REVIEW: League of Distortion – League of Distortion

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It feels like more and more artists don’t have just one band and/or project these days, instead choosing to have more options available to them when it comes to unleashing their creativity. Such is the case with the newly formed LEAGUE OF DISTORTION, the musical brainchild of Anna Brunner (EXIT EDEN) and Jim Müller (KISSIN’ DYNAMITE), whose self-titled debut will be released by Napalm Records on November 25th, 2022. 

Feeling like a mixture of HALESTORM and AMARANTHE, League of Distortion features some sassy but empowering lyrics and gritty vocals á la Lzzy Hale, while the music sounds like a rougher version of the Swedish genre-bending unit. Promoted as “the must-hear modern metal debut of the year,” the album offers an updated take on the genre, boasting an aggressive soundscape that comes both from the vocals and the very in-your-face instrumental side. This is both the album’s strength, as well as its biggest pitfall, since it is a bit taxing on the ear and, after the first couple of songs, the music feels predictable. Individually, the songs range from decent to great, but taken as a whole they lose some of their shine. There are a few songs that break the mold, like “The Bitter End” and “SIN,” but the bulk of the tracks seems to follow a certain formula that relies heavily on Anna Brunner’s powerful vocals and Jim Müller’s distorted guitars.

Released as a first single, “Wolf or Lamb” is a wonderful display of what the band is all about, namely powerful rhythms, strong melodies, technicality, and grit. Up next, “My Revenge” kicks things up a notch with mighty guitar riffs, excellent vocal dynamics, and some electronic elements to complete the sound, while “It Hurts So Good,” featuring ANNISOKAY vocalist Christoph Wieczorek, has some post-hardcore vibes and cheeky lyrics going for it. “Rebel by Choice” has one absolutely killer chorus lifting it up and making it extremely memorable (how come it’s not a single yet?) and boasts some of Anna Brunner’s best vocals on the album. Acting like the album’s ballad, “SIN” impresses with gentle vocals, intense lyrics, and dramatic build-ups in the chorus, whereas “The Bitter End” is the record’s uplifting track, complete with a powerful chorus and balanced instrumentals. I believe it is in tracks like “Wolf or Lamb,” “My Revenge,” “Rebel by Choice,” and “The Bitter End” that the band’s craft really shines.          

On the downside, wannabe anthem “LOD” and rocker “Solitary Confinement” fall flat and don’t really add anything new to the soundscape except for repeated screamed vocals and the obligatory chunky guitar riffs. This is actually a shame because “LOD” would kill in a live setting, being a hyper-energetic song, and “Solitary Confinement” has some very good lyrics, but this focus on distortion takes away from the message. Poppy “I’m a Bitch” and “Do You Really Think I Fuckin’ Care” seem taken from HALESTORM’s playbook and I can’t decide if that is a good thing or a bad thing, since I’m not used to hearing so much brashness in European metal. Nonetheless, these two songs feel like fillers, following pretty much the same formula, and are just there to give the band an edgy “I don’t give a fuck”–type of attitude that feels out of place because… you either own it or you don’t, and these songs fail to convince me.     

So, is “League of Distortion” a must-hear album? I would say yes and no because, while LEAGUE OF DISTORTION shows a lot of potential for great things in the metal scene in the future, this potential feels a bit boxed-in here. That is because the band spends a lot of time rehashing the same song pattern and sound design in slightly different ways. The avenues they do explore when breaking the pattern only lead to a mixed bag. Sure, Anna Brunner has a powerful voice and can do a lot with it, but sometimes the vocalist’s skill is not enough to save a song. Luckily, this is only their debut and there’s enough time to fix all the kinks that don’t quite work here.    

Written by Andrea Crow

Tracklist

1. Wolf Or Lamb
2. My Revenge
3. It Hurts So Good
4. L.O.D.
5. I’m A Bitch
6. Rebel By Choice
7. Solitary Confinement
8. SIN
9. The Bitter End
10. Do You Really Think I Fuckin’ Care

Lineup

Anna Brunner – Vocals
Jim Müller – Guitars
Felix Rehmann – Bass
Tino Calmbach – Drums

Label

Napalm Records

Links

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Napalm Records