VICTIMS – The Horse And Sparrow Theory

VICTIMS – The Horse And Sparrow Theory

The 7th full length from the Swedish hardcore/punk ensemble brings expected dose of mostly one-dimensional music in the vein of early Mastodon, Crowbar and Biohazard but there are a few surprises such as genre crossing into d-beat/death metal and industrial.

Victims have been around since 1997 and, unlike the proverbial "Forrest Gump" "life as a box of chocolates" you know what you’re going to get with them: dark, heavy and uncompromising hardcore/punk which takes no prisoners, mostly centered around a few familiar power chords played in different configurations, similar to Swedish old school death, the way it was invented, patented and has been promoted for decades. This 7th album, though it mostly doesn’t deviate from that simple pattern, attempts a few experiments. For instance, in the weird, near-industrial half-instrumental "We Fail" which recalls Sepultura’s "We Who Are Not As Others" or Nailbomb’s "Sum Of The Achievements" (remember them?) a sample of a pro-climate change speech serves in lieu of most of the lyrics, as the speaker warns of swarming masses of affected African refugees to flood the Western world within the next 10 years, the brief (1:42) "The Sea And Poison" slow hardcore cut, similarly environmentally-themed track.

What can surprise Victims fans is the unusual heavines of this material whereby comparisons to Dismember (The Birth Of Tragedy) and Napalm Death (There’s Blood On The Streets) abound. There’s even reminscence to Judas Priest’s "Breaking The Law" in the rhythm and melody of "Fires Below". The best two tracks begin and end the album and are quite catchy and melodic, with the opening title track practically heavy metal and the favorite, the closing "Revenge Of Our Fathers" beginning with a Slayer-esque ominous atmospherics and then the music’s recalling Darkest Hour’s "Knife In The Safe Room". And just as quickly as it began the album ends.

"The Horse and Sparrow Theory" is a very familiar album which breaks no new ground despite a few surprises, clearly from the fans of the genre to the fans of the genre. The songwriting is nothing fancy and therein lies my score. Had Victims, being certainly well able to, added some ebbs and flows within these songs they would have merited much more recognition on my part.

If you are a fan of hard core/punk this album and this band is a good address as any other. But if you look for more in your musical pursuits you probably should go elsewhere as this is hardly an essential purchase.