[8/10] The review for Straight to the Dome basically wrote itself, begging for every cliché in the book. We could trot out the line that “Pro-Pain has never sounded this heavy” because it’s true. Or “13 albums into their career, and there’s no slowing Pro-Pain down.” True as well. Better yet, “There’s still plenty of bite left in Gary Meskill’s bark.” That is also spot-on. As remarkable as the feat of reaching 13 albums is, it’s even more admirable to hear a band like Pro-Pain sounding this forceful without sounding stale. That too could be ripe for cliché-ville.
Silly album title aside (we’re guessing it’s how the band wants you take the album…straight to the dome!), Pro-Pain long wised up to the notion that being just a straight tough guy metal band wasn’t going to cut it. Their 90’s output had plenty of that, of course, yet as the band sailed through the 00’s, thrash started to creep in, most recently on 2010’s Absolute Power. On Straight to the Dome, it’s even more pronounced, becoming the prevailing element on “A Good Day to Die” and the searing “Fallen Son.”
Meskill has been the band’s only constant throughout its 21-plus years of existence, but major kudos should be doled out to the guitar tandem of Marshall Stephens and Adam Phillips. The pair certainly have given the band’s sound a new angle, even when traditional romps like “Bitter Pill,” “Pure Hatred” and “Sucks to Be You” ground and pound the listener. Even Meskill steps out of his mean-gruff-dude comfort zone on “Zugabe!” a drinking song, of all things with a decidedly European metal vibe.
Pro-Pain’s sound has evolved just enough from their formative Foul Taste of Freedom debut to enable them to stay relevant in the metal scene. In fact, Straight to the Dome could go down as one of the year’s most underrated albums. Don’t write off Pro-Pain. Ever.
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