Hailing out of Junction City, Ohio, USA comes solo project United Servants. Masterminded by Tucker Dawson, with his fourth full-length album Hell To Pay, which is the follow-up to the 2022 release Madness In Me. Tucker is wholly responsible for every aspect of his newest installment, including production and recording.
Hell To Pay is available on CD and Vinyl via Bandcamp and can listen on all streaming services.
- Out of Time
- Fears & Failures
- Hell to Pay
- The Narrow Road (feat. Zachariah Turnage)
- Falling into Black
- What I’ve Become
- The Darkness
- State of Mind
- Practice What You Preach
- Song of Hope
All songs written, recorded, produced, mixed, and mastered by Nathaniel T Dawson.
The first track “Out Of Time” cranks out bombastically aggressive, brutal and a bit overly bass-driven, especially with the double-kick aspect of the song. The melodic qualities also show, with some wonderfully done blending of licks, developments of the tempo, and changes which are a strength with consistency. A very cool solo is thrown in to boot, which is unheard of a bit in latter-day metal, but nice to hear it make an appearance.
“Fear And Failures” is up next and it continues the melodic aspect of his music, which holds its own. Feeling the double-kick is overused, yet it doesn’t take away from the strategy that is being created here, blending heavy, fast, and brutal metal, with a hard rock element that seems to be grafted in somewhere between the sound and pace of the song.
Title track “Hell To Pay” has a similar identity as the first two tracks, mixing all that has been spoken thus far, the only difference however has been given is a pretty brutal breakdown that all you deathcore fans would appreciate. The single “Narrow Road” tracks on nicely, featuring vocalist Zachariah Turnage of deathcore band Blue Fire Horizon, and which clearly is one of my favourite songs thus far with a beautifully put chorus. It is upbeat and fast but yet carries a sense of melody that adds a more alternative metal feeling.
Everyone loves a ballad or even if you don’t “Falling Into Black”, is a well constructed softer sound and tempo that displays the quality of Mr. Dawson and his songwriting, as nothing always has to be intense, fast or just noise to some. Great guitar work is shown in full, especially if you like older Metallica ballads, it shows how even their influence has bled into United Servants music.
“What I’ve Become” is next with a faster hard rock sounding delivery, with it’s scheduled pace but yet not overbearing. When trying to match it vocally throughout he throws in some old school glam metal screams, which his attempts get better every time they are executed. “The Darkness” suddenly makes it presence felt, to build onto the previous track as thrash elements flow through which is a nice touch, some more excellent guitar work is displayed too, you can definitely hear that Tucker is enjoying every minute of this recording.
When it comes to “State Of Mind”, hard rock mixed with smooth clean alternative metal vibe, that will keep commercialized listeners happy as he keeps that melodic stream going, the production of the song is certainly complimented. Showings of “Remorse”, this song has that classic old swing rock and roll impact that gives you the idea so far that Tucker has a vast knowledge of different genres of heavy music, as this song kicks tail, all the while blending all that has been created for almost the full duration of this album.
The track “Practice What You Preach”, typically sounds like an ending of an album. Slower delivery, melodic metalcore-ish element that still captures the overall feel on what we have experienced. Great song lyrically, and even some deathcore growls thrown in for good measure, but in saying this the lead up to their final song on the album “Song Of Hope”, which ends out the album nicely. Still slower paced but, the melodies shine and with a cleverly done chorus, finalizing with the slamming brutality that makes a comeback as you enter the final phase complete.
Overall, a very good and well constructed album which has a bit of everything for anyone into all genres of hard rock, faster punk and metal. The production quality was not overly the best, a balanced solution would have held it more intact, especially with the quality of musicianship this man has, I believe his playing is well deserved to be heard more on a clearer perspective, however certain songs are still complimented by the sound and production displayed.
Christian Sullivan: 7/10 – The Metal Onslaught Magazine