Integrity is a crossover hardcore/metal band that is credited widely with inventing metalcore.  Their leader, Dwid Hellion, has released Charles Manson’s music, love the ‘Church of Holy Terror’, and has been called ‘Glenn Danzig mixed with David Lee Roth’.

There’s not much Diamond Dave on this album.  A concept album about Armageddon, the music is fast, and the singing impassioned and aggressive.  There’s no gap between the tracks (at least on the version we heard), which helps it merge together and feel like a single body of work with an overarching idea, not just a collection of songs.

One thing that separates this music from punk is the guitar soloing, which is as frantic and fast as, say, Kirk Hammett copping Dave’s leads on ‘Kill ‘Em All’.  The fourth track, ‘I Am The Spell’, has a number of slower sections that highlight the lead playing to great effect.

Next track, ‘Die With Your Boots On’, doesn’t sound like Iron Maiden.  It does sound a lot more metal than the previous tracks though.  It would not be out of place on an early Megadeth album.

Serpent Of The Crossroads’ drops the tempo considerably, but is still heavy and in your face.  The inclusion of harmony guitars and lots of solos helps make this a more traditional metal sounding track.

Unholy Salvation Of Sabbatai Zevi’ starts with a church organ.  The guitar comes in at 40 seconds, starting another slower track full of harmony leads before kicking into a great guitar solo passage.

Up next, ‘7 Reece Mews’ is a slow track that uses a heavy/soft blueprint in the vocals and guitars to great effect.  Reece Mews appears to be a suburb of London, and number 7 is where Francis Bacon lived. The song is about a seance held to bring about the end of the world.

‘And for the last great seance

We have gathered together to bring forth the End

This is the End that shall destroy everything’

One band that comes to mind often as you listen to this album is Motorhead.  That similarity is never more clear than on ‘Burning Beneath The Devil’s Cross’ and follow-on track, ‘String Up My Teeth’, which channels the more rock side of Motorhead to great effect.  This is the first song on the CD you could describe as having a groove.

The last track is the title track and continues in the same vein.  It winds down at the end effectively and brings the album to a strong close.

There are three bonus tracks. ‘Viselle De Drac’ is violin and acoustic guitar and sounds out of place after what preceded it. After four odd minutes it descends into noise with electric guitars and sound effects, and then the sound of a child singing.

Entartete Kunst‘ is next, a straight up thrash metal song.  It’s a minute long and sounds like it could have been on ‘Speak English or Die’.

Deathly Fighter’ rounds out the bonus tracks.  It sounds more hardcore punk than anything on the album proper, although the solo is certainly straight up metal and even leads into another harmony lead section.  It’s a strong song, overall, it feels like the bonus tracks are tracks that didn’t quite fit the sonic template of the album, but are still good songs in their own right.

Read up on Integrity and you’ll find all sorts of stories.  Dark stories about ears nailed to doors, but also stories of fights with record companies, lies being caught out, and an attempt to project an image of evil and nihilism that often just doesn’t quite get off the ground.  It’s unclear how much of this stuff Dwid really means, and the internet age must make it harder to project an image, as opposed to when you just had to set up your house to look like a Satanic church on the day ‘Metal Hammer’ comes around.  Perhaps the best thing is to take the meaning you want from what is still definitely an intense and heavy piece of work, with a dark concept about the end of the world as we know it.

While all this talk of crossover is justifiable, and punk influences are clear, overall this doesn’t sound that far from a metal template.  A lyric booklet is definitely needed to follow the concept through, but it works just as a body of heavy music.  Like all concept albums, how deep you go into the concept is up to you.

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