There are many different qualities that can be defined by the word "heavy". I'm thinking right now of the definition of "heavy" that includes heavy food: the kind of thing that sits like a rock in your stomach, giving you bathroom daydreams and twitching your tongue with the certainty that I'll never eat another bite of that again, and I'm sure as hell not moving from this couch.
That's a different way of thinking of something being "heavy" than is usually applied to heavy metal music. Metal brings to mind images of fleet-footed runners, fast and crisp things moving entirely too fast, pulses quickening, twigs and branches cracking and breaking under the rhythmic stamping of things flying by.
But somehow, the first definition fits better when dealing with Corporal Punishment and their new album Stonefield of a Lifetime. This is a plodding, thumping, slow and crushing album that feels like a lumbering brute even when it is picking up speed.
The first thing you'll notice, if you've never heard Punishment before, is the incredibly thick accent of vocalist Ali; his deep, robust voice is so European you might find yourself reaching for a Fodor's guide. But he has a very good voice, too, and it's a welcome treat to hear such a smooth, melodic tone being used to scream out tunes of indignation and alienation.
Lyrically, there's nothing much new here: the typical rock staples of personal demons, frustration with religion, desire to not pretend to be something you're not just to please people. And the delicate sense of metaphor and implication found in the best songwriters is severely missing at times, as the tales are sometimes so blunt that they're funny. ("Now I'm lying in a cage and I feel this isn't right, I must defecate in my pants and food comes always late.")
But musically, there's not much to complain about on Stonefield. This is solid, thunderous stuff, with a very thick bottom-end, and a constant stream of guitar melody lines to counterpoint the bass. I'm particularly fond of "Old Photos", a song which goes in musical directions other than what you might expect: the guitar melody that most bands would have written to fit this song was skipped for a more avant-garde one, and it's perfect ear candy.
Provided you can get past the jarring experience of hearing such a thick accent singing such heavy music, there's a lot to like about Stonefield of a Lifetime.