When listening to Pounder’s second album, Breaking The World, one immediately notices an improvement in lead singer/guitarist Matt Harvey’s (Exhumed/Gruesome) vocal performance. His voice still has the husky, untrained timbre that was an unfortunate liability on 2019’s Uncivilized, but also has more conviction and grit behind it this time around. It may still be a dealbreaker for some listeners, but at least they didn’t attempt to put a power ballad on here…
Going along with that, the band’s Power Metal influences are much more in your face than before. This is perhaps best demonstrated with the title track, a mid-tempo anthem that demonstrates heavy Manowar inspiration complete with a bass rumble worthy of Joey DeMaio and the type of chorus that aims to send you straight to Valhalla. Tracks like the opening ‘Spoils Of War’ and ‘Hard Road To Home’ deliver with blazing speeds while ‘Never Forever’ puts in a slight AOR slant with its synth intro and oddly compelling chorus.
And with that, the musicianship retains the explosive energy that helped their head above water last time. The production job is considerably louder than before and carries some serious oomph to its polish, beefing up the guitar tones and giving the bass a heavy presence. The drums also continue to have that aggressive edge indicative of the musicians’ Extreme Metal backgrounds. This all adds up to the vocals getting drowned out at times but there are enough memorable lines for it to not be an issue.
I think Pounder may still be a couple of tweaks away from reaching the higher echelons of American Power Metal, but the improvements on Breaking The World are certainly commendable. The band has doubled down on their strengths and compensates for their shortcomings, allowing the striking songwriting to be even more effective in the process. Any listeners unfamiliar with the band are advised to check this one out. Not all naysayers will be swayed but this album is good enough to merit some re-evaluation.
Buy Pounder’s – Breaking The World here: https://poundercalifornia.bandcamp.com/
8 / 10