Face Down – ‘The Runaway’ EP Review

Quite why a French band should want to effectively recreate the swampy, hedonistic atmosphere of Phil Anselmo’s New Orleans remains a mystery but one thing is very much for certain: it’s a damn good thing that Face Down do want to, because the resultant noise is a gleeful racket that oozes charm, spirit and swagger in equal measure.

Rolling into town with a five track EP that leaves you gagging for more, Face Down wear their influences proudly on their sleeves with elements of Down, Pantera and Black Label Society flowing through their veins almost in equal quantities with the herculean quantities of Bourbon the band also undoubtedly consume on a nightly basis. Utterly committed to the cause of dark, heavy Southern rock, Face down open proceedings with the rip-snorting ‘One last walk’ which breathes hellfire and damnation via a series of simple but brutally effective riffs, Warren’s enraged vocals (which recall Anselmo at his Vulgar Display best) and searing lead runs. ‘The runaway’ offers an even more blistering attack upon the senses with vocals veering on the side of the deranged and a killer riff that is clearly designed to flatten all that stand in its way. Boasting a suitably bullish demeanour and an unquenchable thirst for the hard stuff (the band’s motto would appear to be “Drink your life”) Face Down are a seriously cool proposition who will appeal to anyone who worships at the altar of Zakk Wylde and Jack Daniels. Better still the final gallop to the end of the track is a moment of pure thrashing, headbanging glory that will have metal fans bouncing off the walls in sweaty ecstasy and that’s before the down-tuned groove of ‘Tnt and Rusty guns’ lurches into being with its chugging rhythms and pounding double-kick attack destined to smash you into a thousand pieces. This is real, frantic, pounding metal of the highest order and it’s hard to imagine anyone who likes their music with balls ‘n’ bourbon in equal measure not falling instantly in love with the out-and-out ferocity of the band’s attack.

Stepping things up a notch, the band strike out with such venom that you could almost be listening to Exodus’ last effort on the mighty ‘consume or be consumed’ which sees singer Warren adopting a holler that is slap bang between Randy Blythe and Phil Anselmo and vicious enough to go head-to-head with either. Meanwhile the music remains swampy with short but powerful solos and riffs to die for slamming you harder than a WWF cage fighter. Final track ‘Katrina’ a lyrically powerful tribute to Face Down’s spiritual home rounds out the disc with a riff that musically emulates the catastrophic flooding of New Orleans while Warren pours his anger out through the microphone before the whole thing ends in a brutal mess of snatched solos and chugging guitars.

How Face Down fare over a full length release remains to be seen, but on this evidence it seems fair to say that the band are honed to perfection and more than possessed of the necessary song-writing nous. The level of aggression, musicianship and attitude on display are more than enough to suggest that if given a chance Face Down could easily kick it with the major players of metal proving to be something of a spiritual and musical air to the late great Pantera… and I do not use that comparison lightly. Fans of the magical period of metal that was the early nineties (when Machine head, Sepultura, Pantera, Metallica were giants that walked the earth) need to check this out now but this is no nostalgia trip – Face Down are a timeless metal band and these five tracks are liable to sound as fresh in ten years time as they do now and this EP promises great things for the future. Heavy, memorable and searing when they need to be, this is a quality metal EP from start to finish. Check it out now.

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