing here for you. For everyone else, I hope you have more fun with this album than I do.

Songwriting: 3
Musicianship: 7
Memorability: 2
Production: 6

2 Star Rating

Tracklist:
1. Universal Metal
2. In the End
3. Unconcious Suicide
4. Guaranteed Death
5. With this Needle I Thee Wed
6. Ship of Illusion
7. Epitaph
8. Scattered Wits
Lineup:
Nacho Vara – Guitars
Ernie B. – Lead Guitar
Raul Garcia – Vocals
Stony Grantham – Bass
Scott Palmer – Drums
Record Label: Pure Steel Records
     


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