While it’s not their very first release, it’s the EP that’s largely responsible for the band’s success. Of course the best songs from the release actually made it on to their debut album. The rest of the songs aren’t bad, they’re just not as strong as their later material. Either way it shows the start of a promising band that only got better over time. If anything, it’s worth listening to just to hear how the guys have progressed as songwriters.
The popular “4 Words (To Choke Upon)” opens the EP and it’s no surprise that it ended up on their first full length album. The intro riff always reminded me of the Michael Myers theme; it’s suspenseful and just a tad bit on the dangerous side. It would later turn out to be one of their well known riffs. There’s just something about it that grabs your attention. Also, the way the guitar drags out after the chorus is like they’re leading on the listeners and keep them coming in for more. Also, their mix of melodic and gruff vocals has never sounded so great. It’s like they have a bit of something for each metal fan.
The next track “Hand of Blood” is actually kind of disturbing if you pay attention to the lyrics. Here, they describe blacking out and killing their lover. It’s a dark subject, but the music is so damn awesome and catchy that you don’t pay attention to the theme when you first hear it. Some of the screams they pull off here are so brutal it’s no wonder that Matt Tuck would later injure his vocal chords. “Cries in Vain,” which is another track that made it on their debut, is pretty bleak. Compared to the previous songs here, this one is slower, but still manages to be intense. The song itself deals with praying to a higher power, yet being unheard and the reality of dealing with that thought. This loss of hope during a time of need is one of the most depressing subjects on the album.
The weakest number on the EP is “Curses.” It’s not a horrible song, but the lyrics and the music makes it feel so cheesy. It’s as if they wanted this to be their power ballad. It’s the slowest song on the record and even when it picks up halfway through, the rhythm and vibe of the track keeps it from getting better. If anything, it sounds like something a fifteen year old would play after what they would call the worst day of their life. “Just Another Star” is a decent enough track, but there are some lyrics that come off as corny. One that stands out as particularly bad comes during the bridge: “This is what I see through your eyes/Black is the color of your sunrise.” That line sounds like it was taken from a cliché goth poem. Still, it’s easy to forgive them since the song itself is catchy.
“No Control” is another song that’s good, but not as strong as their later work. Thanks to the intense vocals, the brutal guitar riff, and the venom filled lyrics makes this the perfect rage song. It’s this track that would end up mapping out theme for their first album: anger and betrayal. This song also shows off their impressive guitar playing as the solo zips by and dances around your head. While this track along with most of the others from the record, prove that their later material is better, this still shows a promising metal band with more to offer. Luckily, they fulfilled their promise.
Overall, the EP gets 8/10. It’s not their best release out there and a lot of the songs are just decent, but it’s still a great listen. It does have some of their better songs, which would end up on their debut later on, but some of the tracks just aren’t memorable or as strong as their later material. But you can still appreciate the record for what it is: a release from a new metal band at the time. It’s also interesting to hear their progression as songwriters and musicians. What the record does have is some of their staples that made the guys so well known and popular today.