Back to the front!
-- At The Front --
Review written by Stijn "Metal Shredder" Daneels.
I first met At The Front (from here on shortened to ATF) in late 2016 at the charity festival Devils Rock For An Angel. The guys did a memorable show and I interviewed them that day as well (check it out here: http://www.belgianmetalshredder.be/interviews/62) Recently they sent over their new EP “Faith” to me by physical mail so let’s have a shred at it!
[THE SHREDDING BASICS]
“Faith” is the second EP from the Belgian groove metal band ATF, a band formed in 1993 but revitalized in 2014 and it succeeds their 2015 debut EP “Plan B.” Like its predecessor, this is an independent release. ATF promote themselves as bringing 90s thrash and groove to the forefront and that’s exactly what you’ll be getting in this 26-minute EP. Starting from the opening track, “Love,” the band puts a huge emphasis on extensive bass-heavy riffing, technical guitar solos, vicious drum beats and rash growls, similar in style to bands like Sepultura, Pantera and Machine Head. The EP maintains a tight, fast-forward pace with only a few short, more relaxed moments in the EP’s third track, “Never Again.” Other than that, it’s full-on, uncompromised groove metal that’ll get your blood pumping and your head banging! The band, however, did make a few slipups. Geert’s vocals are effective in their own right but during the first few tracks he’s hardly audible beneath all the dual guitar violence from Dimi and Geert himself. Good thing his vocal cords are put more in the spotlight from the third song onwards (more on that particular track later). I also felt that ATF rely a bit too much on the same tried and true groove metal formula, especially during the first couple of songs. The EP’s latter tracks, on the other hand, clearly show that these groovy guys have a few more musical tricks up their sleeve than your average groove metal act. But as the saying goes, “the whole is greater than the sum of its parts” and as I mentioned earlier, this second EP from ATF features a lot of nice parts.
[THE SHREDDING VISION]
Just a sleek, black cover art with the band’s emblem and EP’s title written in a nice golden font. Like ATF’s music, it’s basic but stylish and effective. Nothing else to say here, moving on…
[THE SHARPEST SHREDS AND THE BLUNTEST BLADES]
The third track “Never Again,” showed me a nice versatile side of ATF. In addition to the typical riffs and grunts the band also employs clean vocals and a much more melodic sound in several parts of this song. It’s a nice change compared to ATF’s usual modus operandi and I hope they’ll be writing more songs like that in future releases. I also loved the catchy chorus and tunes of the EP’s fifth track “Bring Back The Bullet.” As for the weaker tracks, a couple of songs, such as the “Faith” title track, don’t have a lot of things going for them aside from the good-old groove metal barrage. Enjoyable for sure, but throughout the EP, ATF have shown me that they’re capable of more than just being another thrash n’ groove metal act. They’ve also got a sweet melodic side and that’s what I want to see more of in the future, along with their usual strong groove metal beats. That’s all, time for the scorecard!
[THE SHREDDER’S SCORECARD]
7 Cavaleras out of 10. Aside from a couple slightly repetitive tracks, ATF’s second EP is an enjoyable little release worth getting your teeth into if you’re seeking a fun throwback to the heyday of 90s thrash n’ groove metal. Here’s a video of the EP’s fourth track, “The Pain."