Sondura - Live Before You Die
Much like my fellow TMF-er Steven found with the new DePedro album, every now and then this job presents you with an album that is almost impossible to critique. Sondura’s debut album Live Before You Die is one of these occasions. However that’s not to say Sondura’s album is a ‘nice’ album like DePedro’s effort, after all any heavy metal band aiming for ‘nice’ are in the wrong genre straightaway, it’s just that Live Before You Die rarely provokes any other reaction than ‘meh’.
It could have all gone so different though if the majority of the album lived up to the standards set by the first two tracks on the album. Sondura’s name literally translates in Portuguese as ‘hard sound’ and title track Live Before You Die certainly delivers on this name with crunching riffs from the off and a catchy duel-vocal chorus that one could easily imagine replicated in a sweaty mosh pit. Scars builds on this and evokes Dragonforce especially during its epic guitar riffage towards the end which would leave any metal-head screaming for more, which unfortunately never materialises.
Despite attempting variations with tempo with many of the following tracks such as the crowd-pleasing ‘slow build up, big finish’ style of Falling Free, it soon becomes obvious that there is not much different being offered on the album. The riffs remain as crunching as on Live Before You Die but it becomes difficult to differentiate one riff from another such as the main chorus hooks of Black And White and A Thousand Miles. They may not be 100% similar but one could easily replace one with the other and not notice any difference. Because of this, the album ends up blending into one long track and only the most dedicated listener would not suffer from a bit of metal fatigue.
Even when a break from the norm does appear to come in the form of Fake with its mellow opening salvo, it soon dissipates into the same riff-heavy choruses. However it does then lean towards the more screamo side of metal in its end bridge so at least it’s the most hardcore ballad you will ever hear and nothing like the Radio One friendly ‘rock ballad’ pap continuously churned out by bands like U2.
This is almost being too harsh on an album that goes about its business in a solid manner from the strong vocals to the sharp instrumentals despite the similarities between tracks. It’s just that when the album gets it right as it does one final time with the epic penultimate track Last Man Standing, which is as the kids say nowadays a ‘tune’ with a capital T, it becomes clear that a massive opportunity has been missed to create a truly great British metal debut album.
All of the ingredients are there, it’s just that they are too often presented in the same recipe.