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Siebenburgen • Delictum
Taking their name from the European name of what we Americans know as Transylvania,
Siebenburgen is a Gothic death metal band that has an obvious love of vampirism.
On their musically impeccable 10 track disc, these German Goths combine
brutal thrash metal with atmospheric ambiance to create a truly mystical
and magical listening experience ("Storms"). Goth rock never sounded so
brutally beautiful. Imagine a chorus of angels singing over churning riffs,
and that basically describes this outfit. Not for everyone, but if you're
a little curious, check it out.
Sinner • The End of Sanctuary
Sinner returns with a fully charged battery on their latest release. With
two new members in tow, these metal mavens continue to churn out the formulaic
but oh-so-tasty heavy riff ("The Prophecy") meets catchy chorus ("Heavy
Duty") meets mind bending guitar solo song ("Blood Relations"). They even
go so far as to branch out a bit and give a bit of orchestration in their
arsenal ("Destiny"). It’s nice that in a world that changes on the drop
of a dime that some things remain the same and maintain their value as
well. Sinner fits that bill quite nicely for those who are about to rock.
Salute at your dispose.
Mental Home • Upon the Shores of Inner Seas
Century Media Records
>From Russia with love? Not if you’re Mental Home, a dark, brooding band
from the former Soviet Union. Taking pages from Moonspell and Type O Negative
sans the Gothic outlook ("Late To Revise"), this quintet is no Gorky Park,
folks. They have great musical talent and show this on their eight track
disc. Combining classical compositions with snippets of Mr. Bungle meets
new wave weirdness ("Eternal Moon," "Amidst The Waves"), Mental Home is
worth the spin -- if not for their musical prowess, then at least for the
musical boundaries they break.
Until the End • Until the End
Equal Vision, P.O. Box 14, Hudson, NY 12534
Until The End is a straight edge hardcore band, and they’re damn proud
of it. On their five song release, the double lead vocalists take this
quintet through an introductory course through anger and frustration 101
("Running In Circles") as the music keeps the feel thick and thrashy, a
la Madball and Hatebreed ("As Friends Fall"). Straight edged messages with
a metalcore background is what UTE is all about, and they take the tough
guy route to express their style. Definitely something for those that may
need a wakeup call, but overall, a solid musical offering that leaves you
thrashing all the way.
The August Prophecy • Five Endeavors in Self Murder
OHEV Records, P.O. Box 772121, Coral Springs, FL 33077
The August Prophecy is another one of those metal bands that mixes a little
bit of everything heavy into their mix and makes those disjointed, dissonant
jams that have 27 changes and border on senseless noise half the time.
The other half, they’re snapping necks and breaking heads with some slamming
riffs and demonic screams that’d make Linda Blair proud. So, dear listener,
this one is a toss-up. If you dig the Relapse Records style, pick this
up; otherwise, steer clear of something that may be a little too far left
of center for ya.
Disturbed • The Sickness
The Windy City brings us Disturbed, an electronic metal quartet that shares
as much in common with White Zombie as they do Godsmack. Their 12 track
disc sizzles with power and bubbles over with emotion, thanks to the vocal
gymnastics of their singer David Draiman. Riding the whole Static X/electronic
metal wave, these Chi-town metalheads have got all of the elements to be
the next big band; big hooks ("Stupify"), twisted vocals that, at times,
don’t even seem human ("Down With The Sickness"), and overall the ability
to command a familiar sound while still being able to place their own stamp
on it ("Numb"). They even do a really cool cover of Tears For Fears’ "Shout."
If you like the sounds of new metal, then Disturbed is a must-have in your
collection. Check them out on this summer’s Ozzfest, and see for yourself
what the hoopla is all about.
Dreadnaught • Down to Zero
The Music Cartel, P.O. Box 629, Port Washington, NY 11050
Dreadnaught is based out of Australia, and they don’t sound like Silverchair!!!
That alone gives them a head start, but there are more reasons than that
to like these guys. For starters, their 10 track disc rocks from start
to finish with a lot of different vibes going on. There’s a good thick
groove that reels ya in, followed by a hard rock sensibility and a tad
of stoner rock strewn in. The early comparison could point to fellow Aussie
rockers Grinspoon, but there are hints of Sabbath, Bush and Therapy in
there, as well. This down under quartet really brings home the rock and
can mix it up from face-ripping fist pumpers ("Scumbag," "Game") to emotionally
charged mood pieces ("Blue"). A very solid hybrid, Dreadnaught is worth
a spin for the post-Gen-X’er in you.
Power From the North
Digital Dimension Records
The Swedish metal community gets together and pays homage to their Swedish
roots and gives props to the bands that inspired them on this 15-band compilation.
Highlights include the mighty Meshuggah’s cover of a Whimzy tune and the
brutal Entombed and their cover of Stillborn’s "Albino Flogged In Black."
If you’d like to hear how these bands got to sound how they did, or if
you just dig the "Garage Inc." concept of the whole project, then seek
this puppy out.
Nevermore • Dead Images in a Dead World
Century Media Records
Nevermore is an epic metal band from Seattle whose latest release is 11
tracks full of rock and roll majesty. Imagine Queensryche jamming with
Pantera, and that basically sums up what this Northwestern quartet sounds
like. There’s a lot of classic metal influences (Priest, Maiden) seeping
through here ("The Heart Collector"), yet at the same time, there’s a lot
of what’s going on today mixed into Nevermore’s mix as well ("We Disintegrate").
Bonus points go to the boys for their ultra heavy cover of Simon and Garfunkel’s
"The Sound Of Silence." If you’re looking for the best mix of traditional
and modern metal, check out Nevermore’s latest, and you’ll be happy you
Strung Out • The Element of Sonic Defiance
Fat Wreck Chords
The new release from So Cal punksters Strung Out hits hard and fast, just
like a NYHC band ("Razorblade"), yet this grizzled quintet somehow maintain
their California bounce, too. Imagine Offspring jamming with Sick Of It
All ("Savant") and you may get an idea of what their latest sounds like.
Very melodic, but driving and chock full of candy coated choruses that
you’ll be singing all day long ("Mephisto"). Some intense stuff here, folks.
If you dig a little bit of everything in your punk rock, from the catchy
to the cacophonic, then check these guys out.
Night In Gales • Nailwork
The German quintet Night In Gales have a strong hold on what metal is supposed
to sound like. On their latest 11 track release, they mesh pounding rhythms
and screams from the depths ("Down The Throat") with melodic guitar lines
("Nailwork") and relatively catchy choruses. In turn, they create a truly
well-rounded metal album that blends melody and brutality in an artful
way. Imagine Megadeth meets Obituary ("All Scissors Smile"). And their
cover of Alannah Myles’ "Black Velvet" is a must-hear, if not solely for
the kitsch value, then at least for the mere attempt of making a semi-lame
song somewhat listenable.
Boy Sets Fire • After the Eulogy
Boy Sets Fire is a Delaware quintet of epic proportions. These guys take
the raw emotion of hardcore and add thick layers of indie rock, country
and metal to the mix to create a truly powerful music machine. Imagine
John Mellencamp jamming with Metallica, or even COC and CCR getting together
for a session with a hardcore undercurrent and punk sensibilities. What
follows is nothing but 13 lyrically brilliant, sonically satisfying tunes
sure to grab you by the balls and the brain. Albeit the messages and politics
of the band sometimes distract from the sheer power they wield, BSF show
on After the Eulogy that they’re ready for the big time. This heavy
music juggernaut is poised and ready to take their social justice 101 lesson
meets hardcore punk metal consciousness to the next level.
NOTE: Due to space constraints, the following reviews were not included
in the print edition of Geoff Wilbur's Renegade Newsletter.
These reviews are only available here in the online edition.
Papa Roach • Infest
Papa Roach is the newest band from the "pissed off from California" line
that some factory in Silicon Valley is seemingly pumping out these days.
Keeping up with the dissonance of Staind ("Between Angels and Insects")
or the bounciness of Offspring ("Last Resort") isn’t easy, yet PR does
both commendably. Definitely devoid of substance, PR makes up for their
lackluster lyrical subject matter on their 11 track debut by rocking. And
rocking hard ("Dead Cell"), with a B-boy, Korn meets Limp vibe with chunks
of funkified metal guitar riffs and driving rhythms that’s sure to sound
good to every high school junior attending the Warped Tour this summer.
Papa Roach brings to us a hip hop hardcore hybrid of rock without any message,
which in reality, isn’t really a bad thing. If you’re under 18, these guys
will speak to you in volumes, but if you’re over 18, turn your brain off
and rock out!
Shelter • When 20 Summers Pass
Ray Cappo and company return with Shelter’s latest release, a 12 song jaunt
through thought provoking positive hardcore. While their politics and religious
beliefs remain a major focus of the band, it doesn’t stop Shelter from
making some moving music. Their bouncy, near pop version of hardcore is
a refreshing change from the tough guy metalcore that the scene has been
saturated with as of late. Their melodic styling ("Look Away," "When 20
Summers Pass") are sure to have you tapping your foot and bopping your
head. If you dig the punk/hardcore hybrid and if you can get past the lyrical
heaviness, then pick up the latest from Shelter.
Soul Reaper • Written In Blood
>From the heavy metal haven known as Sweden comes a band that seems to sit
at the right hand of Lucifer himself. Soul Reaper is their name, and this
quintet’s seven track release is reminiscent of Morbid Angel in both lyrical
content and musical extremity ("Ungodly"). Brutally heavy and tinged with
just the right amount of blast beat drums, break neck riffs and glass eschewed
vocals, Soul Reaper is the kind of band that’ll have you sacrificing chickens
in the nearest municipal wooded area in no time. If you have an upside
down cross anywhere on the walls of your room, this CD is for you.
Stuck Mojo • Declaration Of a Headhunter
Century Media Records
Stuck Mojo has been a staple in the underground heavy music scene for some
time now. On their fourth studio release, the Atlanta quartet mixes headbanging
ditties with a dash of Southern hospitality to create 14 tracks of new
metal madness. Sounding somewhere between Pantera and Sevendust musically,
they become a bit more harsh in their lyrical content this time out, tackling
both social and political problems that plague the US ("Give War A Chance").
Are they slowly turning into a Rage Against The Machine type outfit? Hell
no, they still will rip your face off ("Hatebreed"), but now they have
a social conscience. Consider Declaration a heavy metal US History
lesson. Class dismissed.
Incantation • The Infernal Storm
Incantation is truly a band that encompasses all that is evil, both musically,
but more importantly, lyrically. With lyrics that sound as if they’ve been
taken straight out of a Satanic hymn book ("Apocalyptic Destroyer of Angels"),
these guys are the real thing for sure. On their latest eight track release,
the boys also bludgeon the listener with an aural assault that comes complete
with chunks of distorted guitars and blast beat drums. However, Incantation
shows us that at times, they can be thick and sludgy as well ("Heaven Departed").
Incantation goes that extra mile to cover all styles of extreme hard music
on The Infernal Storm. If you’re looking for a death metal band
that knows how to mix it up and still remain heavy, look no further.
Raise Hell • Not Dead Yet
Raise Hell is a throwback band of sorts. On their nine track disc, they
relive classic moments of both late '80s thrash metal and NWOBHM guitardom
with some success ("User Of Poison," "Not Dead Yet"). Despite their sophomoric
lyrics and their cheesy delivery, these Swedes know how to rock in a very
arena rock kind of way, a style that goes against their normal brethren
bands’ prototype. If you’d like to hear some young and hungry musicians
paying homage and rocking out to the old school ways of metal, then check
this disc out.
River City Rebels • Racism, Religion and War
The River City Rebels throw down 14 tracks on their latest Victory release
that take the ska-punk meets hardcore route musically and a solid political
stance lyrically. These Massachusetts young guns sound like a supercharged
Sex Pistols complete with horns ("Here Or To Go") and a delivery that's
loaded with attitude and insight ("The System"). Reminiscent of fellow
Beantown brawlers Dropkick Murphy's, this seven piece tower of power's
music is contagiously danceable ("Country Is Doomed"), somewhat moshable
("He She It") and downright lovable ("Stars N Stripes"), if you can wade
through their anti-establishment warbling. If you like to turn it up and
be a rebel, the RCRs are the perfect band to accompany your latest revolution.
Pick it up and f*ck the system, man!
Mayhem • Grand Declaration Of War
Necropolis Records, Box 14815, Fremont, CA 94539
Norwegian Black Metal forefathers Mayhem return with their latest release,
a 13 track disc that uses electronica and technology to further this legendary
band's audio assault. While the usual trademarked (and infringed upon hundred
fold) Mayhem tricks remain up their sleeve like blast beats and lightning
fast guitar riffs, Mayhem shows that they can up the ante and remain just
as relevant and in some instances, more powerful, by using technological
advances as part of their doomy metal backdrop. If you're a fan of the
whole black metal movement, check this out to see how a founding father
band can still get the job done.
Eidolon • Nightmare World
Metal Blade Records
Eidolon is a progressive metal quartet that shows no variation from early
Queensryche and (mainly) Fates Warning ("Eye of Illusion"). While the performances
are top notch and the riffs are pretty driving, the music seems a bit dated,
as if it were 1987 all over again. How many times can you hear a falsetto
metal singer over grinding rhythms before it gets played out? This release
may be genre specific, so for those who aren't into the whole prog metal
thing, stay clear.
Triple Crown, 331 West 57th Street, PMB 472, New York, NY 10019
The hardcore scene is regarded as being the tightest knit in the whole
rock community, especially in NY. So it's no surprise that a hardcore compilation
comes along to stress this unity and celebrate each bands individuality
through coming together. On Scene Report, 21 bands represent from
across the East Coast, showing off their skills and putting out their varied
influences and styles to share with the scene. From the NYHC grooves of
No Redeeming Social Value and Billy Club Sandwich to the metalcore madness
of Irate and One For One to the California hardcore of The Hoods, all facets
of the scene are present and accounted for. If you're into the hardcore
scene and want to be on the pulse of what the latest sounds are, then this
release is essential.
Vader • Litany
Metal Blade Records
Poland's pride and powerful Vader return with a new release chock full
of the metal madness that you'd come to expect from this long standing
death metal troupe. Taking the old school style metal a la Slayer ("The
One Made of Dreams") and adding on a keen sense of blast beat death metal
mayhem, Vader shows us why they're still around with a powerful 11 track
disc that will have you raising horned hands in the air and banging your
head with childhood abandonment ("Xeper," "A World Of Hurt"). For the metal
maven in you.
Nickelback • The State
Before the cries of "generic" ring out, let's get one thing straight about
this Canadian quartet named Nickelback. While their radio friendly riffs
reek of Bush, STP and the ilk ("Not Leavin' Yet"), these guys do have a
sense of rocktitude that buries all their Matchbox 20 and Creed knock off
brethren ("One Last Run"). Imagine an angrier Collective Soul ("Diggin'
This") with a strong sense of hooky choruses and some kick ass guitar work
and you may just have a new radio darling in the works. So what if singer
Chad sounds exactly like Gavin from Bush; at least Nickelback keeps it
heavy, sans any crappy techno remixing. If you like your rock sanitized
with aspirations of becoming a big hit, then Nickelback is for you.
Sanctus • Aeon Sky
Metal Blade Records
This six piece California outfit is not your average Cali band. While their
location has spawned such diverse musical entities as Deftones, Offspring
and Motley Crue, Sanctus opts to go the death/black metal route on their
eight track debut disc, with startling success. Their blend of Eastern
European metal is no California sunshine, for sure ("November"). Crushingly
dark and angry, and instrumentally unmatched ("Thy Desolation"), Sanctus
is a metal machine that gives their European peers a run for their money.
If you like the imported stuff, try something domestic for a pleasant surprise.
Brainstorm • Ambiguity
Metal Blade Records
Is there a factory nestled deep in the Netherlands somewhere that churns
out metal bands to supply the world? If you were to look in an almanac,
metal music has got to be that region of the world's number one export.
Such is the case with Brainstorm, a 5 piece band that takes from the Savatage/Iron
Maiden schools of metal and add their own versions of metallic guitar wizardry
("Arena") and comments on the world's ills from operatic vocals. Not bad,
but not overabundantly well done, Brainstorm is one of those bands that
may lie in heavy metal limbo, playing outdoor festivals and keeping the
flame of classic metal alive and well for years to come.
King Diamond • House Of God
Metal Blade Records
All hail the King! The mighty purveyor of evil himself and every PMRC members
worst nightmare returns with a new concept album. King Diamond has toned
down a great deal since his early days, yet the Andy La Rocque guitar assault
and the trademark metal falsetto remain intact ("Black Devil," "Help").
While the King's spiel may be considered laughable in this time of "reality
based entertainment," perhaps he could supplement his act out by taking
it on the road as a play/musical rather than a mere concert experience.
Imagine it now: King Diamond Live on Broadway. Hell, if Sebastian
Bach can play there, why not. In any event, those that remain loyal to
Diamond should dig this album a lot, and even if you're in a campy mood,
this may be the type of thing to get your rocks off to.
Earth Crisis • Slither
Everyone's favorite hardcore vegans Earth Crisis return with a barnburning
13 track album that may have some long time fans crying "sellout". While
it can't be denied that EC has gone down a Metallica-esque route in terms
of songwriting, the boys have never sounded as well rounded and overall
heavy. Slither is chock full of powerful songs that stray from the
usual Earth Crisis pound you over the head formula. Instead, they opt to
slow it down a bit and give it a little more groove ("Killing Brain Cells,"
"Slither") a la Pro Pain with strong results. Produced by aggro rock production
king Steve Evetts, this is the most comprehensive and accessible release
Earth Crisis has put out ("Provoke"), complete with thought provoking lyrics
and thunderous rhythms and a twin guitar attack that is second to none.
OK, so now they don't sound like every other hardcore band; is that so
bad? Not really, because Karl and company have gone through an evolution
that's only going to award them the accolades and success that they deserve.
The Crown • Deathrace King
Metal Blade Records
The Crown is a metal band in every sense of the word. This Swedish quintet
definitely brushed up on their early Metallica and Sepultura while writing
this 11 track metal maelstrom. Swirling guitars, pounding drums and vocals
from the depths of hell are what these guys are all about ("Deathexplosion")
and when it comes to true old school '80s thrash metal, these guys deliver
the goods. From breakneck speed riffages ("Devil Gate Ride") to slow and
grinding bottom end madness ("Dead Man's Song"), The Crown is a band that
brings the metal with no compromise and no remorse. Truly a breath of fresh
air for all of you who have awaited a second coming of the metal days of
yore. Check these guys out if you yearn for the glory days of Testament,
Obituary and Slayer.
Queens Of the Stone Age • Rated R
Want a band to worship and adore? Want to know what band just may save
rock and roll? Look no further than the quirky Queens Of The Stone Age.
Consisting of ex-Kyuss members Josh Homme and Nick Olivieri, QOTSA brings
their second release Rated R to our hungry ears. The results will
blow your mind in oh so many ways. For starters, the guest star power on
this 11 track gem includes Mark Lanegan and Rob Halford. From there, QOTSA
break all the unwritten laws of rock; they have more than 2 lead singers,
they switch up their instruments on each song and they never stay put in
a style long enough to be pigeonholed. From the Nirvana-esque angst of
"Tension Head" to the laid back groove of "Autopilot", Queens pull off
the amazing feat of maintaining a level of intensity by switching styles.
There's something for everyone on this album from guitar instrumentals
("Lightning Song") to musical cacophony ("I Think I Lost My Headache")
to balls out rawk and roll tunes ("Feel Good Hit Of The Summer," "Quick
And To The Pointless") to satisfy all rock fans. These self professed drug
addicts have given us 43 minutes of their best trips on CD. Please tune
in and burn out with them on this potential album of the year.
Destruction • All Hell Breaks Loose
Destruction is one of metal's true grizzled veteran bands, and on their
latest 12 track release, they show why they've experienced such staying
power. From their precision thrash metal riffs ("The Butcher Strikes Back")
to the locked and fully loaded rhythm section, this German metal outfit
brings new meaning to the phrase power trio ("Machinery of Lies"). While
the '80s are (thankfully) long gone, Destruction shows us what made the
metal music great by not changing a thing about themselves throughout their
15 plus year career. If you're a metal maniac, you'll be sure to appreciate
Vanderhoof • Vanderhoof
What exactly would you expect from a project spearheaded by Metal Church
axe man Kurdt Vanderhoof? Probably some third rate masturbatory guitar
album, right? Think again, boys and girls, because this 13 track disc smokes
from beginning to end in a '70s retro prog rock kind of way. Think along
the lines of Yes meets Deep Purple (even going as far as pounding out a
banging cover of DP's "Burn"). but with more metal overtones. In short,
it's a solid album that isn't as much a solo project as it is a side project.
If you yearn for the days when rock bands jammed and spent more time on
bridges and choruses than they do with their image, then you should check
out Vanderhoof and reaffirm your faith in rock and roll.
Nativity in Black 2
Divine Records, PO Box 2590 Los Angeles CA 90078
The ever-influential and groundbreaking Black Sabbath have guided and shaped
so much of the metal and hard rock of the past 30 years. This time, on
Volume 2 of the tribute, more bands, especially those of the nu metal regime,
pay homage to the Godfathers of Metal. Everyone from the mighty (Pantera,
Slayer) to the wannabes (Godsmack) get in on this 12 track collection.
While some versions remain loyal to the originals, many of the bands put
a unique twist on their choice to provide an interesting listen. The techno
beat of Static X's version of "Beyond the Wall of Sleep" works well, while
System of A Down's composition changing "Snowblind" dawns new light on
a stellar Sabbath fave. Monster Magnet's expectedly trippy "Into The Void"
is just what the doctor ordered, while Hed PE's rap infused "Sabra Cadabra"
takes the grooves to a whole different dimension. In all, this is a solid
tribute to a legendary band that has made its mark in the rock world. If
your a fan of any of the newer metal bands, you'll appreciate this disc
and even if you're a diehard Sabbath fanatic, there's a lot here that will
have you pumping your fists in the air as well. A must have for the summer
Ultraspank • Progress
The techno metal outfit Ultraspank returns with a mind bending sophomore
effort with Progress. This 12 track jewel contains deep chunks of
hard edged programmed rock that never lets you forget that they still are
primarily a metal band. The stellar guitar work and super tight bass and
drums complement all of the beats and noises in the background to create
a true future rock masterpiece ("Crumble"). Heavy on the riffs as they
are the samples, Ultraspank comes out of the gate raging, picking up stellar
songwriting techniques that make their songs a virtual roller coaster ride,
not unlike fellow robot rock peers Tool ("Stuck," "Smile," "Click"). These
guys are on the verge of blowing up, so pick this album up so you can say
that you knew them back when.
Doro • Calling the Wild
Doro Pesch is back, and it’s with a vengeance on her latest 14 track disc.
And she’s brought along some friends, as Lemmy, Slash and Megadeth’s new
axeman Al Pitrelli pitch their talents in to help out the original metal
vixen’s vision. Stomping rhythms and hooky choruses are all over
this disc ("Now Or Never"), as Doro restakes her claim as the Queen of
the Metal ("I
Gave My Blood", "Pain"). Her cover of Billy Idol’s "White Wedding"
gives a nice twist on a rocking tune, and the overall impression of the
former Warlock lead singer’s latest is as impressive as how good Doro still
looks today. A welcomed return from a true metal veteran.
One Minute Silence • Buy Now, Save Later
One Minute Silence seems to be Ireland’s answer to Rage Against The Machine,
and on their sophomore effort, this European media darling quartet rise
to the task at hand and produce 14 tracks of jagged edged, socially conscious
power rock. While One Minute Silence’s latest isn’t as jarring as
Rage, they manage to sound forceful without their style appearing forced.
OMS’s middle class anthems are soundtracked with thumping basslines dripping
with funk ("200 Dog Years," "It’s Only A Ride"), booming drums that hold
the ultra tight rhythms down ("If I Can Change") and a steady stream of
distorted guitars ("1845," "Roof Of The World"). Insert the power
of Downset with the deep groove of Orange 9MM ("Holy Man") and what you
get is the rap rock fusion outfit who can outrock most of their American
counterparts. So, if you’re currently mourning the latest rock and
roll casualty, turn your attention to the other side of the pond for an
Sick Of It All • Yours Truly
Fat Wreck Chords
NYC hardcore stalwarts Sick Of It All return with a new album that may
surprise many of their most diehard fans. While Yours Truly
contains many standard SOIA anthems that will no doubt further propel these
Queens, NY natives to the hardcore legend status that they richly deserve
("Blown Away," "District," "Cry For Help"), they also branch out like never
before and decide to go some adventurous musical routes. Take "Souvenir,"
for instance, a song that has more in common with Rancid and mainstream
melodic punk than the usual slash and burn style that SOIA delivers.
Another song which strays from their norm is "America", a bouncy number
that has a hooky guitar coda that could have come straight out of a Bad
Religion album, yet the brothers Koller, Armand and Craig Ahead play it
off and mark it as theirs. Yours Truly is definitely a pivotal
album for Sick Of It All, as it really captures the band at their best,
even when they take a side step from their roots and go off on a tangent.
It may disappoint the ardent NYHC pit monger, yet if you’re a SOIA fan,
you’ll see how much they’ve grown as musicians and how all of the styles
that they have been influenced by through the years have seeped through
on this release. Definitively daring, and quite possibly their best
work to date, Sick Of It All cover all bases and go out on a limb
on this disc, all with tremendous results. One of the best in 2001
Soilwork • A Predator's Portrait
Soilwork’s latest release contains 10 tracks of meaty metal assault, yet
there’s so much more here than pure aggression ("Needlefeast"). This
Swedish six pack go above and beyond the call of duty and summon every
musical outlet they know on their latest. A Predator's Portrait
has shades of prog, death and traditional metal, as well as some of the
most endearing current metal sound audible today. With their style
well versed in Swedish metal mode ("Neurotica Rampage"), Soilwork build
an enthralling array of soundscapes around the basic Gothenburg sound ("Grand
Failure Anthem") to create something that many bands are bound to duplicate.
If you like your metal bonecrushingly heavy, yet with a lot of different
facets that when formed, feel natural together, then all of Soilwork’s
albums are a must-have for you.
The Worldwide Tribute to the Real Oi
Triple Crown Records
Leave it to two of the most influential and daresay legendary members of
the hardcore community to take us on a journey back to its roots.
Roger Miret and Ono Cro-Mag are the tour guides, and The Worldwide Tribute
to the Real Oi is the vehicle and this is one mean machine. Containing
27 tracks of classic oi played by some of the most recognizable hardcore
bands (Sick Of It All, Agnostic Front, Blood For Blood, Ryker’s) worldwide,
this compilation lives up to the all killer-no filler moniker that many
compilation fail to live up to. Supercharged with hardcore chunk
and containing more sing along choruses than a Raffi album, any good hardcore
fan should have this CD handy for those old school nostalgic moments updated
for our 21st century ears.
Hmmm, what seems to be the latest trend in horror movies these days --
more gore and slash or a testosterone filled soundtrack CD? If you
picked the latter, then you get the big old can of Turtle Wax for your
educated guess, as the latest compilation of B-sides and advances from
metal’s top tier comes out with a Dracula 2000 wrapper. Do
these songs even fit the movie? Kind of, as some of metal’s heavy
hitters come out with some nasty sounds in honor of Nosferatu. Pantera,
for one, take the general theme and break out a monster track in the process
("Avoid The Light"), as does the mighty Slayer, proving once again that
they can masterfully juxtapose their trademarked speed with Sabbath-esque
grind ("Bloodline"). As for the rest of the disc, well there’s some
hits, like that unavoidable rap-rock anthem from Linkin Park and the ultra
trippy new one from Monster Magnet. There’s also some misses too,
such as another tepid attempt at nepotism by Powerman 5000 ("Ultra Mega"),
a well as a live track from The Union Underground that even crowd
noise can’t save from being boring ("Bitter"). Add on some of nu
metal’s rookies for a little flavor (Taproot, Saliva, Endo) and yet
another mediocre movie soundtrack is what you’ve got.
Into Eternity • Into Eternity
Canadian quintet Into Eternity proves that they are no strangers to heavy
metal on their self-titled nine track release. Using a bevy of metal
genre mixing, Into Eternity showcase the band’s versatility in the language
of heavy music. Able to create a huge soundscape complete with riffs
that knock the wind right out of you ("Sorrow"), these guys show that they
are true metal technicians. In fact, our Canadian chums balance between
unpretentious progressive metal and Pantera-esque intensity quite well
("Behind The Disguise"). If you dig any type of metal, there’s something
here for you, from the shred head to the melody monger. Solid stuff
from the Great White North.
Smokin' Joe Denson • Invites You Into the Madness
Smokin’ Joe Denson is a solo guitarist whose nine track disc is the stuff
that guitar heroes are made of. Denson lives up to his namesake as
he literally smokes on the six string shooter, taking bits of Stevie, Jimmy
and Eddie and melding them into his own bluesy hard rock ("A Ray Of Hope").
While Joe shines, the rest of the music isn’t as appealing as the fretwork,
which detracts from the overall feel. Nonetheless, Denson is not
only a skillful guitar player, but also a good songwriter who can successfully
mix a hook with some gritty guitar work ("I Stand Alone").
Cock Sparrer • Live
TKO Records, 4104 24th Street #103 San Francisco CA 94114
It’s hard to believe that Cock Sparrer’s first US tour only happened last
year, but it was a heads up choice to record and release it as a live album.
The show, recorded in San Francisco and containing 19 of their most anthemic
punk and oi tunes captures a raw punk energy that’s so barren from what
passes by as punk today. Lace up your boots and brace yourself for
this one, kids, it’s long overdue and well worth the wait.
Starlight Mints • The Dream That Stuff Was Made Of
For those who don’t know, Starlight Mints are a very strong candy that
are as syrupy as they are sweet. It also aptly titles this project.
Drawing from The Beatles both pre and post psychedelica ("Cracker Jack"),
as well as quirk rock like Weezer and Violent Femmes ("The Bandit"), this
11 track disc is an acid flashback for the geek rocker. Trippy and
poppy, mainstay Allan Vest and company succeed at being both little tongue
in cheek and cheeky ("Valerie Flames") with their dissonant riffs and outstanding
use of instrumentation. It’s not at all angry or aggressive, yet
it takes that indie rock attitude and twists it into a late ’60s edition
of American Bandstand -- The Lost Episodes. If you’re not
high while listening to this, chances are you will
be after hearing it. Check it out for the change of pace.
Drastic Action • Sacrifice
California quartet Drastic Action take the punk route on their debut six
song EP. Bouncy and slightly upset, these guys take the energy of
punk and create a whirl of sound that’s bound to start a pit. They’ve
also got the anthemic chorus parts down to a science, keeping the music
moving and the refrains screamable ("Let ‘Em Bleed") to many a skater’s
chagrin. A welcomed sign that not all new punk bands are influenced
by Offspring, Drastic Action’s disc is a good start.
Kickability • 3 Song Sampler
Hip-hop rock is pretty big these days, and Kickability is one of the better
bands on the block that take the style and run with it. These New
York natives borrow from another set of NY Boys named Beastie to create
their suped up, guitar driven rhymin’ and stealin’ ("Killers & Millionaires").
With the kicker box and the flow in place, Kickability is on their way
to rap rock stardom.
Afflitus • Afflitus
Afllitus is a Bronx, NY based band that sound as if they’re straight out
of Stockholm, complete with grinding guitars and growling vocals.
Their noveau death metal is chock full of meaty riffs and thunderous drums
("Staring Into Nothing"), yet these guys also include melodies that’d soothe
the most savage beast ("The Shape Of Lies") without sacrificing their overall
heaviness. If you crave heavy music that has a strong sense of musicianship
and melody, much like At The Gates or In Flames, then Afflitus is a band
that’s worth your time.
Skyclad • Folkemon
What would you get if you cross the bottom end of Maiden, the top end of
Jethro Tull and a left field philosophy of early to pre-cheesy Genesis?
Skyclad, and their latest release Folkemon, to be exact. Ten
solid tracks of heavy metal quirk is what this CD is all about, complete
with epic swagger a la Savatage ("The Great Brain Robbery") and some of
the meanest fiddle playing this side of Dublin. This sextet walk
the line between progressive metal and folk music with outstanding results
("Crux Of The Message"). Don’t let the folk part fool you folks,
the riffs are here, and they are domineering and sneering to boot ("Deja
Vu Ain’t What It Used To Be"). Yet what makes this outfit so endearing
is their 16th Century flare, almost as if The Canterbury Tales were
made into a rock opera. So, bust out your lute and represent for
these Middle Age metallers.
3rd Root • A Sign Of Things To Come
Solid State Records, PO Box 12698 Seattle WA 98111
Another band from the God Squad hits the streets, as 3rd Root takes their
nu metal approach and mixes it with their Christianity to create a 14 track
monster of an album. Not as urban as fellow God rockers POD ("Release"),
or as dark and disturbing as Tool, this California quartet lie smack dab
in the middle of both styles ("Fly"). They also pull off a Deftones tribute
quite nicely ("Rise"), complete with Chino-esque whispers. Sonically,
these guys are as hard hitting as it gets, although they tend to be a bit
derivative at times. Despite their borrowing tactics, 3rd Root is
a band that will have you getting lost in their deep grooves and banging
your head to their intense buildups ("My Soul"), even if they’re a God
Sloth Frenzy • Slow Murder
Sloth Frenzy is a metal band whose seven track disc is a virtual snapshot
of the last 15 years of American metal prior to the new metal breakout.
Containing some heavy dual guitarwork that rivals Exodus ("Distant"), this
quintet specializes in speed a la Megadeth and chunk just like Dimebag
Darrell and the lot ("Sarcoid Savior"). Throw in an insane drummer
and an overzealous vocalist and you’ve got a winning formula for sure.
While you’re there, check out their thrashing version of Deep Purple’s
"Space Truckin’" for a blast from the past served with extra balls.
Linkin Park • Hybrid Theory
Warner Brothers Records
The latest major label darlings that have flooded the airwaves and infiltrated
the teenage rocker’s subconscious are Linkin Park, yet another rap rock
outfit. However, the difference between LP and the rest of the overplayed
genre is that these guys are full of hooks that stick in your head and
are nearly impossible to let out ("Papercut", "Crawling"). Add to
that the ubiquitous single that you can’t escape from ("One Step Closer"),
and you’ve got a monster on your hands. The thing about these guys
that makes them so appealing could be the fact that they employ a singer
and a rapper to enhance their vocals ("By Myself"), which overlay on top
of one another quite well during the course of Hybrid Theory.
Linkin Park aren’t doing anything radically different, that’s a certainty.
However, they may have created the blueprint for the perfect mix of blending
rap and rock, as neither style is dominant. Instead, it flows from
head bobbing to head banging in all the right places. Call it a khaki
revolution, but Linkin Park have got what it takes to run over the rock
The Guttersnipes • Chaos, As Usual
TMR, 68 Tulip Street, Bergenfield, NJ 07621
The Guttersnipes are a badass rock and roll band that lean on the DIY punk
side of the fence on their 13 track disc. A raw, gritty feel is what
you get after one listen of this NJ four piece. Imagine the Stones,
The Stooges and The Sex Pistols ("Making Time") in a room jamming, and
you’ve basically got the feel of what The Guttersnipes is all about.
Throw in a few rockin’ instrumentals ("Crashed Airplane", "The Bottom Line")
and you’ve got a rock explosion that rivals The Ramones meets the blues.
Some potent stuff that has that good old barroom/poolhall feel that you
may be looking for on any random Saturday night.
Southforty • These Days
Bruisingly heavy, yet soulful in an unsuspecting R&B kind of way, Southforty’s
seven track disc measures up to the old adage "Don’t Mess With Texas".
With heavy handed hip hop beats backdropping guitar riffs that drip with
chunk ("Sticks And Stones"), this Texas quintet match Machine Head in the
brutality department, both in pure music density and lyrical content ("AMCA").
With the urban flavor in tow a la Hed PE and the chugging rhythms of early
Korn, Southforty have a got a groove going on that never gets in the way
of their intense output, a feat many bands cannot stake claim to.
Worth a spin for those that walk on the heavy side.
Darkwell • Suspiria
Napalm Records, P.O. Box 382, Bremerton, WA 98337
Ambient heavy music with angelic female vocals is what this Austrian quintet
dishes out on their 10 track disc. In the world of hard rock where
the male ego is prominent, Darkwell do quite nicely in changing it up a
bit. Keyboard driven, with a real Gothic overtone ("The Beginning"),
Darkwell harken back to the days when Siousxie Sioux and The Sisters Of
Mercy were all the rage, adding in a few Deep Purple moments here and there
for extra seasoning ("Suspiria"). Don’t let the cherub-esque singing
fool you though, because this album is also chock full of intense drumming
and underscored yet a well balanced guitar attack that has a lot in common
with much of the darkwave you hear out of Europe these days ("Blackheart").
If you like Portishead, but want the music to bite a little harder, try
Darkwell on for size.
Che • The Sounds Of Liberation
Mans Ruin, www.mansruin.com
The ever influential Kyuss has once again spawned another monster band
in its wake. This time, it’s former drummer Alfredo Hernandez and
ex-guitarist Brant Bjork (also known for the mighty Fu Manchu), who work
with Unida bottom ender Dave Dinsmore to create the stoner rock supergroup
known as Che. The seven tracks on this disc are high octane, Fender
driven rock and roll ("The Knife," "Blue Demon"), complete with that faded
"desert" sound that has been a staple of much of these men’s past works.
Leaning a little more on the Thin Lizzy/hard rock side of the fence, Che
truly rocks from start to finish and is a great addition to your rock record
collection. Pick it up and get liberated.
Filthy Thievin' Bastards • Our Fathers Sent Us
Featuring members of the seminal punksters The Swingin’ Utters, this nine
track disc is the perfect companion for a night at the local pub.
With enough mug swinging ditties to last a round or two and leave a tear
in your beer ("Bastard’s Wrath," On The Way Down"), not to mention some
catchy punk tunes ("Thick," "S.S.S."), Filthy Thievin’ Bastards could’ve
made the one album that all of your male kin could agree on while pounding
down a Guiness or two. Folky, punky and overall fun, much like a
night at the corner bar. Drink up.