Written by Mike Deitzman*
Growing up in Western New York, music for me is as much a driving force in my life as anything else, maybe more than anything else. It’s my first love, my drug, it is what motivates me to get out of bed and attack the day. That’s not a blanket statement for me. I truly believe most people reading this would agree. I’m absolutely a metalhead. But, I’ve never once felt uncomfortable admitting I can find great bands in any style. This isn’t a shill because of the review that I’m writing, but being a teenager in the 1990s, I got into metal and hip hop pretty heavy. My mixtapes for the school bus had your prerequisite bands like Slayer, Metallica, Megadeth, Pantera etc, but it also had NWA, Morbid Angel, House Of Pain, Sepultura, etc. Some of my favorite metal, hardcore and hip hop artists were just about to explode on the scene though. Cypress Hill was a big one for me. They were opening doors in my young teenage mind as early as 1992. Biohazard and Fear Factory were just a couple of others that changed me the minute I heard them.
Cypress Hill, Biohazard and Fear Factory all stood out. They didn’t do things everyone else did. The paths they forged created a ton of great bands and music. When I first heard Sen Dog (of Cypress Hill) was collaborating with Billy Graziadei (of Biohazard), Christian Olde Wolbers (ex Fear Factory) along with Roy Lozano (of Downset) and Fernando Schaefer (of Worst), I legitimately said to myself, “I don’t care if it’s just all of these guys sitting in a room talking, I’m BUYING that when it comes out!” Just based on what these guys meant to me growing up, I was instantly a fan before a second of music was released.
Powerflo’s biography says they are ” Distilling Heavy Metal, Hip Hop, Punk and Rock into a potent sonic strain.” This is an understatement to say the least. If you read that sentence and think that this is some weak ass nu metal revival, you are sadly missing out. Let me break this record down for you guys:
By the way, (and you’ll see I will say this multiple times throughout this review.) Powerflo’s self titled debut album is coming June 23rd, 2017 via New Damage Records, but you can preorder the record right now (and get a ton of sweet extras) by heading over to www.pledgemusic.com/powerflo
“My M.O” kicks off the record with a crushing New York hardcore style riff and an airhorn. This song immediately is the song I’d use in a prison riot. Right into Sen Dog letting you know this truly is a dawning of a new era. This goes directly into a nice quick solo and a great clean vocal singalong chorus that just crushes. This is gonna be stuck in my head all day, and I’m only 1 minute into the first track. All I can think about at this point is how much of a heater this song is going to be when these boys tour. The pits are going to be NASTY! Sen has a way with lyrics, and how he handles his vocals, every line is a punch, but every few lines is a knockout blow. This is probably why he can easily step into both the hip hop world and metal world whenever he chooses. The low end on “My M.O” provided by Christian and Fernando is crushing. They’re both “in the pocket” but at the same time, their playing reminds me of a caged animal that might get loose. Absolute juggernaut performance all around on this track.
“Resistance” is up next. This one has a bit of a slow burn before going off, (nice chill intro here), with some more dynamic work from Fernando on the drums. After about 40 seconds of chill, the listener gets punched in the face musically with a tight metal riff and Sen proving he’s not just a “rapper”. He’s got a really dope cadence that lends itself to heavy music, and I think it sounds just as good as his rapping (which I’ve been a fan of for 25 years). Sen Dog is so good, that when the song goes into a groove where maybe he can do some more hip hop oriented vocals, he instead does a killer, almost spoken word part here that just fits better.
“Where I Stay” is the ultimate mix of each members other projects, and I believe, is going to be the first music video. It’s definitely one of the standout tracks for me, and many old school metalheads are going to love this track. Cool melodic riff over the top, mixed well with a great hardcore chugging riff.
Any punk rock fans reading this? Dust off your shit kickers and get the circle pit ready for “Crushing That”. This is a great, fast paced punk rock anthem. Sen really has some cool lyrics here that I can relate to (and I’m positive you can to). “I don’t mind being the one who’s slept on, but I will never be the doormat that you stepped on.”
“Less Than a Human” has some of the most honest and real lyrics I’ve heard recently in rock and metal. He talks about refusing to be treated a certain way, and if anyone has an issue with what he’s saying he will shut that shit down. This is something we can all get behind. This is a great track in its simplicity. The music is heavy, of course, but the music let’s these really inspired lyrics take the wheel here and drive you emotionally.
“The Grind” is another strong one lyrically with a lot of great old school chanting in the background, complete with a melodic undertow that could make for a cool video. This song could appeal to a lot more people than just metal fans.
“Victim Of Circumstance”. Great metal riffs and punchy drums kick this off- a hella groove oriented track all around. Whether you’re looking for a good pit-inducing track, or you wanna bang your head, welcome to your song. Fear Factory fans might really get into this one.
“Made It This Way” might be the most dangerous track for me. This song is taylormade for driving fast. Few songs come out anymore that make me want to hit the gas like this one does. The ferociousness of metal, the speed of early punk rock and Black Flag era hardcore, with an “all cylinders fired” groove.
I’m a HUGE fan of westerns, (Tombstone etc.). One of my favorite films is “Young Guns”, so when I saw a track on Powerflo’s debut album (which you can preorder over at pledgemusic.com/powerflo right this second!) called “Finish The Game”, I guess I just hoped it was a reference to the movie. Whether it is or not is up for debate, but this groove metal song is my favorite song on the album. This one speaks to me. This song is the one that’s gonna put my old ass front row when Powerflo comes to town and I’ll be screaming these lyrics and banging my head into more neck problems.
“Up and Out of Me” is another groove metal song. This one is a mid paced what I call, “the slow banger”. The drums stand out the most for me here. This is just a great song in general. But…man, Fernando is doing some tasty fills and showcasing himself as a very technical player, but in such a groove oriented track.
The record winds to an end with “Start a War”. Easy guys, you’ve been punching the shit out of me with these riffs the entire record. This track is almost the knockout blow. If ever there was a song perfectly suited for a fight, this is it. This could be the theme song for a pro wrestler, or even a UFC pay-per-view- explosive way to end a record in my opinion.
If you’re wondering why there’s not a whole lot of negativity in this review, it’s because I don’t see a whole lot of anything negative here. What you have here is a group of guys who spent the better part of 2 decades being friends, coming together and harnessing that cohesiveness into a great album. I don’t like to rate albums typically, because it’s such a personal thing. But, I’d absolutely feel right giving this Powerflo album a 100% or 10 out of 10.
As a sidenote: Just the other day, it was announced Powerflo’s “Resistance” is an official theme for WWE NXT. Big doors are opening for these guys already, so get in on the ground floor now, because this Powerflo movement knows no bounds!
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