Those of you who spend a lot of time with your ears to the ground will know a fair bit about Downpour already. For those of you not amongst this cauliflowered cognoscenti, let me take a moment to fill you in. Downpour is the long-intended new vehicle of Shadows Fall throat Brian Fair, who here teams up with guitarist Matt LeBreton, bassist Pete Gelles and former Unearth batterer Derek Kerswill. Their debut album, recorded as long ago as 2015, has become something of a metalcore holy grail in the time since it’s initial gestation.
Although their facebook page promises Pantera worship and ‘groove brutality’, the good news is that Downpour offer rather more than just flannel shirted bluster and bravado. The album’s final track, Mountain, for instance, is a quite marvellous piece of modern heaviness, LeBreton’s Cazaresesque six string battery being leavened by soaring, uplifting strings and a Fair-lead chorus that’ll have the hairs on the back of your neck standing to attention in next to no time.
But if all you really did want was groove brutality then don’t worry. You’ll be well looked after by tracks like opener The Serpent’s Tongue which manages to fit a year’s worth of both groove and brutality into its five minute duration. And then some.
I’ve never been a big fan of this kind of music – it’s probably all a bit nouveau for my tastes – but the sheer commitment of all involved here does bring an infectious dimension to the grooves which is often lacking in metalcore releases. This is music made for the sheer pleasure of it’s executors, sure, but that enjoyment doesn’t fail to rub off on the listener when subjected to thoughtful bruisers like Truth in Suffering or the monstrously impressive Still Waiting.
Top that with, from a personal point of view, at least, the fact Fair has never sounded so good – genuinely world class, in fact – and you’ve got a bit of a surprising contender for metal album of the year. Top work all round!
Downpour release their self-titled debut on September 9th.