When it comes to the product side of things, Marco is usually pretty spot-on in the studio. And, well, In Shovel We Trust is no exception. This recording sounds fantastic, and he’s done a great job capturing the band’s professional enthusiasm. The guitars sound bulky and rich, the bass is deep and commanding in presence, the drums sound tight all around, and the rougher vocals are a nice compliment to the attitude driven music being performed. The material captured, however, ends up a different story. While V-Anger claim to be highly influenced by a name of bands ranging from Slayer to KoRn, In Shovel We Trust sounds like a sleeker, modernized version of Max Cavalera-era Sepultura up to Roots, right down to doing a great cover of their song “Biotech Is Godzilla” from Chaos A.D..
However, V-Anger does manage to bring in just enough to prevent this album from coming off as pure hero worship. The best example stands as “My Land”. Even though it sounds a lot like Sepultura, there’s a stronger hardcore undertone akin to Hatebreed, another band said to have been influence. The rougher vocal approach works to meld the two worlds together, as do the gang chants and tight guitar chords that fill up the background in a way that leads the main riffs to push more of a commanding presence. “Hate for All” is another that is a bit deceptive in that, yes, it carries that familiar Sepultura sound, but there are quicker two-step passages, such as in the chorus, that actually share an intensity more along the lines of early Exodus. While not boasting a rich so-cal style, there are plenty of times where you could easily overlap Steve Souza’s signature vocals and pull that aspect forward a lot more than the aforementioned’s obvious regional influence.
But, at it’s core, In Shovel We Trust really is more of a Sepultura love letter that will divide the masses. You’re going to either love it or hate it, though more than likely will immediately dismiss it. “Revenge” hammers this influence home right off the bat with the groovier side of that legend’s sound, right down to some of the signature leads like the high-pitched tribal sound at two minutes in above the catchy breakdown. Meanwhile, “About World” is full of tight, complex chords that refuse to stop pummeling the listener, blending together that thrash and hardcore influence to create a truly abrasive experience until the last groove-filled minute. Even though there’s a brief audio sample dividing the two, it acts as a good transition point heading into “Mad for Hate” and it’s infectious riffs and drum patterns similar to Faith or Fear and even “Me Inside” by Slipknot come the chorus sans the rougher vocal harmonizations.
While In Shovel We Trust is a pretty good effort overall, and the band really does try to give the music a voice of their own, it doesn’t always feel like it’s enough. There could be a little more going on in the background to differentiate this band from the obvious influence more often than the few songs that really do go out of their way to try to sound different on the exterior. That and the song “V-Anger” just doesn’t feel the same as the rest of the recording. The energy is there, but it just feels far more worn out in comparison, as if a bonus song recorded with what studio time remained and essentially made up on the spot.
Even though you could argue that In Shovel We Trust is nothing more than hero worship to the point of near plagiarism at times, that wouldn’t be a spot on description. Yes, I am aware that nearly every paragraph of this review mentions Sepultura‘s name, but it’s impossible not to given how remarkably close V-Anger comes off to the legends of primitive groove. However, there’s enough going on buried beneath that mask which gives the band and this release enough of a unique personality that feels more like a natural extension than the fairly stagnant current groove metal state of that very act that clearly influenced this four-piece. In Shovel We Trust stands an interesting approach to an established sound that will divide listeners in half. But, in the end, this debut outing is worth checking out, if for no other reason than to see if you can get on board with this nod to Chaos AD-era Max Cavalera.