MGF Reviews Nodes of Ranvier – Defined by Struggle

Nodes of Ranvier – Defined by Struggle
Victory Records (7/24/07)

Nodes of Ranvier’s latest effort, Defined by Struggle, the band’s first with Victory Records, offers a glimpse of a band with a split personality.

On the one side, you have a no-holds-barred battering ram of hardcore, exemplified on songs like “Valjean”, the title-track, the album closer “Infidelity” and “Confront”. On the other, you’ve got a band that crafts these hard-hitting metal songs that twist melody and blistering riffs with blasting beats and urgent vocals (see, e.g., “Wrathbearer”, “Endless Faith”, “Purpose in Pain”) on songs that sound more like Trivium than Remembering Never.

The band shines on “Sergeant Sorrow”, where it seems to find the perfect mix of its two sides. The growls are deep and intense, which only heightens the breaks of harmony. And the interplay throughout the instrumental “Nagheenanajar” is inspired. In fact, it’s a song like this which proves the band’s downfall—it’s so unique and creative, it only exemplifies those other (few) moments where the band seems to slide into a comfort zone and fall back on more clichéd approaches to song construction (the repetitive chugging bass and typical hardcore guitar riffing, for one).

But what could appear cliché is also comfortable, and it’s the comfortable nature of Defined by Struggle that will turn on fans of the genre. Then, the subtle things, like the little guitar nuances on “Confront”, the crumbling breakdown in “Wrathbearer”, the machine-gun drumming in “Archegos” and the great melodic chorus on “Sergeant Sorrow”, which will keep fans interested.

Nodes of Ranvier isn’t doing anything new, but it’s doing it extremely well. This isn’t one of the best albums of the year, but it is one of the strongest. Each track is an in-your-face assault of metal and hardcore bliss. The band isn’t breaking any new ground, but it’s managing to be extremely deliberate with its music. Sometimes you don’t want surprise, you want simple yet new. While pretenders fall to the wayside, Nodes of Ranvier keep delivering the goods.

Highly recommended to people that like their metal raw and intense.