Album Review :
Nodes Of Ranvier "Defined By Struggle"

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Band: Nodes Of Ranvier
Title: Defined By Struggle
Label: Victory
Review By: JoshIVM

Tracklisting:

01. Sermon
02. Valjean
03. Endless Faith
04. Purpose In Pain
05. Wrathbearer
06. Defined By Struggle
07. Archegos
08. Sergeant Sorrow
09. Nagheenanajar
10. Confront
11. Infidelity

Members/Duties:

Kyle Benecke: Vocals
Jake Stefek: Guitar
Josh Ferrie: Drums
Jon Parker: Guitar
Brady Murphy: Bass

I shouldn’t have been surprised when I heard the first single off of “Defined By Struggle”. The band has pretty much changed on every album since their debut, so I should be used to it by now right? Well I knew right away people were going to dismiss this effort simply because of the vocal change. And I’ll admit they did turn me off as well. However, I figured I’d been a fan for years now that I’d wait til I could listen to the disc all the way through.

Nodes released their first LP on Facedown Records back in 2002. I never really got into that first album until years later but their self-titled sophmore effort drew me in upon first listen. I think they really settled on a sound in that album. Of course after that, they lost some members most notably the vocalist. Then came another big transition with 2005’s “Years To Come”. Nick’s deep vocals were an instant hit with me and I liked the melodic parts the band added. The band also sped things up and turned out some ferocious jams, as well as adding some catchiness that was sure to expand their fanbase. That brings us to 2007, the band now on Victory, prepared to unleash their 4th album to the masses and they lost me with the first song?

Well ok, like I said they didn’t lose me because I waited. Had I not, I would have passed them up. But the wait was worth it! Once I popped the new disc into my car stereo I was pumped! You can still hear Jon Parker’s distinct guitar playing style throughout. The intro “Sermon” starts the album off on the right foot. Guitars begin chugging away right off the bat with gang vocals on top. Then “Valjean” shows you the band kept all the best parts of “Years” and through further listening you’ll see they dropped the others. Some fans might find it actually more enjoyable that you can understand what Kyle is actually screaming as these days most metal/metalcore releases are pretty hard to distinguish with all of the death and grind influence. “Endless Faith” had me yelling along instantly. It’s blistering pace will have those 2-steppers tired out halfway through the track! “Purpose In Pain” is one of the catchier tracks both musically and vocally. It has a huge chorus that is a great for singing along. The first time I heard “Wrathbearer” and started to decipher the lyrics (they weren’t in the promo copy I received), I wasn’t sure if they were heading in a new direction lyrically. The band has been a part of the Christian scene especially because of the original vocalist but the band has changed multiple times since then. Lyrics like “That crucifixion meant nothing to me. Just another fairy tale passed down through the centuries” and “He is dead and gone. Empty is your Savior’s throne” caught me offguard. I replayed the track 4 or 5 times until I figured out the rest of it and realized the approach. Musically, the track is one of the highlights of the album as well. Thundering breakdowns and machinegun drums with European styled guitarwork. Then right back into whatever form of core you want to term it. “Archegos” should remind fans of some of the older Nodes’ riffs. The instrumental is quite enjoyable as well with it’s dark and haunting feel.

I’d dare say this is my favorite Nodes Of Ranvier as a whole both musically and lyrically. It has less weaknesses than the others did and plenty more ferocity! Sure the vocals may take some getting used to but in my case this CD is getting a lot of airplay. I think the switch to Victory could have gone either way and thankfully the band step up to the plate and gave it their all! I recommend this disc to anyone who doesn’t need their metal all dressed up. This is raw and ferocious to it’s core!

Overall Rating: I would highly recommend giving this disc a spin or two because I think it’d hook most people. It’s offering something a little different than the waves of new metalcore outfits popping up and to me it’s a relief. One of my favorite albums of 2007! (9/10)

Standout Tracks: “Wrathbearer”, “Endless Faith”

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