"Mike's Reviews, Part 3"

by MikeSOS
Sponsored In Part By
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Alien Ant Farm Anthology

Dreamworks
Ok, the nu metal tag has been a bit overused as of late, with any band coming out of California automatically wearing the genre on their sleeve.  Alien Ant Farm is a band that shakes those notions and funkifies their aggro attack in such a way that you'd think Incubus before Korn ("Calico") and Matchbox 20 before Deftones ("Death Day").  This West Coast quartet's debut disc is a smoking 13-track delight, laden with smart songs that smart when they smack you in the face.  Armed with catchy choruses that sting with stark realizations ("Movies," "Wish") and a chunky rhythm section that grooves like a '70s funk outfit ("Flesh And Bone"), these pals of the platinum Papa Roach defile the accusations of nepotism with conviction.  And their cover of Michael Jackson's "Smooth Criminal" is as fun as a cover song gets without the campy aftertaste.  One of the bright spots thus far in the wonderful world of rock radio, Alien Ant Farm have got the legs to go the distance. (www.alienantfarm.com)

Suprasod Suprasod

Virgin Records
Brooklyn NY's Suprasod are a powerful rock outfit whose emotionally charged delivery and masterfully monstrous grooves ("Only You") dominate their 11-track debut import.  Shamefully, this CD is very hard to find, but is a definite disc to seek out if you crave the bottom end of Alice In Chains with the crispy chug of metalcore ("Erase Me").  This quartet regularly rocks German crowds of 5,000 and more and with one listen of their eponymous CD, you'll be wondering why they're not doing the same on these shores.  Inside their captivating crunch lies stellar grooves and lush soundscapes ("Fallen Trees") that harken images of Pink Floyd meeting Tool with a Slayer riff thrown in for some action.  Do yourself a favor and find this disc and be envious that Europe knows where it's at from time to time.

Bump City Yesterday's Feel

Citymade
Bump City is a NYC funky rock outfit whose five song disc would sit pretty in between the Stevie Wonder and Dave Matthews discs on your CD shelf.  Bump City is a fine tuned groove machine who churn out some hot guitar licks and a big ass brass attack alongside some airy keyboard playing and ultra catchy choruses that have hit stamped all over them ("Hearfelt Dreams").  Funky clavi?  Check ("Can't You See?").  Ass shaking groove?  Affirmative.  A must have for your funky souled self?  Definitely. (90 Lexington Ave., Ste. 5D, New York, NY 10016; www.bumpcity.org)

Iron Fire On the Edge

Sanctuary Records
Iron Fire is a metal band of the utmost proportion. >From the cliched orchestral intro that leads into their melodic attack to the fist raising power metal anthems that line their 12 track disc ("On The Edge"), this Swedish quintet scream of Manowar, Deep Purple and Scorpions among others. While the music may lead to a severe case of whiplash, the vocals are a bit on the light side for the overall feel to be successful.  Imagine Vince Neil fronting Iron Maiden and you'll see what I mean.  While the music is meaty ("Wanted Man") and stands up through their '80s time machine travel, the same can't be said for the falsetto shrill that leads the high haired brigade.  Skip this one unless your penchant for '80s hard rock/heavy metal depends on it. (www.ironfire.com)

North Side Kings This Thing Of Ours

Thorp
NYHC has a tendency to spread itself out these days without spreading itself thin.  The latest outfit that succeeds in doing so have actually relocated from the Big Apple to Arizona and have come from NYHC institution bands such as Cause For Alarm and Sheer Terror.  North Side Kings is the name, and the Sopranos meets Slayer musical approach works well here on their 10 track mosh marathon ("Az Social Club").  Containing a plethora of moshpit movers ("Lack Of Dignity", "Looking Out Again"), NSK put themselves as well as the Arizona scene on the map.  Mixing Hatebreed, Sepultura, Cro-Mags and Louie Primo is no easy task, yet this trio does so admirably.  Keeping the music real and the respect level intact, North Side Kings earn your respect on a lot of different fronts, folks.  So, if you don't want to wake up sleeping with the fishes, I'd strongly suggest you pick this CD up.  You wouldn't want to disrespect these guys, would you? (P.O. Box 2007, Upper Darby, PA 19082; www.thorprecords.com)

Yeti Things to Come...

Two Ohm Hop
Yeti hails from Texas, but if you heard their latest four song, near 50 minute offering, you'd swear that they're from another planet.  Maybe it's the crazy synthesizer they use, or maybe it's those damn space aged Bowie meets Floyd guitar riffs, but these guys are definitely out in major league uncharted territory.  Yeti may sound as if they scored every cheesy sci fi movie from the '60s, but it's their jazzy overtones and total abandonment of the rules that sets this band apart from the disposable lounge act category. (P.O. Box 2464, Denton, TX 76202; www.twoohmhop.com)

Integrity Closure

Victory Records
Integrity continues to push the envelope when it comes to being an extreme band.  This Cleveland powerhouse opt to take a page from the book of Danzig and puts out their latest 11 track disc in the form of a Goth punk metal blend with tinges of their former selves still in tow.  They even go that extra mile to include a Misfits cover ("Hybrid Moments") to solidify their genre hop from hardcore to shock rock a la Ministry ("Angela Delamorte").  While it is a real risky step for a band, Integrity seemingly pull it off with conviction, although some fine tuning is necessary for the band to even come close to their influence's successes.  While the new style may turn off many longtime fans, if you're game for an adventure and dig the garage punk metal sound, this may be for you. (P.O. Box 146546, Chicago, IL 60614; www.victoryrecords.com)

Boy Hits Car Boy Hits Car

Wind Up
Boy Hits Car is a complex quartet who hails from California that blur the edges between today's metal and alternative rock.  While their 11 track disc hits hard and furious, not unlike fellow West Coasters System Of A Down ("Turning Inward"), it's BHC's penchant for artsy, neo hippie banter (complete with acoustic guitars and Arabic melodies) that set them way of the road less traveled ("Lovecore").  Imagine Jethro Tull jamming with Korn, and you may get an idea of what these guys sound like.  And while their style may seem jarring at times and a bit weary on the ears, the parts that rock read way off the horned hand-o-meter so much that you actually may appreciate their diversity.  These guys are also decisively smarter than your average stupid metal band, and it shows in their lyrics as well as their blistering compositions ("I'm A Cloud").  If you dug Days Of The New's twist and would like to expand on that with a flare of Middle Eastern influence (not unlike Robert Plant's solo work), then Boy Hits Car is a solid album to check out. (www.boyhitscar.com)

Full Blown Chaos Full Blown Chaos

Full Blown Chaos are a up and coming NYHC outfit whose gargantuous sounding five song disc is headed right for your jugular.  Hardcore has evolved with metal here and has created a brutal display of chugging guitars, tortured vocals and intense drumming ("It Remains").  Chock full of tight breakdowns ("One Last Victim"), FBC bring the brutality of an East Coast pit home for your own personal pleasure.  First aid kit not included. (www.fullblownchaos.cjb.net)

Sisthema The Fourth Discontinuity

Sanctuary Records
Sisthema is an Italian quartet whose disjointed version of metal is very similar to that of Meshuggah.  On their 10 track disc, Sisthema take you on a breakneck ride that's full of time signature changes and is never short on aggression ("Cy Tech Eye").  Very methodical and mechanical ("The X-Tasy And The Eclipse Of The Flesh"), this metal band throw out the notion of melody and replace it with a sheer attack of the ears that may include wailing guitars, sonically booming bass and screams from the outer regions of Hell.  If you like the avant-metal style, this is a CD to snag. (www.noiserecords.com)

Soulshed Resurrection

Zero
Soulshed is a quartet from Massachusetts whose aggressive edge will hack an unsuspecting listener to pieces.  On their four-song disc, these guys lock the groove down and build a wall of sound around it, creating a thick forcefield of rock that's virtually unpenetratable ("Piece Of Me").  Mixing metal's structure with the grooves of hardcore ("Condensate"), Soulshed have found a winning formula that's not exactly unique, but is done with an exuberance that is rare to find in the days of copycat outfits.  Soulshed is a band to check out if you like the new sounds that are showcased at the summer's hottest festivals. (romperchic@aol.com)

God Forbid Determination

Century Media
Metal has been making a major comeback in the States as of late, and God Forbid may be the band to lead the brigade.  This New Jersey band of bruisers take the molten metallic sounds from Europe and place a good old United States kick ass stamp on them ("Determination Part I").  Relentless in their 11 track aggressive attack, God Forbid not only provide some usefully deliberate melodic interludes ("A Reflection Of The Past"), but they also showcase some of the most pounding metal anthems this side of In Flames ("Divide My Destiny," "God's Last Gift").  If you're looking for a different angle on heavy music that equals the brutality of Slayer with the epic nature of Maiden, then look no further than this true metal quintet.  Get in the pit and feel them for yourself. (1453-A 14th Street #324, Santa Monica, CA 90404; www.centurymedia.com)

Ginger Moon Celebrity Volunteers

South Tenth
Ginger Moon is a Long Island rock band whose nine-track offering displays not only spirited performances, but also draws you in with their rootsy rock feel and delivery.  Not unlike John Cougar Mellencamp, Ginger Moon have a handle on how to R.O.C.K. in the USA ("Fool") as well as a keen insight of the feelings of Joe Everyman in their folk laden songs ("Of Gentle Heart").  Playing blue-collar rock and roll that would fit in any local bar ("On My Way Now"), Ginger Moon is a solid group that understands the dynamics of rock music.  They would be a nice addition to your CD collection if it includes Credence Clearwater Revival, Sting and/or The Wallflowers. (www.gingermoon.net)

Vic 20 Release Candidate

BXFX
Vic 20 is a real tough band to classify and that's a bold statement in itself.  This Boogie Down Bronx quartet have an amazingly aggressive edge for certain, but there's so much more in their staccato riffs and powerful rhythms than your average metal band ("In Sickness").  For one, there's an astounding presence of percussion that flows in and out of the eight tracks that make up Release Candidate ("Applying For The Gashlycrumb").  There's also a plethora of keyboard overlays that accentuate the music quite well and give them a quirky prog rock feel ("Perimeters Of The Inner Circle").  Then there's the vocal gymnastics of Murren and his amazing screams, cries, barks and wails that make Mike Patton look like Perry Como ("Climate Control").  Plus, these guys really rock.  Even though there's so much going on in every song, Vic 20 never lose sight of a groove nor skip a beat.  And they have wonderful sense of musical dynamics, knowing exactly when to hit the gas and go and when to break it down and keep the party polite ("Tainted Loins").  In short, they're like everything you know about heavy music and a lot more that you don't.  Intrigued?  Bet you are.  Do yourself a favor and seek this puppy out. (www.vic20.net)

Hades Damnation

Metal Blade
Sigh, some metal bands are cursed from the start.  Such as NJ's Hades, a quintet who seemingly never stepped out of Judas Priest's shadow long enough to carve their own niche.  No matter, because if you're looking for balls to the wall metal with a glass shattering shrill and jackhammered rhythms, you've found the right band ("Damnation").  However, your calendar may read 1988, but that's OK.  Even though Hades is treading familiar waters, they manage to keep their dignity when doing so by emulating Black Sabbath and Overkill quite well ("Stressfest").  Exclusively for the true metal warrior. (www.metalbladerecords.com)

Ann Beretta New Union... Old Glory

Lookout Records
Ann Beretta is a punk outfit that really isn't too inspiring.  They have this Green Day meets Rancid vibe to them that quite frankly gets pretty monotonous fast ("Latchkey World").  That's not to say that they're not good at being a bouncy, full of energy type pop punk band that can carry a sing along with the best of them, because they are.  But, it's sufficed to say that they're not really turning the world on its ear with their musical leanings.  If you dig anthemic punk, this may be your bag. (3264 Abeline Street, Berkeley, CA 94703; www.lookoutrecords.com)

Blind Dog The Last Adventures of Captain Dog

Meteor City
Blind Dog's newest CD is a retro rock smorgasbord, as this power trio trudges through 13 top notch musical treats that will get your stoner rock senses tingling all over ("Thundergroove").  Hailing from Sweden, these guys take the power of Sabbath ("Feels Like My Mind..."), the sludge of Soundgarden ("10,000 Reasons") and the trippiness of Monster Magnet ("Beyond My Reach") and swirl in all into their cauldron to create a musical potpourri that pours out pure sunshine and plenty an acid flashback.  They also have the flair to take it down a notch and display their sensitive side ("Damned If I Should Care"), but not before they bludgeon you with riffs of doom ("Back Where I've Always Been").  If you're a fan of heavy rock that inspires, perspires and will keep the fires burning bright after 4:20 time, then check out Blind Dog. (P.O. Box 40322, Albuquerque, NM 87196; www.meteorcity.com)

Averse Sefira Homecoming's March

Arrogare
The American death metal outfit Averse Sefira's style is in the European black metal vein, showcased on their seven song CD.  Screams and cries from the deep protrude through the blast beat madness and pounding rhythms, much like Cradle and Satyricon ("For We Have Always Been", "Homecoming's March").  These guys even go the extra step to throw on the makeup and make it a performance piece as well, a very thoughtful gesture for certain.  While their music may be a bit derivative, they back it up with stellar performances and lush interludes that set the murky tone that they are surely striving for.  Horned hands engage! (P.O. Box 18789, Rochester, NY 14618; arrogare@rochester.rr.com)

Gabriel Gordon Frequency

Surprise Truck
Gabriel Gordon's resume is as solid as his latest solo effort, as the former Soup Dragon and current guitarist for Natalie Merchant's band steps into the limelight with guitar in hand and song in voice for 11 tracks of solid singer songwriter fare.  A dash of Jimi, a chunk of BB ("No Ending"), a flair of Lenny ("Far And Wide") and a host of soulful slabs of rock and pop ("Remember Me") is what Mr. Gordon delivers on his solo sojourn, sure to soothe you after a hard day of pounding the pavement.   Introspective and insightful, Gordon's vocals (comparative to those of King's X's Doug Pinnick) shine just as bright as his stellar fretwork.  With talent like this, Gabriel Gordon shows that he has the tools and the songs to catapult him into the company of the one name recognized artists much like his influences. (P.O. Box 4077, Hollywood, CA 90078;  www.surprisetruck.com)

Lacuna Coil Unleashed Memories

Century Media
Lacuna Coil is probably the biggest rock band in Italy, and with good reason.   10 good reasons actually, as their latest CD showcases 10 neo-Gothic rock gems that are very accessible ("Heir Of A Dying Day"), unlike many Gothic rocker's bodies of work.  Lacuna Coil's uncanny sense of melody glide them through lush soundscapes ("Cold Heritage," "To Live Is To Hide") which at times give way to crushing guitars and driving rhythms ("1:19").  It's dichotomy like this, coupled with the angelic voice of Cristina Scabbia that makes this hard working sextet's latest release such an overwhelming success.  If you've grown tired of the same old cliches displayed in female fronted rock, try Lacuna Coil out for a breath of fresh air. (14553-A 14th Street #324, Santa Monica, CA 90404; www.centurymedia.com)

sunn0))) 00 Void

Hydrahead
Produced by Scott Reeder (Kyuss), this experimental project is merely a lot of feedback and features no songs whatsoever.  Maybe if on the proper substances, some sense of melody takes shape; but otherwise, this four track disc is basically either a joke or a really self-indulgent project.  Take your pick. (P.O. Box 990248, Boston, MA 02199; www.hydrahead.com)

Savatage Poets and Madmen

Nuclear Blast
Savatage are one of the master storytelling bands within the realm of metal music, and on their latest release, their version of operatic metal coupled with a twisting, turning story puts them once again in the majestic form that their previous releases dictated.  The 12 tracks that grace Poets and Madmen not only intertwine to tell a story, but can also stand on their own as fine pieces of music.  With the trademark Savatage sound in tow, complete with heavy guitar shredders ("Drive") and beautiful piano ballads ("Surrender"), not to mention the patented vocal gymnastics of Jon Oliva, Savatage have once again claimed their top position as kings of the concept album.  Sounding as rich and dynamic as Streets ("Man In The Mirror"), Savatage is primed to bring back the rock opera from the dead and breath fire in its lungs.  Hail to the mountain kings, indeed! (1453-A 14th Street #324, Santa Monica, CA 90404; www.savatage.com)

American Standard The New American Standard Classics

Maggadee
Hoboken, NJ isn't exactly the most glamorous place in the world, but it seems fitting that a hard rocking, middle class rock quartet hail from there and continue their decade long tradition of producing kick ass music.  American Standard is that band, and their latest 10 track disc is chock full of indie rock goodness, from the semi-punk choruses ("Really") to the pseudo hardcore rhythms ("Consolation") to the overall ass whupping they leave on your hide. Kind of sounding like a mixture of Pearl Jam and Anthrax ("Morgantown," "3-2"), AS pull no punches and urgently deliver hard rocking songs that are as lean and mean as a Pro Bowl linebacker.  With enough pinches and dashes of many of rock's genres, American Standard comes up with their own blend of smartly crafted, driving music that is sure to please anyone looking for a swift kick in the ass. (P.O. Box 66, Hoboken, NJ 07030; info@magadee.com)

Corvus Corax The Atavistic Triad

Dark Symphonies
So, is longer better?  That's kind of the question Corvus Corax brings to the table on their four song, 45-minute epic EP.  While their "pagan symphonic black metal" isn't going to be on Casey's Top 40 anytime soon, their dark interludes and bursts of death metal fury are coherent and quite competent. But, do we really need every song over 10 minutes in length?  Maybe to successfully build an eerie mood it's best, but by all means, lose the flute and leave in the churning guitars, please!  If you're a purveyor of the pagan symphonic black metal (and man, who isn't these days), check this sucker out. (P.O. Box 547, Billerica, MA 01821; www.darksymphonies.com)

Dropgod Dropgod

Dropgod is one of those new fangled metal bands that use all of them crazy downtuned guitar effects and tons of screaming and yelling to make their incessant racket audible.  And man, it rocks.  Kinda like a cooler, less commercial Korn, these guys take the whispering vocals to guttural screams approach and run with it like kindergartners with scissors in their hands ("Nothing").  Brutally uncompromising, Dropgod is as heavy as it gets, folks, and if you dig Slipknot and Mudvayne, you'll go gaga over this ("Needlework"). (www.dropgod.com)

Thursday Full Collapse

Victory Records
Does the world really need another emo band?  Well, if their name is Thursday, then hell yeah.  This New Jersey quintet are a mesmerizing outfit that mix the lushest of ballads with the harshest of melodies, usually all in one song ("Standing On The Edge Of Summer," "Understanding In A Car Crash").  Their 12 track debut is a stunning display of passionately composed and lovingly performed emo-core, complete with more crests and valleys than a sequential math flow chart ("Cross Out The Eyes").  Thursday succeeds in not only reeling you in with their memorably melodic leanings, but also keep your interest peaked with substantially rich lyrics and visceral music that will allow your soul to soar way above the heavens.  If you dig At The Drive In ("Paris In Flames"), Boy Sets Fire, Glassjaw ("How Long Is The Night?") and The Smiths, these guys are all of that and more rolled into one.  Just what do they put in that New Jersey water, anyhow?  A must have for those that like their music honest and edgy. (P.O. Box 145546, Chicago, IL 60614; www.victoryrecords.com)

No One No One

Virgin Records
Chicago's rock scene has been in the spotlight as of late, especially with the runaway success of Disturbed.  Add No One to the list of nu metallers who've gotten to the top of the mountain, as their 13 track CD is a scorching display of technofied heavy music.  While the obvious comparisons arise (Korn, Ultraspank), this Windy City quartet do themselves justice by not only paying homage to the sounds of today, but they also succeed in finding their own voice, too ("Chemical").  They blend all of the mosh pit elements quite nicely, such as powerful grooves that never stray from beating you senseless ("Hype"), coupled with an alluring vocal delivery that finds a perfect fit to their pounding musical undulations ("Falling"). No One's style is definitely a welcomed change of pace from the rap rock contingent, as they prefer to sell the drama and lunge chunks of rhythmic crush at your skull rather than beat you senseless with b-boy banter.  As sonic as Nothingface ("Mindless"), yet as melodic as Godsmack ("Shedding"), No One has carved a nice little niche for themselves that may make them somebody very shortly. (www.immortal.com)

Mindtwist 3 song sampler

Mindtwist is a Long Island based metal outfit whose incessant rumblings resemble jackhammer breaking concrete at warp speed.  Their three-song disc is heavy as hell, and should be played loudly to piss off anyone you loathe.  Leaning on the Machine Head meets Soulfly side of the street ("Ache") with a hint of hardcore, Mindtwist's contorted mix is bound to spurn windmilled fists and other assorted chaos when hitting a stage near you.  You've been warned. (P.O. Box 181, Centereach, NY 11720; www.mindtwistnet.com)

Five People We the People

10 Second
Five People's nu metal attack rivals that of Deftones and Slipknot in pure rock fury, as this Ohio quintet's 11-track disc is chock full of dissonant guitars and offbeat rhythms ("Scream," "Angry").  Led by vocals that sound as if they stepped right off of the Ozzfest's Second Stage ("Forever After"), Five People's delivery may not be groundbreaking, but it is a tad funkier than the usual chugga-chugga metal standard ("These Feelings") thus making these guys that much more engaging.  These heavy hitters truly encapsulate the new rock sound and runs with it in fine form.  Thick and tight, Five People serve up a solid display of rock for the 21st century. (4546 Crystal Clear Dr., Hiliard, OH 43026; voodoo01@gateway.net)

Diffuser Injury Loves Melody

Hollywood Records
Diffuser is a powerful punkish type of a band whose cheeky nature could confuse this Long Island quartet for an equally powerful yet cheeky outfit, Lit.  While the 11 songs on their debut disc are punkish in demeanor, there's a whole lot more going on in Diffuser's music than your average MTV flavor of the week punk tandem's songs.  For starters, there's a keen sense of melody here, not unlike a good singer-songwriter's instincts of where to make things artsy, immediate ("Tidal") or downright catchy ("Tell Her This").  Add in some flavorful lyrics that are able to tell a musical story complete, yet casual ("Wide Eyes"), and what you've got is a punk band's version of fellow Long Islander Billy Joel.  Not bad company to be in, wouldn't you say?  Diffuser takes the attitude of punk ("35"), and in a Weezer kind of way ("I Am"), smartens it up with smart alec musical tactics and clever word play. (www.hollywoodrecords.com)

Waterdown Never Kill the Boy on the First Date

Victory Records
Waterdown is a German hardcore band that opts to go the emo/metal route and, in turn, create 12 tracks that fall somewhere between Snapcase and The Scorpions ("Impress Me").  Guitar driven and angst ridden, Waterdown's tight breakdowns and burnt lung vocalizations keep them from donning spandex ("June"), yet the pretenses are very apparent and are a major asset of the band.  This sextet also has the ability to lock them into a killer groove and leave with hooky chorus in tow ("Round Two"), without sacrificing any of their musical intensity.  And even when Waterdown gets a little too happy and leans a little too far over to Pop-ville ("Your Shadow"), it's still an enjoyable, yet familiar ride.  Waterdown is a perfect companion to your Boy Sets Fire and Grade CDs. (P.O. Box 145546, Chicago, IL 60614; www.victoryrecords.com)

Dickie Staboner Dickie Staboner

Dickie Staboner, besides being the bearer of a pretty funny name (Growing Pains, anyone), are a forceful quartet that mix chugging guitars with punk rhythms and skater rock antics.  On their six song CD, their drop tuned guitars drag down to the dirty part of town ("Justified Destruction"), while their surprisingly East Coast hardcore mentality shines throughout, even though these guys hail from Arizona.  And with a strong background in heavy metal dynamics, Dickie Staboner stands stronger and packs a much more imposing punch ("Conception") than many of their peers. (dickiestaboner@hotmail.com)

Jim Knable Miles

Jim Knable is a weird, but very talented guy.  His avant garde singer-songwriting style covers everything from an ode to his guitar ("Loriane") to a ditty about an overzealous civil servant ("Sexual Postman").  Knable's witty and wacky sense of humor and performance sense make these songs memorable as well as thoroughly enjoyable ("Young In America," "I'm Not Charles Bukowski").  In spirit, Knable seems to be the perfect male companion act to Phoebe from Friends and her acoustic coffeehouse warbling, only Knable's guitar playing is decisively stellar.  Intelligent and unique, Jim Knable's Miles is bound to earn some miles in your CD player if you're on the hunt for some David Byrne-esque left of center singer-songwriter fare. (www.jimknable.com)

Downway Never Be Clever Again

Two-O-Six
Coming from the Great White North, Downway sounds as if they just rode off their surfboards and took in some California rays on their 14 action packed track CD ("Love You To Pieces").  Summoning the punk powers from the Blink/Green Day camp, Downway churns out guitar driven, head bobbing numbers that stand up quite well in the pit or in a coming of age movie ("One Of Us").  While the core of Downway's attack displays clever punk lyrics over speedy rhythmic deliveries, the fretwork borders on 80's metal guitar hero-dom ("Mike Tyson Ripped Me Off," "Frank's Way").   With their affinity for six stringed debaucheries, Downway show that they have the chops to make you raise your fist and scream for vengeance, which gives them that gnarly edge over the rest of the punk contingent.  Check them out on the Warped Tour or a VFW hall near you. (8314 Greenwood Ave N., PMB 102, Seattle, WA 98103; www.206records.com)

4 In Tha Chamber Existence...

Da Core
4 In Tha Chamber is a five piece hardcore outfit hailing from NY that strives to keep it real on their 13 track release.  While there's nothing here that'll make you turn cartwheels, these guys do have a strong feel for pontificating their point across ("Hated At Home," "Lost Focus").  A solid mix of Biohazard-esque rhythms ("3 Weeks") with tinges of rapcore thrown in ("Existence") help 4 In Tha Chamber retain a tough guy image without thugging out completely.  If hardcore is your bag, check these guys out for a solid serving of aggression. (347 Grove Street, McKees Rock, PA 15136; www.geocities.com/4inthachamber)

Regurgitate Carnivorous Erection

Relapse Records
OK, we get the point.  Regurgitate is in the running for not only noisiest band award, but also sickest album cover.  And, hell, with song titles like "Stinking Genital Warts" and "Fecal Freak," they may win the most vile song titles, too, making it a trifecta for these sick purveyors of all that's heavy.  Besides the stomach churning lyrical content, these guys got a really good Napalm Death grinding groove going on.  If you can get past the grossness, these guys may be your new sludge kings! (P.O. Box 2060, Upper Darby, PA 19082; www.relapse.com)

Underoath Cries of the Past

Takehold
More metal for Jesus comes in the form of a six-piece juggernaut from Florida known as Underoath.  If you thought Florida was all swamps and Disney, these guys will change your mind real fast with their European metal sound, not unlike Cradle of Filth meets Entombed ("Walking Away").  Oddly enough, Underoath is a death metal sounding band whose lyrics tend to swing to the lighter side of religion, yet don't let their Creed-esque stance fool you. Killer metal rhythms are alive and well here ("Giving Up Hurts The Most") to suit your horned handed desires.  If there were a battle between Heaven and Earth, I'm sure these guys would have a song on the soundtrack. (P.O. Box 19831, Birmingham, AL 35219; www.takehold.com)

Those Unknown Malice and Misfortune

TKO
Those Unknown bring the lower class anthems out for a spin on their latest four-song offering.  This quartet does a pretty good job of making your average pub song sound inspired, but for fuller flavor, try listening with a few in you for a more down-home feel.  If you dig folksy punk, Those Unknowns should become familiar to you very shortly. (4104 24th Street #103, San Francisco, CA 94114; www.tkorecords.com)

Scary German Guy 6 song demo

Think their name is weird?  Well, the music that comes out of these Long Island madmen is a lot weirder.  Think Mr. Bungle meets Helmet who then turns everything over to KMFDM ("Poison Us") and you may get an idea of what Scary German Guy sounds like.  While they have their "accessible" moments which all of the children of the Korn are sure to lap up ("For The Sake Of Man"), these guys retain an enchanting aura that mixes death metal guitars with techno beats and samples straight from the Rob Zombie cutting room ("Get Up And Kill").  If you like your metal technically twisted and multi-influenced, these guys are sure to please you, if not with their sheer insanity, then for their impassioned KISS cover ("Shout It Out Loud"). (www.scarygermanguy.com)

Dismal Euphony Python Zero

Nuclear Blast
Dismal Euphony seems to be a generic sort of name for a metal band that could be fun to poke fun at. But if you listen closely to this Norwegian sextet, you'd see that there's not much to laugh about here.  Serious slabs of neo-Gothic metal are blared through your speakers as these guys and girl wail away, complete with ominous keyboard overlays and churning guitars ("Plasma Pool").  The dual male/female vocals help to shape the music as well, as the point of view is always refreshed and never gets stale ("Birth Reverse").  Adventurous as it kicks you in the seat of the pants, Dismal Euphony's future seems bright at this point.  Check it out if you dig Lacuna Coil or your metal with Gothic leanings. (1453-A 14th Street #324, Santa Monica, CA 90404; www.nuclearblast.de)

Abscess Tormented

Necropolis Records
Old school death metal is what these guys specialize in, and Abscess really succeeds in delivering the goods.  On their 13 track disc, this West Coast outfit mesh churning death metal with a punkish flare ("Tormented," "Ratbag") to create a nice juxtaposition that's sure to rile up the savage beast inside you.  Sounding like late '80s Slayer at times (especially the guitar solos), this veteran underground band doesn't compromise nor make concessions for anything except kicking your ass from track 1 to 13 ("Death Runs Red").  If you yearn for Obituary, Six Feet Under and old Slayer, this will satisfy the craving for sure. (P.O. Box 14815, Fremont, CA 94639; www.necropolisrecords.com)

Evil Beaver Lick It

Four Alarm
Evil Beaver is a female rock duo that is as far away from the Indigo Girls as you can get.  Besides the fact that these ladies hit Hole-like homeruns when it comes to playing dirty punk rock and roll ("Superbird," "The Ballad of Sandy D Martino, Pt II"), Evil Beaver have got a sturdy, dynamic vibe going on, a rarity these days when it comes to female artists that seemingly rely on fluff rather than fire ("Year Of The Cookie").  These Windy City women have gnashed their teeth into solid slabs of rock and roll ("Chokin' The Pearl") and have successfully spit out 13 tracks of L7-esque power rock.  Be warned and fear the beaver.  Indie rock at its finest. (www.ridethebeaver.com)

Swallowing Shit Swallowing Shit

G7
This Canadian noise band pulverizes through 15 plus tracks of under 1 minute rants and musical raves on their CD.  What's the point?  Hard to say, but they seem opinionated, especially after reading their liner notes.  For those that subscribe to the Short Attention Span Theater, this CD would be perfect for you.  Ultra heavy and super fast, it's like SOD without the humor.  So, is it worth it?  Up to you, dear listener. (P.O. Box 27006, 360 Main Street Concourse, Winnipeg, MB R3C 4T3 Canada; defechrist@hotmail.com)

Red Harvest Cold Dark Matter

Relapse Records
Red Harvest is an earth shattering group that mix industrial noise with black metal to create a sonic concoction.  Imagine the sheer power of Ministry ("Absolut Dunkel Heit") meshed with the guitar savvy of Sepultura ("Junk-o-rama") and the noise quotient of Godflesh ("Move Or Be Moved") and this band is made.  Loud and heavy as fuck, these Norwegians have got all systems on go and aren't afraid to rip your face off with a guitar riff or a techno blast beat.  All hail the cyber metal age! (P.O. Box 2060, Upper Darby, PA 19082; www.relapse.com)

Buel 36 Battle of the Space Hookers

Top Fuel
From Ratt frontman Stephen Pearcy's label comes a quartet whose '80s metal pretenses shows underneath their tough, neo-metallic shell.  Buel 36 has got the bass a thumping and the guitars all heavy and booming ("Just Go"), yet they have vocals that not only overlap each other, but they also span decades as well ("I Can't Sleep At Night"), with ranges that only Halford, Bach and most house pets can only reach.  Seemingly contrived at times ("All Gonna Die"), they sound like a hair metal band with a really intense makeover, which really isn't as irritating as one may think.  The future of cock rock?  Perhaps this outfit has got the answer. (www.topfuelrecords.com)

Knut Bastardizer

Hydrahead
Knut is a Swedish hardcore band whose nine song CD is as heavy as it gets without losing focus and becoming sheer noise ("Crouch").  And while you wouldn't associate Knut with being a melodic outfit  right off the bat, these guys have got a strong, dare say Korn meets CHAOS AD Sepultura sensibility ("Engine," "Wiped Out") which makes their crushing hardcore chaos that much easier to enjoy.  Easily one of the better heavy, screaming bands out there today, pick this CD up and bust a Knut! (www.hydrahead.com)

The Bellrays Grand Fury

Uppercut
The Bellrays are a retro outfit that rock out like they were guest appearing on Laugh In.  This quartet take their 13 high-octane tunes and belt them out with passion and conviction ("Too Many Houses In Here," "Snake City").  The key to their success is not only the masterful songwriting, but also the female lead vocal, which is not only soulful ("Have A Little Faith In Me") but packs an unsurpassed wallop.  Imagine 60's era Tina Turner jamming with Creedence on a hazy afternoon ("Stupid Fuckin' People") and The Bellrays are what transpires out of that vision.  This is a band that takes their rock serious and it shows.  If you yearn for good, hard edged soulful rock and roll, be prepared to be blown away by the nuances of this band. (4470 Sunset Blvd #195, Los Angeles, CA 90027; www.uppercutrecords.com)

Vitriol Vitriol

Neurot
This CD is for the nature lover in you.  It should be stocked right by the CDs of all the dolphin noises and waves crashing against the rocks.  Vitriol is a meditative and introspective journey through music and sound that one guy spent a year in seclusion recording and mastering and ultimately wasting our time with.  Unless you're planning some hermit type vacation or are in need of a spiritual cleansing, steer clear of this one. (P.O. Box 410209, San Francisco, CA 94141; www.neurosis.com)

Demonicon Condemned Creation

Root Of All Evil
Demonicon is another band in a long line of death metal outfits that scream, pound and churn out "some of the sickest and brutal death metal" this side of Hades.  First off, they play adult contemporary in Hell, and secondly, while these guys have got the chops to take their vehicle of doom off the ground ("The Burning Starts Again"), they're really not doing anything worthy of Beelzebub's right hand.  Yes, they are a savage outfit whose riffs are bruising and whose vocals are shrill and evil, but are they worthy of the exalted status?  Not quite yet, but they are an extremely sturdy metal machine that grinds out some tasty death metal tidbits for you hungry metal mavens to snack on ("Exile Ingrown"). (636 N. Snelling Avenue, St. Paul, MN 55104; www.rootofallevil.com)

Running Late The Road Less Traveled

Running Late hails from sunny California, and this quartet definitely wears their home state on their musical sleeve ("Walk Away From The World"), as they emulate the West Coast punk sound well on their latest EP.  Packing an ultra  melodic punch on their six song offering, Running Late provides a spirited sound that is slightly sanitized for a mass appeal, a la Blink and New Found Glory ("22 Reasons").  Very listenable and accessible, these guys may be in store for more familiar roads in the months ahead. (www.runlate.com)

Isis SGNL>05

Neurot Recordings
Isis is one of those artsy hardcore bands that everyone seems to love because they are so "different" and so "groundbreaking".  Their latest five song EP reinforces the accolades.  Sort of.  Isis is definitively different, almost in a Clutch meets Dillinger Escape Plan way ("Divine Mother").  Yes, they are noise and sample driven.   They can be hard to decipher when you're left to wonder what the hell the goal of the song is when they leave in 3-minute intros of alien soundscapes without a vocal or any predominant musical instrument.  But, they can also be melodic and can whip you into a frenzy.  And no, they aren't for everyone.  But, these guys are arguably the masters of the build up ("Constructing Towers").  If you'd like to see what kinds of sounds are made when you mix ambiance and chaos, then check these guys out. (P.O. Box 410209, San Francisco, CA 94141; www.neurosis.com)

Blacktooth Caught

Exit Only
Blacktooth is a California outfit whose eight-song disc is a fine union of metal and punk.  While the intros of the songs usually draw you in for a white knuckle ride into heavy metaldom ("Civil Disorder"), the vocals soon kick in and you're whisked away into punk valley ("Burn").  This contrast is what keeps this quintet an interesting group, as they keep the listener on their toes.  Even if the punk that these guys play is almost overwrought with redundancy, it's the dual guitar attack that mixes NYHC with West Coast power punk that keeps this boat afloat ("Achieve").  Kind of reminiscent of a mix of Suicidal Tendencies and All, Blacktooth is a solid band that would probably raise a ruckus live. (695 Azure Hills Dr., Simi Valley, CA 93065; blacktooth420@aol.com)

Spirit Caravan Elusive Truth

Tolotta
Holy retro, Batman.  Wino and company have returned, with some of the finest stoner anthems this side of 1976 ("Cloudy Mirror").  Spirit Caravan returns with 11 tracks of stoneground goodness, complete with a sludgy rhythm section and Wino's custom-made Lemmy light vocals.  The prototype for most of the stoner rock out there is arguably in part due to Wino's past and present doings, and he stays true to form on the SC's latest ("Elusive Truth," "Outlaw Wizard").  Providing some chunky riffs and go-go rhythms suitable for burning ("Retroman"), this power trio shows just exactly whose got the fire.  Crank it up and lose yourself in the Sabbath-esque swagger and '70s cheer that is Spirit Caravan. (P.O. Box 4412, Arlington, VA 22204; www.tolotta.com)

Guano Apes Don't Give Me Names

Supersonic Records
Guano Apes are a female fronted hard rocking quartet from Germany whose latest 15 track CD is chock full of dynamic changes and emotionally charged grooves ("Mine All Mine").  Catchy choruses pervade your brain as the sultry female vocals take charge and lead the danceable hard rocking rhythms ("No Speech").  Funky and free, Guano Apes take the listener by the ears and give them a lot to shout about, from the Garbage meets No Doubt vocal delivery ("Living In A Lie") to the punkish drive of the guitars ("Money & Milk," "I Want It"), to the left of center rhythms ("Gogan") that float throughout the album.  If you are a fan of female fronted rock acts, Guano Apes are not to be missed, as they provide a true alternative to the condensed, cookie cutter creations of the American music mainstream.

Shockwave Omega Supreme

Triple Crown Records
Are you ready for bruising pit styled hardcore that has a Transformer fetish?  Well, get ready, because here comes the 23 track onslaught from Shockwave, a band whose identities are as unknown as Brujeria's and whose musical output is seemingly as potent.  For a baseball bat to the head akin to the pounding a Madball or Sick Of It All album would give you, try this bad boy on for size.  (www.triplecrownrecords.com)

Witchery Symphony For the Devil

Necropolis
Metal was made to sound this way, as Sweden's Witchery aptly explain on their latest 12 track offering.  While this blistering quintet don't actually state that claim anywhere, they more than subtly hint at it with their molten brand of metal, which combines thrash ("Bone Mill"), groove, death and straight up metal in a succinct package suitable for mass destruction ("Called For By Death").  Melodically maniacal and cranially crushing, Witchery sounds like the perfect amalgamation of The Haunted and Cradle Of Filth ("Requisition") with a hearty heaping of Slayer mixed in ("Omens").  Lock down the horned hand on this one, folks, as these Swedes will get your blood pumping and give you that warm, fuzzy feeling that metal is very much alive and terrorizing in the year 2001 and beyond. (www.necropolisrecords.com)

RAFR Volume 3

RAFR
Rock And F*cking Roll Records strike from the underground once again with a 71 minute, 28 track compilation that highlights what's shaking in the rock scene that doesn't primp, pose or cater to commercialism.  While many of these bands are mainly punk bands who owe a lot of their style to Iggy, The Ramones and punk in general, the main focus is that they are keeping the grounds as unsanitary as ever by playing loud, saying what they want and eventually, overcoming your stereo with the rebellion that rock and roll was made to do.  Standouts include Motochrist, The Bullys, Bellvue, Short Fuses and Damnation, but the overall lineup is solid enough to keep your interest for the duration of the disc.  Rock And F*cking Roll, indeed! (www.rafr.com)

Rabies Caste Let the Soul Out and Cut the Vein

Earache Records
While the title of the latest from Russian bred trio Rabies Caste isn't exactly an act of kindness, it aptly describes the kind of sludgy, grinding and utterly disturbing sounds you'd find on their 10 track disc.  Falling somewhere in between Will Haven and Godflesh ("Prove Me"), their slow burning riffs and mechanically churning rhythms have the uncanny ability to leave your brain mangled and your senses in a twist ("There Is Nothing You Have Seen").  To truly enjoy this disc, as well as Rabies Caste as a whole, you need a lot of patience and a penchant for noisecore, both of which this outfit thoroughly displays ("I'm So Tired"). (www.earache.com)

Nephasth Immortal Unholy Triumph

World War III
Does every death metal band these days have a name that's shy a few consonants?  Well, if Brazil's Nephasth is any indication, the answer is yes, but don't let their phonetically correctness fool you. These guys are on a mission to not only leave your eardrums bloody, but to also live up to a long legacy of metal greats that hail from their homeland.  With a strong grip on the blast beat drums meets guitar crunch combo ("Useless Cross") and vocals that sound as demonic as any one else on the scene, Nephasth definitely help to maintain the lineage of Brazilian brutality which Sepultura and Krisiun have carved.  (www.wwIII.com)

Avenged Sevenfold Sounding the Seventh Trumpet

Good Life Recordings
Avenged Sevenfold is a California quartet whose musical influences run the gauntlet and turn up all over this 13 track effort.  >From raging hardcore ("Streets") to So Cal punk rock to teeth gnashing metal parts, AS display their knack for all of these styles, and are confidentially capable of steamrolling through all of them ("We Come Out At Night"), sometimes all in the same song ("Breaking Their Hold").  With a hint of AFI ("Lips Of Deceit") in their mix and a spark of Guns And Roses in their piano laden melodic warblings ("Warmness Of The Soul"), these guys prove that they may be the renaissance band that the heavy music world is looking for.  You can be the judge by checking this outfit out. (www.goodliferecordings.com)

Ancient Proxima Centauri

Metal Blade Records
Ancient is a long running black metal band that have stuck to their guns and continued to pound out some of the genres more adventurous outtakes.  Ancient's latest 12 tracks show this Norwegian metal machine in fine form, complete with epic guitarwork ("Apophis"), Gothic flavored vocals and a flare for the macabre ("Satan's Children"), a staple of Ancient's repertoire.  While the imagery is a bit played out and the whole makeup and costume act is laughable, what's not a joke is Ancient's grandiose approach to metal ("On Blackest Wings"), which maintains bleak lyrical content and multi textured musical output for an album that ranks up there with King Diamond and Cradle Of Filth in terms of horror rock.  (www.metalblade.com)

Lesliwood Ms. Led

Fish the Cat
Lesliwood is a female fronted rock outfit whose indie rock stylings fit somewhere in between The Lillith Fair and Lollapalooza.  Their latest nine track release showcases some strong songwriting ("Apology"), while the performance is as equally as powerful, almost evoking a Natalie Merchant-esque feel.  Lesliwood is also adept at mixing alternative grooving ("Come To Me") with lo-fi indie rocking ("Dare Me"), creating a sound that may best be described as Jewel fronting Nirvana.  For a musical boost with a different feel, check out this Northwestern group.  (www.lesliwood.com)

Serotonin Universal Time Constant

Bifocal
Serotonin is a left of center quartet from Tennessee whose math rock twin guitars and indie rock style stains their eight tracked assault.  While these guys prefer to subdue the listener with a barrage of guitars and bass sans crushing distortion, they still manage to drill a hole in your skull ("R Is For Rock"), albeit subtly.  Unmetrically funky and odd timely rhythmic, Serotonin have got the groove in their head, but it's up to you to figure it out ("Dear Consumers," "Eyes Reflecting Images").  A challenging release to the educated rock aficionado.  (www.bifocalmedia.com)

Lit Atomic

RCA Records
Lit is a radio friendly band with bite, so it's no surprise that their latest 13 track release contains more of the same hook happy and lyrically clever concoctions that made this California quartet all the rage about 18 months ago.  While many of the tracks on Atomic scream 70's arena rock ("The Last Time Again," "Lipstick And Bruises"), complete with creamy chorus and guitar riffs that cry out to be heard on a K-Tel compilation ("Next Time Around"), Lit also strip things down for the ladies ("Happy In The Meantime") for maximum selling power.  Truth be told, Lit's latest gives a hearty nod to a time when the music did the talking and the band lived the lifestyle to the excess.  If you like the California rock sounds that Smashmouth and Sugar Ray currently employ, chances are the new Lit album will please you as well.  (www.litlounge.com)

XIII PFP Words Left Unsaid

Doubledown
XIII PFP sounds like a secret ingredient in food that causes some catastrophic effect, but in fact, it is a unique hardcore outfit from Pennsylvania.  And what makes this band of bruisers so different is their usage of horns in their heavy handed attack.  It's an effect that needs to be heard, because it's possible that you're thinking gay ska horns like every other wanna be band employs, but such is not the case.  Imagine symphonic Pink Floyd meeting Converge ("Breathe You Out") and you'll see what I mean.  Some interesting and overall kick ass material that needs to be heard.  (http://move.to/xiiipfp)

Moonspell Darkness and Hope

Century Media
Besides Type O Negative, there aren't really any well known Gothic metal outfits, but Portugal's Moonspell sets out to change this with the release of their latest 11 track offering.  With a firm foothold with all that's slow, deep and hard, from the pounding rhythms to the bellowing vocals that go lower than a snake's belly, Moonspell set an eerie atmosphere to light candles by ("Nocturna").  Powerful and emotionally charged ("Heartshaped Abyss"), with hints of exploration ("Ghostsong"), Moonspell's journey into romanticism whisks the listener away into a faraway place where vampires and castles reign supreme.  If you dig the whole Gothic scene, Moonspell's latest is a must have release.  (www.moonspell.com)

Trapped In Life Blood and Gold

Final Beatdown
Trapped In Life is a tough guy hardcore outfit from France whose four track release is pretty sub standard when matching it up to other tough guy groups.  With garbled vocals and basic breakdowns leading the charge, how good could it be?  Nothing special to tell you about here if you don't own All Out War or Madball CD's already.  (www.finalbeatdown.com)

Kevin Henry East On Sunset

Grand Mariner
Kevin Henry is a Midwestern singer songwriter who has cut his teeth on both the LA and NY scene, and it shows on his mature and introspective 11 track release.  Massively produced and wonderfully instrumented, this album doesn't necessarily rock (unless you think Broadway show tunes and Ben Folds are the bomb), but it does provide some heartfelt, honestly penned tunes that are masterfully performed.  While Kevin Henry isn't going to be touring with Slipknot anytime soon, he may just pop up on another primetime sitcom, like his last single did on NBC's Friends.  For a soft rock kick, Henry is your choice.  (www.kevinhenry.com)

The Beltones Cheap Trinkets

TKO
The Beltones are a punk rock quartet from Florida whose 13 track release showcases some gritty punk rock that has got both melody and balls ("Shitty In Pink").  These guys seem to be one of the more aggressive bands on TKO, and it's this kind of delivery that catapults them above the average pub punkers and puts them in a league that rivals Zeke and Reducers.  Catchy but not syrupy, The Beltones skillfully walk the line between infectious harmonies and anger ridden madness ("Better Than A Kick In The Head").  For a punk rock affirmation, check out The Beltones.  (www.tkorecords.com)

Filthy Thieving Bastards A Melody of Retreads and Broken Quills

BYO Records
Filthy Thieving Bastards are the side project of members of the punk band The Swingin' Utters, and it gives them a chance to kick off their shoes and take it back to the village, sans amplification.  But, FTB aren't just an Utter side band, as the singer from Me First And The Gimme Gimme's and members of Camper Van Beethoven also lend a hand in the homespun acousticality of the 15 track disc.  Comparable to the Pogues and definitely an album that both punk rock you and your Irish grandfather could sit around and drink a pint to, Filthy Thieving Bastards are perfect pub music for the whole family, as dysfunctional as you may be.  (www.byorecords.com)

Ozzy Osbourne Down to Earth

Epic Records
The madman of metal returns triumphantly with a collection of tunes that took way too long, but are ultimately worth the wait.  Ozzy shuns retirement once again and returns in stomping form, backed by his tightest band in years (Zakk Wylde, Robert Trujillo and Mike Bordin).  While the Godfather of Metal hasn't sounded this heavy since No Rest For the Wicked ("Gets Me Through," "That I Never Had"), he also goes for the heartstrings in true Ozzy fashion, with (thankfully) a few ballads that rival other Ozzy cigarette lighter faves of yore ("Dreamer").  What else is there to say about Ozzy that either hasn't been written or the man himself hasn't done?  Not much, so do yourself a favor and support Ozzy in his twilight, as the guy still knows how to rip up the music world, both live and on CD.  (www.ozzy.com)

Angel Crew Another Day Living in Hatred

Good Life Recordings
Angel Crew are as brutal as it gets despite their cherubic moniker.  This 10 track hardcore opus harkens back to the days of Madball and Cro Mags when the bands lived the way the music depicted.  Raw and merciless ("Dying Breed"), their fast paced chunky riffs and breakneck rhythms fit in quite nicely with your Hatebreed and Skarhead discs.  Keeping it real and heavy, these guys deliver on their claim, as this is the closest you'll get to heavenly hardcore until the new Hatebreed drops.  (www.goodliferecordings.com)

Fireball Ministry FMEP

Small Stone
Fireball Ministry return with a fistful of stoner rock, with some clever cover tunes in tow, on their latest EP.  This 2 girl, 2 guy juggernaut from California take it up a notch and turn up the volume with their balls out heavy blues twin guitar attack ("King").  With the slow groove right on track and rhythm section that rides high in a blaze of glory, Fireball Ministry provide eight tracks of fuzzed out audio bliss that should be high on your list of albums to get, if not for their solid originals, then definitely for their forays into 70's metal ("Victim Of Changes," "Muscle Of Love") and their spin on punk ("Cough/Cool").  (www.smallstone.com)

Thy Primordial Under Iskall Troll Mane

World War III
Thy Primordial is a black metal quintet who is all decked out in the black metal garb and has a real majestic feel to their speed driven supersonic sound.  Besides their titles all being in a foreign language (in death/black metal, does it really matter anyway?), the nine tracks that comprise Thy Primordial's metal epic are songs for the death metal swashbuckler, who likes to sail the seas and bang his head without repent.  (www.ww3music.com)

Blow Up Hollywood Blow Up Hollywood

Blow Up Hollywood is an ambitious project that combines stark photographic imagery with tactical singer songwriter performances that come to life via a self-titled 13-track release.  While the amount of information about the project's performers is mysteriously hidden, there's nothing on this flawlessly produced disc to be ashamed of. Quite the contrary, actually, as the crisp delivery of the well written rock ballads ("Kite") have a Counting Crows feel musically with a more laid back frontman, which adds a touch of sadness to the entire foray ("It's Not Me") a la Pink Floyd in the latter years of Roger Waters ("Adrift").  Factor in a slew of mood altering instrumental numbers, which dually borrow from the playbooks of both Moby and Trent Reznor ("Beyond The Stars") and you've got an electronically orchestral adventure with depth and heart on your hands.  info@blowuphollywood.com

SSRI Go Fight Win

New Jersey based SSRI's five song sampler is the musical companion to a middle finger thrust in the air.  While the music is chaotically calculated enough to strike those violent chords and still remain charming ("King"), these guys aren't as angry as they lead on.  Imagine The Misfits and Murphy's Law drinking with Sugar Ray and Offspring ("Go Fight Win") and you get an idea of the vibe SSRI emits.  Smirky enough to be smartass and catchy enough to be gobbled by millions, SSRI's punk rock tricks aren't groundbreaking, but they're well done with enough conviction to allow their branching out to be acceptable.  www.ssrimusic.com

Fritz and the Side Effects Fritz and the Side Effects

Fritz and The Side Effects start out their four-song sampler wisely with a bouncy Sabbath meets Toadies number ("Back Again"), and maintain the big rock sound throughout the disc.  With their big rock sound comes a pop punk coating that gives them a cheekiness that shows through the late 80's metal pretense and Smithereens-esque stomp.  Looking for a band to let your hair down to and rock out with that's just loud and heavy enough?  Fritz and The Side Effects are prime candidates and would complement a Friday night out with the boys just fine ("Stuck").  www.fritzohara.com

Boiler Cowtippin' in C Sharp

The Upstate NY bruisers known as Boiler return in fine style on their latest 19 track release that mixes intermittent spoken word moments and snippets of interviews with some of the most moshable grooves this side of Clutch and Pantera. Boiler's specialty lies in their deep bass and drum grooves, where the guitars switch from locking in and creating a wall of sound ("Bottom Feeders") or goes off on a tangent that kicks serious ass ("Quieting The Western Front"). Either way, Boiler succeeds in bringing the same kind of low brow entertainment value that we'd find at monster truck rallies, pro wrestling events and daytime television talk shows to the world of metal, complete with a metallic stomp that walks a mudhole dry into your intestines. Crack open a beer on the front porch and enjoy the simple pleasures of Boiler's heavy-handed odes to white trash America. www.boilerny.com

16 16

16 is a Los Angeles based outfit that successfully meshes the vibes of both Van Halen and Tool, an unlikely combination, on their 10 track release. They've got those booming low ends in tow much like AENIMA ("Grip Of Delusion"), and yet they still manage to maintain a rock and roll swagger, albeit a darkened one, like David Lee circa 1978, too ("Fortune And Flames"). Monstrous vocals and direct lyrics keep this band on the fringe a la Clutch ("Hearing Voices"), and with a huge rectified guitar sound leading the charge, you've got all the elements available for a band on the cusp to break out and do some damage to the unsuspecting music industry. And, when a band names a song "Balloon Knot," you have to hand it to their sense of humor. Folks, you've been warned. dinahve@earthlink.net.

Othersidenine Othersidenine

Radio friendly melodies come to us courtesy of Othersidenine, a New Jersey based outfit whose three-song sampler sounds like it could have been released when hair metal was all the rage. Embodying fellow statesmen Bon Jovi, these guys rely on candy coated choruses and slick production to hammer their point home, and they do a fine job in the process, giving their big rock sound an injection of the blues for some extra flavor ("Another Restless Night"). If you're a sucker for well-dressed rockers being all emotional and stuff, Othersidenine will surely appease you. www.othersidenine.com

Radiate Transmission

Radiate make the most of today's technological advances in the hard rock world on their three song EP. Mixing the tribal aggression of Soulfly with the technical melodics of Filter, this New Jersey based quartet combine a lot of different styles of heavy music successfully, maximizing their sonic output. Industrial strength percussion helps the band break the mold, while the NIN inspired vocals and angst keeps them right at the brink of relaying teenager's pent up emotions everywhere ("Viral").
www.doyouradiate.com

Conquistador What's Up Fireball

Conquistador is a NYC based outfit whose 13 track, left of center approach to music should give them mad props on the college rock circuit. Conquistador is seven members strong, and their mix of horns, keyboards and straight ahead rock and roll ("The Cut Slot") is pleasantly concocted for everyone's listening enjoyment. Need a fist-pumping anthem to get the team rolling? They've got it ("Lotion"). How about a mid tempo rocker with Moog effects and a British rock gloss? Check ("Sharkskin Mouth"). Maybe a country fried rap tune? Let's not get carried away, but damn, this band is versatile enough to be thrown on at a house party throw down ("6116," "Bad Dancing License") or be listened to alone during some pensive moments. If Weezer, Smashmouth, The Beatles and the latest MTV shoe gazer band were to share a stage, it'd be in the form of Conquistador. www.conquistador.com

Detox Darlings 2 song sampler

Good old-fashioned dirty rock and roll straight from the bowels of NYC, the home of CBGB's and The Ramones, is what the Detox Darlings are all about. This two-song sampler is loud, obnoxious, rude and raucous, with a big guitar sound and a lot of drug references. If that's not rock and roll, what is? www.detoxdarlings.com

Slidebolt From Love II Hate

Slidebolt is a New Jersey rock band whose six-song disc finds the quartet walking the line between radio friendly and moshpit heavy. Imagine the emotive side Staind mixing it up with a NYHC band ("Separate Paths," "Without Regard") to understand where this genre-hopping outfit comes from. Slidebolt's success lies in their ability to build a song, as they compose songs that start off slow, but dynamically rise to the occasion ("Fallen"). They even do a spirited version of LL Cool J's "Mama Said Knock You Out," showing that their interests don't just lie in the land of guitars. Not bad for a band of suburban Jersey kids. Slidebolt's compositions and dynamics set them head and shoulders above the rest of the tattooed rock pack. www.slidebolt.com

The Krays A Time For Action

TKO Records
Hailing from NYC, The Krays latest 13 track release finds the boys in fine form, playing old school punk rock the way it should be played, loud and proud. Anthemic guitar riffs and passionate choruses ("Mindless Army") lead The Krays through the underbelly of the NYC scene. Giving props to everyone from Agnostic Front ("Part Of Change") to Diamondhead ("No Pity"), there's a little bit of metal in their Oi, but that's ok, just as long as the facepaint only comes out during Halloween. Very melodic yet armed with that undeniable punk snarl, The Krays show us that the time for action is now. www.tkorecords.com

Alive Rock and Roll Star

Taking us back to a time when all we wanted was nothing but a good time, Alive brings out the best the glam rock scene had to offer on their four-song release. Sounding a lot like Bon Jovi ("Rock And Roll Star"), Alive utilizes a dual vocal attack and a solid rock and roll formula to get their point across. With a big rock sound and the image to back it up, these guys seem ready to rock out The Rainbow or any Los Angeles club. If you crave the times when big hair and bigger hooks ruled MTV, Alive is the band to bring those glory days back. www.islandmanagement.net

Jerry Cantrell Degradation Trip

Roadrunner Records
Jerry Cantrell is an artist who has experienced all of the ups and downs of the rock music industry. From platinum albums to personal tragedies, Cantrell's latest 14 track release shows a man who has weathered the storm and is resilient enough to pick up where his commercially disappointing yet spiritually uplifting Boggy Depot left off. This time around, he enlisted the amazing talents of Ozzy's current sidemen (Robert Trujillo on bass and Mike Bordin on drums), and lets loose with some of the most stunning music he's put out to date. Sounding a lot more like the early, riff heavy Alice In Chains ("Bargain Basement Howard Hughes," "Angel Eyes"), Cantrell shows why he is quite possibly one of rock's most underrated performers. Showcasing his solid fretwork as usual, the dirty rock sound that we've come to expect is back full fledged ("Castaway"), and Cantrell even goes a bit on the acoustic side, too ("Solitude"), creating jarringly haunting moments of melody. Cantrell always had his hand in a lot of different musical pies, and Degradation Trip is no different, as Jerry mixes the down home sounds of country rock ("Gone") with some of the more searing metal sounds heard today ("Chemical Tribe"). Judging by his latest release, Cantrell isn't going away anytime soon, as he solidifies his place in the annals of rock and roll as not only one of the most talented guitarists of the '90s, but also as one of the most prolific solo acts on the scene today. Is he the new version of John Fogerty, a man who tasted success with both an amazing rock band and solo as well? Despite their situations being very different, there's no denying that there's a parallel between them both, and only time will tell if Cantrell can persevere through the pitfalls his career has undergone. Let's hope he deals with his demons by creating more gems like Degradation Trip. www.roadrunnerrecords.com

The Bad Vibes Hate Your Everything

Steel Cage Records
Talk about a negative approach! Just check out the album cover, which depicts a noose and a hanging man. How's that for to the point? Philadlephia quartet The Bad Vibes are an angst ridden, unapologetic and overall ferocious band who pull no punches and probably have very few friends. Their latest 10 track ode to hate is not for the weak of heart or of mind. Punk rock hasn't sounded this angry in a very long time, thanks to The Bad Vibes' venomous rants and bare bones, straight forward three chord assault. Think Zeke meeting Motorhead on a very bad day and you can only imagine what kind of anger can be displayed in a less than 30-minute span. Make sure you're socially adjusted before popping this puppy in, or else very bad things are prone to happen. www.steelcagerecords.com

40 Below Summer Invitation to the Dance

London
New Jersey's 40 Below Summer are one of the many nu metal bands out there trying to establish themselves in the land of Korn and Linkin Park. With the unveiling of their 12-track disc, they do an adequate job in giving the metalhead a lot of diversity. This quintet's arsenal contains some passable rapping, a slew of filling rattling bass grooves and a cohesive twin guitar attack whose riffs, besides being sinfully heavy ("Power Tool") possess a good sense of dynamics to boot. While they sometimes fall into the generic heap with Limp Bizkit-esque primping ("We The People"), they also prove that they can hammer out a song that has depth and soul, and still rips your face off ("Wither Away," "Falling Away"), complete with hammering riffs and a catchy refrain. While 40 Below Summer's latest isn't groundbreaking, it solidifies the band as a solid contender alongside the likes of Il Nino, Soulfly and some of nu metal's burgeoning acts thanks to some sturdy songwriting ("Rejection"). www.london-sire.com

Mr. Scrillion Anti-Hero

Goldfinger
Mr. Scrillion is a rap rock act whose 15-track release is a byproduct of the wigga generation and MTV pushing urban artists to the suburbs. Not a whole lot of brains went into this one, folks, as a pseudo Keith Sweat voice and boastings about sexual conquests may work with a few platinum records on the wall, but not with these production values in tow. And if this guy paid royalties to all of the artist's he ripped off, he'd be broke in less than a month. Anti-Hero is good for a frolicking in the frathouse, and sadly, not much else. www.adamthick.com

Stuck On 8 Stuck On 8

Stuck On 8 is a lighthearted rock outfit from NYC whose latest release showcases the band's love of rock that spans through the years. A little bit of Hendrix ("Feeling Cool"), Dave Matthews ("J***") and Green Day are all apparent here, with their busy basslines complementing a smooth guitar and vocal delivery quite nicely ("The Deal"). While the majority of the tracks are acoustically tinged, they still have a strong rock foundation behind them, even plugging in at times for some electric jams ("Silicone"). A well rounded outfit who mix in the ballads between the rockers with flare ("Never Seen"), Stuck On 8 is a modern rock band that hasn't forgotten their roots and build off of them with success. www.stuckon8.com

Heidnik Nothing

Too Damn Hype
Jarring and unsettling, the music that Heidnik makes isn't easily digestible, and that's exactly how this Philadelphia based noisecore quartet like it. Meshing the underlying crunch of hardcore with shades of Will Haven's spacious atmosphere, the quirk of Mr. Bungle and the explosive precision of any Relapse band, their latest nine-song endeavor takes extreme music to the left of center. Metal and noise and everything that's depraved are what Heidnik specializes in, and they really mix their entire demonic ingredients well, including their comical (although unintentional) sound bites in between songs. For a taste of something that the mainstream will never even attempt, check the savage grace of Heidnik. www.toodamnhype.com

The Dillinger Escape Plan Irony Is a Dead Scene

Epitaph Records
As if the cacophony produced by The Dillinger Escape Plan wasn't volatile enough, they release a four song EP with guest vocalist Mike Patton, king of the offbeat side project. And while this is the closest Patton has gotten to mixing his semi-metal FNM days with the insanity of Mr. Bungle, there is no denying the power of DEP, as they more than match up to Patton's wide range of vocal gymnastics with a slew of musical acrobatics of their own. Despite this being a very short meeting of the minds, clocking in at less than 20 minutes, it's bound to expand your musical horizons more than you can even imagine.  www.epitaph.com

Dead to Fall Everything I Touch Falls to Pieces

Victory Records
Hard to believe that this intense five piece outfit hails from Chicago, as they've all but mastered that European death metal sound ("Cost Of A Good Impression") on their 11 track debut. But, the threat is real; Dead To Fall has arrived, and you've been warned. Bringing the slaughtered sounds made famous by such metal luminaries as At The Gates and Entombed to these shores is no easy task, yet these metal mongers seem more than up for the challenge, armed with some heavy duty riffs ("Like A Bullet") and an unadulterated love for that melodic crunch. This is unbridled metal, from the staccato guitars to the powerhouse drumming to the death growls and screams ("Tu Se Morta"). Dead To Fall is primed and ready to take the American metal scene by the throat, but is the scene ready for a band of this magnitude? Check out their next moshpit and you decide. www.victoryrecords.com

As Friends Rust A Young Trophy Band in the Parlance of Our Times

Equal Vision
Melodically sardonic and heavily sarcastic, Gainesville, Florida's As Friends Rust's six-song release shows a band whose crunchy musical delivery and heavy handed, thought provoking lyrics make for a very declarative combination. Smarter than your average band and not afraid to show it, AFR take smatterings of new wave, hardcore and hard rock and make their own way, complete with a sneer and a parting shot at the social consciousness of the masses ("The Most Americanest"). Mixing the power of Sick Of It All with the fury of Avail with a touch of AFI ("Born With A Silver Spoon Up Your Ass"), As Friends Rust provide an exquisite soundtrack for the disenchanted youth that question authority and still manage to get their aggressions out on the dance floor. www.asfriendsrust.net

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