Oh sweet, sweet heavy metal, look at what Pushmen have done to you. Stripped you of much of your steadfast clichés and injected you with a fervent animosity and immediacy that belies your old age; even as your arthritic hands remain bent out of shape after years of speed-metal and aborted attempts at two-handed tapping. Now metal is rejuvenated once again, still sticking to the same diet of whiskey and cocaine but aware of the power that fresh perspective and open mindedness can bring to a genre as senile and cumbersome as heavy metal. All this means the catchily titled The Sun Will Rise Soon On The False And The Fair is far from resembling a by-numbers record of recycled riffs headed straight for the ever growing pool of stagnation. It is by all accounts a thrilling listen that is made vital because of a mutating form of punk’s abhorrence that runs through the protruding, strained veins of these angry Pushmen fellows.
Occupying a left-field metal sound which resides in very similar territory to Mastodon’s crossover appeal but without any of the sprawling classic rock pretensions, The Sun Will Rise Soon… is a continuation of modern metal’s unholy matrimony of cerebral, dexterous passages with outright aggression and pulverising, sweat-inducing riffs. Pushmen already have some serious metal pedigree amongst their ranks, comprising of ex-members of The Sword and Heartless Bastard to name but a few of their previous metal muses with which the members have already clocked up thousands of hours touring, excreting thousands of bucket loads worth of sweat in the process. On top of their impressive CV’s, Pushmen boast some of the finest ink-on-flesh in the business and an abundance of facial hair of Nordic proportions. So far, so metal.
The guitars are far from the standard metal fare of solid, distortion ridden bludgeons. Whilst they are well versed in straight up power chords, Pushmen prefer to whip their instruments into a frenzy, as guitar lines dart back and forth, prodding at your ears and teasing with dissonant fretboard workouts before delivering the payload in a furious outburst of attack. Riffs are unorthodox, cutting jagged edges through the songs and sitting somewhere between Slayer’s aural brutality and The Jesus Lizards raucous re-appropriation of jazz scales.
Thundering opening track ‘Child From Chaos’ features a surprisingly melodic chorus, touching upon the subversive attitudes of pop-savvy modern metal bands of the calibre of Torche and Baroness. ‘Vortex Philosophy Blues’ is a swirling, well…vortex of virtuosic riffs that descend into the bowls of hell before emerging with a pretty catchy central hook and a bought of chanted vocals. Don’t get deterred by un-metal phrases such as ‘swirling’, this album is still as macho-metal as a Hells Angels pre-show barbeque before a Metallica concert. Opening in a foreboding barrage of feedback and atmospheric dissonance, ‘Amass’ is left to simmer for some time before the huge riffs are brought out to play. ‘Blaze Some More Hate’ and ‘The Year of Hands and Neck’ are two sublime showcases of outrageous musicianship as drums nail some truly furious fills whilst never falling into over-indulgence whilst guitars wail in a selection of high fretboard moments that proves Pushmen are unafraid to use more minimalist tendencies instead of the usual one-hundred-notes-per-second heavy metal fare. As the album progresses the guttural screams and bellows of the throaty terror unleashed from bloody vocal chords may prove to be difficult for some listeners to endure, as the vocalists mid-range screams tear at the ears like rabid claws and leave you pleading for even the slightest variation. ‘Crime Again’ begins in a distinctly un-metal fashion, its main guitar part sounding resolutely odd but not out of place amongst the stomping riff which brings the track to a punishing close. ‘Western Medicine’ signs the band off on a six minute expedition through a selection of riffs that veer towards the weird end of the metal spectrum and the vocalist on a quest to see if he can scream so violently that his lungs come flying out of his mouth.
A solid record, commendable for keeping its gaze forward rather than behind into the over-mined metal back catalogue. Its fault are few, but the hardcore bellow that persists throughout all nine tracks will surely deter and/or intimidate some would-be fans. Their loss.
4 out of five high fives!