Cycle of Pain centres around J.D. DeServio, bassist for Black Label Society. Based on this, you might guess that their disc serves up some hard-hitting hard rock and metal, and you’d be right. The disc also provides some surprises, from the funky riffs and grooves mixed on opening track “5” to the epic sweeping solos on tracks like “Reign Down.” And then there’s the proggy “Egypt.” There’s even a little bit of hip-hop fusion on “Do My Work,” and the track “Pungle” has some electronic/industrial-inspired loops, but the jury’s still out on whether either of those tracks really works well. Most of the tracks sound fairly rock-radio friendly, which may or may not be a good thing, depending on whether or not you think Metallica sold out on the Black Album.
While the songs and arrangements themselves are pretty solid, the music sometimes sounds a little too small and over-compressed. As an example, the limiter is particularly squashing the hell out of the music in the chorus of “5,” as well as on the drums on “Babe.” There are also some dull and muddy spots in the mix. Technical issues aside, this is still a strong collection of songs that should translate into a kick-ass live show. The songs have an aggressive energy balanced with soaring riffs and catchy grooves, and it will be interesting to hear how Cycle of Pain develops.