Cleveland metalcore/hardcore punk band Integrity has been pumping out some vicious, headbang-centric music since the late eighties to little mainstream attention. They’ve resided in the underground scene, far away from the common eye and average ear. However, their 2003 album ‘To Die For’ is a masterpiece and a must-listen.
Bands like Hatebreed would not exist without Integrity, who was one of the first bands to blend the hardcore punk and metalcore sounds into short, visceral songs. No track on ‘To Die For’ extends past four minutes and sixteen seconds, and three songs clock in under two minutes. This is punch-in-the-face music.
However, Integrity showcases an ability to do many things on this album.
The brief ‘Blessed Majesty’ is a gritty acoustic passage soaked in angst. It also features some great soloing over top an eerie chord progression. This style pops up again later on the 22-minute album on the track ‘Lost Without You’ (albeit on a clean-toned electric guitar, you get the point).
Even their heavy has different flavors. The opener ‘Taste My Sin’ is a slammer featuring heavy power chord riffing and blast-beat drumming. ‘Heaven’s Final War’ features a galloping riff that brings classic Slayer to mind. These tracks really do mix up, which is a true tip-of-the-cap to the way Integrity assembled the track listing. By sandwiching clean parts with heavy, they avoid listener fatigue.
This is an album that is punishing, fun, and chock-full of wild energy. It’s raw but doesn’t suffer from bad mixing or shoddy production like so many other underground metal albums do, which leads me to wonder why it received such little exposure. Give it a listen; you won’t be sorry. And while you’re at it, check out another Integrity album: ‘Humanity Is The Devil.’ All I’ll say is be ready for the ‘Vocal Test.’