Review – Bulletsize: Pansar

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  • Bio: Bulletsize started the year 2004 in the depths of Sweden. First as a thrash-metal band, but has now evolved to a faster, angrier and heavier combination of oldschool thrash and modern death-metal.
  • Label: Self-release / Iron, Blood & Death Corporation
  • Release Date: May 26th, 2016 / August 1st, 2016
  • Genre: Death Metal, Thrash
  • Website: Visit Website
  • Rating (out of 10):

Bulletsize had originally formed in 2004 as Metal Wings, releasing two full-lengths and an EP in the little time that entity existed. Come 2006, the name was dropped to what we have today due to a change in musical direction. Gone were the days of heavy metal performances, replaced by a mixture of death metal and thrash that saw the band’s popularity grow even more. After a demo in 2008, their self-title dropped later that year through Talien Sin Records. Over the years there were two more full-lengths, an EP, as well as a line-up change that introduced guitarist Kjell Berg in 2009 and Tzaraath bassist David “Abaddon” Nexéus in 2013 to the mix alongside remaining founding drummer Niklas Gidlund (Harassed) and vocalist/guitarist Andreas Persson (Stormgoat, ex-Hellavator). Now the four-piece presents their latest album, Pansar, which was initially released by the band independently in May of 2016, but since has been picked up by Iron, Blood & Death Corporation for an August release of that same year. But is this really the metal assault one would hope for, or was it best left in the digital depths?

(Stream order is “Enslaved Humanity” then “Blackhole Village”)

“F T W” kicks the album off with one chaotic riff after another, backed by a steady drum pace that feels like a march to one’s own mental break before the hard-hitting chorus proclaims its exhaustion of the world. The furious piece rarely lets up, but when it does you’re given an incredibly moody guitar solo that sounds torn straight out of the eighties glam rock scene, and the slight echo on those cleaner notes doesn’t hurt that impression. This brief period of mourning is far from bad though, as if gazing across the battlefield at the bodies that lay strewn about in a moment of clarity before locking eyes with what started it all,triggering yet another mental snap towards said rampage. Sadly, that madness is trumped by “Genocide” and it’s high-impact approach. Pounding drums and a strong focus on the bass to chug along at times, making it one of the more violent tracks in a modern Terror 2000 sense.

“Enslaved Humanity” assaults the listener with that sweet Swedish metal sound, though the riffs don’t carry as strong a distortion as your typical entry to the melodic death metal world from that country. It’s like the production values of earlier Children of Bodom crossed with At The Gates as far as the overall audio quality goes, not to mention on this very performance. The latter of those two are felt in the main verses, boasting tight hooks on par with “Suicide Nation”, while the chorus and certain bridges sound like that of any slower segment off the former’s discography such as “Angels Don’t Kill”. It’s a brilliant mix that really stands out, especially given some of the less than unique performance this album has to offer.

While the album does show traces of other acts in their music, rarely can you sit there and consider it a near carbon copy of another group’s work. Even “Enslaved Humanity” has a little more originality going for it at times that made it seem like another band were performing it to an extent. This isn’t the case all the time though. “Legion of Chaos” prides itself on grooves that sound torn from Cannibal Corpse‘s playbook, most notably “Stripped, Raped and Strangled”, before caving to that frantic melodic style and superb drum presence once more. But the biggest offender is “Legion of Chaos” which treads into Anthems of Rebellion level Arch Enemy to the point you can easily replace Andreas’s vocals with Angela Gossow’s and you’d swear you slipped the wrong disc in.

While the initial digital release issued by the band is a pretty strong one on its own, the Iron, Blood & Death Corporation physical pressing of Pansar does feature a bonus track titled “Victims”. [According to the band] It’s a cover from the punk band Antistortion, which was released in 1998. With the added thrash influence and bulkier sound of the music, it still manages to fit right in, though may take a few minutes to settle into place given the obvious differences in composition. The two-step drums and random bursts of rapid fire attacks from that kit work to muster up a good deal of hostility when the melodic aspects aren’t breeding a haunting sensation that works with the overall darker tone of the album. If you already have Pansar digitally, it is a good reason to pick up this physical copy if you have the means to acquire it.

Bulletsize

All in all, Pansar is a pretty good album, even if the group does make their influences kind of obvious to pick up on at times. It’s clear that Bulletsize has taken advantage of the past ten years to really flesh out their sound and direction since that aforementioned name change, and you can feel not just a sense of genuine appreciation for the style they utilize, but also a great deal of professionalism behind the anger that comes off a good number of the performances captured in the studio. If you’re looking for something heavy and littered with awesome hooks, not to mention a number of reflective guitar solos that don’t take away from the overall impact, then this is a follow-up album worth checking out. Which version you decide depends on which medium you prefer your metal on, and if you care enough for that bonus track which, if you don’t already own the digital version of Pansar, is a pretty sweet bonus incentive to pick it up.

Bulletsize

Digital review copy of this release provided by Iron, Blood & Death Corporation via Grand Sounds PR.