The Horse and Sparrow Theory (Relapse Records) really wants to let you know that Victims is about that Hardcore and D-beat life. Like every song on this bad boy is pre-loaded with that classic drum pattern. Every word is delivered with snarl and song with names like ‘There’s Blood on the Streets’ lets you know that these Swedes mean business. The only problem with all that is the in the pursuit of Punk rock fury, Victims forgot to write any memorable riffs.
I like hardcore and d-beat tempos as much as the next denim-clad warrior, but the bar has been significantly raised with animals like Converge and Integrity still on the prowl and doing major damage with the same basket of ingredients as Victims. The main culprit here is that Victims are just stubbornly slaves to tradition. ‘Hell is Full of Good Intentions’ and ‘The Birth of Tragedy’ have loads of build-up and the promise of expectation but quickly devolve into the same kind of guitar lines and tempos after a minute of leeway.
I can give partial credit to ‘We Fail’ for making strides in breaking up the monotony with leaning towards dynamics and attempting to make a sociopolitical statement, but it can get long in the tooth when we have to deal with minutes worth of drab samples at a time. Victims finally hits an urgency sweet spot on ‘The Sea and Poison’ which marries the most exciting riff on the album with the shortest running time.
Fans of traditional hardcore and d-beat will find enjoyment on The Horse and Sparrow Theory, but again for me, it’s hard to get excited when Integrity already delivered the perfect version of this on Howling, for the Nightmare Shall Consume.
6 / 10