The Classic Struggle
Feel Like Hell

With all the all the underwhelming metalcore Metal Blade has churned out this year (As I Lay Dying, The Black Dahlia Murder, Unearth, Winter Solstice, The Red Death, Neaera), you’d forgive me for being cynical when broached with another Iron Clad Recordings (Unearth’s Trevor Phipps’ label) licensed effort. Then you’d have to also forgive me when I gush over this record and label it the best metalcore record that the Metal Blade/Ironclad conglomerate has put out so far this year.

Armed with a bruising Jamie King (Prayer For Cleansing, Between the Buried and Me, Swift) production, The Classic Struggle do everything that will make most ardent metal heads roll their eyes worse than a grounded teenage girl, but for fans of metalcore-this is as good as it gets. With some obvious and expected Unearth influence but coupled with the punishing heaviness of Through the Eyes of The Dead, The Classic struggle are by the numbers (Maiden meets Gothenburg dual harmonies, dual screamed vocals, introspective acoustics, rumbling breakdowns, etc), but they do it with major clout and their breakdowns are incredibly pummeling.

The melodic side of The Classic Struggle, while no Unearth or Heartscarved is solid if inconsistent, and to be honest gets drowned out by King’s bass heavy production. In fact, some of the melodies get downright muted by the overbearing drums and bass (i.e. “From Their Eyes”, “Amen to Artillery”). But those drums and bass are devastating during the extended and satisfying breakdowns, of which there are plenty, starting with the now scene common introductory rumble of “Death March”. After the rather impressive opener, The Classic Struggle stomp and stride their way through some competent if familiar sounding tracks, that while culling from every metalcore standard , still deliver an intensity and heaviness (especially “The Forgotten End”) that’s free of the usual metalcore emotional drawbacks-The Classic Struggle pretty much go for your throat.

Around the Unearth-ish “Unsacred”, The Classic Struggle begins to unleash a few more identifiable, melodic and structured moments amid the sheer weight of the breakdowns, and while they aren’t anything new to the genre, they serve to breakup the albums pummeling pace. Still, a lot of the tracks follow the same formula, especially with 12 tracks in all; thrashing riffage/huge breakdown/more thrashing. But that being said it’s very well done as tracks like “Storm of Swords”, “Sworn Alliance”, the nicely titled “It’s not About Breaking Hearts, it’s About Breaking Faces” and “Claim Your Own” all deliver strong, neck snapping moments wrapped in some tight thrashing.

Despite its overdrawn length (54 minutes) and scene paradigm reliance, I’d actually venture to say Feel Like Hell is better than The Oncoming Storm and Shadows Are Security, but unlike Unearth and As I Lay Dying, The Classic Struggle had no burden of expectations with this album. I’d like to see if they can keep the intensity up for their next effort.

[Visit the band's website]
Written by E. Thomas
September 25th, 2005

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