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Saturday, March 11, 2017

Review: The Charm The Fury - The Sick, Dumb & Happy


The Charm The Fury is, or rather used to be a metalcore band based in Amsterdam, Holland, founded in 2010. The line-up consists of screaming fury Caroline Westendorp and guitarists Rolf Perdok and Martijn Slegtenhorst, completed with a rhythm section formed by Lucas Arnoldussen on bass and Mathijs Tieken on drums. They released an EP called ‘The Social Meltdown’ in 2012 and their first full-length, ‘A Shade Of My Former Self’, in 2013. This landed them a boatload of positive critics, earning them a spot in many unofficial lists of most promising bands and also on the set list of several big festivals across Europe, like Download and Fortarock.

Despite all this success TCTF’s members decided, after careful introspection, to step out of their comfort zone by completely change course, more or less abandoning the pure metalcore. Instead they used any detail that felt right and built a song around it. That could be anything, from a glorious riff to a gripping vocal line or an intense solo. Influence-wise the main focal point turned out to be the eighties and nineties traditional metal with healthy doses of music from other styles. Now, some three and a half years later, they are ready to unleash the result of these changes on the world by releasing a new album called ‘The Sick, Dumb & Happy’, which is to be interpreted as a description of about 95% of modern day humans. Now, it’s not very common to change a winning team, so this sudden change of style will likely raise a few eyebrows here and there and could be cause for some serious concern as well. But to be honest, knowing the skills of the guys and girl, in my case curiosity prevails over worry. Let’s see if that is just.

The album contains eleven tracks spanning 42 minutes and it kicks off with the furious ‘Down On The Ropes’, the perfect song to get you fired up for whatever is coming your way. It’s an energetic track that has an aggressive feel to it, not in the last place due to Caroline’s flaming screams, but the raging guitars and the crushing rhythm section have a big part in this as well. Also, as an added bonus, its solo, in which the traditional metal from the eighties and nineties indeed is clearly audible, gives us the first real indication of the new TCTF. I’m sure it wouldn’t be the least bit out of place in many of the big hits from said era. A surprising, but definitely promising start. And from there on the surprises keep on coming. There’s something for about everyone on this album, TCTF’s music has evolved into some sort of hybrid style with influences from many different corners of the metal music spectrum.

There’s the genre-defying ‘Songs Of Obscenity’ with its provocative breaks, where guitars, drums, bass and vocals are constantly fighting to claim the listeners undivided attention. This recipe is repeated on album closer ‘Break And Dominate’, be it subtly altered with the addition of a pinch of mysticism giving this a slightly more ominous feel to it at times. And as if that wasn’t enough on ‘Blood And Salt’, with a little bit of imagination, you could even find some doom and gothic elements, adding power to this otherwise straightforward metal song, a term that is in no way meant to be diminishing by the way. This straightforward metal is also represented by ‘The Hell In Me’ with its old school solos.

Of course there’s still plenty of room for music from the roots, high voltage songs like ‘Weaponized’, ‘No End In Sight’ and ‘The Future Need Us Not’, which is preceded by a somewhat weird ‘Corner Office Maniacs’, all still breathe metalcore. There’s no shortage in heavy riffs and breakdowns, it’s just not as distinct anymore. The songs are now peppered with various riffs and rhythms originating from other types of metal, adding depth and dynamics to them. Music and vocals are a great match as always. Obviously the band still feels very much at home in this genre and they are more than capable of blending other influences in it without losing the metalcore feel. However, it’s clear TCTF’s members choice to broaden their horizons unmistakably moved them many steps on the path to musical maturity. Proof of this is to be found throughout ‘The sick…’, but is in my opinion best illustrated by the presence of a genuine power ballad called ‘Silent War’ in which they show their vulnerable side. Though extremely contrasting with what they used to play, they appear pretty comfortable playing this type of music nevertheless. This impression is strengthened when listening to the, in my opinion, brilliant pinnacle ‘Echoes’. Even though not a power ballad by any means, its chorus, awesome in its simplicity and sound, could easily be classified as part of one, underlining TCTF’s growth both towards and into an authentic, genre-defying band.

Age brings wisdom, in this case in the form of the realization that solely playing metalcore was not what TCTF saw as their ultimate future. Instead of choosing the easy way they decided to focus on what they truly enjoyed in music, even though this meant they had to step out of their comfort zone and think out of the metalcore box. Way out of it. Considering they were on a lot of lists with most promising bands this has been a bold and brave decision, but as far as I’m concerned one that may very well be the best decision they have ever made. They will probably never complete the path they have chosen, no one does, and it won’t be an easy ride either, but in my opinion it’s all worth it. With ‘The Sick, Dumb & Happy’ they drop a proverbial bomb that will resonate for a long time if you ask me. It’s a highly varied album, that will appeal to a wide range of metal fans, including their first hour fans regardless their initial response. Highly recommended, I suggest you do what Caroline asks you to do in the interview I had with her the other day: give the album a serious chance. You won’t be disappointed.

And as promised: If ever there will be a time to quit the dull everyday job and exchange it for the ‘glamorous’ life of a full-time musician it could very well be now. See you on the 24th…

Written by Henric van Essen

Read our interview with The Charm The Fury's vocalist Caroline Westendorp here.

Read our live review about The Charm The Fury and Delain at LuxorLive, Arnhem here.

The Charm The Fury Official Website
The Charm The Fury Facebook
The Charm The Fury Twitter

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