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Music Review: Nodes Of Ranvier—Defined By Struggle

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You ask any of the residents in South Dakota what their definition of “heavy” may be,  chances are they may think of the large boulders found around Mt. Rushmore. Sioux Falls-based Nodes of Ranvier look to make their home state proud and redefine what heavy means with their new record Defined By Struggle (Victory Records)

Having made somewhat of a name for themselves on Christian hard-core label Facedown Records, NOR have toured relentlessly and have made the jump onto a bigger label in the process. They continue to spread their message of hope, unity and strength with their fifth release.

Produced by Mike Dresch (Bloodlined Caligraphy, War of Ages), the first few listens of this album can come off as a poor man’s As I Lay Dying-meets-Hatebreed. Chockfull of breakdowns, plenty of gang vocals and rapid-fire drumwork, you would think this can surpass those temporary comparisons but those thoughts are hard to shake.

One of the tracks, “Purpose In Pain” starts with plenty of promise. A soaring guitar intro immediately jumps into the land of hard-core and goes into a killer gang vocal chorus. What lost me was what is becoming a bit of a curse among bands who mix metal and hard-core, the scream/sing/scream combination. While the vocals bring to mind 36 Crazyfists or even the now defunct A Dozen Furies, it completely kills the song from that point.

“Valjean” gives off a solid dose of conviction both lyrically and vocally. The breakdowns are fierce and the guitarwork brings me visions of Killswitch Engage with the subtle guitar squeals thrown in for good measure. While tracks “Wrathbearer” and “Sergeant Sorrow” keep up the tempo and flow of the whole record, it’s not enough to say it a great record.
This is definitely a good debut for Victory but I was expecting a lot more. I mean, if you have to resort to that sing/scream combo, it will become accessible to some but because of the oversaturation of bands doing this, it may very detrimental to the band in the process.

Bottom Line: Defined By Struggle is a good addition for your metal and hard-core collection. But if you are making the jump onto a bigger label, you have to up the ante musically. Nodes of Ranvier have all the plans now but it’s going to be all about how they execute it.

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