By Dr. Abner Mality

Every metal label must have its pet deathcore band these days and Italy's Bakerteam Records have chosen Straight On Target for theirs. Well, they could have done a lot worse...but could have done better, too. Here we have band where the occasional good idea finds itself up against a wall of deathcore cliches and struggles to break through. When that happens, as on the superb "Dreadful Eyes", the talent within Straight On Target is obvious for all to see. That song is a bone-crushing bulldozer of a track with some great riffs.

The heaviness here is undeniable and the album is well produced, as all Bakerteam efforts are, but the drums sound as synthetic as hell during the faster moments. As for vocals, it sounds like the typical guttural vocalist with a clothespin stuck on his tongue. One thing I am grateful for is the lack of higher pitched shrieking vocals, which almost every deathcore band feels obligated to put in. I am frankly relieved to hear the guttural hernia-inducing grunts exclusively.

There are some awesome riffs and thrashy parts strewn here and there, but also a lot of the typical unimaginative breakdowns that mar so many records. By the time "Synesthesia" comes rolling in, I've had it up to here with the "bump-bump-da-bump " riffs. The sound is generally cold and mechanical sounding, which I believe is intentional, but draining over the long run.

In the end, just too many deathcore cliches are present for "Pharmakos" to overcome, but I definitely detect one hell of a brutal and talented band struggling to break loose and establish themselves. And the super splattery logo is so generic it hurts.