Goliath was one of my favourite metal albums to be released in 2013. You can read my opinions of it here. Butcher Babies did a good job at making something that was more than just another metalcore album full of screaming and other clichés. The vocal melodies were, for the most part, fantastic and the song structures showed intelligence far beyond what I gave them credit for. So, needless to say my expectations for whatever their second album would be were rather high. That sophomore album is Take It Like A Man, and Butcher Babies made sure that they did not release the same album twice.
At first listen, I actually wasn’t too impressed. It started when Butcher Babies released the first new song and music video called “Monsters Ball”, which ultimately became the opening track on Take It Like A Man. At first I found the song a little goofy, which I think was the point, but the lyrics just seemed so weak. I’ve since grown to tolerate the song, but I never expected to have to resort to just tolerating a song off of the follow up to Goliath.
Eventually I heard the whole album, and noticed that vocalists Carla Harvey and Heidi Shepherd increase their screaming this time around. “Igniter,” “The Butcher,” “Gravemaker” and “Blonde Girls All Look The Same” (a re-recording of one of their earliest singles) are all tracks that feature all screaming vocals. The intensity raises Take It Like A Man passed the bar compared to Goliath which metal fans could love. I see it as unoriginality from a Butcher Babies band that I expected more from. I’ve grown to enjoy these songs much more than when I first listened to them but ultimately I wish for more from them.
“Marquee” and “Blood Soaked Hero” are both songs with all screaming and growling and minimal of any other type of vocal, but they both have something about them, be it the structure (“Marquee”) or the delivery (“Blood Soaked Hero“) or both, that make them more memorable than the other above mentioned Take It Like A Man tracks. Funny enough, “Thrown Away” – the first and so far only Butcher Babies track to feature all clean vocals – is not one of my favourite tracks. I hear the emotion in what is the closest the band has ever come to a ballad, but it’s kind of bland and poppy. I’m not one to complain about something being different, and I don’t discourage Butcher Babies from trying something like this again, but this song just doesn’t work for me.
The few Take It Like A Man songs that feature a healthy mixture of clean and harsh vocals are the strongest points of the album. Well, mostly. I mean “Never Go Back” has some killer moments that I love, but the chorus kind of sounds like something a pop band could have come up with just with a metal band playing behind them, but I’ll be damned to admit that just about every moment of that song has gotten stuck in my head at one point or another. “For The Fight” is the opposite in that no matter how many times I listen to it, it never seems to stick in my head, despite having an epic alternative metal sounding chorus and some catchy pinch harmonics played by Butcher Babies guitarist Henry Flury.
“Dead Man Walking“ is an intense output that does have mostly harsh vocals, and I took to this intensity right away, but it’s still the clean vocal parts that highlight the song. That’s where I’ve always believed Butcher Babies show they are more superior compared to other metal bands that mix clean and harsh vocals. The clean vocal melodies Butcher Babies come up with always seem to be well thought out compared to the half-assed outputs of their competitors. My favourite song on Take It Like A Man is “The Cleansing.” It most closely resembles what I loved about so many songs from Goliath in just how it transitions from harsh to clean vocals. Realistically I guess I knew the album wouldn’t be filled with other songs like this. I mean a band can’t evolve by playing the same album twice, but it’s nice to know they still have a little bit of the mindset left over from their debut album.
I haven’t listened to many albums so many times before reviewing it as I did with Take It Like A Man, because I knew it would grow on me, and my opinion of it now is far greater than it was at first listen. It just took longer than it should have. I appreciate the added aggression on the heaviest songs, and I still find it to be diverse enough, but not as diverse as Goliath so subtly was. For a metal album, it’s pretty good but there are only a few moments where Butcher Babies stand out over other modern metal bands on this album, which is a disappointment. But as a whole, I wouldn’t call Take It Like A Man a disappointment the way other bands from Halestorm to Motorhead have let me down in 2015, but it doesn’t meet my expectations the way Disturbed and Ghost have.
You can get Take It Like A Man by clicking this link.
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“Blood Soaked Hero” – I hope this more harsh direction isn’t one Butcher Babies will stick with. Not because I’m not as fond of it, but because I believe they have more to offer. However, if it is a direction they continue to follow, or if they release other songs with the intensity and harsh vocals like many of the tracks on Take It Like A Man (which is pretty much a given) then I hope they are as catchy and well thought out as this track.
7.5 (Out of 10)
|7.||“Never Go Back”||3:28|
|9.||“Blood Soaked Hero”||3:36|
|10.||“Dead Man Walking”||4:37|
|11.||“For the Fight”||3:20|
|12.||“Blonde Girls All Look the Same”||2:42|