Motivik take the listener on a musical journey of sorts in their self-described melodic thrash debut Death of the Gunman.
Death of the Gunman certainly takes you on a musical journey. “Inception” starts off the album and brings mostly old-school thrash like you’d hear from bands like Tourniquet or Vengeance Rising, at least for the first three minutes of the song when it inexplicably turns into a melodic instrumental only the abruptly shift back into a thrash-heavy guitar solo sounding like something off Metallica’s Kill Em All. Throw in some vocals that sound like melodic ones from bands like Volbeat and I’m very confused after just one track.
“Away” starts out thrashy enough but vocals completely change everything and I presume this is Courtney Simmons taking over only to have the smoother vocals come in for the chorus section. This works very well as odd as it sounds when you read the description. There are definitely some interesting choices going on with the mix as well as the bass comes through prominently in some parts offsetting the guitar solo. Then things shift again with the string section opening “Lament” and the background sounds giving the feel of this song being something from an American Western. Really not sure how that fits musically but it does with the album cover and title….
Many of the songs feature vocals that are very smooth and have a great depth of tone and feel to them in the songs, although in “Souls in Torment” they border on the ragged shouted screamed in contrast to the other songs to this point on the album as the song itself twists and turns. Then “On the Way Down” kicks off with its catchy melody sounding to me very much like older Haste the Day, leaving me very confused about what is going on with this album. “Pale Rider” brings us very much back to the thrashy side of things and the album closes out with “Let it Be Known”, the longest song on the album that veers back toward ballad territory and something akin to Metallica’s “Nothing Else Matters”.
Motivik have pulled together an eclectic collection of songs on Death of the Gunman, many of which are strong enough to work in a smaller group as an ep but when put together with the others on the album add to a sense of disjointedness.. I do like surprises when I’m listening to albums but this seems perhaps a bit too extreme at times. I could see splitting this album up into two different ep’s and then everything would work together in a bit more cohesive manner. The songs I like on Death of the Gunman, I really like. so this is definitely an album worth checking out.
Written by John Jackson
01 Inception 5:18
02 Away 3:40
03 Lament 3:10
04 The Past of Tomorrow 4:25
05 Souls in Torment 7:06
06 Undismembered 4:59
07 On the Way Down 4:00
08 Pale Rider 3:56
09 Let it be Known 5:18
Ryan Roebuck – Vocals and Music
Courtney Simmons – Vocals
Release Date: 4 December 2020
Record Label: Roxx Records
Lyric video for ‘Away’
Lyric video for ‘On the Way Down’
Video for ‘Souls of Torment’ (sample)