The brutality of Negative Reaction is made even more so by the fact that each of the eight tracks on the disc are ugly blobs of metal music. The disc together is almost fifty minutes, and the average “Under The Ancient Penalty” song is well over five minutes in run time. So, during tracks like “Lost, Negative Reaction has more than enough time to get bowels all aquiver and rock out appropriately. “Loathing” is a track that brings to light a different side of Negative Reaction, with their seventies rock roots showing through.
This result in something that is still hard-rocking, but is much more in the sludge metal vein than anything. A blend of the two styles happens during “Pain”, so that a much more deliberate brand of metal plods through, with the vocals achieving proper Robert Plant meets Chris Cornell frequencies. The overall sound is something to behold, as the harmony that the band achieves here is something previously unheard on “Under The Ancient Penalty”. Each following track created by Negative Reaction during “Under The Ancient Penalty” brings something new and fun to listeners. For example, “Empty” continues with the dark, gloomy yet hard metal of earlier tracks but there is a definitely AC/DC like approach to the vocals. Obviously, Negative Reaction will never be the darlings of the pop metal scene, but I don’t think they really care about that.
Their goal with this album is to provide some of the hardest metal that they can create, and by and large they do just that. The only thing that I would like to hear more of during this album would be structural differentiation. We all get that Negative Reaction is able to tune shit way down and go for the gold, but can they throw in a shrill guitar solo once on this disc to just show us that they can do it? Don’t get me wrong, I love this album and the only thing that comes near is the bluesy guitar solo that weaves its way through “Suffer”. I suppose that what is present in “Suffer” is what would work with the band best, instead of the wankfest that individuals like Stevie Ray Vaughan are known for. If you like the heaviest of heavies and want to try out a new album, “Under The Ancient Penalty” is the album to pick up this year.
Top Tracks: Sorrow, Suffer
Negative Reaction – Under The Ancient Penalty / 2006 This Dark Reign / 8 Tracks / http://www.negativereaction.net / http://www.thisdarkreign.com / Reviewed 27 August 2006