20 LB Sledge – Divine Battery (2013) – A Review

I discovered 20 LB Sledge earlier this year after someone shared a video of their drummer (Alfonzo Rachel) discussing the Democratic Party’s history of racism. I believe that video is close to three years old but it was interesting to see an African American addressing issues from a politcally conservative viewpoint. I checked out some of his other videos and that’s when I discovered he was in a band. I immediately checked out their videos on YouTube and eventually bought their album on Amazon. The album is now two years old but I want to take the time to review it in the hope that some of you out there might check it out.

First track, Ticket Out Of Hades, comes out swinging for the fences and never lets up. This is bass-heavy, groove-based hard rock. Lyrically, it addresses the Christian faith of the members of the band without resorting to the cookie cutter Jesus music on most Christian radio. You can either headbang or dance to this one.

Special Delivery is up next and it steps up the game. The opening riff is vicious and is punctuated with double bass kick drumming. There are elements of nu metal bands like Korn and P.O.D. but there is decidedly old school vibe as well. I absolutely love the middle section where the instruments lock into a groove and ride it for all its worth. Just when it feels like the song is over they throw you a curve ball and bring you right back.

Divine Battery begins with a proggy lick and melodic vocals before lauching into a groove that recalls bands like 311. I am still processing all of the lyrics but I can definitely say that it is nice to have someone saying positive things. So much heavy music is dark and negative. This is a welcome exception. One thing that sticks out musically is the use of pinch harmonics. Every time I hear one I think of Zakk Wylde.

Color Guard is a spiritually infused song defending the United States of American from its many detractors. They even quote My Country ‘Tis Of Thee in the middle of the song. Unlike many patriotic songs that have popped up during the fourteen years since 9/11, this one addresses the spiritual foundation needed to make this country better.

Crazy And I Like It continues the groove that underlies the entire album. It begins with a frenetic bass lick and runs away with a punk-like ferocity missing from many bands that call themselves punk. Shawn Taylor has a unique vocal style that I cannot really describe. At times he recalls Corey Glover but he is far from a clone. I did like the quick nod to Prince in the lyrics.

I really dig Before The Angels Call. I love the etheral beginning before the main groove kicks in. Each song impresses me with the way the rhythm section locks in together and anchors the guitar riff. With the almost dream-like vocals swirling above it all, it’s unique sound that would appeal to head bangers and fans of bands like U2 as well. There’s a nice lyrical nod to Jimi Hendrix as well.

Weapons Down Hands Up comes right out and smashes you in the face. Once again, there is a bit of nu metal swagger but it doesn’t come across sounding like those dime a dozen rap metal bands. It never approaches all out thrash either, but it is heavy enough to appease fans of heavier stuff. My head has been nodding ever since the first track kicked off. Props for the George Clinton reference. I’m going to have to really pay attention to the lyrics to see what I may have missed.

Source Of Release is the first track to being on a subdued tone but it doesn’t take long for the heavy groove to appear. I wouldn’t call this funk metal but there is a certain funkiness that comes across through the rhythm section. There is also an industrial vibe to the verse section. I still cannot decide who the vocals remind me of but that may be a good thing. They are definitely unique and fit the style of music perfectly. They aren’t rap but they still manage to feel like hip-hop.

Album closer, Soldier Electric (A Nephelim’s Last Entry), begins with a funky beat and some odd effects (guitar?) that fit perfectly with the apocalyptic tone of the lyrics. This is the song which most deviates from the heavy groove rock of the rest of the album but it still retains the feel that the band has created. It does kick into high gear before it ends so the albums manages to end on a solid note.

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