Ten years in the making, the self-titled debut CD from Fifth Freedom, a Portland-based Southern rock/metal band, has officially exploded on the scene. In crushing manner, this band successfully barrages unsuspecting ears in a take-no-prisoners assault, and once they have finished crunching and ripping, the listener will be left to languish in the wrecking with incredulous reverie.

From the first track, “Caught in the Game,” it is clear the band wants to show who’s boss. Straight-away, heavy and brutal guitar riffs assault the eardrums, and you know you are in for a dirty ride. The whole album is filled with grinding, southernesque metal; thumping bass, monstrous drums and demanding bluesy guitar leads, eloquently phrased with the toggle in the neck pickup position. The killer riffs are biting and bridgey, with power-chords and crunch, along with some “chugga chugga” mixed in.

This is a musical assault that truly makes one wonder how much the speakers can take. This is what modern metal should sound like, with just one tiny snag.

While it is easy to see that in production the goal was to allow for as much unbridled energy as Fifth Freedom could possibly grab, and although that is certainly admirable and generally a desirable thing, there were spots I felt the vocals needed to be reined in just a bit and given more attention.

It is hard to tell if the rawness was intentional and for the sake of honesty or if it was simply because the producer fell asleep at the wheel. Regardless, it did at times feel like they should have been slightly more patient in the tracking phase than they were.

Nonetheless the project as a whole is both tough and loud. It is hard to say, but it seems the result may have been a little different than what was intended; like a couple of flagship tunes didn’t get the treatment they deserved and a few of tunes that seemed to be not as promising stepped up to actually carry the collection through.

All that being said, it is a long time coming for these rockers to put down their sound on some ground, so to speak. There is no denying who they are and their comfort in their music. This confidence, unlike arrogance, will hopefully keep them afloat in the competitive and tumultuous arena of the music business and all its trappings and tragedies. Other than that, these guys just really know how to lay it all down, in polished metal style and Southern rock eminence.

Kristin DiCara-McClellan is a Portland freelance writer. Contact her at:

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