Music Reviews:
April 2005

Dash Rip Rock,"Reclyclone" (Alternative Tentacles)
Celebrating their 20th anniversary, Dash Rip Rock have released RECYCLONE - a new compilation that will not only satisfy the uninitiated (this is a great 'intro' to the world of DRR for the curious) but diehard Dash-holes as well (containing a few 'rarities'). Having played record-company roulette during their long and colorful career, DRR is now on the Alternative Tentacles Records label. That's right, the infamous punk label that gave us the Dead Kennedys.

Primarily known for their legendary live shows, the albums of Dash Rip Rock usually don't get enough credit in my opinion. But…the foundation of any great band is the SONGS themselves, and RECYCLONE shows that Bill Davis is the best-kept secret in rock and roll songwriting. The sheer amount of great, memorable pop songs (as well as their trademark hybrid of Country/Punk) is simply staggering. Mark my words; in 20 more year's time people will regard Bill's songs as "classics".

The thing I like the best about this CD is that it leans heavily towards the later songs in the Dash Rip Rock album catalogue. This CD gives validation that Dash Rip Rock has NEVER put out a bad album. And for those Dash-holes, there are some special treats: "Marsupial" and "Shake That Girl" are the pre-album versions that were on the band's first 45rpm. Finally, the piece de resistance…"Pot 2005" - an update of the classic Dash Rip Rock parody, "Let's Go Smoke Some Pot" (set to the Danny & the Juniors tune "At the Hop") complete with a new set of lyrics that name the current hippy bands!

Will this album go platinum? Probably not…but neither did a lot of the Kinks best albums! But Bill Davis can sleep well at night knowing that he has created some of the best rock 'n roll around and the one thing that all rockers yearn for: timeless classics!
www.dashriprock.net
www.alternativetentacles.com
Rating:

Review by Ronnie


The Cherry Splits,"The Cherry Splits" (Root Beer Records)
The Cherry Splits pay tribute to the psychedelic, bubblegum, garage rock (ala “Nuggets”) of the ‘60s on their debut disc. While a lack of fidelity can mar many releases by a new band, The Cherry Splits use this lack of studio polish to their advantage, making their disc sound more authentic. I’m not saying it is badly recorded, it just lacks the punch of a state-of-the-art studio, but then maybe that’s the point?

The standout tracks are easily “Paisley Fields” & “Dronovan”. “Paisley Fields” has a catchy dual sitar and fuzz guitar riff that typifies the psychedelic garage rock of the band. “Dronovan” is brilliant, with a very authentic psychedelic feel that would easily fit on the Yardbirds’ LITTLE GAMES album! Other highlights include: “Katie Come On”, “Psychedelic Garage”, & “Sandra”, each having catchy riffs that fans of ‘60s music will dig. “Smile” has Keith Moon-drumming that perfectly captures the 1967-era Who. The band shows its pop side on “Rose Colored Love”, a perfect power-pop gem! The band shares vocal chores and the distinction between members can easily be heard in the varying vocal range. The deep baritone vocals by Matt (guitar, keyboards and sitar) make “Masie Mae” & “Hard & Heavy” sound like Paul Revere and the Raiders if Eric Burdon fronted them on vocals! But Matt’s voice is even LOWER than Eric Burdon’s, which gives the songs a cool effect. There are only two songs on this CD that I don’t care for. “Jigsaw Jet” is a protest song that isn’t up to par with the bands other material and “Champagne Bubblegum” is almost a little too bubblegum for my taste (but could have easily been a hit for the Monkees during their “psychedelic” phase). My only complaint about this CD is that the harmony vocals need a little work, but then again, that’s nitpicking ‘innit?

The Cherry Splits are the antithesis of the overly polished “Paisley Underground” of the ‘80s, going more for that authentic sound of psychedelic band of the ‘60s playing in a club. Speaking of which, the band is fabulous live – you would think you were on the Sunset Strip in 1966!
www.thecherrysplits.com
Rating:
and 1/2
Review by Ronnie


American Heritage,"Bipolar" (Escape Artist)
American Heritage may be the name of that 50-pound dictionary on your bookcase, but it’s also the name of a collective of musicians from Chicago whose latest release encompasses all of the band’s offerings and incarnations. On the 10-track endeavor, the metallic overtones and weighty rhythms are staggered among rollicking percussion and a warped sense of hardcore grit. Dissonant, aggressive, and abrasive, this constantly shifting array of noiseniks combine Helmet, Unsane, Bloodlet, and Mastodon’s aural assault into one bad ass concoction. Be prepared to be pummeled.
www.escapeartistrecords.com
Rating:

Review by Mike SOS


Beats the Hell Out of Me,"Revising History" (Indie Release)
Beats the Hell Out of Me are one of those bands that you always have heard about getting caught up in the dreaded music business red tape, causing the outfit to take a sabbatical before they were even given a chance to grab the brass ring. However, the resilient Arizona quintet has reformed after nearly 10 years with REVISING HISTORY, an 11-track comeback that displays a band whose musical prowess, superior songwriting, and ability to manipulate sound is second to none. Falling somewhere between Tool, Life of Agony, and Dredg, BTHOOM has the uncanny dexterity to create intriguing grooves such as “The Promise” as well as muscular rock anthems like “Questions & Answers” and “Move Along” without sacrificing integrity or exerting force. Atmospheric and laden with tons of prominent hard rock sensibilities, the shame of it all is that these guys fell off the radar for so long, but REVISING HISTORY makes up for the absence as a solid reprise for a band that never should have gone away.
www.beatsthehelloutofme.net
Rating:

Review by Mike SOS


HY80,"HY80" (Indie Release)
A hard rocking band consisting of brothers Dan and Kevin Hyland on bass and drums respectively and Gary Townsley on guitar with Ellen Willwerth rounding things out on guitar and vocals. This has a lot of hard hitting sounds that bring to mind seventies bands like Kansas and Edgar Winters White Trash at times. There’s lots of guitar riffing and meaty rhythms to sink your teeth into here. A fun listen that will have you playing air guitar or invisible drums right along with the band.
www.hy80.com
Rating:
and 1/2
Review by J.R. Oliver


Holden Richards,"What I Gave Away" (Indie Release)
My wife loves this cd and I find it pretty enjoyable myself. Kinda like a Chris Issak album but with more of an alternative country flavor. Richards looks like Buddy Holly and sounds a bit like Wilco with a side order of catchy pop hooks ala Marshall Crenshaw. Check out “Losers Day” and you’ll see exactly what I mean. Other standouts are “What I Gave Away” and “Lets Just Talk About The Weather”. Oh, and I also dig the exotic rhythms of “I Don’t Know”.
holden@kitchenmedia.com
Rating:
and 1/2
Review by J.R. Oliver


Feverdream,"Freeze!" (Coalition)
Minimal and smarmy, Feverdream is a trio which hails from the Netherlands whose five-track EP is stuck in low gear. Maybe the band is doing this intentionally, not giving up the good stuff and basically filling an EP, but FREEZE! seems like an inside joke. From the quasi-innocuous ode to a band member’s shlong on “My Johnson” to the primitive guitar lines scattered about “Adapt ‘Til You Snap”, the 15-minute affair seems more like an experimental collection of ideas rather than something a band would release. If you dig stuff like International Noise Conspiracy without the layers, these guys fit the bill.
www.coalition-records.com
Rating:

Review by Mike SOS


Joe Perry,"Joe Perry" (Columbia)
The new Joe Perry solo project is actually more interesting than any Aerosmith album of the last 10 or so years (maybe even 20 years!). Too bad that Joe doesn't have a very strong singing voice. He sounds fine on the blues-based songs, but the rockers call for really ballsy vocals, which Joe simply doesn't have. However, his playing and the songwriting more than compensates for the vocal deficiency. After two rockers, you get the Indian-raga flavor of "Pray For Me", which is one of my personal favorites on this disc. It is sort of a modern version of "Kashmir". "Ten Years" could have been the next Aerosmith blockbuster ballad - if Joe had let the band record it and it screams for a Steven Tyler vocal! The only thing that makes this album weak is the horrid version of the Doors "Crystal Ship" - totally pointless to cover dribble by the most over-rated band in rock. You can't polish a turd!

This rocks harder than Aerosmith has in quite awhile. Maybe they should take breaks more often; it would give Joe Perry more time to put out albums like this!
www.joeperrymusic.com
Rating:
and 3/4
Review by Scott H. Platt


Alexis Booth,"Begin" (Azurean Records)
I've gotta admit that when I first saw the cover of this CD I had my doubts - Alexis Booth has that white-bread, wholesome, girl-next-door look that you wouldn't normally associate with great music. But, then I heard the CD. My second doubt was the fact that she covers a Beatles song, in this case "Hey Jude". But Alexis actually pulls it off, with a funky/soulful version that shows off that oh-so-impressive voice. While it is easy to cast Alexis in the same category as Norah Jones and her ilk, you simply can't ignore the fact that Alexis has that certain "something". Maybe it is her soulful voice - she's got a helluva set of pipes. Or it could be her well-crafted authentic sounding songs. Keep an eye on this one!
www.alexisbooth.com
Rating:
and 1/2
Review by Scott H. Platt


Toast,"All In" (Pro Music)
Spearheaded by a former guitarist for David Bowie, you can expect some left of center material from the project known as Toast. Containing 12 tracks of very different sounding songs, ALL IN tends to go over the excess level a few times, but the stellar production throughout salvages the overall vibe from spinning out of the realm of comprehension. While these musicians are well-versed and undoubtedly creative and talented, there’s almost too much going on in songs like “On the Line” and “Faded” which distracts listeners from honing in on a melody or hook. While the music is stellar and the performances are commendable, ALL IN seems to be a bit inaccessible to the general consensus of music fans.
www.toastcd.com
Rating:

Review by Mike SOS


November Coming Fire,"Black Ballads" (In At the Deep End)
Taking its name from the third Samhain album (but sounding nothing like the band), this British quintet channel its aggressive hardcore assault into six tracks brazen with steamrolling riffs and blood curdling screams much like metallic American hardcore. Clocking in at a lean, mean 18 and a half minutes, and armed with the firepower of bands like Terror and Give Up The Ghost, BLACK BALLADS contains some rough and ready hardcore suitable for unleashing some tension to.
www.iatde.com
Rating:

Review by Mike SOS


Opiate for the Masses,"The Spore" (American Voodoo)
Hailing from Phoenix, AZ, the quartet known as Opiate for the Masses have a lot of momentum behind them at the moment, all culminating up to the releasing of the band’s debut THE SPORE. With a Warped Tour and Taste of Chaos jaunt under its belt, the band’s 14-track release meanders between lighter scaled industrial rock and radio friendly metal, with hints of harder new wave mixed in. Tracks like the driving “Clean” and the techno-induced “Heaven” contain dramatic usage of samples as well as stabbing guitar lines, while the more subdued “Transparency” has got Reznor written all over it. While the band dabbles in electronic bliss, there are moments of Tool-esque clarity found on “Up to Me” that helps to round out OFM’s 21st century rock assault. Effortlessly blending genres while keeping intensity at a fever pitch throughout, THE SPORE is the perfect companion for your Flaw, Ministry, or NIN releases.
www.opiateforthemasses.com
Rating:

Review by Mike SOS


Acetate,"This Band Makes Me Feel" (Sanctuary)
Man, you get the seventies hard rock of Kiss, Led Zeppelin, Cheap Trick and Aerosmith mixed with the southern fried sounds of the Allman Brothers, Lynyrd Skynyrd and Govt. Mule all in one package. This is great! I love it and can’t wait to hear more from this Athens GA side project. Members include Dave Schools of Widespread Panic, Kevin Sweeney of Hayride and Ben Mize of Counting Crows and Cracker. Three longtime buddies that just decided to get together and have some fun jamming in Dave Schools basement. You can tell they were having fun because this cd is so much fun to listen to. Now, if we could get more bands to just play what they love instead of playing what they think would sell the world would be a better place.
www.acetateband.com
Rating:

Review by J.R. Oliver


Watershed,"The Fifth of July" (Idol)
Watershed’s latest album is the perfect merger of disposable pop punk and durable ‘70s arena rock, as the 11-track hook laden release by these Columbus, OH natives combine the cheekiness of Fountains of Wayne with the timeless melodies of Cheap Trick. Tracks like the secretary rock feel of “Small Doses” are palatable for folks 8-80, while the singable chorus on “My Lucky Day” is reminiscent of bands like Better Than Ezra and Gin Blossoms. Despite THE FIFTH OF JULY being a solid offering, Watershed’s meat and potatoes delivery rarely rises above the standard bar band fare, making songs like “Going Through the Motions” a bit more revealing than expected.
www.idolrecords.com
Rating:

Review by Mike SOS


The Once Over Twice,"Special Moments to Detonate Themselves" (In at the Deep End)
British quartet The Once Over Twice’s debut disc contain spastic spurts of post hardcore brilliance, as the 12-track endeavor often dazzles the ears with muscular bass lines and luminous guitar riffs. Think Lostprophets jamming with Fugazi with a dollop of At the Drive In for a basic cross reference for this outfit who commandeered the hardcore spirit and added a healthy sum of rock ‘n’ roll to the equation to boot. SPECIAL MOMENTS TO DETONATE THEMSELVES is chock full of punk rock aggression, metallic melodies, and an unabashed free form vibe that few bands dare tread, and will appeal to folks that like their punk rock angular and smart.
www.inatthedeependrecords.co.uk
Rating:

Review by Mike SOS


Tarental,"We Move Through Weather" (Temporary Residence)
Hypnotically charged ambiance is what you’ll discover courtesy of the group Tarental, whose eight-track release WE MOVE THROUGH WEATHER creates a landscape inundated with well-textured sound that continuously builds with a vivacious yet dramatic flare. Atmospheric and ethereal, tracks like “Everywhere the Damn Echo” come complete with dissonant feedback and oddly placed noises that help sculpt their meticulous brand of mood music. The lack of vocals only add to the ominous feeling that the music will leave in the recesses of your subconscious, as Tarental seems driven to not only comprise a new galaxy, but also recruit inhabitants as well.
www.temporaryresidence.com
Rating:

Review by Mike SOS


Bait,"Anatomy of Disaster" (In at the Deep End)
English metal troupe Bait’s hybrid extreme metal assault covers a lot of ground over nine tracks, shifting from industrial strength metal like Prong to barking style hardcore a la Converge to the jaded attack wielded by bands like Jesus Lizard to the groundbreaking metal performed by Carcass. Assaulting and relentless, tracks like “Hangman” take the grooves of Entombed and give it a New England hardcore spin, while the sonic crush of “364 and Counting” has a Deftones vibe joining forces with old school hardcore. Varied and versatile without sacrificing brutality, ANATOMY OF DISASTER is a virtual joyride through metal’s extreme genres.
www.iatde.com
Rating:

Review by Mike SOS


Mando Diao,"Hurricane Bar" (Capitol Records)
At times this band sounds just like the Jam and at times they sound like the Beatles and at times they sound like no one else I’ve heard. This is pop with a punk edge from a group of guys that look like garage rock bad boys. Seventeen big bad tracks for your listening pleasure. My personal favorites are “Clean Town” which sounds like the Jam meets the Replacements. “Added Family” which sounds like the Beatles doing a song from a spaghetti western soundtrack. And “If You Leave” and “This Dream Is Over” which both have a catchy garage rock guitar riff running throughout the song.
www.mando-diao.com
Rating:
and 1/2
Review by J.R. Oliver


RU36,"Dumpster in the Sky" (Ten Strip)
Although the duo known as RU36 may at first impression come off as a joke band a la Gwar, DUMPSTER IN THE SKY contains some fluid musicianship and a keen sense of the current musical climate. And they sing about tits, which is always fine song subject fodder. But all kidding aside, these guys have got the crossover punk metal nuances down, and everything from the Andrew WK styled “Wake Up You’re Dreaming a Lie” to the Bile-esque “Neo Latha Hatha Datha” to the flamenco guitar inspired title track appears on this 13-track release that wistfully walks the line between clever and stupid with clarity and consistency.
www.tenstriprecords.com
Rating:

Review by Mike SOS


Since the Day,"El Mensajero No Es Importante" (Bastardized)
Harsh metalcore is what German quintet Since the Day brings to the table, as the outfit’s debut nine-track release is enrobed with crushing guitars, high-pitched metal screams and growls, and a bruising rhythm section. Armed with killer riffs, a good sense of metal melodics, and the ability to keep the overall atmosphere rocking, tracks like “From Day to Day” and “Powder Keg” are perfect for those digging on Atreyu and Eighteen Visions, as well as have respect for Maiden and Priest. EL MENSAJERO NO ES IMPORTANTE isn’t all that adventurous, but it is a solid, emotion filled metal rollercoaster ride.
www.bastardizedrecordings.com
Rating:

Review by Mike SOS


Spitalfield,"Stop Doing Bad Things" (Victory)
The emo banner still flies high, and Chicago’s Spitalfield now finds itself at the head of the class with the quartet’s sophomore effort, STOP DOING BAD THINGS. The 11-track sojourn comes after over two years on the road for the boys, and it marks the outfit’s new found maturity, as tracks like “The Future is Now” and “Texa$ with a Dollar Sign” rock out first with the shades of sensitivity lagging slightly behind. Only problem with this disc is that STOP DOING BAD THINGS is pretty interchangeable with a lot of what’s impacting rock radio and college campuses these days, kind of an amalgamation of Jimmy Eats World and Taking Back Sunday with dashes of Fall Out Boy. Nevertheless, this release contains the sound the industry is shoving down the public’s throats, and should thrust Spitalfield to the next level.
www.victoryrecords.com
Rating:

Review by Mike SOS


Adema,"Planets" (Earache)
How the hell did Adema end up on Earache, the home of the heavy? Well, here they are, sans Jonathan Davis’ kid brother Marky Chavez, replaced by equally generic Luke Caraccioli, and still following the action movie soundtrack guide to hard rock songwriting. If you still dig music in the nu metal vein, Adema is still carrying its tattered flag around, and much like its past efforts, isn’t really doing anything to illicit any interest by anyone over 16 years old and female.
www.earache.com
Rating:

Review by Mike SOS


Bloodbath,"Nightmares Made Flesh" (Century Media)
Featuring some of the most prolific behind the scenes members in the worldwide metal scene in the form of Dan Swano (Edge of Sanity) and Peter Tagtgren (Hypocirisy, Pain), the Swedish quintet Bloodbath slams down some a righteous ruckus on NIGHTMARES MADE FLESH. The 12-track splattering is a devious display of pulverizing metal, complete with an ominous guitar tone that rings out throughout songs like “Cancer of the Soul” and “Eaten”. Driving grooves like “Year of the Cadaver Race” would remind you of the good old days of Gothenburg, while the grinding pace of “Stillborn Saviour” rivals anything on the scene today on sheer brutality. Diabolical and devilishly delicious, Bloodbath’s latest release will satisfy even the most discerning metalhead’s cravings for blood, guts, gore, and utter metal glory.
www.centurymedia.com
Rating:

Review by Mike SOS


Hookers,"Casting the Runes" (Devil Doll)
The mighty KY based rawk band’s entire rarities and b-sides have been compiled to assault your ears and piss off the neighbors, hailing Satan and the gods of rock along the way. Of course, it comes from Hookers, the alcohol-fueled, drug-laden, unrelenting punk rock crew whose rowdy riffs and devil may care attitude propelled the group to underground darlings. Now, it’s all here, every live track, split disc contribution, and cover song they’ve got, jammed on a twin disc offering guaranteed to start a party and ultimately wreak severe havoc amongst all in the general vicinity. If you’re a die-hard fan, or just want to hear firsthand how the powers of evil can overcome your musical spirit, allow CASTING THE RUNES some airtime in your stereo system and feel the demonic intervention.
www.devildollrecords.com
Rating:

Review by Mike SOS


The Frames,"Burn the Maps" (Plateau)
The Frames are an Irish rock group whose pristine delivery and heart wrenching disjointed melodies sound a bit like Coldplay, U2, and Radiohead mixed inside a pop music bubble. This 12-track release casts some interesting shadows, such as the melancholic “A Caution to the Birds” and the louder, Weezer meets Wilco “Fake” throughout the course of BURN THE MAPS, making for a pensive listening session for the lovelorn and downtrodden. If you enjoy Brit-pop with airs of calm sadness, this is a band worth exploring.
www.theframes.ie
Rating:

Review by Mike SOS


Swallow the Sun,"The Morning Never Came" (Olympic)
Swallow the Sun is a six-deep Finnish doom metal troupe whose North American debut disc contains eight tracks (plus an unlisted Candlemass cover) of slow, churning, slit your wrists and overdose on pills kind of music. This CD should come with a warning sticker for the depressed to steer clear it’s so dark. Stark usage of piano assists the overall gloom and doom mood, while the foreboding guitars and death growling vocals add an eerie mystique to the already murky delivery, as the rhythm section keeps the procession at the proper pace. If you dig Sentenced, Opeth, My Dying Bride, and Type O Negative, then THE MORNING NEVER CAME is an essential pickup for you, as it combines all of the aforementioned band’s attributes, creating a staggeringly ominous listening experience.
www.olympicrecordings.com
Rating:

Review by Mike SOS


The Nothing,"Coma Poems" (In at the Deep End)
The Nothing is a UK outfit whose metal and hardcore tendencies blast out of the speakers from the opening barrage of “And the Dogs Hang Themselves with Scissors”. Yeah, and there’s more curious titles to accompany the blood-curdling screams, menacing rhythms, and aggravated guitar work that this quartet lunges at you with, like “Coffin Sex” and the slow grooving “I’ll Be the One in the Cupboard (the one with the tie around my neck)”. Taking pages from the current wave of metalcore bands from the West Coast such as Bleeding Through and Avenged Sevenfold with a decidedly riotous hardcore stance like the one found in Himsa and Darkest Hour, The Nothing’s savage delivery and pummeling sonic output place this band in fine company and make for a triumphantly violent listening.
www.iatde.com
Rating:

Review by Mike SOS


The Phoenix Rising,"Lullaby" (Action Heights)
This Chicago quartet’s debut full length offering is a breath of fresh air of sorts in the pop punk genre, even if they strictly follow the blueprint laid out by Coheed and Cambria down to the letter. Passionate and quirky, with a great depth of soul and conviction (not to mention some kick ass riffs like the ones found in “Awakening” and “Funeral Day Parade”), The Phoenix Rising is a band whose intricate songwriting and cascading melodies help them stand out above the generic ladies jeans wearing contingent. And while their obsession with sounding like Claudio and company can be grating on the nerves at times, they do it without the sci-fi banter and left of center existentialism, replaced with the heartfelt dedication and bursts of creative musicianship that will let them slide just enough until you find yourself on their side.
www.actionheights.com
Rating:

Review by Mike SOS


Dark Tranquility,"Character" (Century Media)
The unmistakable Gothenburg death metal sound pioneered by veteran melodic metallers Dark Tranquility has been raked over the coals in recent years, so it’s only fitting that this Swedish sextet reset the pace on CHARACTER, the outfit’s seventh release. This 11-track sojourn contains all the things that you love death metal for, but not in an overwrought way. Instead, the boys in DT have equalized the atmospheric keyboards, twisted twin guitar assaults, and garishly guttural vocals, smoothed out the rough edges just so, and have in turn, created a beautifully brutal album by which many in the genre will be measured this year. Blistering riffs like “Through Smudged Lenses” are some of the most furious the band ever wrote and “Lost to Apathy” juxtapose arena metal’s fist-pumping festivities with bombastic Swedish savagery while “My Negation” displays that this band breaks the eerie creeping groove down to a science. Dark Tranquility has stood proud on top of the death metal mountain, and CHARACTER further solidifies the band’s footing.
www.centurymedia.com
Rating:

Review by Mike SOS


Crowbar,"Lifesblood for the Downtrodden" (Candlelight)
The kings of sludge have returned after a four-year slumber, as the mighty New Orleans troupe Crowbar triumphantly release its latest 11-track endeavor. And this time, after spending most of his time supporting the latest Down project, Kirk Windstein isn’t messing around. Enlisting metal all-stars Rex Brown (Pantera) and Craig Nunenmacher (BLS) to the fray of seemingly endless band member rotation, the end result of LIFESBLOOD FOR THE DOWNTRODDEN just may be the most staggeringly crushing outing by the band ever. From the trademarked gloom and doom riffages of opener “New Dawn” to the uncharacteristic ballistic barrage of “Angel’s Wings”, Crowbar’s emergence from the where are they now file is a hearty and bold homecoming for the NOLA purveyors of heavy. Anguished as ever, yet at times, like the cascading six-minute opus “Fall Back to Zero”, as pristine at time as Sabbath, Crowbar’s monstrous riffs, punishing rhythms, and general mammoth sonic output never sounded as necessary as LIFESBLOOD FOR THE DOWNTRODDEN. The soundtrack for your suffering for 2005 has arrived.
www.candlelightrecords.co.uk
Rating:

Review by Mike SOS


Pyuria,"Calliphora Vomitoria Introitus" (Crash)
Sometimes it appears that extreme metal bands own two books: The Satanic Bible and The New England Journal of Medicine. After all, how else can anyone make evil music with song titles like “Subcutaneous Phagocytosis” and name their band after a type of urinary infection? You’d have to ask Pyuria, as these Finnish fans of frenzy wield nine-tracks of hellacious metal which switches gears from chaotic thrash to vicious grind to run of the mill metalcore. Nothing too shocking here if you don’t own Cannibal Corpse, Hypocrisy, or any other Scandinavian metal band’s discs, but Pyuria do showcase a fine fighting form and should be enjoyed by those that enjoy a bit of random metal insanity every now and then.
www.crashmusicinc.com
Rating:

Review by Mike SOS


Callenish Circle,"Forbidden Empathy" (Candlelight)
Dutch metal clan Callenish Circle has enjoyed worldwide success, but it came with much struggle, especially on the business end. Luckily, those days were documented musically and have now been combined in the form of FORBIDDEN EMPATHY, the twin disc collection of the band’s before they were famous works. Consisting of most of the material from DRIFT OF EMPATHY and GRACEFUL YET FORBIDDING, with a few bonus items thrown in for good measure, this 29-track set covers all of the bases and allows the nubile fan to get their share of melodic death metal exhilaration without shelling out a hefty sum on Ebay. If you dig Opeth, Dark Tranquility, My Dying Bride, or the bruising sounds of melodic death metal in general, this disc is a good place to start to learn about one of the more prolific bands in the scene today.
www.candlelightrecords.co.uk
Rating:

Review by Mike SOS


Sturmgeist,"Meister Mephisto" (Season of Mist)
Could Sturmgeist be the Norwegian answer to Andrew WK? Highly unlikely, yet both seem to enjoy partying hard, only Sturmgeist (real name Cornelius Jakhelln) is a bit more on the scholastic side of the fence than his American counterpart. Hell, the guy speaks seven languages fluently and has published three books, ranging from philosophy to metaphysical poetry. And at Strumgeist’s party, conducted through the raucously industrial meets black metal offerings displayed on tracks such as “Grimmer Than Ugly” and “Shock & Awe” are akin to a Rammstein or Ministry offering than pseudo metal best served when selling chocolate bars. In fact, the nine-track offering (sung in German to boot) provides an electronically enhanced grim Germanic metal approach with signs of Viking metal’s anthemic might which fans of chaotic music across the board will surely hone in on. Weaving the Germanic culture into his industrial metal grind, Sturmgeist’s latest release is ambitious yet still manages to crack heads wide open. If you’re looking for something out of the ordinary, MEISTER MEPHISTO definitely fits the bill.
www.season-of-mist.com
Rating:

Review by Mike SOS


The Demonaires,"Demonaires" (Rivercidal Syndicate)
The Debonaires bring the sounds of the Caribbean to your headphones with startling authenticity and strikingly superb musicianship, as this nine-piece band hailing from California’s latest CD aptly showcase on DEBONAIRES. Containing 12 jamming tracks displaying the group’s love for traditional island music and sprinkled with Hammond organ and an array of horns, songs like “Off and On Lovin’” and “Garcia Y Vega” are the perfect antidote to end a long winter’s day, while the soulful delivery of tracks such as “From My Eyes” and “Left With a Broken Heart” evoke the memories of Motown favorites in addition to the rhythms of dub and dancehall. Performing the perfect music to plan a vacation from your mind by, The Debonaires portray the musical embodiment of the best island getaway you could imagine without leaving your stereo.
www.thedebonaires.com
Rating:

Review by Mike SOS


Blood Red Throne,"Altered Genesis" (Earache)
Norway’s Blood Red Throne boasts a brutal death metal attack that relentlessly shakes your brain throughout the 12-track ALTERED GENESIS. Pummeling guitar riffs and dastardly death metal double bass drumming prevail over the entire disc, laying down the powerful grooves found on “Ripsaw Resentment” and “Arterial Lust” with demonic enchantment. Encapsulating the trademark chaotic sounds of both Florida and Sweden’s death metal scenes, Blood Red Throne’s ode to evil may not be the most groundbreaking release, but you’d be hard pressed to find a band that can properly convey the savagery of both scenes so well.
www.earache.com
Rating:

Review by Mike SOS


The Goodwill,"Insult, Injury, Etc." (Abacus)
Before the apparent comparisons can be made to fellow hometown heroes Glassjaw, Taking Back Sunday, and The Movielife, just be aware that this quintet does in fact sound a lot like the aforementioned bands (criminally on vocals), but no more than any other band currently hitting the airwaves or the hearts and minds of teenage America. Don’t let their hometown handicap deter you though: these guys do exhibit some solid points, one of which being their brevity, as many of the 11-tracks are under three and a half minutes, giving off an explosive vibe that few bands on the same plane can match. Tracks like the attention grabbing opener “Horseshoes and Hand Grenades” sound like a more hardcore New Found Glory, while the chunky guitars on “Your Friendly Ghost” and “So Sorry” are a welcomed change from the usual Warped Tour guitar tone. Mixing in dollops of post hardcore a la Hot Water Music into infectious chorus-driven anthems such as “The Magic 8 Ball Society” and “The Formula” allow The Goodwill to broaden beyond the Long Island punk rock tag, at least for a little while before the obligatory get out of this town sing along of “To Live and Die in LI” hits you like an errand fist in the pit at the Valley Stream VFW matinee.
www.abacusrecordings.com
Rating:

Review by Mike SOS


Entombed,"Unreal Estate" (Threeman)
Entombed playing Sweden’s Royal Opera Hall as a ballet company does interpretive dance sounds like a skit from the mind’s of a comedy troupe, yet this really happened, and UNREAL ESTATE is the audible proof. And quite the proof it is, as the pioneers of extreme metal have placed another feather in their caps by putting on this production. While the stark silence between songs gives the disc a sterile quality, Entombed sound on top of their game here, as tracks like “Say it With Slugs”, “Something Out of Nothing” and the title track give off sonic reverberations that members of the usually stuffy audience are probably still trying to shake. Powerful, yet with the visuals absent, you don’t get the full experience, and that alone is worth the wait for the DVD. Nonetheless, the pristine acoustics do justice to Entombed’s slash and burn style and adds a novel quality to the overall disc.
www.threeman.net
Rating:

Review by Mike SOS


George Elliott,"Hi Honey I’m Home" (Heliocentric)
Well, what can I say about George Elliott that hasn’t already been said? “He has a quirky sense of humor.” No, I’ve done that one to death. “A fun listen.” Used that one as well. “Never a dull moment.” Ditto. I don’t seem to be able to come up with anything new to say. That’s not a dis, that just says he delivers consistently with each release. Fun, quirky, off the wall, weird, catchy, thought provoking, all of this applies. If you’ve never heard of Elliott your missing out on a mess of fun.
www.heliocd.com
Rating:
and 1/2
Review by J.R. Oliver


Seige of Hate,"Subversive By Nature" (Candlelight)
Brazilian metallers Seige of Hate have been hacking away at their brand of grinding thrash and blinding metal for nearly a decade, yet SUBVERSIVE BY NATURE is the band’s first American go-round. And this pummeling album will no doubt peel the paint off the wall, as the ferocious velocity which songs like “Downfall” and “Say Your Prayers” requires the proper preparation, or else your unsuspecting ass will get trounced. Liberally emulating the masters of grind metal such as Napalm Death, Nailbomb, and Brutal Truth, with splashes of everyone’s favorite Brazilian metal export Sepultura in tow, this blistering 20-track collection will pound your carcass into submission. Get set to sweat, bleed, and cry, courtesy of Seige of Hate.
www.candlelightrecords.co.uk
Rating:

Review by Mike SOS


Crionics,"Armageddon's Evolution" (Candlelight)
Polish death metal mongers Crionics have garnished much praise for their merging of the black and death metal genres, and for good reason, as this imperialistically imposing quartet’s delivery is one of majestic terror. From the opening minutes of “Arrival of Non Parallel Aeons”, which at one point, riffs out a part strikingly similar to Darth Vader’s theme in STAR WARS, to the thrashy breakdown found on “Final Inversion”, this nine-track disc with two bonus tracks is quite reminiscent of the more successful bands in the field, like Dimmu Borgir and Old Man’s Child, complete with scathing vocals and atmospheric keyboard ambiance. And of course, the obligatory corpse paint, a must for any self-respecting black or death metal troupe, is in full regalia. Radiating durable blasts of merciless metal, ARMAGEDDON’S EVOLUTION’s surprising catchiness at times blends well with the band’s dastardly delivery, making this disc a nice purchase for the evildoer in us all.
www.candlelightrecords.co.uk
Rating:

Review by Mike SOS


Bottom,"You're Next" (Small Stone)
Three ladies from NYC have made a tumultuous album, complete with ambient stoner rock tendencies and acidic musical passages. The name of the band is Bottom, and YOU’RNEXT is the name of the 13-track release. Laden with atmospheric textures much like a Sunn 0))) or Melvins release, tracks like the avant-garde “Distordo II” and “Requiem” are slow, sludgy, and dirge-like, perfect for the soundtrack to your funeral. Dark and foreboding, Bottom’s latest album will rumble the fillings in your mouth and shake your brain silly, even as they throw down a seemingly harmless yet totally left of center blues jam like “Rainy Day Blues”.
www.smallstone.com
Rating:

Review by Mike SOS


Kaamos,"Lucifer Rising" (Candlelight)
The Cookie Monster vocals, the evil solos, the song titles like “Inaugurating Evil” can only add up to one thing: another Satanic Swedish metal clan. This time around, the band in question is Kaamos, whose Grave meets Entombed uproar is well versed and oh so demonic. 10-tracks of abrasive, defiant death metal with both punishing lows and memorable melodic parts, tracks like “Theriomorphic Pandaemonium” and “Chthonic” strike hard and leave welts, like any respectable death metal outfit should. If you yearn for the days when death metal was a lot less diluted, check out Kaamos.
www.candlelightrecords.co.uk
Rating:

Review by Mike SOS


The Vacancy,"Heart Attack" (A-F)
Pittsburgh, PA trio The Vacancy put their punk rock wares to the test on HEART ATTACK, the outfit’s debut 11-track release. And while the band dabbles in both sunny So Cal punk a la Everclear and Alkaline Trio and dirtier East Coast sounds reminiscent of Hot Water Music, there’s touches of Kurt Cobain creeping in and out of songs like “Majorettes” and “Blue Eyes” both vocally and musically. Effortlessly combining grunge rock and punk on tracks like the contagious “Get Up! Get Out!” with the panache of Local H meeting Brand New, The Vacancy manages to exhibit the depth-laden songwriting of bands like Everclear and The Cars without bastardizing the aforementioned outfit’s sounds. Being an emo band that rocks more than whines may sound like impossible, but The Vacancy pulls it off convincingly here.
www.a-frecords.com
Rating:

Review by Mike SOS


Comeback Kid,"Wake the Dead" (Victory)
Comeback Kid, a Canadian outfit formed by members of Figure Four, works hard on its sophomore effort to illuminate the old school hardcore positive mentality and scolding sonic output on WAKE UP THE DEAD. Relentlessly chugging through 11 tracks containing hearty sing along choruses wrapped inside lightning fast tempos and heartfelt guitar riffs, this quintet’s throwback style keeps it visceral. Sounding like a cross between Snapcase, Terror, Shutdown, and Blood for Blood, tracks like the pit stomping “Talk is Cheap” and the punishing breakdown found on “Falling Apart” should keep the kids active on the floor, while the straightforward assault of “Bright Lights Keep Shining” would find proper refuge on any Sick of It All album. Bestowing no nonsense, dead-on hardcore for purists, Comeback Kid’s latest release is a welcomed reprise.
www.victoryrecords.com
Rating:

Review by Mike SOS


November's Doom,"The Pale Haunt Departure" (The End)
Walloping your eardrums with a furious concoction of growling death metal ethereal Goth rock, Chicago metal veterans November’s Doom could very well be America’s answer to Opeth. The eight-track offering, produced by Swedish metal man Dan Swano, displays thunderous rhythms, atmospheric musical passages, lush arrangements, and soul crushing might, as tracks like “Autumn Reflection” and “In the Absence of Grace” dually haunt the listener through the use of brute force and eerie melody. Progressive and diverse, THE PALE HAUNT DEPARTURE is a dark and dynamic metallic journey that fans of Paradise Lost, Porcupine Tree, Nevermore, and Fates Warning can all agree on.
www.theendrecords.com
Rating:

Review by Mike SOS


The Hidden Hand/ Wooly Mammoth,"Night Letters" (Meteorcity)
The Hidden Hand and Wooly Mammoth have teamed together to provide a potent one-two stoner rock punch to your headphones. Up first is Wino and company, who, to no one’s surprise, are found in the finest of forms, barreling through “Five Points” and “Welcome to Sunshine” with the outfit’s expected weighty, viscous style in tow. After you wipe the crust from your eyes, it’s time for the Kyuss meets Soundgarden stomp of Wooly Mammoth, whose two contributions to the fray, “The Prophet” and “Mastercut + Charisma”, reveal the kind of sinewy grooves that should leave you utterly rocked. How’s that for a way to spend 20 minutes?
www.meteorcity.com
Rating:

Review by Mike SOS


Icarus Witch,"Roses on White Lace" (Magick)
Icarus Witch harkens back to the days of heavy metal glory, also known as the early ‘80s, on the quartet’s five-track endeavor. Falling somewhere between the epic storytelling of Savatage with the power metal precision of Helloween, tracks like “Curse of the Ice Maiden” follow the classic metal blueprint right down to the last falsetto metal shrill, while “Dragon Ryder” has all of the lyrical power of a Dio song with the musical direction of Hammerfall. Delivering the goods in the vein of Maiden, Priest, and the like, ROSES ON WHITE LACE is a solid metal album laden with the well-known metal tactics that we’ve all grown to love.
www.cleorecs.com
Rating:

Review by Mike SOS


Oathean,"Fading Away Into the Grave of Nothingness" (The End)
Usually not associated with the death/black metal genre, Korea’s Oathean is putting the country on the map with its brand of folksy yet scolding metal. Furthering the proof that music is indeed the universal language, this quintet’s 11-track offering displays a scathing death metal battering on tracks like “The Origin” that would make Cradle of Filth or Dimmu Borgir fans stand up and take notice. There’s also traces of folklore a la bands like Skyclad (especially evident from the keyboard parts) that allows Othean to stand out more than your average black metal crew. If you’re looking for an album capable of ripping your head off, but not in the way you’ve grown accustomed to, then Othean’s worldwide debut is a noteworthy release to pick up.
www.theendrecords.com
Rating:

Review by Mike SOS


Strapping Young Lad,"Alien" (Century Media)
Devin Townsend’s warped mind has once again spawned a work of genius, as the uber metal quartet Strapping Young Lad’s fourth album ALIEN has landed. The 11-track collection takes extreme metal to new and exciting heights, as Townsend, backed by drum guru Gene Hoglan, bass master Byron Stroud, and guitarist extraordinaire Jed Simon, turns up the intensity to astronomical proportions, blending industrial, death, grind, and groove into their mighty metal cauldron. Speed freaks will rejoice over the frenzied pace of “We Ride” and the volatile velocity of “Shitstorm”, but there’s a lot more to SYL than speed. The tortured choir-led anthem “Love?” and the moody acoustics of “Two Weeks” which lapses into Opeth-esque dreamscape of “Thalamus” seem out of place, and may have belonged to another one of Townsend’s musical projects, yet both manage to make a discernible impact with SYL at the helm. The musicianship here is flawless, and Devin’s maniacal vocal delivery and infinite musical visions are wondrous to say the least. ALIEN is experimental, gritty, brutal, and above all, a masterful array of metal that anyone who enjoys the extreme side of the genre should explore.
www.centurymedia.com
Rating:

Review by Mike SOS


Pete Brag,"Killa Beatz" (Indie Release)
12-track release lays the 808 down over some hard rock guitars. KILLA BEATZ is the title of the album, and Brag, who does everything here sans scratches, does an admirable job of fusing the bling-bling attitude with some rock ‘n’ roll flavor, as tracks like the Audioslave-ish “Raise a Fist”, the Linkin Park-esque “Running Away” and the scratch-filled hooky “You Got It Good” keeps the head bobbing. The only drawback would be that there’s a bit too much anguished rock singing here which dilute the big ass beats being dropped, but with the addition of a rapper to battle Brag’s rocking vocals, that could all change. Nevertheless, KILLA BEATZ is a spirited effort taking the flavor of the week and giving it some more shelf life.
brag@ix.netcom.com
Rating:

Review by Mike SOS


Sons of Otis,"X" (Small Stone)
Sons of Otis have been pumping out the spacey jams for almost a decade now, hence the album’s title, X. Containing seven slabs of cosmic rock that plays like a monster truck seized in a vat of molasses, the low end rumble and hallucinogenic vocals that this trio wield are definitely the prototype for what every bar band on the planet Mars sounds like. Vintage equipment, a boatload of illegal drugs, and pure rock fury all add up to this humungous endeavor, whose musical output will hang in the airspace like clouds of smoke billowing from your favorite smoking device.
www.smallstone.com
Rating:

Review by Mike SOS


The Black Maria,"Lead Us to Reason" (Victory)
The Black Maria is a new band comprised of former members of the outfit Zyon alongside ex Grade leader Kyle Bishop, so it’s no surprise that much of the band’s debut 11-track releases sounds like a more emo version of Canada’s most unsung rock heroes. Sprinkling in a bevy of emo’s flavor of the month band’s sounds like Taking Back Sunday, Brand New, and Jimmy Eat World, inside a slew of heartfelt lyrics, soaring melodies, and cascading guitar lines, LEAD US TO REASON is nowhere near the level of Grade, yet with help from Every Time I Die vocalist Keith Buckley on “Rats in the Prison” and hooks like the ones found on the contagious “The Distance From the Bottom” and “Sirens”, The Black Maria is leading the listener down the right path to a more pristine version of a bastardized genre.
www.victoryrecords.com
Rating:

Review by Mike SOS


A Plot to Blow Up the Eiffel Tower,"Love in the Fascist Brothel" (Revelation)
Calling this band spastic is a drastic understatement, as the deliciously monikered noise rock troupe known as A Plot to Blow Up the Eiffel Tower combine jazzy interludes, punk rock bravado, and metalcore might with garage rock efficiency on LOVE IN THE FASCIST BROTHEL. This San Diego group utilizes its wares to the best of their ability, creating hip-shaking hipster rock whose frenzied pace, dangerous velocity, and unabashed spirit undeniably carries the punk rock torch high above any other band’s preconceived notions. Abrasive and imminent, this 10-track, 25-minute flash flood will leave you sopping wet with ironic enlightenment, on top of giving your nervous system a good tweaking.
www.revelationrecords.com
Rating:

Review by Mike SOS


Chuck Schuldiner,"Zero Tolerance" (Candlelight)
The seminal band Death has left an immeasurable impact on the realm of metal music, and ZERO TOLERANCE has been released to not only remember a fallen hero, but to catch a glimpse of what may have been. Led by influential guitarist Chuck Schuldiner, who tragically passed after a bout with cancer in 2001, Schuldiner and his work with Death and Control Denied has acquired an immense fan base and his worldwide legacy continues to spread. This twin disc collection showcases rarities, demos, live tracks, and some unreleased new material in its most raw form, and while the quality of the recordings for the most part is quite poor, the performance of Schuldiner is top notch. And despite this batch of recordings sounding so unprofessional, ZERO TOLERANCE is a tribute to a man’s desire and prowess in formulating a new level by which metal music is judged.
www.candlelightrecords.co.uk
Rating:

Review by Mike SOS


Order of the Ebon Hand,"XV: The Devil" (Season of Mist)
Greek black metal merchants Order of the Ebon Hand have apparently taken the name of their band from a MAGIC: THE GATHERING reference and have liberally borrowed musical influence from early Emperor, Darkthrone, and other majestic black metal outfits. And while this nine-track endeavor faithfully recreates the eerie aura of the genre, XV: THE DEVIL, even with all of its regal splendor and cinematically ghastly overtones, still sounds a tad second-rate.
www.season-of-mist.com
Rating:

Review by Mike SOS


Loftus,"Hugs + Drugs" (Monarchy Music)
Unlike many of the Southern California acts you hear, the five guys that comprise Loftus play the kind of face-ripping, unrepentant anguished music you’d expect from an East Coast band like Converge or Dillinger Escape Plan. On the 10-track HUGS + DRUGS, piledriven riffs and unrelenting screams are commonplace, yet when woven inside the heavy melodies found on “Bottoms Up” and “Gimme Greens”, unleashed are the lethal forms of aural violence that heavy music fans have grown fond of. Ignore the almost five-minute serene opener “The Condition of Being Forgotten” and wear your earplugs in preparation for an onslaught of epic proportions, courtesy of Loftus.
www.monarchymusiccorp.com
Rating:

Review by Mike SOS


Mahavatar,"Go With the No!" (Cruz Del Sur)
Female fronted melodic metal with a worldly flare, the Jamaica meets Israel by way of NYC duo known as Mahavatar will turn some heads, and not only because they happen to be attractive. The duo (rounded out by session musicians) have churned out eight intriguing hard rock tunes with hints of Gothic rock and shades of underground metal (especially in the singing, which switches gears from clean to mean quite well on tracks like “Raw”). Walking the line between dirge-esque Sabbath melodies on “Psychos” and the well-orchestrated pseudo power metal documented on “Open Your Minds”, GO WITH THE NO! showcases a female-based act whose bark and bite standout head and shoulders above anyone’s preconceived notions of what the usual chicks with guitars group sounds like. Succinct and solid, Mahavatar have provided a well- rounded release that heavy rock fans should enjoy.
www.cruzdelsurmusic.com
Rating:

Review by Mike SOS


Kaedus Rex,"Kaedus Rex" (Indie Release)
Queens-based metal outfit Kaedus Rex (translation: The Blood King) have put out a scorching five-track release chock full of metal a la Pantera meets Cryptopsy at a Black Label Society show. From the pulsating opening riff of “A Cleansing” to the overwhelming overpowering of “Blinding Doubt”, sit back and enjoy a heavy handed hellride through a vicious combination of molten death metal, sustaining stoner rock, and touches of classic thrash metal circa 1987. Armed with the musical firepower and vocal versatility to go the distance, this quartet’s latest endeavor displays a metal band with all of the tools necessary to take it to the next level.
www.kaedusrex.com
Rating:

Review by Mike SOS


Inside Hollow,"Through the Eyes of Deception" (Indie Release)
Hard rock is often done wrong, as too many times bands that play the style of music fail to carve out their own identity and instead combine two or three band’s sounds and form a new hybrid rather than a unique sound. Inside Hollow thankfully isn’t one of those bands, as a bevy of influences from Fuel to Anthrax can be heard on the New Yorker’s six-track release. From the twin guitar attack smacking you in the face to the well-suited vocals which retain presence without going over the top to the steady yet solid rhythm section working hard when laying down the weighty grooves, these guys have swerved far away enough from the generic rock band motif while still pumping out melodic riffs and memorable hooks like “Falling Down” and “Envy”. With the catchiness to hit the radio and the heaviness to satisfy the hard rock crowd, THROUGH THE EYES OF DECEPTION gives modern hard rock music the swift kick in the ass it desperately needs.
www.insidehollow.com
Rating:

Review by Mike SOS


Epoch of Unlight,"The Continuum Hypothesis" (The End)
Intense melodic metal in the vein of the Gothenburg style would best describe what metal veterans Epoch of Unlight have accomplished here on the outfit’s latest 11-track offering. Sounding at times like the second coming of At the Gates on cuts like “Denubrum”, while tracks like “Argentum Era Secui Duos” could easily pass for a early recording of In Flames, this Tennessee-based quartet have been at it for 14 years, and show no remorse on tracks like the seething “Highgate”. Incorporating the American thrash metal sound with a Euro death metal growl in tow, THE CONTINUUM HYPOTHESIS has implemented the classic Swedish metal sound and feel without sacrificing the band’s ‘80s thrash metal appeal. If you yearn to bang your head, Epoch of Unlight offers the proper soundtrack to act upon.
www.theendrecords.com
Rating:

Review by Mike SOS


Black Dawn,"Age of Reason" (Suicidal Groove)
Pounding the pavement on the NYC music scene for nearly a decade, the veteran metal troupe Black Dawn has retained a simple yet effective approach: keep it heavy. And heavy is what these metal merchants are all about, as the outfit’s latest 11-track offering is a power groove machine primed and ready to explode. AGE OF REASON contains a blend of a Sabbath meets Pantera by way of ‘80s thrash metal, laden with moody vocals not unlike Life of Agony or Alice in Chains. Black Dawn’s brand of dark, chunky riffs on tracks like “I Am Who I Am” and “Push” should keep the heads bobbing, while the atmospheric acoustically led “Four Rings of the Moon” showcase a more laid back side to the pummeling quartet. Black Dawn has persevered and has remained intact throughout all of the struggles of keeping a NYC band together, and AGE OF REASON resonates those successes and frustrations with unabashed metallic glory.
www.blackdawn.net
Rating:

Review by Mike SOS


Transistor Transistor,"Erase All Name and Likeness" (Level Plane)
This New Hampshire based quartet, who recorded with underground guru Kurt Ballou for their debut 11-track sojourn, skillfully walk the line between schizo punk rock and nubile screamo hardcore. ERASE ALL NAME AND LIKENESS is a rollicking, chaotic affair churning with dissonance and aggression, as the introductory one-two punch of “Kill the Head” and “And the Body Will Die” emphatically suggests. While melodic passages can be found on tracks like “Songsanstitle” and the epic closing cut “Sinking Ship Full of Optimists”, most of the time, these songs are accented with bitter blasts of distortion or anguished screams. Spending time in hardcore bands gives these noise merchants a strong sense of dynamics, yet Transistor Transistor’s sonic swagger falls most in line with The Bronx or Bars in terms of unloading a no nonsense rock fury. Everything from Black Flag to Every Time I Die to Amen is featured here, and in such a way that’s it’s impossible to ignore.
www.level-plane.com
Rating:

Review by Mike SOS


UFK,"State of the Union" (Indie Release)
The NYC scene has seen trends come and go, but there are a handful of bands that have withstood the tumultuousness and are still cranking out the goods. UFK is one of those groups, and the outfit’s new release, the seven-track STATE OF THE UNION, showcases the band’s never say die attitude and invigorated spirit, as the boys slam down some fist-pounding, punk-infused hard rock that has as much in common with Biohazard as it does Velvet Revolver. The fist-pumping “Penalty” and the bouncy hook laden “New Beginnings” standout as examples of UFK’s genre hopping mentality and crossover appeal, uniting punks, metalheads, and rockers with undoubtedly rowdy results.
www.ufkweb.com
Rating:

Review by Mike SOS


GZR,"OHMWORK" (Sanctuary)
Geezer Butler returns to helm his solo project GZR after a lengthy jaunt with Black Sabbath with OHMWORK, a 10-track release brimming with hard rock sensibilities. Once led by Fear Factory’s Burton C. Bell, GZR’s lead singer slot is occupied by Clark Brown, whose vast vocal range runs from Layne Staley on the sinister dirge “Pardon My Depression” to Chino Moreno on “Pull the String” without sounding forced. And the band keeps it heavy throughout, as Geezer and company blast out some well mapped out metal warblings with a tad of the nu school flavor on tracks like “Don’t You Know” and “Aural Sects”. However, tracks like the slipshod Limp Bizkit-esque “Prisoner 103” seem out of place, and the sledgehammered riffs in “Dogs of Whore” scream for Bell despite Brown’s stalwart job. Nonetheless, Butler and crew are still cranking out some blasting music and are worth a crank on the home stereo system.
www.sanctuaryrecordsgroup.com
Rating:

Review by Mike SOS


Dirty Americans,"Strange Generation" (Liquor and Poker)
Bust out the bell-bottoms and prepare to rock out retro style, as the debut disc from Detroit’s Dirty Americans bleeds gritty rawk from the speakers. This 13-track endeavor from the former members of the completely underrated The Workhorse Movement contains the rocking grooves that act as the missing link between Blue Oyster Cult and Grand Funk Railroad, as tracks like “Control” and “Burn It Down” are prime candidates for the ‘70s Preservation Society’s latest soundtrack. But don’t let these guys and their love for the good old daze fool you: these songs swing with sweeping imminence and rock hard, almost at times like the punkier little brother to Monster Magnet. Blessed with the ability to lay rock grooves like the Zeppelin-esque “Deep End” and the southern drawl of “Light-headed” down, STRANGE GENERATION is the best ‘70s release to come out in the 21st century.
www.liquorandpokermusic.com
Rating:

Review by Mike SOS


Chaos Theory,"Chaos Theory" (Indie Release)
Combining forces from two long-running Long Island metal outfits Kindread and Gutter Poet, the five members of Chaos Theory have spent a lot of time on stage and have a multitude of musical experience. So it comes as no surprise that the three songs off of the group’s latest release exhibit the vibe of seasoned pros wailing away with pristine precision and heightening hard rock skill. Just check out the intricate guitar and keyboard solos on “Human Nature” for an inkling of what these guys and gals can do. Resonating pure power from top to bottom, Chaos Theory’s latest offering has a lot to offer to those starved for a female fronted rock band that executes both sheer force and lush melody equally well.
www.chaostheorymusic.com
Rating:

Review by Mike SOS


Shelly Phelps,"Girls On The Wire" (Shelinator Music)
Shelly Phelps and band give a gutsy mix of blues-rock that might sound a little dated, but it's damn competent dated stuff, at least when they rock! They are more effective when they stick to the blues or rock formula as I found myself forwarding the CD on the ballads and other slow songs. Bob Vollmar on guitar is hot and it’s a shame to hold him back on the lamer songs. Shelly's talent is driven more towards rock and blues, so it is strange that there are so many slower songs with that horrid middle-of-the-road feel. Do yourself a favor and play your strengths next time!
www.shellyphelps.com
Rating:

Review by Scott H. Platt


Patria Jacobs,"Poison of the Sea" (Bunniwabbit Records)
I'm sorry, but I found this almost totally unlistenable. What merit I might have gathered from these sometimes-interesting songs and lyrics were marred by the vocals of Patria. Just when I thought it couldn't get any worse, I was subjected to the pretentious musical rape of "Jacques Cousteau". Don't quite your day job.
www.patriaworld.com
Rating:

Review by Scott H. Platt


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