EP Review: Forklift Elevator – ‘Killerself’

I am not going to lie, when I first saw this band’s name, my first response was “What a dumb name for a band”. Now, I’m no stranger to odd band names, I’ll admit, but usually, I can spot some potential logic connecting the band name, even if it’s just in a “lol wut” kind of way. Forklift Elevator fails to even incur that reaction into me: I just look at it and go “Why did anyone think that was a good idea for a band name?” That is a band name which I can only conclude got used because nobody else had a better idea…and even that feels like a stretch for an explanation. It’s not the dumbest band name I’ve seen this year (Unicorns Killed My Girlfriend beats them on that front…and no, I’m not making that band name up, that is a genuine band name!), but it certainly is not a band name that I thought anyone could have came up with and thought would be taken seriously.

…Wow, talk about starting this review off on the wrong foot.

Anyway, Forklift Elevator are a groove metal band (although I’ve also seen thrash metal mentioned in connection to them) from Padua in Italy, which is in the north of the country and might be best known to fans of Shakespeare’s work (and very bored high school students) for being the main setting for The Taming of the Shrew. Forklift Elevator formed in 2012 and, beyond a change in vocalist from Enrico M. Martin to Stefano Segato, have had a consistent lineup since their forming, comprising of bassist Marco Daga, drummer Andrea Segato, guitarist and backing vocalist Mirco Maniero and guitarist Uros Obradovic. They haven’t been a particularly prolific band in terms of releases, as their first release was their 2015 album Borderline and this EP is their follow up to it.

So what do I think of Killerself as an EP? Well, I’m not much of a groove metal fan, so you might want to take this review with a pinch of salt as a result, but…I didn’t mind it. Don’t get me wrong, this isn’t going to change anyone’s opinion on groove metal if they don’t like it, it’s definitely not going to be near my list of favourite records of the year by any stretch of the imagination and it’s not something that I feel is going to be strong enough to win over most people…but, for what it’s worth, I have heard far worse than this EP and it doesn’t do anything that I feel sabotages itself.

Cover

The band’s sound is pretty clearly in the groove metal spectrum, although I’d say there’s a bit more of a resemblance to the original era of groove metal bands (like Pantera) than, say, Five Finger Death Punch. There’s a slight thrash-influenced edge to the band’s sound which, for some bizarre reason, brings to mind modern day Exodus, but the core of the band’s sound is very much what you’d expect from a groove metal band. There’s not a lot I can really say for definite on this front, if I’m honest, considering my limited knowledge of groove metal, but I can’t say that anything about the band’s sound strikes me as especially unique in the grand scheme of things. That’s not necessarily a bad thing, but it won’t endear itself to people who hate groove metal on principle.

The band’s songwriting doesn’t exactly help matters much, as I can’t say any of their songs really stood out to me. Now, in fairness, the songs aren’t badly written, so groove metal fans might find a lot of appeal from this EP which I didn’t, but it doesn’t change the fact that none of the songs really left me going “Yeah, I want to hear this again”. ‘I Executor’ is probably the closest the record comes to getting that reception from me, as it has a somewhat thrash-influenced main riff which I really like and which stands out very nicely, but the rest of the song doesn’t really deliver on the promise of that main riff for me. That’s really the big problem for me: there’s things on here which I feel have potential and which I don’t mind on their own, but they never come together to form a song which I feel ascends above being passable overall. Considering I can at least say that I don’t mind some songs off of the few groove metal albums I have heard (heck, there’s some tracks from Pantera’s Cowboys From Hell which I find fun listens, with the title track springing to mind very easily!) and I have usually found at least one track on most albums I’ve listened to which I can at least say I don’t mind listening to again in the future, that’s not really a promising sign.

The instrumental performances aren’t really anything special, but I can say that there’s nothing that I feel showcases a less-than-competent performance by anyone. Segato’s drumming is probably my favourite performer on here, with a performance that incorporates some double bass drumming and a decent amount of variety (probably showcased best on ‘Deception’, as he has to jump from double bass drumming to a more general beat providing style and back again several times in the chorus and does it very well). Maniero and Orbadovic’s guitar playing is fairly decent for the style of music they are playing, not really bringing anything new to the table, but doing it well enough to avoid coming across as poor performers. I’d say that the guitar solos are the strong point from them, as, while they don’t really do anything that is unusual for what you’d expect from groove metal (and definitely aren’t a patch on Dimebag Darrell’s guitar solos), they do at least offer moments of genuine interest. Daga’s bass playing, unfortunately, doesn’t really stand out that much, as he tends to stick with supporting the guitars rather than trying to offer anything especially interesting in its own right, but a lot of bassists in the metal scene end up being like this, so this is probably par for the course for what most people were expecting.

Segato’s vocals…I’m not going to lie, I don’t think he’s a particularly strong vocalist. I wouldn’t call him bad, but he doesn’t have a particularly great vocal range and his voice isn’t particularly distinctive in the horde of groove metal vocalists out there. Say what you will about Ivan Moody from Five Finger Death Punch, but you’d recognise his vocals immediately and they add something to the music, as he has a very intense voice. Segato’s voice doesn’t do that: you could replace him with just about any other groove metal vocalist and I doubt anyone would feel that anything has been lost from the band’s music. He doesn’t do a bad job with the material, I should stress, but I feel that his voice lacks anything to really make him stand out in the grand scheme of things.

The production on the record is fairly decent overall. The mixing is fairly good overall, although I do wish there had been a bit more of a bass presence in the mix (although I like bass heavy mixes, so take this with a pinch of salt) and the vocals could have done with being placed a tiny bit higher in the mix, as it can be difficult to make out what Segato is singing on occasion. The production itself is your typical modern production, but it manages to avoid coming across as overly loud in the mastering without actually being quietly mastered, so you might wish to consider this factor if you’re like me and concerned about mastering quality for albums. The record’s sound is clearly a professional quality recording, as there’s no unnecessary echos or anything like that and the sound doesn’t feel thin at all. There’s nothing too serious to complain about here, so credit to the people who handled the production side of the record for a very good job.

Ultimately, there’s nothing that’s really bad about Killerself, but I don’t think it really does anything well either. It’s something that you’d probably listen to once and then forget about it. Being fair for a few seconds, I’m not really the target audience for this record, I didn’t actively dislike anything about it and I can certainly say that the fact it remains fairly solidly based in the groove metal spectrum means that groove metal fans should find this worth giving a shot, so I might have been a bit unnecessarily harsh on it, but it just doesn’t do anything for me personally and the songwriting doesn’t really come together well enough for me to feel like anything has been worth taking from the record. Groove metal fans should take this review with a pinch of salt, but everyone else, give this a miss: even if you’re wanting to get into groove metal, there are far better choices to start out with groove metal than this.

Killerself was released on the 17th of May by logic(il)logic Records. A promo copy of the album was provided for review purposes.

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