By Sam Graham
There’s always an element of trepidation when it comes to a ‘the’ band. It’s probably just my own reservations and I blame the indie music of the last decade, but this is metal we’re talking about here and if there’s anything metal doesn’t do, it’s play by the rules.
The Occupier, from Scunthorpe, North Lincolnshire, are a solid metal band that, if you like your music heavy and riff-laden, I’d advise you go see next time they’re in your area. You won’t be disappointed.
Almost every song on the album opens with a memorable riff that will stick in your head for many hours after the fact. For example, Gordon Fox’s intro has a definite ‘Seasons of the Abyss’ style to it, but doesn’t drone on for as long as Slayer have a tendency to. Instead, after a few harmonics here and there, it drops into a riff that brings TestamenT’s debut ‘The Legacy’ to mind. The best intro to a song on Occupied Territory, I’d say, is Hot Knives and Speed. While I’m not a big fan of lyrics about lounging around and getting high, the chugging riffage behind it easily makes up for it.
While the album’s rhythm sections may be precise and well thought out, a couple of the solo’s come across as being a bit choppy. It may just be they had a bad day of recording, because while the solo in Gordon Foxmay sound a little, as stated earlier, choppy, the fast licks and tapping of Hot Knives and Speed’s solo is anything but, and it warms me to hear an unsigned band being good at technical soloing, because we’ve all seen those bands that try to, fail, then resort to putting the guitar behind their head to make them look cool, but it still sounds awful. The Occupier’s solos are good enough that they needn’t ever do that.
Now enough about the music, it’s time to discuss the vocals. I was hoping to avoid this, but I can’t say I’m a big fan of them, although over five hundred people on their Facebook page would likely disagree with me. The David Lee Roth-style talking in the middle of Rape doesn’t do it for me, however straight after that Simon comes in with some awesome death-vocals, churning out the words “Don’t let this rape turn into a murder” which sounded, for lack of a better word, brutal.
All in all, the tone of The Occupier’s vocals sound a bit like Matt Barlow from Iced Earth and while I’m sure The Occupier’s Simon Whitby will sound a lot better live, the power just doesn’t come through on the album.
The Occupier are a band for decided fans of heavy music that teeters on death metal. They definitely take some influences from it, but all-round, they’re a thrash band. If I had to compare them to any band, I’d compare them to 90’s TestamenT for their technical brutality, heaviness, and cleanliness at doing so.
My personal favourite on Occupied Territory has got to be Master Plan. Everything about it is cool, and while I may have expressed some dislike about a couple of the band’s features, I’d still definitely go see them.
Devil-Horns Rating out of five: \m/ \m/ \m/ \n