The discovery of a new band is always exciting. Will it be something you’ve heard countless times? An experience that leaves a bad taste in your mouth? Or is it a treat from which you cannot stop consuming? I wanted to take a trip back in time to reminisce about bands/albums that not only introduced me to heavy music, but kept me coming back for more…
From The Archive: Integrity – To Die For
One of the earliest bands that helped pave the way for my love of heavier music, was first introduced to me by my brother. I grew up listening to classic rock/metal, but honestly, if it wasn’t for him I wouldn’t have gotten heavily into the hardcore/metal scene. I always found myself listening to the plethora of hardcore and metal bands he had on cassette tapes and CDs, and it wasn’t until my early teens that I started venturing out and making my own purchases. And mmongst the many bands that I’ve accumulated over the years, one of my favorites and still going strong today, has to be Integrity. Recently releasing the sleeper hit The Blackest Curse in 2010, and further solidifying what an amazing band they are, it was their 2003 album, To Die For, that reminded me they were a band not to be forgotten and was a welcome return from this classic group…
With a career spanning over 17 years, consisting of full-lengths, EPs, 7″ and splits, Integrity are a staple of aggressive music. Formed in 1988 by frontman Dwid Hellion, there is no denying the impact they have on the hardcore/metal scene. Hell, a lot of bands today mimic the sound and aggressiveness that Integrity created with their music, but sadly, I’m sure there are kids today who listen to The Chariot, Converge, NAILS, Trap Them and so on, and have no idea who Integrity are, and that’s a shame. Well, besides highly recommending their older albums such as, HookedLungStolenBreathCunt, Systems Overload and Humanity Is The Devil, I feel the perfect introduction for new listeners would be, To Die For. And this is purely based on the emphasis that To Die For resembles the newer sound you hear today in most metalcore bands but still retains the “Integrity” sound that will make it easier for listeners to gravitate towards their older albums.
To Die For shows both growth and maturity in Integrity’s work, where instrumentals and acoustic sections are juxtaposed against the furious, angry onslaught of dense electric guitar work and monstrous shouts and screams. I will point out that while the flow from the soft acoustic/instrumentals to metal isn’t perfect, it still manages to continue the flow of rage from one song to the next, and with the addition of the soft interludes, the impact becomes much more powerful. And it also seems as though Integrity set them up as moments for the listener to breathe a bit, so as to not berate them with nonstop aggression. Of course this isn’t anything new, as many bands have done this before, but it’s always a welcome addition.
Much like every other album, the band still dwells upon the same downtrodden vision of the world, one in which the end comes from humanity’s own sin. I for one don’t mind it, sure it can get repetitive from one album to the next, but this is Integrity doing it, and they do it well. The combination of down-tuned guitars one second, fast-paced aggressive riffs the next, the unrelenting nature of the drums to the vicious screams, it’s the perfect soundtrack for the angst of this world. And I have to mention the album art, courtesy of Jacob Bannon, as it easily adds to the bands bleak nature while also being pretty damn gnarly looking.
This album saw the return to form for Integrity, and I for one welcomed it. You’re not going to get some technical, guitar savvy riffs and deep lyrics here, but that’s not what Integrity is about. Their raw and primal emotions of the world are conveyed through their equally raw and emotional music. They aren’t breaking any new ground in the metalcore genre, but when you’re one of the bands that paved the way for genre itself, and bands are influenced by your sound, then you’ve got nothing to prove to anyone. One of my favorite bands, and hopefully they’ll become one of yours too.
Integrity – “Taste My Sin”