Music Reviews:
March 2005

Roky Erickson,"I Have Always Been Here Before-The Roky Erickson Anthology" (Shout Factory)
Sometimes it is hard to live up to the moniker, “legend” and Roky Erickson is no exception. When it comes to Roky, you get the standard story of his time with the psychedelic pioneers, The 13th Floor Elevators – and of course the stories of his Syd Barrett-like drug-related mental illness. But unlike Barrett, Roky didn’t just burn out he continued making vital music. This compilation spans decades of Roky’s music, giving auditory proof of his greatness. Ironically, it is his material with the Aliens that I find more appealing than his 13th Floor Elevators stuff – definitely undiscovered gold.

Go to your music store immediately cause this is the best compilation/anthology release I have seen in many years!
shoutfactory.com
Rating:

Review by Ronnie


The Generators,"Excess, Betrayal…And Our Dearly Departed" (Fiend Music)
The trademark twin guitar attack of the Generators is back with a vengeance on their latest “Excess, Betrayal…And Our Dearly Departed”. “Roll Out The Red Carpet” is appropriately enough the first track on the album and that’s just what they do. You get the royal treatment from these guys when it comes to delivering the goods. Nine tracks plus five new bonus tracks and enhanced with the inclusion of the music video for the song “Thirty Seconds”. Yeah, these guys know how to roll out the red carpet when it comes to rock n’ roll.
www.fiendmusic.com
Rating:
and 1/2
Review by J.R. Oliver


Mad Margritt,"Straight Through the Heart" (Perris Records)
Damn, where were these guys in the ‘80s?! They could have kicked the ass of the hair bands like Motley Crue. Hot guitar licks and even hotter vocals. The 10 songs on this disc range from power-ballads to straightforward rockers like “In the Name of Rock” (my personal favorite on the disc). Speaking of which, if “In the Name of Rock” doesn’t make you head bang, then you are brain dead. Give us more Margritt! I know, its only ‘80s rock ‘n roll but I like it!
madmargritt.com
Rating:

Review by Scott H. Platt


Billy Jonas,"Get Real" (Bang A Bucket Music)
When it comes to folk-style music, I’ve got to admit that I find most of it pretentious. But not so with the music of Billy Jonas – he is definitely NOT pretentious! Sure, there are “story songs” like typical folk tunes, but Jonas never preaches, he simply entertains. Plus, his unique use of interesting percussion in his songs puts his own stamp on his music, making them even more appealing to the listener. An example of Jonas’ genius is his infusion of the familiar Bach melody with a true story in the song “Joy” – it is simply a marvel, combining the beauty of melody with clever lyrics such as “faith is a luxury I can’t afford”. “This We Know” is a history lesson put to music complete with familiar sound bites from history combined with a chant of “this we know”. Billy Jonas is a caffeine-like jolt to the often-stale genre of folk music!
www.billyjonas.com
Rating:

Review by Ronnie


Dave Lemon,"Stumble In" (Off The Vine Records)
Somewhere between REM’s Michael Stipe and Arlo Guthrie lies the land that Dave Lemon wanders. There’s a bit of Richard Thompson in the mix as well. Ten upbeat pop songs with a radio edit version of “Cell” to boot. The cd starts off with “Relax” which is all about just that. “Stumbled In” is a high-octane hoedown about the woes of overindulging and so is “Plasma Junkie”. “Freedom Of Choice” paints a picture much like a Springsteen song . “Job Hopper” is a sheik of Arabia trip through unemployment with Beatlesque lyrics. Some interesting stuff here.
www.offthevinerecords.com
Rating:

Review by J.R. Oliver


Kinski Spiral,"Kinski Spiral Plays Silent Stars" (Cut and Paste Records)
Kinski Spiral is a “hit or miss” affair. When they are good, they are very good and when they aren’t…well, they aren’t really bad, just plain forgettable. Their style ranges from delicate power-pop (“Lost A Friend”), Syd Barrett-meets-raga (“My Education”), Bob Dylan-parody (“Beautiful Eyes”), early REM-style rocker (“It’s My Turn”), and bluegrass-influenced (“I Saw It In a Dream”). These five songs are the best of this disc and would have made a great EP, but alas the other songs included. A little frustrating because you just know they have a solid CD in them just waiting to come out!
www.kinskispiral.com
Rating:

Review by Ronnie


Jason Atkinson,"Friendly Radio" (Indie Release)
Off the wall sense of humor delivered in a lo-fi indie package. Atkinson has a way of taking a pretty piece of music and his almost spoken vocal delivery and hypnotizing the listener. It takes a couple of listens for his humor to sink in but it eventually does just that. Maybe radio will be friendly to Jason or maybe the title is just wishful thinking on his part. Either way, I’m with you brother.
www.atkinsonmusic.com
Rating:

Review by J.R. Oliver


Chinaboise,"The Greatest Story Ever Told" (Gulcher Records)
Weird stuff in the same vein as label mates The Screamin’ Mee-Mees. Rich Stim and Dave Mahoney seem to be the primary players here but there were a host of others along the way such as Bruce Anderson, Rich Fish, Carolyn Boner, Holly Thomison and Kim Torgerson. This was strictly a recording project and never really a band according to Rich Stim. A trippy listening experience that will have you scratching your head more often than patting your foot. Standout track for me was “Take Two”.
www.gulcher.gemm.com
Rating:

Review by J.R. Oliver


Richard Snow,"Tuesday Music" (Valley)
Richard Snow is one of the great-unsung talents of the power-pop genre, an artist of the caliber of Peter Lacey (another great "undiscovered" talent). Richard melds the styles of the Beach Boys, the Byrds and Elvis Costello into a style that is purely his own. On this, his second disc, Richard shows a tremendous leap forward in growth and power-pop maturity. The PET SOUNDS-like production is amazing on "And Then", "You Said It" and "Tuesday Music". "Lonesome Cowboy" starts off in like a Byrds-country explanation, turning into a mini-suite of various time signatures and styles. "Days Of Simplicity" combines a "Dear Prudence"-like guitar riff with classic Badfinger vocalization. The disc ends with a fantastic cover of Dennis Wilson's "Slip On Through".

For me, the highlight of the album is "You're My Number 1" - a stunningly beautiful song, which starts off as a simple ballad and grows to a multi-layered catchy chorus complete with some excellent use of backwards guitar. This song alone is worth searching out this disc. Truth be told, each song on TUESDAY MUSIC has a depth and complexity that makes it one of the best listening experiences I've heard in quite awhile.
www.richardsnow.co.uk
Rating:
and 1/2
Review by Ronnie


Various Artists,"Two Steps Forward-A Tribute to Brian & Dennis Wilson" (Surf Clown)
Jerry Boyd is one of the busiest non-musicians in music. Although he doesn't perform music per se, he puts out some of the most brilliant musical creations I've heard. His newest, TWO STEPS FORWARD, is a great concept - a split album combining a tribute album for the two best songwriters of the Beach Boys (Brian Wilson and Dennis Wilson) plus originals by each of the artists.

I'll make a few short observations on each cover song, since the Wilson covers are the true driving force of this collection. "Slip On Through" by Richard Snow (D. Wilson-SUNFLOWER) - Each time I hear Richard hit those high notes I get chills! "The Night Was So Young" by Kyle Gray Young (B. Wilson-THE BEACH BOYS LOVE YOU) - Great hearing this song without the original (sometimes overbearing) synthesizer orchestrations. "Little Bird" by Ken Worthing (D. Wilson/S. Kalinich-FRIENDS) - An almost avant garde reading of this Dennis song, a little jarring at times, but interesting nonetheless. "You're So Good To Me" by Paul Melancon (B. Wilson/M. Love-SUMMER DAYS AND SUMMER NIGHTS!!) - Bringing a classic Beach Boys song into the power-pop 21st century! "Guess I'm Dumb" by The Zwendeltones (B. Wilson/R. Titleman -Glen Campbell song written by Brian) - Great vocal harmonies! "Love and Mercy" by Jeff Celentano (B. Wilson-Brian's first solo album) - Straight version of the (in my opinion) most recent Brian Wilson classic that shows what a great voice, combined with a great song can do. "Surf's Up" by Stephen Newcombe (B. Wilson/V.D. Parks-SMILE) - "I Get Around" vocals are sporadically added to this "Smiley Smile"-like version of the original SMILE classic, plus the second half of the tune has an ingenious Pet Sounds-like production quality to it. "Be Still" by Jez Graham (D. Wilson/S. Kalinich- FRIENDS) - Jez shows why Dennis is a vastly underated songwriter, by showcasing the pure beauty of the melody of this Dennis song. "Still I Dream Of It" by Jim Peragine (B.Wilson -originally unreleased Brian song) Almost a dramatic reading of this song, complete with strings and choir-like vocals.

The originals by each artist also give you a further glimpse into the talents of each, with websites given for each so that you can delve further into some great-undiscovered music! There is even a bonus track at the end of the CD: an instrumental of the "Whispering Winds" section of "Windchimes"!

Top-notch interpretations abound on what is one of the best Beach Boys-related tribute albums around. Leave it to an "indie" upstart to show some of the established labels how it should be done! Plus, you get some great new music to boot - great combination!
www.geocities.com/djsurfclown/tsf.html
Rating:

Review by Ronnie


Hard Skin,"Same Meat Different Gravy" (TKO Records)
TKO is up to more of their mischief with their latest release by London’s premier Oi!/Skinhead satirist. This is the follow-up to their 1996 debut album. With new songs like “Law And Order (Up Your Arse)”, “Make My Tea”, “Two Chords – Two Fingers” and “Still Fighting Thatcher” you’ll soon find yourself a hardcore fan of Hard Skin. Weather you own a Clash album or a Cheech And Chong album or both, “Same Meat Different Gravy” is just the thing you’re looking for.
www.tkorecords.com
Rating:
and 1/2
Review by J.R. Oliver


Ari Hest,"Someone To Tell" (Columbia Records)
“They’re On To Me” kicks this album off and it’s the perfect choice to do just that. A damn catchy song that pulls you in from the very beginning. Lots of great listening here that would be perfect for that lady you’re trying to impress with your taste in music. Fool her into thinking your much deeper than you really are. Ari Hest can definitely score you some points with your woman so go buy “Someone To Tell” and you can thank him later. Never mind that, buying the cd should be thanks enough.
www.arihest.com
Rating:

Review by J.R. Oliver


Tony Penultimate,"Soppy and the Sentimentals" (Penultimategold Records)
Sometimes, you come across music that is so off-the wall and just plain cheesy that it is endearing! Tony Penultimate’s baritone voice combined with his vaudeville-stylings is simply a hoot! Combine one- part Vegas-style lounge singer, one-part Rocky Horror-type campiness, one-part David Bowie glam rock, and one-part the Kink’s at their vaudeville extreme and you get the unique musical cocktail that is Tony Penultimate! I’m just ossified with giddiness at each and every spin of this disc.
www.tonypenultimate.com
Rating:
and 3/4
Review by Ronnie


The Snake The Cross The Crown’s,"Mander Salis An Album" (Equal Vision Records)
Most of this is probably above my head. Hell, there’s no probably about it. I mean, check out some of these song titles. “An Honest Misappropriation Of Funds”, “Gates Of Dis”, “A Gathering Of Shades”, “On The Threshold Of Eternity”, “The Sun Tells The Moon”, well, you get the picture. I haven’t read song titles like that since the last time I bought a Love And Rockets album. Anyway, I might not understand it but I did enjoy it and that’s really all that matters isn’t it.
www.equalvision.com
Rating:
Review by J.R. Oliver


The Reverend yO bBRADbURY,"The Reverend yO bBRADbURY" (Indie Release)
Yo Bradbury was a survivor from the notorious "Heaven's Gate" church. He had a prior engagement on the day that the rest of the cult had their “final” meeting and went to the “above human” level wearing their trademark Nike’s. His music is bizarre, like the Human League on bad acid. “Strangeness” just for the sake of “strangeness” does not necessarily make for good music! Although the lyrics are often humorous, it isn’t enough to save these often dreadful dirges from making you ask God one question: why did he prevent Yo Bradbury from missing that crucial final meeting of the “Heaven’s Gate” cult? Stick with Charlie Manson if you want infamous cult music. At least Charlie had some talent!
www.soundclick.com/yobradbury
Rating:

Review by Scott H. Platt


Joel Arant,"To Whom It May Behoove" (Indie Release)
Another singer / songwriter album that may not score you as many points with the ladies as say the Ari Hest cd I reviewed earlier but you’ll find it just as catchy and interesting. There’s some pretty fun songs here. Any time you find someone with a decent sense of humor putting together an album your bound to get a few diamonds in the rough. “Bigsville”, “Breather”, “As Soon As I’m Broken” and “Go-Between” are just the diamonds that old cliché speaks of.
www.joelarant.com
Rating:

Review by J.R. Oliver


The New York Rel-X,"Sold Out Of Love" (TKO Records)
Two guys + two girls = some of the catchiest punk rock you’ll ever hear. TKO has another notch in their belt with this New York outfit. A hard working, hard touring band that has honed their skills to a razor sharp edge. This has an old school feel that will have you settling into their sound from the first track. There’s even a Girlschool cover here. Eleven tracks in all and all eleven are solid punk gems. Absolutely no filler here.
www.tkorecords.com
Rating:

Review by J.R. Oliver


Civet,"Massacre" (Disaster Records)
This snotty young female quartet rocks like a bird feeder in a hurricane. An in your face attack reminiscent of the Ramones with Dee Dee at the mic. Remember “Endless Vacation” from Too Tough To Die? That’s what I’m talking about. Needless to say, there’s a lot of energy here. I mean, it’s volatile at moments but that’s what rock n’ roll is supposed to be. Funny, four young girls fresh out of high school can get it right when so many bands out there don’t have a clue.
www.disasterecords.com
Rating:
and ¾
Review by J.R. Oliver


The Hollow Points,"The Black Spot" (Disaster Records)
Fourteen solid slabs of pure evil rock n’ roll and if you dig down enough you’ll even reveal the intelligent social commentary of songs like “The Sickness” and “Telltale American”. This Seattle trio really is a mix of Social Distortion and American Oi! just like the press release promises. Produced by Duane Peters and released on his Disaster label “The Black Spot” is one album from this weeks mail pile that’s going to stay in my collection.
www.disasterecords.com
Rating:
and 1/2
Review by J.R. Oliver


The Rhodes Tavern Troubadours,"On the Red Line" (Indie Release)
Not many bands sport 4 songwriters and 4 performers that can play just about anything from jazz to blues-but The Rhodes Tavern Troubadours bring all that and more to the table. Their debut finds them plowing through hard driving rock on “Eye to Eye”, subtle harmonies on “Games” and even tackling an instrumental on “Eastwood.” Some lazy listeners just call this “roots rock”-but its way cooler than some warmed over Son Volt if you ask me.

The main songwriter on this disc is singer/guitarist Jake Flack who sings about everything from riding the subway to watching his favorite baseball manager. But it’s the whole band that makes each song click. Jack O’Dell’s drums pound the railings of each tune while bassist Mark Noone lays down some refined bass riffs on each track. Rounding out the group is lead guitarist Dave Chappell who literally can play any guitar part that’s been invented-and a lot that haven’t yet. “Cut Out Romeo” shows a little Replacements flavor circa Don’t Tell A Soul and “.Com Guy” will bring a wry smile to anyone who used to bring their dog to work. Great CD that’s perfect for any party-even one that’s a table for one with Dewar’s as the only invited guest.
To go to this artist's web site www.rttkids.com
Rating:

Review by Sean Koepenick


The RTTS,"Turn It Up Mommy!" (Indie Release)
The RTTS are the “kid friendly” version of The Rhodes Tavern Troubadours, so this is basically their second record but with a little bit of a different slant. Instead of songs about wayward women and shots of bourbon we get songs about snacks and bad weather days. Jack O’Dell gives “Learning My Letters” a Chuck Prophet feel and “Turn It Up Mommy” is a slick theme song sung by bassist Mark Noone. But guitarist Jake Flack dominates the songwriting proceedings here-writing all but one of the CD’s songs. “My New Hero” (written by Noone) from their debut is reprised again here and features some sharp guitar licks from lead barn-burner Dave Chappell.

“Rainy Day” is a song about trying to find some activities to do when it’s cold and wet out. The song’s guitar parts feature some imaginative arpeggio playing that calls to mind The Byrds at their best. And “Boofa”-well let’s just say this is the best song about a dog since the Scooby Doo theme-no joke. Get Turn It Up Mommy whether you are 6 or 36-you’ll dig it either way. The RTT’s offer up kid’s music that full timers can’t touch-Dan Zanes eat your heart out.
To go to this artist's web site www.rttkids.com
Rating:
and 1/2
Review by Sean Koepenick


Pretendo,"Pretendo" (Country Club Records)
Bristling, jangly rock that sounds like a noise an armadillo would make it-if it was really happy. Featuring ex-members of Morricone Youth and Skeleton Key, this trio jumbles their influences around in a spittoon and throws it in your face with reckless abandon. Great song titles too-“MC Hot Chef”, “Samurai Sessions” and “The Scorpion” to name a few. I was a little disappointed that the last one was not an ode to Klaus Meine-but I digress. Skillfully produced by ace studio whiz Wharton Tiers (Helmet, Quicksand), Pretendo features great hooks, solid playing and songwriting that defies interpretation. If you liked any Pitchblende or Mission Of Burma, this CD may be the one you need to lift off the rack.
To go to this artist's web site www.pretendo.tv
Rating:
and 1/2
Review by Sean Koepenick


The Wonder Stuff,"Escape From Rubbish Island" (IRL)
First new record from these UK scenesters in 12 years, but it seems the band is none the worse for wear. Founding members Miles Hunt and Malc Treese have added a new rhythm section of bassist Mark McCarthy and drummer Andres Karu and it’s definitely added an extra punch to their sound. The title track is a kiss-off to their homeland-I hope they have their taxes in order before they head off to tour. “Better Get Ready For A Fist Fight” is a rousing tune with some cool guitar shading throughout. “Another Comic Tragedy” is a great break-up song-updated for today with some clever imagery from Hunt-“baby please pick up it’s not funny anymore.” “You Don’t Know Who…” is the stand-out track on this platter for me-it basically screams to be featured on “The O.C.” immediately. (Not that I watch that teenage fluff.) This may be not as rock solid as The Eight Legged Groove Machine but it’s pretty damn close. Fantastic return to form after a too long hiatus. Buy this when you go to their show-you work hard and deserve both.
To go to this artist's web site www.thewonderstuff.co.uk
Rating:

Review by Sean Koepenick


The Church,"El Momento Descuidado" (Liberation Blue)
An acoustic, raw rendering of new and old songs recorded in October 2004 at Rancom Street-this should please any and all Church fans. In a perfect world it would also bring some new ones into the fold. Five new songs are presented here and they fit seamlessly into the mix. “O408” is understated but still drags you down to take notice. “Till The Cows Go Home” is also a great new tune that will hopefully make it onto the next record. But longtime fans will relish in the inclusion of big hits like “Metropolis” and “Under The Milky Way”. Not content to do note for note reinterpretations of their record, these versions stand on their own as different works entirely. Peter Koppes even gets to reprise “A New Season” here. “Almost With You” is the top of the heap on this CD. I dare you to try and get it out of your blood stream once you’ve injected it into your system. You’ll be hitting repeat, again and again and wondering why you can’t hear this on the radio instead of the latest Limp Bizkit drivel. Oh well.
To go to this artist's web site www.thechurchband.com
Rating:

Review by Sean Koepenick


Skeemin’ NoGoods,"Skeemin’ NoGoods" (Idol Records)
A punk rock trio that rocks so hard they leak WD-40, this band goes for the jugular and never lets up. If you don’t think this is for real check out their past lives-guitarist John Speck was in Hoarse and The Paybacks-he now also does time in The Fags. Bassist Ron Sakowski was in Necros, Laughing Hyenas, and Easy Action. Drummer Chuck Burns was in Speedball and Seduce. So it’s pretty much a no-brainer that Ryan Foltz (Dropkick Murphys) hopped on his Vespa scooter and hightailed it over to the studio to get this hot rock action onto tape. “Punch The Clock” features a bluesy guitar lead that sounds like Jeff Beck if he never sunk into bad fusion as singer Speck wails-“one more shot won’t kill me”. “Gimmie The Gas” cruises at breakneck speed and flows well into “Supercharged”. This song basically sums up the record-if you like AC/DC riffs, Motorhead shrieks all reformulated into a garage-like caveman wafflestomp-then have the Skeemin’ No Goods over for a drink or two. You may throw your lava lamp against the wall during a Maddog 20/20 fueled slamdance in your house, but the neighbors shouldn’t mind-too much.
To go to this artist's web site www.idol-records.com
Rating:

Review by Sean Koepenick


Vried,"Kraft" (Candlelight)
Enduring the death of its lead singer, Vreid (formerly Windir) regrouped and put out KRAFT, an exciting eight-track affair whose musical output varies from the most devout black metal to pure rock ‘n roll fury. This Norwegian band’s versatile assault comes equipped with tracks like “Eldast, Utan A Gro”, containing all of the nuances that will melt the face paint off of any unsuspecting metal warrior. Yet, KRAFT displays an experimental side to the outfit that allows the tribe to color outside of the lines for a bit before returning to the smoldering bass lines, enormous drums, and frenzied guitar work of tracks like “Unholy Water”. Vreid successfully turned its tragedy into a musical triumph, and any black metal fan would be proud to crank this beast from their speakers.
www.vreid.no
Rating:

Review by Mike SOS


Ramesses,"We Will Lead You To Glorius Times" (This Dark Reign)
When a band features two ex-members of English doom rock clan Electric Wizard and boasts the production work of doom rock guru Billy Anderson, you can expect the new project to crush skulls. Such is the case with Ramesses, a trio whose four tracks of sludgy metallic doom are hypnotically churning. From “Witchampton”, a near nine-minute tour de force of ferocity, to the eerie dirge-like procession feel of “Black Domina”, the syrupy sludgefest created by Ramesses will give fans of the evil side of rock much to rejoice over. Glorious times, indeed.
www.devildollrecords.com
Rating:

Review by Mike SOS


Action,"Action" (Punkcore)
Canadian hardcore punk group Action strike the right chords on its self-titled 12-track disc, meshing the ragged simplicity of punk rock with the hard hitting angst of hardcore to create a solid release of aggressive anthems for the disenchanted. Tracks with the rollicking drums like “Man’s Law” fit nicely with speedy rhythms that dominate the collection, especially on the passionately shrieked “Won’t Be A Victim”. Plowing a direct punk rock route, Action’s freight train velocity and non-stop vitriolic offerings are far from groundbreaking but are purposeful and overall very effective. Be prepared to destroy everything around you after popping this disc in.
www.punkcore.com
Rating:

Review by Mike SOS


Skelter,"Boomstick" (Indie Release)
Skelter is a well-versed NYC trio whose 10-track album is a versatile display of the band’s love of rock music. From the tongue in cheek romp of “Suffolk Girl” to the down and dirty Stones-esque “Hideaway”, BOOMSTICK finds the band teetering between refined and raw, a move that supplies the album with a good flow. The driving guitars on “First Rays of Sun” fade nicely to the charming acoustic track “Summer of Our Lives”, while the post-punk feel of “Roll It Over, sounding as if it was emanating from a dorm room in the early ‘90s yields to the jangly elegance of “Fade”. Skelter’s latest offering is a rootsy rock record that juxtaposes the fervor of indie rock, the majesty of Oasis-styled Brit rock, and the bite of college punk a la REM in its early stages, making BOOMSTICK a CD suitable for kicking back on a starlit evening to.
www.skeltermusic.com
Rating:

Review by Mike SOS


Urinal Puck Ministries,"Twisted Tales From the Fallopian Tube" (Indie Release)
Urinal Puck Minstries may sound like the name of a joke band, but you’d only be half right after being subjected to the outfit’s scolding 14-track release. Blending the best comedic intentions they could muster with a barrage of punk metal riffs and Gwar-esque chicanery, UPM’s mission statement is clear: headbangingly heavy music and sophomoric lyrical content go hand in hand. With song titles like “Poop” and “Dismembered Member” in tow, UPM’s frenzied odes to bathroom humor couldn’t be backed up better. Hard to take serious, yet even harder not to smirk at, these guys have a warped sense of humor but also display some stellar musical ability that one could only wonder what they could do with if they shifted to more serious topics than crossdressing and fart jokes.
www.urinalpuckminstries.com
Rating:

Review by Mike SOS


Various Artists,"Core Til Death III" (Heavycore)
The tireless efforts of Heavycore have once again spawned another monstrous compilation chock full of the metal that the mainstream is afraid to get behind. CORE TIL DEATH is on its third installment, and the 20-track collection sees no sign of slowing down, as bands like Skitzo, Chainsaw Homicide, and the founders Low Twelve keep the topics sick, the music blaring, and the inserted movie sound bites as disturbing as ever. Best name of band and song award from this batch? Beverly Beer Bellys and its speed metal assault “Drink, Fight & Fuck”. If you like things gory, depraved, and heavy, this is a fine primer to find out what’s going down in the underground.
www.heavycore.org
Rating:

Review by Mike SOS


Antiseen,"Badwill Ambassadors" (TKO)
Antiseen continues to plug away after countless years and numerous releases under its whiskey soaked punk rock heavyweight title belt, as the outfit’s latest release, the 17-track BADWILL AMBASSADORS, stays true to the band’s vision. Dirty, loud, aggressive rock fueled by a white trash punk rock will that just won’t quit, Antiseen’s latest may sound like the band’s last few albums, but it’s more about a mindset than a sound with this North Carolinian group, who, like Motorhead, AC/DC, and The Ramones, stick to its guns and keep cranking out what it knows and stays away from what it doesn’t. And Antiseen knows how to shake your cage with some of the best in your face guitars and Southern discomfort this side of the Mason-Dixon line.
www.tkorecords.com
Rating:

Review by Mike SOS


The Delayed,"Losing My Mind" (Indie Release)
The Delayed is a Texas quartet that relies on flashy fretwork, mod punk rock vocals, and harder edged ‘80s metal melodies on its eponymous five-track release. Sounding like a cross between AFI, Junkyard, and Millencolin, songs like “Broken Dream” have got a bouncy feel and a Warped Tour band vibe, while the Van Halen-esque intro on “The One” displays the group’s musicianship. While the band could use a few fresher lyrical concepts, its brand of Tex-Mex punk rock showmanship indicative on “Grab Your Guns” has enough firepower to propel the outfit to brighter tomorrows.
www.thedelayed.com
Rating:

Review by Mike SOS


Bad Moon Music,"Empire" (Hawthorne Street)
Consisting of members of New End Original and Chamberlain, the trio Bad Moon Music plays the kind of music that college campuses love, complete with heart wrenching vocals and pulsating melodies. On the band’s six-track release, shades of Jimmy Eat World and Hot Water Music are apparent in the group’s dynamic dramatics, especially on the cut “Dirty Words”. Not heavy but bold, and not brash but imminent, Bad Moon Rising play its power chords with the acumen of seasoned pros rather than careless novices, as song like the upbeat “Ligament” would sound perfect crunched in between a Police and Foo Fighters track on the radio. When you’re ready to reach the next level, Bad Moon Rising’s new CD will be anxiously awaiting you.
www.hawthornestreetrecords.com
Rating:

Review by Mike SOS


The Mass,"City of Dis" (Crucial Blast)
Avant-garde only begins to explain the musical offerings of this eclectic Bay Area act whose eight-track release is a free form, unfiltered view of musical genres colliding. The Mass succeed in blowing your mind with a hearty dose of mathcore, jazz, grind, death, black, punk, and indie rock, usually all in one rapid fire procession and led by a saxophone, giving songs like “Trapped Under a Ice” a wonderfully enigmatic feeling. These songs are long, full of surprises, and sometimes require some deep thought, so you’ve been warned, especially if the sound of vibrato horn playing grates your nerves. But, if you can appreciate Candiria, John Zorn, and Frank Zappa as much as Napalm Death and Dillinger Escape Plan, chances are that this disc will fit in nicely in your adventurous collection.
www.crucialblast.net
Rating:

Review by Mike SOS


Various Artists,"Organized Crime Compilation" (Organized Crime)
Focusing on the heavy side of hardcore, this 13-track compilation features some of the hardest hitters on the scene today. Bands like A. 18, Kill Your Idols, and xDisciplex A.D. are among the bands helping your windmill reach new levels of destruction, while other notable acts such as Sidewalk and The Killer keep the aura of old school beatdown hardcore alive and ugly as ever. If you’re looking for easy listening, look elsewhere, but if you find yourself hankering for a hunk of hostile hardcore, allow the kind folks at Organized Crime to accommodate your hunger for heavy.
www.organizedcrimerecords.com
Rating:

Review by Mike SOS


Usurper,"Cryptobeast" (Earache)
The veteran Chicago metal troupe Usurper returns with CRYPTOBEAST, a bombastic 10-track affair that at first glance, many metal fans may take as a joke. After all, anyone that wears spikes and leather and writes a serious song titled “Kill For Metal” surely cannot be for real, right? Try telling that to this quintet, whose Spinal Tap-esque imagery and lyrical content may seem over the top, but whose brutal music is not to be taken lightly in the least. Sounding like the soundtrack of a World War, Usurper’s relentless twin guitar assault, when combined with a rhythm section that emits more sonic firepower than gun turrets on an aircraft carrier, is a potent and vicious entity, even if they are singing about campy things like werewolves and the like. Suspend your disbelief for the real and dig out your leathers, because Usurper’s crushing blend of black, thrash, and death metal is the best metal escape this side of Manowar.
www.earache.com
Rating:

Review by Mike SOS


Frantic Bleep,"The Sense Apparatus" (The End)
Frantic Bleep’s nine-track release is a progressively Gothic metal joyride emblazoned with the dramatic twists and turns of any good mystery novel. Switching gears on a dime from Meshuggah-esque pounding to Amorphis-like dreamstates, tracks like “Curtainraiser” contain more interludes than most bands include on an entire album, yet Frantic Bleep’s penchant for excess always seems fresh and exciting, but most of all, unpredictable. When you think this Norwegian trio is going to follow a pattern, it instantly morphs into something dazzlingly creative, a motif that makes THE SENSE APPARATUS an album to dually freak out and cool down to.
www.theendrecords.com
Rating:

Review by Mike SOS


Requiem Aeternam,"Philosopher" (I Corp)
Requiem Aeternam is what some would describe as a thinking man’s metal outfit, as this South American by way of NYC act bases its lyrical content on the works of philosophers as they churn out avant-garde metal that sounds like the amalgamation of System of a Down, Opeth (from which former members came from), and Death. Technically blissful and strangely intriguing, guitar virtuoso fans and extreme metal followers alike will be able to appreciate the entire eight-track collection for its beautifully arranged cacophony as well as its shredding guitar tactics. Requiem Aeternam is already a huge outfit in its native country, and while they will probably be shunned by the mainstream, the thirsty underground metal scene should embrace this disc with open arms.
www.requiem-aeternam.com
Rating:

Review by Mike SOS


Yyrkoon,"Occust Medicine" (The End)
Hailing from France, Yyrkoon’s brand of unremorseful metal successfully blends extreme metal’s melodic side with the heavy hand of death and black metal, making this 11-track album a metallic triumph. Imagine the brute power of Cannibal Corpse with the melodic prowess of VULGAR-era Pantera mixed with the sonic teeth rattling ability of LOW-era Testament for an idea of how this quartet pounds out its brand of potent heaviosity. From the sick breakdowns in songs like “Blasphemy” to the masterfully macabre feel of tracks like “Reversed World” to the warlike waves of terror that songs like “Trapped Into Life” bring on, Yyrkoon seem poised to set the metal world on fire with its glorious brand of savage music. If you’re searching for the next big thing in blasting metal, Yyrkoon may just be the band you’re looking for.
www.theendrecords.com
Rating:

Review by Mike SOS


Deadly Weapon,"Deadly Weapon" (Rocky)
From the opening scream on “Don’t Hesitate”, asking some unnamed female to “Gimme some loving”, Deadly Weapon gets you ready to step inside of its time machine, set back to 1985. This Chicago quartet’s nine-track disc is chock full of ‘80s rock clichés, from the song titles like “I Want It All” and “Kiss of Death” to the lead singer’s dead-on Paul Stanley falsetto wail, to the thunderous drum sound to the infectious yet dated choruses that emblazon each track. Yes, Deadly Weapon’s album comes complete with credits thanking a cover model (who bares the band’s logo above her belly button) and their hairstylists, and rocks like the opening act at summer’s annual hair metal jaunt Rock Never Stops tour should. If that’s such a crime, then persecute them: otherwise, dig out your denim jackets and stock up on Aquanet and rock out to this group’s self-titled arena rock tour de force.
www.deadlyweapon.org
Rating:

Review by Mike SOS


Exmortem,"Nihilistic Contentment" (Earache)
Exmortem’s musical offering is technical, brutal, and abrasive, as the outfit’s latest 10-track depraved death metal derivations found on NIHILISTIC CONTENTMENT wield the kind of power usually reserved for bands like Morbid Angel, Suffocation, and Cryptopsy. Guttural vocals, breakneck rhythms, grinding fretwork, and a true sense of impending doom are all major cogs in the Exmortem machine, and these items are relentlessly drilled into your head via tracks like the crushing “Bitter Disciplin” and the slow rot of “Division of Genocide Pleasure”. While many may argue over the lack of creativity in this Danish band’s songwriting, the final product is effective enough to stir the interest of your average death metal listener, even if Exmortem wears its influences too visibly on its sleeve.
www.earache.com
Rating:

Review by Mike SOS


Kaada/Patton,"Romances" (IPECAC)
ROMANCES is yet another side project from the warped genius of Mike Patton, who has teamed up with Norwegian noisenik John Kaada, known for juxtaposing genres of music into a potpourri of sound, to create this nine-track opus of oddities. If you’re familiar with Patton’s obsession with the music from cinema noir or his more avant-garde work with Fantomas, then this disc is a lot easier to listen to and in fact, seems to be a logical direction for him to take. Kaada’s rich instrumentation and atmospheric musical landscapes gel exceptionally well to Patton’s versatile vocal patterns, giving tracks like “Pitié pour mes larmes” the luxurious luster that only these two pioneers could. Unsettling, engaging, and overall unusual, ROMANCES is a captivating listen to both new ears and old fans alike.
www.ipecac.com
Rating:

Review by Mike SOS


Ghostride,"Cobra Sunrise" (Distruktor)
Comprised of former members of seminal Sacramento, CA metal troupe Will Haven, alongside ex-members of Tinfed and Oddman, Ghostride is a quintet whose undisputed musical prowess pours out of the 11-track COBRA SUNRISE like hot lava from a volcanic explosion. Leaning on the stoner/ desert rock side of the fence, yet at times retaining the jagged staccato aggression of Will Haven, this disc has the hypnotic potency of Sabbath, yet dually displays the stark beauty of Soundgarden, as tracks like the cascading groove of “Bear Trap” combine syrupy guitars and lush melody. Ghostride is the type of band that can write a song like the pummeling “Diamondhawk”, yet still excel on cuts like “Spearment Whino” where the band expertly exhibits the wherewithal to pull back and let the music breath a life of its own. Somewhere between the post hardcore jabs of Helmet and volatile aesthetics of Deftones come Ghostride, a band on the fringe of cracking heavy music’s upper echelon.
www.ghostrideband.com
Rating:

Review by Mike SOS


Children of Bodom,"Trashed, Lost & Strung Out" (Century Media)
Rising up from the Finnish extreme metal scene to worldwide tours and accolades across the globe, Children of Bodom have become a phenomenon of sorts in the metal underground, and are on the cusp of breaking through. Acting as a holdover release until the new album is in the can, this four-track EP with bonus DVD footage is a way for fans to keep interest levels high and on some levels, it does a proper job. Marked with two original and two covers, TRASHED, LOST & STRUNG OUT is uneven, yet the original compositions are worth the price of the EP alone, as the title cut and the chaotic anthem “Knuckleduster” sandwich prog metal wankery, epic fretwork, savage compostion, and melodic hooks all into one entity. As for the covers, well, if a latter day Alice Cooper track (“Bed of Nails”), and an Andrew W.K. song are up your alley, then go for yours, but don’t be disappointed if they fail to impress. Overall, the latest release is a must for rabid fans, and the new material should be heard to catch a glimpse as for what’s in store, but isn’t really essential.
www.cobhc.com
Rating:

Review by Mike SOS


Overkill,"RELIXIV" (Spitfire)
The veritable thrash New Jersey clan Overkill have returned with RELIXIV, proving to everyone that this crew is still able to grind out the old school thrash and speed metal antics that have kept them on the metal radar. Though at times the quintet, fueled by founders Bobby Blitz and DD Verni, don’t always hit the mark and sometimes come off as a bit of a retread, the 10-tracks featured here mix vintage Overkill wailings (both vocally and guitar-wise) with hearty helpings from the glories of classic metal’s past. From the Sabbath-y breakdowns located in “Love” to 3 chord Ramones-esque stomping in “Old School” to the type of shreddery you’d expect from these guys on the rapid-fire “A Pound of Flesh”, Overkill unleashes their patented assault with enough twists to merit the band’s greeting from the gutter not wear out its welcome quite yet.
www.eaglerockent.com
Rating:

Review by Mike SOS


Suckapunch,"Suckapunch" (Indie Release)
Suckapunch’s six-track release is as straightforward as an up and coming hardcore band on a tight budget can muster. Spirited and direct, songs like “Hostile Times” have been written by almost every band when they first start out, but it’s that undying passion, exhibited on the sloppily recorded but heartfelt Biohazard homage “Die for This”, that makes this CD worth a few spins.
No contact info
Rating:

Review by Mike SOS


The Mighty Nimbus,"The Mighty Nimbus" (Candlelight)
The Mighty Nimbus is everything you’d ever want in a doom rock band and then some, as the outfit’s eponymous debut featuring card-carrying sludgesters from Alabama Thunderpussy and Sixty Watt Shamen tread those murky waters of stoner rock and doomy sludge without trepidation, but with a good sense of their whereabouts. Going as far as feeling comfortable enough to go “Drinkin’ on a Pile of Skulls” on track four, the band’s unabashed spirit, coupled with earth shattering riffs like the ones found on “Broken Hoof” bare enough weight to hold your head up and salute them, no matter how many intoxicants you’ve imbibed. Utilizing the slow and low technique with mammoth results, the death metal-esque demonic growl of “Born Too Late” and the piano and acoustic guitar interlude “Fenrir” exhibits that they may be a bit more adventurous than most. However, that only can help tracks like the groove-laden doom riff rock of “Raising the Mammoth” rock that much harder. The Mighty Nimbus can get down and dirty for certain, but they also remain intriguing, a treat for any fan of heavy music that’s heard it all before. Like Down did to invigorate the fires in Pantera, Crowbar, and COC, The Mighty Nimbus should do the same for ATP and SWS, and that is good for everyone.
www.themightynimbus.com
Rating:

Review by Mike SOS


Malstrom,"Obligated by Obscurity" (Indie Release)
Malstrom is a relentless metal band from Queens, NY whose five-track offering dually supplies hearty hooks without being predictable and left of center heaviness, which allows the band’s overall vibe to fall somewhere between Voivod, In Flames, and Clutch with a good smattering of Bay Area thrash metal for good measure. Exposing a black metal background on “Expire”, this quartet sneakily shifts into a hyper-speed metal solo Dave Mustaine would endorse that ultimately bows down to a Swedish metal guitar run. How’s that for genre-jumping? Malstrom is pretty damn good at it, and their love for the many facets of metal seeps through convincingly on OBLIGATED BY OSCURITY.
www.malstrom.net
Rating:

Review by Mike SOS


Phasm,"Hate At First Seed" (The End)
Phasm is a French metal troupe whose nine-track endeavor contains all of the guttural nuances and disturbing imagery metal has to offer. Falling somewhere between the horror movie shtick of splattercore and the rhythmic structures of black metal, tracks like the war monging anthem “Devoured Tenderness” have the slow crawl of Entombed built inside a song tailor made for a band like Bathory, while the band goes gonzo at the end with a rapid fire death metal version of Motorhead’s “Dogs”. Doomy, crustily eerie, and forebodingly heavy, HATE AT FIRST SEED has a lot of interesting twists and turns that will keep metal fans on their toes.
www.theendrecords.com
Rating:

Review by Mike SOS


The Nancy School,"Fancy Title For a Part Time Job" (Indie Release)
The Nancy School isn’t a Sally Struthers endorsed degree mill, but an eclectic hard rock band from Indianapolis, IN whose nine-track release is chock full of avant-garde hard rock that sounds like it stems from heavy exposure to System of a Down, Incubus, and Faith No More. Quirky as they are heavy, these guys have songs titled “Midshindeep” and “Bite of a Sandwich”, and both will make you wonder what the hell were they thinking. The Nancy School isn’t above breaking into a jazzy bass groove or a sinister thrash metal movement at any given moment, which ultimately gives its brand of progressively tinged art rock a captivating feel. Check out the Mr. Bungle-esque craziness of “Envy of Movement” as a benchmark for these audacious authors of audio bliss, as chances are if you dig heavy music that goes beyond the lowest common denominator, you’ll fall in love here.
www.thenancyschool.com
Rating:

Review by Mike SOS


Candiria,"What Doesn’t Kill You" (Type A)
Brooklyn’s Candiria know a lot about cheating death, as the band narrowly escaped from a horrendous van accident a few years back, halting all momentum the diverse quintet had accumulated. Undaunted, the band recovered, regrouped, and created the 10-track release WHAT DOESN’T KILL YOU, an offering that marks a discernible change for the band. Almost gone are the sprawling musical deities (sans the closer, “The Rutherford Experiment”) and the multi-faceted song arrangements, replaced by more imminent, jarring songs like the melodic metal of “Down” and decipherable singing throughout the entire disc, an unheard of concept in this band prior to now. While longtime fans may frown and complain, the adventurous spirit, tumultuous breakdowns, hardcore rap interludes, caustic drumming, and overall deadly vibe unleashed by Candiria is still here: it’s just been condensed for maximum impact, and if there’s one thing songs like “Blood” and “1000 Points of Light” feature, it’s impact. Always known to bend the rules, Candiria does so this time from within to celebrate the band’s unbreakable spirit and undying creativity.
www.candiriamusic.com
Rating:

Review by Mike SOS


E-Town Concrete,"Made for War" (Ironbound)
E-Town Concrete’s latest release finds the New Jersey-based quartet leaner, meaner, and more dangerous than ever. MADE FOR WAR is a collection of 11 soul crushing tracks laden with hardcore intensity and metallic mayhem, as the one-two combo of “Pariah” and “Ploughshares and Swords” opt for the sledgehammer riffs and thunderous rhythm right away, eventually giving way to the funky death metal of “The Distance” and the Eminem meets Everlast rhymin’ of “Do You Know What It’s Like?” Anthemic and acerbic, tracks like “What Can I Do?” still prove that Anthony Martini is the noblest rap-rock warrior on the scene, poignantly juxtaposing personal pain with biting commentary, and the title track boastfully exemplifies the band’s love for mixing the sounds of Newark to the metalcore beat. As E-Town’s unique musical output continues to soar to uncharted territories, add MADE FOR WAR in your list of discs to own.
www.ironboundrecordings.com
Rating:

Review by Mike SOS


Diecast,"Tearing Down Your Blue Skies" (Century Media)
On the cusp of the new American metal explosion, Diecast was one of the bands on the frontline before their singer quit, leaving the band in a lurch. Now back after a three-year hiatus, armed with a new lead throat and renewed focus, the 11-track TEARING DOWN YOUR BLUE SKIES finds this Boston-based quintet ascending to reclaim its lofty position in the burgeoning metal scene. Reclaiming its scream-sing device with vengeful vigor, tracks like “Seize The Day” and “Savior” sounds like Hatebreed, Killswitch Engage, and Sevendust in a three-part harmony, while the straight-up screamo of “Traitor” can go toe to toe with Shadows Fall any day. Let’s not forget the other four guys here, either, whose musical crush is evident on the thrashy breakdown of “Pendulum” or the relentless “Torn From Within”, and whose version of metalcore is never rushed or forced, but instead flows with the fluidity of blood from a fresh moshpit head wound. Diecast may have been away for a long time, but they’ve obviously left no stone unturned when planning the proper way to return.
www.centurymedia.com
Rating:

Review by Mike SOS


Scenteria,"Act of Aggression" (Candlelight)
Swedish thrash metal outfit Scenteria sound a lot like much of the country’s fellow bands melded into one conglomerate, almost like an At the Haunted of Bodom. Layered with keyboards, furious guitar riffs, demonic vocals, unremitting drumming, and a patented metal seal of approval from the Swedish government, tracks like the merciless “Circle of Fear” and the Slayer-esque intro to “Dead Point of View” aren’t the most groundbreaking, but it rocks so damn hard, so who cares?
www.candlelightrecords.co.uk
Rating:

Review by Mike SOS


Open Hand,"You And Me" (Trustkill)
Open Hand’s sophomore effort bridges the gap between Black Sabbath and Queens of the Stone Age, creating a tantalizing new array of colors and shapes in rock ‘n’ roll. Driving stoner metal meets indie rock sweetness on such tracks as the title cut, a swirling reminder of what Jane’s Addiction and Smashing Pumpkins could’ve been, while the interplanetary groove of “Jaded” is the best attempt at space rock this side of Hum. There’s also a strong sense of female rawk on this disc, thanks to the band inviting some of their lady friends to the party, who nearly steal the show by lending some empowering pipes to “Tough Guy”, “Tough Girl”, “Waiting for Katy”, and the Fu-Manchu like “Take No Action”. Willing to experiment, yet ballsy enough to rock out with unabashed fury, YOU AND ME is a triumphant record for many reasons, but the band’s perseverance should be celebrated most here. Hitting their stride at a time where even the existence of this band was in serious doubt, Open Hand’s invigorating 14-track collection will put to rest any notion that you had that rock music isn’t offering anything exciting lately. Simply put, if you enjoy the basics of rock ‘n’ roll, there’s something on this release you’ll fall in love with, if not the entire collection after a few choice spins.
www.trustkill.com
Rating:

Review by Mike SOS


Belef,"Infection Purification" (Candlelight)
French black metal troopers Belef’s album cover features a graphic illustration of a naked woman shackled to a demonic man’s dog collar while another demonic soldier-type brands her buttocks with a pentagram-like staff. Not exactly fun for the whole family, this eight-track album contains all of the blast-beated, piercing black metal your ears can take, especially during the brutal “Man Slayer” or the death march riff that opens up the song which Manowar wish they had the title to first, “Barbarian Steel”. 14 year-old boys and purveyors of all that is evil, rejoice: Belef’s new album is your new soundtrack to the apocalypse.
www.candlelightrecords.uk.co
Rating:

Review by Mike SOS


Enslaved,"ISA" (Candlelight)
Enslaved’s rise to extreme metal’s prominence culminates with the Norwegian outfit’s latest album, the 10-track ISA. Not being a band to rest of past glories, songs the title track demonstrates the outfit’s knack for molding a rich musical landscape where tumultuous noise and elaborate melodies cohesively intertwine, while the old school sonic outpouring on songs like “Bounded by Allegiance” is the dynamically charged dramatic equivalent of Opeth meets Satyricon. Enslaved’s lush textures and ferocious undercurrent propel ISA to the top of the must listen to pile for any black metal fan yearning for more.
www.enslaved.no
Rating:
(I personally give it a '10')
Review by Mike SOS


CIA,"Attitude" (Screaming Ferret)
CIA is the re-released album from Nuclear Assault drummer Glenn Evans. Originally put out in limited release in 1992, the nine-track collection was done primarily by Evans with a few friends filling in on guitar, showcasing Evans’ multi-talented side. But make no mistake: CIA is without question an old school thrash act, complete with incessant double bass drumming and speed metal guitar riffs, and surprisingly, it still stands up by much of today’s American metal standards, especially in the guitar solo department. If you crave for the days when Metallica wore their hair long and Megadeth was unclean and unsober, then CIA will give you the jolt you need as you anxiously await the new Nuclear Assault disc.
www.screamingferret.com
Rating:

Review by Mike SOS


By Night,"Burn the Flags" (Lifeforce)
Effectively sporting the technical prowess and metal mechanics of bands like Fear Factory and Meshuggah, By Night’s latest album provides similar sheer sonic discomfort. Abrasive guitars like the ones found on “One and The Same” act as construction equipment, piledriving riffs into your head while the eerie tone of “Completed” suggests this Swedish quintet have heard its share of The Haunted and Earth Crisis. Looking for heavy? Check out the explosive double bass drumming on “Behind in Silence” for a clinical display of aggression, or the ferocious fretwork of the song’s breakdown that leads into a hardcore sing-along that would make Snapcase proud. Ballistic and brazen, BURN THE FLAGS is an unforgiving foray into the search for metal’s technical ecstasy.
www.lifeforcerecords.com
Rating:

Review by Mike SOS


Decibully,"Sing Out America!" (Polyvinyl)
Decibully is an interesting name for a band you’d expect to be a loud, obnoxious metal clan but isn’t. Instead, the outfit, which hails from Wisconsin and goes seven deep, is a jangly juggernaut, intertwining the art of capturing captivating sound alongside the craftsmanship of good songwriting. SING OUT AMERICA! succeeds at both, hooking you to its memorable choruses, deliciously placed banjos, and sweeping Rhodes pianos, while creating moody, atmospheric layers on songs like “Let’s Eat Our Mistakes” that you’d expect haughty Brit rockers to roll out. Brandishing a two-step twang usually found on alt-country acts like Wilco or old Neil Young while exhibiting the devil-may-care attitude of bands like Talking Heads and The Police, Decibully’s nine-track escape from the everyday is a welcome indication that there is important pop rock music somewhere out there.
www.polyvinylrecords.com
Rating:

Review by Mike SOS


Belikose,"Eruption" (Indie Release)
Belikose takes the Korn route in a few ways, most notably in phonetics, but there’s also a lot of Taproot and a fair share of Atreyu and Eighteen Visions buried underneath the tinny twin guitars of “Forever In Mine” or the verses of “Black-N-Tan” to not qualify this quintet’s version of nu-metal as original. Nonetheless, the guitars and drums explode at key points, and the radio friendly melodic choruses usually lead up to some stalwart chest-beating screams that teenagers everywhere can relate to.
Ntlbmanage@aol.com
Rating:

Review by Mike SOS


DMBQ,"The Essenial Sounds From the Far East" (Estrus)
DMBQ stands for Dynamite Masters Blues Quartet for those keeping score at home, and this Japanese group’s latest 10-track release marks its first in the U.S., despite sharing the road with Fugazi and Mudhoney across the states. The hard rockin’ blues based band kicks out the jams and acidic rhythms on tracks like “Mo-Ya Mo-Ya” and “Mirror Baby”, once again proving that you don’t need to know English to know how to scream and wail like Robert Plant, or play like a garage band from Anytown, U.S.A. Psychedelic, pulsating, and noise-rock driven, DMBQ’s delivery is flawlessly sloppy and ridden with the kind of textures that the mod ‘60s left behind. Shagadelic, indeed.
www.estrus.com
Rating:

Review by Mike SOS


Imperial,"This Grave is my Poem" (Pluto)
Imperial is a Florida-based sextet whose malicious attack, sung by two similar sounding singers, mixes Swedish metal, screamo hardcore, and artsy metalcore, making THIS GRAVE IS MY POEM a very spastic listen. Chaos seems to prevail on tracks like the frenetic “Washed Upon a Nameless Shore”, even during the slower part, where the volatile screaming never stops, and in fact leads up to some frighteningly distressed vocals. Imperial’s love for disorder is very much apparent, and these guys use it as a weapon effectively.
www.plutorecords.com
Rating:

Review by Mike SOS


Instead,"Live at CBGB’s" (New Music Revolution)
Insted brought its best game to the hallowed slum known as CBGB’s for a sultry early summer matinee, and the NYC crowd ate it up. Luckily for these guys, they had the fortitude to record the whole endeavor and put it out for everyone to bask in CB’s awesome sound and the band’s triumphant display of fast-paced, old school hardcore. If you can’t get to your local VFW hall or club, this CD is the next best thing.
www.newmusicrevolution.com
Rating:

Review by Mike SOS


Mouth of the Architect,"Time & Withering" (Translation Lost)
Mouth of the Architect is a trippy heavy outfit from Ohio whose four-track disc clocks in at over 40 minutes, and one of those tunes is only five minutes long, so be prepared to be floating around for a while. A good, long while, in fact, as “A Vivid Chaos” takes us on a caravan to the surreal existence where Pink Floyd meets Isis in some remote realm of the metal spectrum. Swirling overdriven rhythms and sweet guitar melodies over a sonic symphony, this quintet’s ability to keep the pace mid-tempo and the beat hypnotic on tracks like “Heart Eaters” is what you’ll come back for, but you’ll get lost inside the sinewy groove of “The Worm”.
www.translationlosss.com
Rating:

Review by Mike SOS


Adore,"Children at Play" (ADS)
Adore is a California rock band that sounds like a clash between System of a Down, Snot, and Sex Pistols, with the snotty British sluggers slightly winning in attitude. CHILDREN AT PLAY is the title of the band’s 12-track offering, and underneath the heavy handed bass grooves and the effected guitars of songs like “Bedridden” lies some kind of ethereal darkness to the music a la Alice in Chains and Tool. Mechanical at times like Rush or Devo (especially on “Weight of the Dead”), Adore’s robotic approach to human emotion makes the listen that much more compelling. ‘90s metal, ‘70s prog rock, and punk rock preaching equals the artsy yet intense Adore, an intriguing outfit to say the least.
www.adoremusic.net
Rating:

Review by Mike SOS


Coulier,"Cool, Cooler, Coulier" (Stickfigure)
There’s no bass player in this band, but Coulier could care less. At least that’s what the twin guitar slayings that pervade the band’s irresistibly titled album COOL, COOLER, COULIER! suggest. Morphing from arena metal anthems to commercial jazz tunes to stuff guys like Page Hamilton used to cut his teeth on, the lack of bass (and vocals, for that matter) never factor on tracks like “There’s a Monster (Riff) Under My Bed”. Those damn guitars done stole the show, and, alongside a crazy drummer sick enough to indulge these two, help make an album that guitar freaks and avant-garde alike will spend countless hours trying to figure out.
www.stickfigurerecords.com
Rating:

Review by Mike SOS


Emok,"Shove Your Head Into the Ground and Feed it to the Earth" (Wrong)
Decisively Middle Eastern influenced, the Israeli-born members of Emok have come to Brooklyn, NY to further the musical mission of fusing the sounds of their homeland with the pulsating offerings of upper tier metal and the nuances of noise rock’s elite. On the trio’s 12-track endeavor, there’s a slew of System of a Down meandering in between meaty Helmet structures and industrial metal’s mechanical rhythmic movements all over tracks like “Guilt” and “Field of Thorns”, not to mention substantial amounts of the outfit’s traditional roots shining through tracks like “Kasha” and “Bliss”. “Hatred Grows Old” shares the Soulfly vibe, while the pummeling electronic groove of “Turn Off the Lights” smacks you down like early NIN. Emok’s multi-faceted metallic journeys exhibit the type of band that has the lineage and ability to pull off a hybrid form of music with tact and conviction.
www.wrongrecords.net
Rating:

Review by Mike SOS


Sweetheart,"Art is Dead is Dead" (The Perpetual Motion Machine)
Sweetheart is a post-hardcore band whose four members are self-proclaimed art-nerds, which perfectly describes why the band’s rather disjointed six-track sermon flows with the ease of a stroke of a brush. Chock full of dissonant yet memorable musical passages and laced with luscious jam band prowess, this Kent, OH based quartet showcase a knack for writing powerful riffs that collide with contagious choruses, all the while maintaining a strong level of cleverness and ingenuity. If you dig screamo or today’s brand of punk rock, Sweetheart is right up your alley.
www.theperpetualmotionmachine.com
Rating:

Review by Mike SOS


Visqueen,"Sunset on Dateland" (Blue Disguise)
Seattle based trio Visqueen’s latest nine-track endeavor is pure pop punk paradise, as SUNSET ON DATELAND contains all of the sugary sweet melody and catchy choruses you can stomach. Fairing somewhere Cheap Trick, Foo Fighters, and The Donnas, Visqueen may seem light and airy from a casual listen, but when you dig a bit deeper, you’ll find some hardened lyrics, some pseudo metal guitar, and on “A Viewing”, some tongue in cheek morbidity that totally contradicts the sunshine and fresh air feel of the music. In short, Visqueen has figured out what Chris Cornell meant by “looking California and feeling Minnesota”, except they’ve made it into digestible punk nuggets. They are from the same home state, after all, yet another reason to dive into SUNSET ON DATELAND headlong.
www.visqueenonline.com
Rating:

Review by Mike SOS


Dehra Dun,"Mariposa Salad Days" (Singleton)
Dehra Dun is a San Diego sextet whose five-track EP shimmers with dramatic grace and resonates with majestic swagger. Tracks like “DSM-V” intertwines electronic gasps and keytar noodlings with elegant guitars, while the atmospheric “Apollo” trails into shoegazer territory, complete with the special effects nuances firmly in tow. Dehra Dun’s attention to detail and strong sense of dynamics are the band’s strongest attributes, and MARIPOSA SALAD DAYS emphatically showcases these traits throughout, yet go the full distance on “Savings and Loans”, the band’s opener. Somewhere between The Snake the Cross the Crown, Far, and Codeseven, this group’s EP is aimed for those looking for a musical emotional rollercoaster ride.
www.dehradunrock.com
Rating:

Review by Mike SOS


Impaled,"Death After Life" (Century Media)
Impaled is a Bay Area splattercore troupe whose latest foray into the world of metal contains 12 tracks of pulsating metal between outrageous botched operation spoken word interludes, which make the punishing riffs on such songs as “Preservation of Death” and “Wrought in Hell” impact that much harder. Produced by ex Mr. Bungle member Trey Spruance and recorded by metal guru Billy Anderson, this quartet may sound a lot like the early work of Carcass, but that’s the intention. Impaled is merely summoning the delectable disgust from the world’s foremost gore metal band and in turn, channel their blood and guts delivery with the skill of a surgeon’s hand during the most intricate of actions. Full on and ferocious, yet at the same time as campy as the sixth installment of a horror movie series, DEATH AFTER LIFE is as good of a time as it gets for the grotesque.
www.centurymedia.com
Rating:

Review by Mike SOS


Our rating system:

Flawless...
Almost perfect...
Moments of brilliance...
Slightly redeaming...
Worthless piece of $#%@...
Extremely BAD! Should be illegal to possess...

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