Music Reviews: MARCH 2006

Chicago,"XXX" (Rhino)
Chicago fans are, for the most part, split down the middle. There’s the ‘80s crowd that swoons to prom favorites like "Hard Habit To Break" and "Look Away," and then there’s the old school bunch who respond more positively to early rockers like "25 or 6 to 4" and "South California Purples." Chicago’s new album, curiously titled XXX (the numbering system was seemingly abandoned after "Twenty-1"), appears to make the attempt at pleasing both sets of fans. After the single "Feel" kicks off the album, with Robert Lamm singing lead on a radio-serviced tune for the first time since your mother can remember, a succession of big ballads follows. Bassist and high tenor vocalist Jason Scheff sings most of these. "King Of Might Have Been" just might earn him some points with the prom crowd, and in a new twist, he brings his country pals from producer Jay DeMarcus’ Rascal Flats on board to help out with "Love Will Come Back." Hmm… the die-hards might be running scared at even the thought, but fortunately they get some bones thrown their way once track 7 kicks in. Robert Lamm’s "90 Degrees and Freezing" and "Come To Me, Do" bring some of that classic Chicago sound back to the fore, and Bill Champlin one-ups him with the Steely Dan-like "Better." Champlin’s other big score, the humorous "Already Gone," actually features a little bit of jamming at the end, another "first time since who knows when" moment on a Chicago album. Not everyone is going to be happy with the whole album, but at least the horns are front-and-center – exactly where they should be – for most of the album.
www.rhino.com
Rating:
and 1/2
Review by Michael Fortes


Dr. Dog,"Easybeat" (National Parking Records)
This is an interesting disc that creeps under your subconscious. Dr. Dog at first listen harkens to the sounds of The Grateful Dead-meets-The Band. But then you hear elements of “modern sounds”, and these combined with a very loose studio feel. Its the little suprises like: with occasional ‘Pet Sounds’ percussion, sometimes Dick Dale guitar, sometimes slide guitar, sometimes psychedelic leanings. They sound unlike anything going on in music now and that’s a good thing.
www.parkthevan.com
Rating:

Review by Scott H. Platt


Herb Albert’s Tijuana Brass,"Whipped Cream & Other Delights Re-Whipped" (Shout Factory)
O.K., I’ve got to admit that my first attraction to the original ‘60s version was the cover! But then there is the music – and nothing instantly reminds me of the ‘60s quite like Herb Albert. Now the classic album has been remixed with some newer solos and artists. Not many albums can be remixed 40 years later and still remain interesting without reeking of sacrilegious . But, the one thing this collection demonstrates is the strength of the originals – they are classics in any age. Oh, and there is a new ‘whipped cream’ girl on the cover!
www.shoutfactory.com
Rating:
and 1/2
Review by Scott H. Platt


Cadence,"Songs of Vice & Virtue" (Paper Weight Records)
On his debut release, “Songs of Vice and Virtue” Tennessee native Cadence dishes out leftover beats and rehashed rhymes ala Eminem but mixes up a little more R&B with the Hip Hop. “Find Me Some”, is a funky old blues number with some piano/organ rolling along as he sings about smoking a j or two, drinking some beers, and finding some pussaaaay. “Squeaky Clean”, sounds eerily like Jamie Fox and Kanye West’s “Gold Digger” beats and all. He even seems to add some original rhymes about washing his face and his asscrack and I’m now beginning to wonder which is which.
www.cadenceonline.com
Rating:

Review by jrumbass


Innocent Noise,"Xotica" (Indie Release)
San Diego band Innocent Noise borrows directly from old school Incubus (Faith No More cover band) with some dark overtones of tool. At times, they borrow a bit too much from them. “Psychotic” steals directly from Incubus’s S.C.I.E.N.C.E album. It’s way to close for comfort my friends. The double bass intro of “Threading The Needle” reminds of Fear Factory, but quickly evolves into another Incubus song. I’ll stop right here and communicate that if you like Incubus go get it but it’s very obvious that the music food chain is becoming sick and incestuous.
www.innocentnoise.com
Rating:

Review by jrumbass


Burnshee Thornside,"Rock This Moon" (Magnatune)
Give me the rack! Flog me!! Burn, kick and punch me!! Anything!! But please don’t make me listen to Burnshee Thornside!! Imagine Weird Al doing Steely Dan covers or maybe your drunk aunt singing some Steely Dan karaoke. Don’t get me wrong the musicians are first rate but the lyrics are lame and HORRIBLE and the vox are HORRIBLE and lame just like my spelling and grammar. Keep away from children.
magnatune.com/artists/albums/burnshee-moon/
Rating:

Review by jrumbass


DJ Markitos,"Unreachable Destiny" (Magnatune)
The title of DJ Markitos’ “Unreachable Destiny” still leaves me scratching my head. Does it mean that what is and what will ever be never come? or it already has?? Is it something we are waiting for that will never be reached or attained?? Are we looking forward to nothing?? Well in the mean time here is something to look forward to. DJ Markitos drops bombs on your moms. He creates trance-scapes of layered sounds guaranteed to have you shaking your booty and your booties booty too. Dude where did I put my glow sticks??
magnatune.com/artists/dj_markitos
Rating:

Review by jrumbass


Mambo Sons,"Racket Of Three" (Omnicide Records)
Most of you might not remember what rock ‘n’ roll was like before MTV and music videos, back when it didn’t matter what a band looked like only what they had put down in the studio. Well, this brings back the good ol’ days of drums, bass and guitar rock ‘n’ roll without all the bells and whistles of a commercially motivated hype machine. Songs like “Play Some Rock & Roll (She’s Comin’ Over)”, “Valentine” and “Brandy On The Shelf” remind me of some of the Kinks stuff. These guys have taken all that’s catchy and cool from sixties and seventies classic rock and made it their own. At least for the moment.
www.mambosons.com
Rating:
and 1/2
Review by J.R. Oliver


Hailey Wojcik,"Jealous Sees" (Indie Release)
Cute little quirky songs with a folksy pop feel. Wojcik has a really great voice that draws you in fairly quickly and makes you hang on every word. All nine of the songs on “Jealous Sees” are about love, lost loves and jealousy, hence the title. For fans of acoustic singer-songwriter pop. Coolest song is “F#c@ You (I Quit)” hands down. The cd is worth the price for this one song alone. Think Joan Baez with a sense of humor and without the uptight attitude.
www.haileywojcik.com
Rating:
and 1/2
Review by J.R. Oliver


Uncle Dave Huber,"Uncle Dave Huber" (Indie Release)
If imitation is the sincerest form of flattery then Dylan should be flattered out the ass by Uncle Dave Huber. But, as they say, ain’t nothing new under the sun, it’s just that some are better at hiding who they rip off and others wear their influences like a badge of honor. I personally dig Uncle Dave Huber and find his cd quite worthy of an honest listen. I think he’s a hundred an ten percent sincere and it comes through in every breath of air pushed through his harmonica and every strum of his guitar. I also hear flashes of John Prine but isn’t he a huge fan of Dylan as well?
www.uncledavehuber.com
Rating:
and 1/2
Review by J.R. Oliver


Three Fantastic,"Three Fantastic" (Dot Point Period)
I like this. I’m not exactly sure why but I do. They have a hard edge but they can get funky at the drop of a hat. Their songs are a lot more complicated than one might think. Each song is like a batch of little songs strung together. Yeah, I guess that’s why I dig this so much. It never dwells too long in one place. It’s like visiting someone in a mental ward. You intensely pay attention to everyone in the room because you have absolutely no idea of what the hell is going to happen at any given minute and you don’t want to miss a thing. “20,000 Worlds Away” is a great song that demonstrates this analogy perfectly.
www.threefantastic.us
Rating:
and 1/2
Review by J.R. Oliver


JD Crane,"JD Crane" (Indie Release)
This has a cool Tom Verlaine meets the Minutemen vibe that really caught my ear. There’s only three songs here but that’s enough to know I want to hear more. This is a band made up of high school and neighborhood friends from Queens, New York. Hey, wasn’t that how the Ramones started out? Anyway, this is pretty interesting stuff and I’m looking forward to a full-length release. Check ‘em out.
www.myspace.com/crane2
Rating:
and 1/2
Review by J.R. Oliver


Down To This,"Down To This" (Versatile Records)
Part Seven Mary Three but with a bit of a Soundgarden kind of edginess thrown in for good measure. Yeah, you remember Soundgarden don’t you? This three song appetizer from their forthcoming album is just enough to whet your taste buds but it’s a big enough taste to tell you like what you hear. With their lineup pretty much solidified in 2003 they began showing the world what they were made of. Well, the Washington DC area anyway and with a growing fanbase these guys are poised to make their mark on an unsuspecting rock ‘n’ roll world.
www.downtothis.com
Rating:
and 1/2
Review by J.R. Oliver


Last Falling,"In Loving Memory" (Indie Release)
This three piece band from the San Fernando Valley plays a mean and rhythmic brand of rock’n’ roll. Their sound is heavily influenced by Nirvana as evidenced by songs like “Innominate”, “Get Away” and “Wasting Away” but even though their influences are fairly evident they bring their own uniqueness to the table as well. “In Loving Memory” is by no means a boring or predictable listen, far from it to be exact. If you dig Nirvana, Social Distortion and other similar bands then this should be right up your alley.
www.lastfalling.com
Rating:
and 1/2
Review by J.R. Oliver


Deaf Pedestrians,"Deaf Pedestrians" (Dot Point Period))
After spending the good part of three years writing and recording the Deaf Pedestrians debut is ready for mass consumption. Their loud and cynical approach is just the kick in the ass that radio needs. Tight rhythm guitar parts laced with hamfisted drumming, in your face vocals and bass rumblings that get you right in the gut. It’s just the recipe to spice up the half-baked, bland commercial radio crap they feed us on a daily basis. Hey, there still is a few rock ‘n’ roll bands out there and this is one of them.
www.deafpeds.com
Rating:
and 1/2
Review by J.R. Oliver


Proudflesh,"Proudflesh" (Wired Gnome Records)
This is like Motorhead and Iron Maiden covered by the Minutemen. As weird as that might sound this is pretty infectious. With Sothira on bass / vocals, Erik Lannon on drums and Jimmy Crucifix on guitar, Proudflesh is poised to pounce on its audience like a jaguar in the long grass and go straight for the throat. After one listen to songs like “Proudflesh”, “My Lai My Love” and “The Black Jesuit” you’ll be a willing victim too.
www.myspace.com/proudflesh
Rating:
and 1/2
Review by J.R. Oliver


Anton Barbeau,"Waterbugs & Beetles" (Pink Hedgehog Records)
Psychedelic power pop from someone, I for one will definitely be hearing more of. This guy writes killer songs that instantly grab your attention. Well, they grabbed mine anyway. I’ve always been a huge fan of power pop but I have to admit that the pickin’s have been slim for the genre for quite a while but Barbeau has given me a new found hope. For that I would like to say thank you to Mr. Barbeau. If you have a soft spot for power pop or you’ve never heard any then you owe it to yourself to check this guy out. For fans of Matthew Sweet, the db’s and Nick Lowe.
www.antonbarbeau.com
Rating:

Review by J.R. Oliver


The Black Watch,"The Hypnotizing Sea" (Pink Hedgehog Records)
When this started off it reminded me of Love & Rockets and the Alarm melded into one. The Go-Betweens comparisons are relevant as well but I’m sticking with the Love & Rockets / Alarm analogy. Indie pop is exactly what The Black Watch are all about, at least on this album, and they have their craft well in hand. For fans of Echo And The Bunnymen, The Smiths, The Go-Betweens, Love & Rockets and all the other bands with the jangly guitars.
www.theblackwatchmusic.com
Rating:
and 1/2
Review by J.R. Oliver


Jake Stigers,"Coming Back Again" (Indie Release)
Where the hell did this guy come from? I mean, “Do You Feel High” slaps you upside the head and makes you want to turn around and ask for more. This reminds me of the Smithereens and I loved some of the stuff the Smithereens did like “Blood And Roses”. This is an album full of power pop with bits of bluesy rock flavor that should be in your collection. “We Don’t Need Anybody” is a funky trip through the Black Crows territory, “That Ain’t Livin” is a rocker that would make Dan Baird proud. If you dig any of the bands mentioned above then you’ll love this.
www.jakestigers.com
Rating:
and 1/2
Review by J.R. Oliver


Velvet Brick,"Firewater" (Mesa Records)
Hey, this is some down and dirty raw sounding rock ‘n’ roll just like I like and this band has a vocalist that can cut heads with the best of them. This rocks like “Hell Is For Children” era Pat Benatar. They’re starting to get some of the recognition that is obvious they have earned. Just take one listen to “Firewater” and you’ll have to agree. Their like Pat Benetar, Heart, Mothers Finest and Aerosmith all rolled into one neat little package. I would definitely recommend this to fans of classic rock.
www.velvetbrick.com
Rating:
and 1/2
Review by J.R. Oliver


Nick Robin,"Back From The Dead" (Indie Release)
“Back From The Dead” is a haunting album full of stripped down songs of the lo-fi variety. He’s been compared to the Scud Mountain Boys, Silver Jews, the Replacements, and Sebadoh in other reviews but I hear a darker Nick Cave influence myself with glimpses of Neil Young sprinkled here and there. My favorite song is “White Horse, Black Tie” which sounds like “Fun House” era Iggy fronting “Exile On Main Street” era Stones. Robin has loads of talent and it shows on this album.
www.nickrobin.com
Rating:
and 1/2
Review by J.R. Oliver


Rhett Miller,"The Believer" (Verve Forecast)
This guy knows how to craft a song. Some of you might recognize Miller as frontman for the Old 97’s. He’s still with the band by the way. “The Believer” is probably one of the best pop albums I’ve heard in quite a while. Think of a slightly more serious Nick Lowe. “Ain’t That Strange” is a great track that brings to mind early Bowie or Sweet. Miller has hit a home run with this follow up to his 2002 solo debut “The Instigator”. Highly recommended.
www.verveforecast.com
Rating:

Review by J.R. Oliver


Bancroft,"The Melophobic Solution" (Indie Release)
Pop rock in the same vein as Jimmy Eat World or Weezer. I’d say they have a bit more in common with Weezer musicly speaking, although their lyrics aren’t quite as tongue in cheek. “Worst Mistake” sounds extremely familiar. “The Hookup” has a heavy Good Charlotte meets the Ataris feel. “What About” has a happy go lucky groove that was deep enough to pull me in. The intro to “Stealing Fate” sounds like The Cars. This is pretty cool stuff for the most part and pop punk is not even my favorite genre. I’d recommend it to the twenty one and under set.
www.bancroft-music.com
Rating:
and 1/2
Review by J.R. Oliver


The Soda Pop Kids,"Write Home" (Full Breach Kicks)
Talk about tearing the joint apart! Build a rock ‘n’ roll monster out of the demented rockabilly hiccup of Jerry Lee Lewis channeled through Stiv Bators, the Chinese rock riffing of Johnny Thunders, the time bomb about to explode psyche of Iggy and the flat out party attitude of every frat house from coast to coast and you’ll get The Soda Pop Kids. This cd is an instant party every time you slap it in the player. If titles like “Put On Your Tight Pants”, “Bop It Up”, “Shots Of Whiskey”, “Electric Blood”, “Get Tight” and “Leavin’ Kill City” don’t grab your attention then you better drive your ass down to the morgue. Another keeper from Full Breach Kicks.
www.fullbreach77.com
Rating:

Review by J.R. Oliver


Leslie Clemmons,"Waiting For My Conviction" (Verdict Records)
Sounds like Alanis Morissette backed by Dave Matthews on most of the album. Damn catchy stuff and a very clear and crisp recording. This sounds great from top to bottom. Twelve tracks from Clemmons and each is better than the last. I look forward to hearing more from her.
www.leslieclemmonsmusic.com
Rating:
and 1/2
Review by J.R. Oliver


Bathtub Shitter,"Dance Hall Grind" (Shit Jam Records)
Now, how does one properly go about reviewing a band that calls themselves Bathtub Shitter? Well, you pop in their cd first I guess and then sit there waiting for the proverbial shit to hit the fan. But, guess what? These guys are pretty good. I mean, it’s not exactly my cup of tea but I’m digging pretty much all of this. The lyrics and vocals are what you might expect from a band with a name like Bathtub Shitter but the music is tight and it rocks a hell of a lot harder than the pop punk crap you hear and see on MTV. That is, when MTV can find the time to squeeze in a crappy pop punk video in between all the crappy rap videos they bombard us with. “Dance Hall Grind” is proof you should never judge a book by its cover or name as the case may be.
www.bathtubshitter.com
Rating:
and 1/2
Review by J.R. Oliver


The Sayers,"Say Nothing" (Indie Release)
A mellow, punk and soul, soundtrack for the working man. Sort of like a more laid back version of the Commitments. I loved that movie and these guys are every bit as infectious. This reminds me of a lot of Atlanta / Athens bands back in the eighties like Love Tractor, Oh O.K. and Pylon. The perfect soundtrack to a Dennis Hopper movie. Kind of brings to mind the soundtrack to Repo Man. Especially the scenes with the car in the desert and the highway patrol. I’d say check them out for yourself and see what you think.
www.thesayers.org
Rating:
and 1/2
Review by J.R. Oliver


JParis,"Call It What You Want" (Emanon Records)
I believe a couple of the guys in this Good Charlotte sounding pop punk band are closet eighties hair band fanatics. There’s a little hair metal posing sprinkled throughout the disc. I’d say they are about fifty percent pop, twenty-five percent punk and another twenty-five percent hair metal. Now, if you can picture that then you’ve pretty much got a handle on this band. Formed in 2000 in the Maryland, Delaware area, the guys used their mix of Blink 182, The Used and Green Day to sell 3000 copies of their self-financed first album in FYE stores in and around their area. If pop punk is your bag then this belongs in your bag.
www.myspace.com/jparis2
Rating:
and 1/2
Review by J.R. Oliver


Scott Reeder,"Tunnelvision Brilliance" (Liquor and Poker)
By far one of the most prolific musicians of the hard rock underground, Scott Reeder’s debut into the solo realm definitively throws a curveball to longtime admirers. Having done everything from drums to mastering on TUNNELVISION BRILLIANCE, Reeder’s true creative zest is an unexpected visit through his musical mind frame, which ranges from the familiar desert rock and doom metal leanings to progressively psychedelic sojourns a la Pink Floyd. Lushly arranged and painstakingly produced, these 13 tracks are a culmination of two decades of compiling ideas and recording them down in spare time between projects, richly encapsulating Reeder’s unseen musical alter ego. From the bombastic majesty of “Diamond” to the commandingly catchy “The Day of Neverending”, this disc’s organic feel pushes itself into zones of intimacy via tracks like “To An End”, where acoustic guitars over symphonic arrangements provide a stark contrast than the usual associated crash and burn feel of a Reeder project. TUNNELVISION BRILLIANCE plays like Scott Reeder’s diary in musical form, leaving listeners intrigued, surprised, and ultimately satisfied.
www.liquorandpoker.com
Rating:

Review by Mike SOS


Queen V,"Queen V" (Royal Noise)
NYC rock diva Queen V’s self-titled 12-track endeavor rocks way harder than your standard female-fronted rock group has prepared you for, thanks to both the excellent ensemble songwriting and V’s astounding vocal performance that ranges from the snarl of Brody to Amy Lee’s soaring heights. Channeling Pat Benatar and The Runaways for a dollop of attitude on tracks like “America”, this sultry songbird can also take it down a notch on introspective numbers like “Right or Wrong”. With an army of musicians wailing away, V’s tough girl posturing and take no shit stance comes off as genuine as it gets, especially on her gender-bending cover of Thin Lizzy’s “The Rocker”, where V twists Phil Lynott’s part to perfection. Despite the sterile feeling that the too many cooks in the kitchen feel of the disc leaves, Queen V’s undeniable hard rock spirit and impassioned singing ability shines bright here, perhaps catapulting her to bedroom walls and award shows in the near future.
www.queenv.com
Rating:

Review by Mike SOS


Skullpls,"Dead Inside" (Indie Release)
Skullpl8 is an abrasive metal trio from Oklahoma whose eight-tracks of aural carnage straddle the line between technical death and relentless thrash metal, creating a blistering listening experience. Raspy vocal growls, incessant double bass drum triggers, and volatile guitar riffs assist in making songs like “Free From the Lie” and “Subliminal Radio” face-melting metal anthems. Intertwine Fear Factory, Shadows Fall, Death, and Testament into a massive metallic beast capable of obliteration and you’ve got this band worthy of a double horned-hand salute.
www.skullpl8.com
Rating:

Review by Mike SOS


The Illuminati,"The Illuminati" (Liquor and Poker)
Bringing back the boogie into rock ‘n roll is no small task, but Toronto trio The Illuminati have aced Thin Lizzy 101, Skynyrd symposium, and Advanced Motorhead classes, aptly shown on the band’s six-track offering. With a straw in its collective mouth and a bottle of whiskey close at hand, songs like the kick up your heels feel of “On My Way Back Home…Again” could pass for a Molly Hatchet classic, while the supercharged groove of “All the Time in the World” keeps the head bobbing and the fists pumping. Unabashed and unfiltered, this eponymous endeavor is strictly for those about to rock, so don’t put this disc on unless you’re prepared to cut your teeth on some bad ass boogie from the Great White North.
www.liquorandpoker.com
Rating:

Review by Mike SOS


Biolich,"The Space Between Home and Today" (Paragon)
Biolich is a Long Island based outfit whose merger of grind and death metal makes for an unsettling experience, as you can never be too sure just where this now quartet (Biolich started out as a duo before expanding into a full unit) is heading. From the tumultuous opener “Morals Like Frozen Piss”, which careens between avant-garde death a la Opeth to full-on grind a la Cephalic Carnage, Biolich keeps you guessing, but also keeps your ears awestruck with its bellowing death metal bark and metallic genre-hopping. THE SPACE BETWEEN HOME AND TODAY resonates the wide range and vast scope that this band is capable of, and is recommended for those with a penchant for extreme musical adventures.
www.paragonrecords.com
Rating:

Review by Mike SOS


Various Artists,"Old Skars and Upstarts 505" (Disaster)
The inside quote on this album’s sleeve reads “punk rock is life and death” and no one knows this better than the man behind this 30-track compilation, punk rock stalwart Duane Peters. Turbonegro, Roger Miret and the Disasters, Ducky Boys, and Street Dogs are just some of the bands who’ve allowed Peters to dig out unreleased and rare tracks from the vaults, and the end result is an album to throw on when you feel like throwing down a few beers, a backyard BBQ, or start the party right on a Friday night. Best cover song? Die Hunns’ punkified version of Van Halen’s “Ain’t Talkin’ Bout Love”.
www.disasterrecords.com
Rating:

Review by Mike SOS


Cruiserweight,"Sweet Weaponry" (Heinous)
Austin, TX is known to be a hotbed for music, and hometown heroes Cruiserweight only reinforce that mystique on the quartet’s 12-track full-length release. Sweetly female fronted yet slightly jagged, this band contains a sister, her two brothers, and a guy named Dave, who take No Doubt’s wares and give them a muscular Foo Fighter meets Jimmy Eat World makeover, complete with candy-coated choruses, humungous guitar hooks, and dreamy vocals which cross The Cardigans and Flyleaf. Playing with a slight punk pop bounce, songs like “Dearest Drew” and “Goodbye Daily Sadness” sound as if they stepped fresh off a WB melodrama, while “This Ain’t No Beach Party” emits the kind of modern arena rock vibe all the kids crave. Cruiserweight strikes with heavyweight conviction on SWEET WEAPONRY, showcasing an arsenal loaded with solid songs begging to be taken to the next level.
www.heinousrecords.com
Rating:

Review by Mike SOS


Dark Funeral,"Attera Totus Sanctus" (Candlelight)
Black metal mainstays Dark Funeral return with a gripping eight-track release that finds these corpse-painted black metal merchants as destructive as their unearthly beginnings a decade ago. Eight tracks of pure raw hate is what ATTERA TOTUS SANCTUS delivers complete with heinous percussion, evil guitar runs, and the kind of venomous vocals that scares parents and clergy alike. Aside from the outfit’s over the top visuals, Dark Funeral has managed to remain on top of the black metal realm by continuously releasing the type of aural carnage found on here, so be thankful bastard spawn and respect your elders by picking up another fine endeavor by one of black metal’s finest groups.
www.candlelightrecordsusa.com
Rating:

Review by Mike SOS


Dir En Grey,"Withering to Death" (Warcon)
Already an international sensation, the Japanese quintet Dir En Grey have set their sights on America on the band’s fifth album. WITHERING TO DEATH, their stateside debut, is laden with darker-edged melodies a la Blindside (“Saku”) and a harsh vocal performance that sounds like a cross between Marilyn Manson, Minus, and Korn on tracks like “Koduku Ni Shisu, Yueni Kodoku”. Oh yeah, they sing for the most part in Japanese, which may throw many people way off, but they do manage to make up for that by creating some interesting soundscapes via keyboards and technological manipulations inside of their dissonant hard rock attack. Unafraid to bare their teeth and take chances, Dir En Grey’s fearless ferocity breaks through language barriers and musical boundaries alike, giving the listener a beguiling experience.
www.warconent.com
Rating:

Review by Mike SOS


Coliseum/Doomriders,"Not of this World: A Salute to Danzig" (Level-Plane)
Ah, laying down the praise for the Evil Elvis himself. Coliseum and Doomriders are the culprits, “Am I Demon” and “Possession” are the tunes lovingly given the hardcore treatment, and you even get three new songs in the process (two from Coliseum and one from Doomriders for those keeping score at home). Gritty, dirty, and shedding new shades of diabolical light onto these already wicked tracks, these two outfits not only do some demonic justice to Mr. Danzig, but they even manage to blast out some of their own adrenaline-fueled, blood-soaked, chaos-driven hardcore punk tunes. NOT OF THIS WORLD is quite possibly the best 15-minute, five-track disc you’ll encounter in a long time.
www.level-plane.com
Rating:

Review by Mike SOS


Dysrhythmia,"No Interference" (Translation Loss)
Philadelphia’s spastic metalcore trio Dysrhythmia was doing the left of center heavy thing way before the floodgates opened and metal dudes found out they could homogenize jazz, metal, and ambient rock. Imagine a jazzier Primus with a heavier progressive rock leaning and you can envision what these guys are about. Thankfully, Translation Loss has reissued the band’s second offering, this time adding live tracks to really make you feel like you’ve been missing out on something this powerful for this long. Entrancing, staggeringly brilliant, and totally innovative, NO INTERFERENCE is an album whose merits are boundless and whose contributions have helped spawn a new breed of musician. Let loose and pick this one up and soak in the musical prowess of these unsung undergrounders.
www.translationloss.com
Rating:

Review by Mike SOS


Snake Eyes,"Demo 2005" (1917)
Snake Eyes attack right off the bat with a seething exhibition of angst-ridden hardcore. Fast, loud, and ugly, this five-track, eight-minute long kick in the head leaves welts, as tracks like the ominously introduced “Stake Your Claim” begins like a Suicidal Tendencies track before the rapid-fire rhythms laden with disdain takes over, only to bust into a chunky NYHC-esque breakdown. Projecting the perfect amount of hate and rage, Snake Eyes personify tough guy hardcore to a tee.
www.1917records.com
Rating:

Review by Mike SOS


Nervous Nellie,"The Peace Pipe EP" (Honkyjonx)
Swedish quartet Nervous Nellie’s four-track sojourn sounds more like they hail from middle America than the far reaches of Europe, yet the outfit’s Neil Young-esque grunge (complete with prairie-like harmonica on “To Die For”) and no frills college bar band jangle still catches ears with their hook-happy tunes like “Million Dollars”. With a faux Cobain yelp and a lo-fi shoegaze sound firmly in tow, this band would have been the biggest thing in 1997, but retro still amounts to something, right?
www.nervousnellie.com
Rating:

Review by Mike SOS


Dracula Zombie USA,"Dracula Zombie USA" (Serious Business)
Getting in touch with its inner Sprockets, members of transcending hipster rawk outfit Unsacred Hearts get high with a little help from their friends, comprising the uber-technofied dance project deliciously known as Dracula Zombie USA. Melding jagged Williamsburg dance rock, drum ‘n bass folly, and a sense of unparalleled adventure, this seven-track excursion should be packaged with bags of drugs, a beach chair, and a note explaining why you’ve been away from work or school for the last five days. Whimsically whacked out of its skull, this self-titled disc is utter brain candy.
www.seriousbusinessrecords.com
Rating:

Review by Mike SOS


The Old Scratch Revival Singers,"Oh Didn’t He Ramble" (Xoxo)
The Old Scratch Revival Singers draw a lot of comparisons to Tom Waits, and for good reason, as this septet employs the same bleak outlook on life as well as a similar haunting vibe. But, there’s more to OH DIDN’T HE RAMBLE than an obsession with death, although it’s pretty dominant here. On this Iowa outfit’s debut endeavor, a creepy countrified aura permeates through the entire 13-track collection, blending ragtime, gospel, bluegrass, folk, and general oddity to create a sound unlike anything else any other band is doing out there today. Personifying the famous American Gothic painting via musical expression, the vast array of instrumentation ranges from violas and accordions to banjo and winds, creating a throwback feel where there’s sawdust on the floor and the United States had less than forty states on the flag. Digging deep into American musical history, these treasured genres have been lovingly yet eerily juxtaposed for a stark listening experience that anyone into melancholic melody will totally be enamored by.
www.xoxorecords.com
Rating:

Review by Mike SOS


Various Artists,"Flying High Again" (Magick)
Being billed as “the world’s greatest tribute to Ozzy Osbourne”, the lofty title hardly lives up to its name, as many of the stars on the disc tend to overdo the spirit of Osbourne’s music by over singing or missing the mark completely, making the entire 12-track’s feel akin to a heavy metal Vegas show. Featuring Lemmy (who actually co-wrote “Hellraiser” and “Desire”), Ripper Owens, Lita Ford, Dee Snider, and a host more, Ozzy’s best and brightest have been redone here with the best of intentions, but ultimately fall a bit flat. All-star tributes are nice when they save the rainforest or fight world hunger, but when they’re strung together to line pockets of musicians on the breadline, they kind of lose their luster. The latter is sadly the case here, with few exceptions, such as the gloomy twist of “Revelation (Mother Earth) by Novembers Doom and the jazzy interlude Alex Skolnick and his trio made from “Goodbye to Romance”. Despite Ozzy’s sad state of affairs in a live setting, this CD barely holds its own against even a dilapidated Prince of Darkness.
www.magickrecords.com
Rating:

Review by Mike SOS


Jizzy Pearl,"Vegas Must Die!" (Shrapnel)
Jizzy Pearl is one of the few C-list metal band singers that continuously put out heartfelt hard rock. The aptly titled VEGAS MUST DIE! is Jizzy’s latest solo shot, his third in between stints in LA Guns and RATT. Exploring the seedy underbelly of Sin City, Pearl’s distinct vocal delivery mixes his unique Love/Hate style while summoning the ghost of Bon Scot along the way. Going over the top with grit, Pearl’s convincingly “been there, done that” attitude on tracks like “Look At You Now” and the muscular AC/DC blues of “Lies” are just a few of the 11-track disc’s treats. Assisted by members of Great White and Salty Dog, the undeniable sleaze rock grooves of “Only Wait So Long” and “Good Girl” are ready for the stripper’s pole, while “True Love” sounds like a throwback from 1988. Pearl’s still rocking the outlaw image, only this time it’s through his experienced eyes, giving acoustic handclappers like “You Don’t Own Me” much more cadence than before. If you want your Sunset Strip Hard rock done right, VEGAS MUST DIE! is a must for the hair metal fan living in the modern day.
www.shrapnelrecords.com
Rating:

Review by Mike SOS


Beat Strings,"Love Lust Wonder" (Xoxo)
Beat Strings’s curious mix of hipster dance rock, Pavement infused horns, and versatile Brit rock knowledge helps LOVE LUST WONDER stand out, especially on tracks like “Osiris”, where adrenaline and apathy intertwine. There’s more movement than mope here on a whole, which keeps the pace lively, even on the lazy-day tunes like the reggae-esqaue “Miss Lady”. Exuding as much pre-hits Cure and Clash as The Smiths, Beat Strings are gaining ground in their quest to mesh sexual tension to a rock ‘n roll beat, even if the beat is devoid of danger.
www.xoxorecords.com
Rating:

Review by Mike SOS


Degree Absolute,"Degree Absolute" (Sensory)
Progressive metal project Degree Absolute showcases a ton of technical prowess and musical talent on its nine-track self-titled offering. With decorated metal producer Neil Kernon at the helm, songs like the ever-shifting “Exist” are vividly captured from cascading guitar solo to full-on thrash metal movement. Mixing Fates Warning’s melody, Nevermore’s chaotic acumen, and touches of Green Carnation’s more somber elements, Degree Absolute’s constant experimentation with twisting pulsating metal into jagged prog rock presentations keeps the listener enthralled and on their toes throughout.
www.thelasersedge.com
Rating:

Review by Mike SOS


Antigama,"Zeroland" (Self Made God)
Polish grindmasters Antigama blast through nine tracks of volatile viciousness on ZEROLAND, establishing their position in the global extreme noise contingent. Emblazoned with death metal’s destructive tendencies and grindcore’s blisteringly chaotic crunch, tracks like “How” relentlessly shakes the life from your hapless body in Godflesh-esque style, while the intentionally mechanical feel of “Sorry” reveals the quartet’s love for technically-challenging metal and grooving grind. Executing fast and heavy grind and noise while dabbling in the avant-garde metal arena, ZEROLAND’s excruciating heaviness is bound to raise eyebrows and ire alike.
www.selfmadegod.com
Rating:

Review by Mike SOS


F-Minus,"Won’t Bleed Me/ Failed Society" (Alternative Tentacles)
It’s rare you’ll find an angrier West Coast (or from anywhere, actually) band than F-Minus, the two guy, two girl, all raw quartet whose back catalog gets a makeover thanks to the folks at Alternative Tentacles. 20 tracks of concise neck-snapping hardcore punk is what these two EP’s yield, as this quartet’s unwaveringly seething spirit will delights those who clamor for an unfettered, rude, and overall convincing dose of aggression. If you missed it the first time, now’s your chance to feel the fury.
www.alternativetentacles.com
Rating:

Review by Mike SOS


A Dozen Furies,"A Concept From Fire" (Sanctuary)
The toughest thing about being famous is that it seldom lasts, yet THE BATTLE FOR OZZFEST contest winners A Dozen Furies are working hard to set the clock back a few minutes before its fatal 15 expires. The Dallas quintet’s debut 12-track disc proves that their victory was no fluke, as A Dozen Furies displays the intensity and virtue that stands up on its own two feet without Ozzy and Sharon’s coddling. “The Everlasting Grudge” pits Killswitch Engage and Shadows Fall in a duel to the death, while “Push Away” finds the boys channeling an interesting blend of Fear Factory and Soulfly. Solid songwriting that effortlessly genre-hops from melodic death choruses to demonic guitar-run bridges also allow ADF some more leniency, as the title track and the infectiously chorused yet ominously titled “An Idea and Some Rope” exhibits these guys are making the most of their opportunity. Opting to blow you away with a well-versed metal assault while keeping its fingers on the Ozzfest crowd’s pulse, A CONCEPT FROM FIRE puts the band’s best foot forward.
www.sanctuaryrecords.com
Rating:

Review by Mike SOS


Neshamah,"Communicating in Heartbeats" (Blood & Ink)
South Africa’s Neshamah play the kind of hardcore that evokes both violent moshpits and thought-provoking debate, as this quintet wheel out the heavy artillery musically and keep the topic of their lyrics close to their beliefs. This 12-track endeavor follows the Refused/ Zao/ Most Precious Blood stance by whipping up dissonant riffs, jagged rhythms, serpentine vocals, and a general sense of controlled calamity on tracks like the wirily composed “Reallisation to Move On” or the ferally-beated chugfest of “Five Fingers Down”. Neshamah’s powerful music ushers just as powerful messages about the outfit’s personal choices, yet like the aforementioned bands they’ve patterned themselves by, never does it get in the way of the beautifully crafted brutality this group seamlessly whips up on “Sweet Goodnight” or “Guidance”. Tendering a type of hardcore weighty in both thought and sound, COMMUNICATING IN HEARTBEAT awakens the mindset as much as the muscles.
www.bloodandinkrecords.com
Rating:

Review by Mike SOS


The Blackout Pact,"Hello Sailor" (Astro Magnetics)
This ruffian bunch from Colorado’s story is one of rock fable, as a chance meeting at a hot dog stand in NYC led them to Thursday frontman Geoff Rickly, who in turn offers to produce HELLO SAILOR, the quintet’s debut disc. Despite their back-story sounding a bit fishy, the 10-tracks adorning this disc are the real deal, bursting with today’s punk’s imminence. Don’t let the long song titles fool you, these guys supercede those stigmas by laying down atmospherically altering mood music with panache on such cuts as “Do I Sound Like I’m on Old Time Radio?” and “Hide the Scissors, Lock the Door”. Taking musical cues from such notable acts as Avail, Hot Water Music, Open Hand, and their producer’s clan, The Blackout Pact have the knack to carve out tension-filled punk anthems that somehow dually echo sentiments of despair and issue signs of hope. Engagingly full of highs and lows, HELLO SAILOR is a sturdy album richly chronicling a band’s rise from obscurity and Warped Tour goers should eat it up.
www.astromagnetics.com
Rating:

Review by Mike SOS


Hate,"Anaclasis" (Listenable)
Polish extreme metal act Hate may not be as popular as fellow countrymen Vader or Behemoth, but the trio’s latest ode to Satan may change all that. ANACLASIS: A HAUNTING GOSPEL OF MALICE AND HATRED is the title to this eight-track endeavor high on death metal’s growls and dastardly guitar runs like the ones found on “Necropolis”. Exploiting the blast beat is yet another strong suit, as “Hex” aptly shows, yet songs like “Malediction” mesh Hate’s indeterminable style with Slayer-like riffing and an industrial-esque backdrop that comes off quite fierce. Calculated carnage is what this triad of terror brings to the table, weaving intricate guitars inside cacophonous rhythms brimming with contempt that abducts your ears, taking them through a hellacious ride that a band named Hate could conjure.
www.listenable.net
Rating:

Review by Mike SOS


The Gecko Brothers,"Demolition of the Rehabilitation" (Drunkabilly)
The Gecko Brothers will destroy your stage, steal your women, drink your beer, and laugh it off as another day at the park, because that what this 10-track disc manages to do in less than 27 minutes. Hard-edged, pissed off, and fully loaded, this raw quartet from Holland has followed the Motorhead textbook word for word, throwing in its own helping of sleazy tales of lost evenings and horrible early mornings. Explosive with attitude, The Gecko Brothers work off a whiskey-fueled, drug induced tirade and called it DEMOLITION OF THE REHABILIATION, and everyone should be grateful for the gift to rock ‘n roll.
www.drunkabilly.com
Rating:

Review by Mike SOS


Hate Profile,"Opus I: The Khaos Hatefile" (Cruz Del Sur)
Hate Profile is a conceptual project of sorts with a discernibly death metal tone, as this eight-track disc exhibits. Leading off with a somber Gothic intro that runs too long, a flurry of raw death metal attacks your ears, leaving malevolence in its wake. Cultivating its raw sound with a bevy of extreme metal influence, tracks like the methodically paced “The Day My Feathers Fell” diabolically hypnotizes, while “Recall to Nothing” unleashes the hellhounds for another round of death metal mayhem. Diverse yet ultimately metal, this debut disc offers a lot to the metal fan that needs more than brutality.
www.cruzdelsurmusic.com
Rating:

Review by Mike SOS


Moments in Grace,"Moonlight Survived" (Atlantic)
Moments in Grace is the kind of rock band whose deep introspections and streamlined sound may pigeonhole them easily, as their Thrice meets Dredg mixture never reaches the heights of either outfit. Yet MOONLIGHT SURVIVED showcases enough of the band’s ability to climb to those levels to draw more than a passing interest. Produced by Brian McTernan, whose Salad Days label discovered and groomed the Florida quartet for the big time, the 12-track release radiates with both light and dark hues, compromising with hook-happy yet emotionally driven rock songs like “We Feel The Songs” and “Don’t Leave”, whose catchy chorus and lush arrangement intertwine in post-hardcore bliss. Coming off as hardcore boys with feelings may not be Moments in Grace’s intent, but with the undeniable poignancy brought by “The Past” and “Monologue”, coupled by bouncy melodies like “My Dying Day” in tow, Moments in Grace unequivocal substance rings out clearest.
www.atlanticrecords.com
Rating:

Review by Mike SOS


Mastic Scum,"Mind" (Cudgel)
Unsettling would best describe this German-based quartet’s sound, as the mammoth tuned down riff of “My Mind’s Mine” starts off the 13-track disc experience on a cautionary note. And it gets heavier and a bit more disconcerting throughout with tracks like the Sepultura-esque “No Regrets” and the thrash punk of “To Hell With Good Intentions” whose concoction of Korn and Hatebreed comes complete with a roaring feedbacked ending. Make no mistake, Mastic Scum knows how to demolish, and their professional wares and painstaking prowess while keeping an ear to the ground helps them out-Carcass any of its peers while chopping out its on path in the metal jungle.
www.masticscum.com
Rating:

Review by Mike SOS


The Hellacopters,"Rock & Roll is Dead" (Liquor and Poker)
The Hellacopters’ latest ironically named album digs deep to resuscitate those Stones-y grooves of yesteryear, and it does the job sans a fashion show on tunes like “Leave It Alone”. Just hard-nailed, seasoned rock gems that bands used to churn out when music was all that mattered is what you’ll dive into here, and no one does it better than this acclaimed Swedish quintet. From the terribly catchy ‘70s rock sheath of “I’m in the Band” to the honkytonkin’ hooks of “I Might Come See You Tonight” and the unbridled QOSTA groove of “Bring it on Home”, there’s a good reason why these guys have toured with KISS and won Grammys in their homeland. It’s because they are one of the most rocking bands on the planet, and anyone that fancies themselves a rocker from garage to classic to stoner has something to gnaw on here.
www.liquorandpokermusic.com
Rating:

Review by Mike SOS


Suicide City,"Not My Year" (Indie Release)
This is not what you’d expect from a band comprised of former members of Kittie (Jennifer Arroyo) and Biohazard (Billy Graziadei) in the least, but it is pretty original. Suicide City is a NYC quintet who takes on the darker side of rock, somewhere in between Slipknot and Mudvayne with an emphasis on a three-vocal assault that allows songs like futuristic metal anthem “Give Me Your Pity” and “Marching Backwords” the ability to build mood and shift atmospheres unlike any other band out there today. Guiding five tracks through nu metal, hardcore, industrial, and melodic metal’s waters and coming out with compellingly composed angst like “Diemonds” and deviously dissonant metallic punk on “Fuck Your Dreams”, NOT MY YEAR is a monstrous offering from a band primed on bringing a new attitude to the metal realm.
www.suicidecity.com
Rating:

Review by Mike SOS


The Outside,"You are the Alpha…Gracias Por Nada" (Indie Release)
Sounding like Yeah Yeah Yeahs on steroids, The Outside’s barrage of melodic musings and off-kilter rhythms and timings intrigues and excites. The quartet’s latest five-track release hits hard yet knows when to tone it down so the differences in songs like “10%” feel that much more striking. Able to maintain a dreamy female vocal that viciously morphs into a guttural growl without warning help The Outside fine tune its usually dissonant yet uniquely angular wall of sound that at times is reminiscent of Tool clashing with Helmet, especially on the warped cosmic blues-metal of “Milky Way”. Dynamic as hell, heavy as lead, and enthralling throughout, this disc contains some post hardcore of the most volatile variety and should be handled with such regard.
www.the-outside.com
Rating:

Review by Mike SOS


Non-Human Level,"Non-Human Level" (Listenable)
Featuring members of Darkane and Devin Townsend Band, Non-Human Level’s metallic credibility is pretty much a lock, and the 10-track collection doesn’t disappoint. Delving deep into not only the quartet’s Swedish roots, Bay Area thrash and intricate Tampa death metals both turn up quite a bit on the self-titled debut, making songs like “Personal Hell” excruciatingly effective. Taking cues from fellow countrymen’s bands by creating catchy hooks inside of seething riffs a la In Flames, Non-Human Level does a solid job interlocking its influences so that an unspoiled flow of metal can seep through, even when they decide to roll out a church organ in the middle of “Instincts”. Death, Testament, Soilwork, and At the Gates combined? That basically sums up what you get from this disc.
www.listenable.net
Rating:

Review by Mike SOS


D.O.A.,"War on 45" (Sudden Death)
One of the most incendiary punk bands of all time, D.O.A.’s 1982 collection has been cleaned up, added to, and re-released in conjunction with the current worldwide wartime feel. Powerfully political and bursting with punk rock’s raging rawness, songs like “I Hate You” and “Smash the State” are as unrefreshingly relevant today, while tracks like “We Don’t Need No God Damn War” resonates louder than ever. Dropping knowledge in the most savage of ways, WAR ON 45 is a landmark punk album worth the first look and the second listen.
www.suddendeath.com
Rating:

Review by Mike SOS


Fake H,"Fake H" (Indie Release)
New Jersey’s Fake H’s hybrid sound channels nu metal’s rage, as the quartet’s five-track release is stocked with beefy choruses and tortured screams like the one found on “EZ Pass”. The band also treads emocore a la Deftones with mixed results on “Half Ass Hustler” and tries a little tenderness on “Two at a Time”, sounding like Default with an attitude problem. Fake H’s awkward blend of styles and heavy-handed playing pitches a much more jarring than intended listening experience.
www.fakehmusic.com
Rating:

Review by Mike SOS


Ephel Duath,"Pain Necessary to Know" (Earache)
Ephel Duath’s volatile virtuosity shines through PAIN NECESSARY TO KNOW, as these beasts of sound have effortlessly fused jazz, prog, grind, and death on their latest nine-track endeavor. Sonically stunning while viscerally crushing, tracks like “Few Stars, No Refrain and a Cigarette” evoke Mr.Bungle-esque discomfort and Candiria-style prowess. When musicians the caliber of Ephel Duath get together and get angry, wacky things happen, and everyone benefits with a disjointed masterpiece such as PAIN NECESSARY TO KNOW.
www.earache.com
Rating:

Review by Mike SOS


Vore,"Maleficus" (Indie Release)
Death metal mongers Vore mid-tempo stomp contains more than a touch of evil, as this eight-track offering follows the Deicide/Six Feet Under paradigm well enough, truly sounding foreboding. Doomier than deathier, “Threshold of Empowerment” sounds just as much at home on a Crowbar album, while the deliberately measured “Misery Embrace” feels roomy despite the incessantly intense double bass drumming. Unafraid to wield a 12-string, songs like “Ashes” give the album a more somber tone than overall death and destruction, adding traces of humanity to the typically demonic delivery. Vore does a fine job in conveying their diverse dynamics on MALEFICUS, reaching cavernous lows that shake to your soul with dexterity.
www.vore.org
Rating:

Review by Mike SOS


Torche,"Torche" (Robotic Empire)
Torche graces the world with their eponymous epic, a hypnotically charged groove rock gem carved out into 10 pieces of sonic bliss. From the psychedelically pummeling of tracks “Safe” and the Melvins-esque growl of “Mentor”, Torche brings the groove laced in sugar but twice as mighty, packing a walloping wall of sound that other bands often emulate but rarely duplicate. Mimicking the sounds of desert rock with its swirling guitar lines, driving rhythms, and trip-laden vocals found on such mushroom-clouded dreams like “Erase”, be prepared to be sucked into the vibrant vacuum that is Torche.
www.roboticempire.com
Rating:

Review by Mike SOS


Alchemy X,"Alchemy X" (Indie Release)
Progressive metal troupe Alchemy X return after a long hiatus with a new singer/keyboardist and two new tracks that alternate between crushing grooves, moody interludes, and prog rock excess. While the recording surely doesn’t do the band justice, the ideas, musicianship, and interplay between these four guys proves to be quite solid, sans the slightly annoying keyboard overlays on the pounding groove parts. Otherwise, this rejuvenated outfit’s second wind is about to begin, and if you like your prog rock with a harder edge, then Alchemy X has got what you’re looking for.
www.alchemy-x.com
Rating:

Review by Mike SOS


Canvas Solaris,"Penumbra Diffuse" (Sensory)
The instrumental magic displayed by Canvas Solaris is nothing short of jaw dropping on the trio’s latest seven-track release. This Georgia-based clan dropped its singer and decided to go at it sans vocals. Great choice, as the outfit’s spirited technique and mesmerizing technicality is rightfully thrust in the forefront. Tracks like “Accidents in Mutual Science” may require a scorecard to keep track of what’s going on, but just let Canvas Solaris worry about that and let PENUMBRA DIFFUSE whisk you away into their slightly more progressive surroundings.
www.sensoryrecords.com
Rating:

Review by Mike SOS


Various Artists,"Go Contrary Go Sing" (Made In Brooklyn)
Punk rock unplugged? More like stripped down, thanks to Made in Brooklyn records, whose engaging collection of punk rock journeymen’s more intimate offerings is worth owning the disc, even if you don’t know who three-quarters of them are. In fact, that may work in your favor, as the punk rock coffeehouse is now open, serving double-fisted drinks and trading memories, thanks to songs by the like of Cheetah Chrome, Mike Hudson, Sab Grey and a bunch of old punks who never lost their way.
www.brooklyntowne.com
Rating:

Review by Mike SOS


Face the Truth,"Face the Truth" (Indie Release)
NYC is the template for Face the Truth’s caustic blend of hardcore, metal, crust, and punk, as the homage to Biohazard, E-Town Concrete, and Agnostic Front is apparent with dollops of Bronx-styled beatdown metalcore slightly trailing behind. Destructively demonic guitar riffs evoke Sabbath-esque doom while 3 brings a street punk meets Scandanavian metal vibe. Odd-timed and angry, Face the Truth’s self-titled affair fleshes out elements birthed from the struggling NYC heavy music scene, taking Candiria’s rhythmic rampages and VOD’s startling breakdowns and injecting them with hearty helpings of crusty metallic doom for a excruciatingly brutal listen.
J_foliedagain@hotmail.com
Rating:

Review by Mike SOS


The Frantic,"A Story of Betrayal and Lust" (Indie Release)
The Frantic is a New Jersey-quartet whose sinewy blues bitten alternative rock shuffle reigns over A STORY OF BETRAYAL AND LUST. Going two steps beyond bar band fare with their inventive songwriting, drama-building dynamics, and hard rock backbone, songs like “Ver 2.0” are transported from the garage floor to the stage with ease, while the title cut shimmies with shameless rock ‘n roll spirit. Fully in tune with each other and how to rock, The Frantic’s simplistic yet rich melodies are stapled all over this smart seven-track disc, giving fans of fist-pumping rock something to cheer about.
www.the-frantic.com
Rating:

Review by Mike SOS


Ewigkeit,"Conspiritus" (Earcache)
Ewigkeit is a UK group whose well known in the metal realm for producing massively sounding projects, and CONSPIRITUS is no exception, creating a futuristic rock sound laden in technological grace and metal’s aggressive edge. Containing 10 tracks of auditory overload, this danceable hard rocking progressively metallic endeavor, flawlessly mixed by John Fryer (NIN, HIM, Paradise Lost) requires an undivided attention to fully enjoy its wonderfully placed peaks and valleys. But even if you give it a half-assed one, you’ll walk away humming “Square Sunrise’s” melody line amongst the zillion other things that made an impression on your musically crammed skull.
www.earache.com
Rating:

Review by Mike SOS


Thrice,"Vheissu" (Island)
Thrice’s latest album is a testament to the quartet’s growth, who’ve quickly transcended from slicing Cali screamo band to universally appealing rock band with strength and grace while not selling out a bit. On VHEISSU, there’s a discernible attention paid to dynamics, as the rumbling buildup of “Image of the Invisible” portrays arena rock anthem ability without sacrificing the band’s regimented attention to detail. Another huge change in the sound for the Warped Tour veterans is the intentional different instrumentation used throughout the entire 11-track disc, and how the use of numerous pianos, synths, and programming gives the band a voracious versatility, culminating with “The Earth Will Shake”. Entrenching Thrice firmly as a band whose convincing storytelling transcends lyrics, this track combines the outfit’s old guitar-fueled and lung-ripping passions with their newfound experimental approaches, providing the most intense moments of the disc. Excruciatingly pensive, the lyrics across VEHISSU are spiritually charged, yet Thrice doesn’t push beliefs down your throat with fire or brimstone. Instead, they allow crushing instrumental outros like the one on “For Miles” and dueling bone crunching vocals and guitars on “Hold Fast Hope” to speak, albeit with the volume way up, so you can hear the message and music evenly and can decide for yourself. Way less reckless than their days on Sub City, more clever than any other band in the genre, and overall providing a glorious rock album, Thrice have tapped the mainline that crosses punk, metal, and alternative, making an timeless album that will be a point of reference for generations.
www.islandrecords.com
Rating:

Review by Mike SOS


Soulfly,"Dark Ages" (Roadrunner)
Max Cavalera returns with another endeavor from his decade-long project Soulfly, a full-circle return to heaviness of sorts for the Brazilian-born metal master. With help from guitar whiz Mark Rizzo, the 15-track DARK AGES opens the floodgates with less world beat instrumentations and motifs, yielding to a predominant amount more blast beat, as songs like the blistering opening tracks “Babylon” and “I And I” exhibit a renewal to angst-ridden aggression. And while Soulfly keeps the pedal to the metal, those atmospheric tribal jams significant of Cavalera’s proud South American tradition are still embedded in the overall sound of the band, as tracks like “Riotstarter”, “Soulfly V”, and the Sabbath meets Tito Puente vibe of “Innerspirit” aims to keep the band’s unique sound balanced. However, it’s songs like the brutal to beautiful transition of “Frontlines” that are most effective here, tracing over Sepultura’s undeniable heaviness while drawing from Cavalera’s vast musical pool that makes this disc the heaviest thing Max has done since he struck out on his own.
www.roadrunnerrecords.com
Rating:

Review by Mike SOS


Insense,"Soothing Torture" (Candlelight)
Don’t let the calming piano intro on SOOTHING TORTURE trick you into thinking this disc is going to be something of a relief, because Insense provides nothing of the sort. While there are parts of the 10-track offering where the Norwegian troupe lapse into Neurosis-esque ethereal jams, the majority of the tracks such as “I, Deviant” and the title cut fall somewhere in between Sepultura’s raw heaviness, Meshuggah’s technical prowess, and Strapping Young Lad’s ornate song structuring, making this release a brawny juggernaut that fans of extreme metal collisions should eat up.
www.candlelightrecordsusa.com
Rating:

Review by Mike SOS


Sevendust,"Next" (Winedarkrecord)
Veritable hard rock road dogs Sevendust lost an original member, underwent major music industry strife, and yet still come back swinging with NEXT, the outfit’s latest 13-track release. Easily the Atlanta, GA’s most spirited and heaviest album since their debut, this disc displays the boys finding their sledgehammered grooves again, thanks in part to new arrival and nu-metal guitarist extraordinaire Sonny Mayo (Snot, Amen, hed PE), whose crunching presence seemingly breathes new life into the band. If you gave up on this explosive quintet, songs like the devastatingly harmonic “Pieces”, the aggressively charged “Silence”, and the anthemic “Ugly” firmly cement Sevendust’s place back atop the hard rock hierarchy.
www.sevendust.info
Rating:

Review by Mike SOS


The Tony Danza Tapdace Extravaganza,"The Tony Danza Tapdace Extravaganza" (Corrosive)
With a name like theirs, this band either has a great sense of humor or is a complete waste of time. Thankfully, the first is true, and damn, these guys are brutal, almost as brutal as watching an entire hour of WHO’S THE BOSS. This spastically sublime quintet play disjointed noise rock with tinges of metal and thrash, and their song titles, which include gems like “Cliff Burton Surprise” and “Big Pun’s Not Dead Because I Just Saw Him at Krispy Kreme” are priceless. If you like your psychotic smackdown served with a sense of humor, these guys deliver.
www.tonydanzatapdanceextravaganza.com
Rating:

Review by Mike SOS


Dark Haven,"Your Darkest Hour" (Indie Release)
This California-based quintet channels their inner Swede on this five-track offering, resulting in a pulse-quickening, heart-pounding, non-stop metallic tour de force. Complete with lush keyboards, drilling guitars, gravel-throated vocals, and destructive drumming, Dark Haven’s crisp songwriting and epic recording stands heads and shoulders above most unsigned acts, giving the big boys in the genre like Soilwork, In Flames, and Darkest Hour a good run for their money. Look for big things from this real deal metal outfit.
www.darkhavenmusic.com
Rating:

Review by Mike SOS


Khanate,"Capture & Release" (Hydra Head)
Yet another spooky offering from the mind of doom-meister Stephen O’Malley, this time it’s the NYC-based outfit Khanate’s chance to cast your under its spell. And with its slow, plodding riffs and hair-raising shrieks leading the charge, this disc definitely falls under the category of uneasy listening. Two tracks, 43 minutes long, and laden with gloom, foreboding terror, and well-measured fright tactics, CAPTURE & RELEASE is the perfect soundtrack to torture someone to.
www.hydrahead.com
Rating:

Review by Mike SOS


If Hope Dies,"Life in Ruin" (Metal Blade)
If Hope Dies have got their metalcore stance perfected, as LIFE IN RUIN aptly exhibits this Upstate NY quintet’s brutal brushstrokes. From dead-on screaming vocals that run with blood to the chugga-chugga guitar goodness found strewn about the entire 11-track disc, songs like “Time is Not on Our Side” denote an outfit content on spewing forth hearty dollops of venomously vitriolic verse with the proper helpings of pounding rhythms and metallic melody in tow, whipping the pit into a frenzy. Merging the East Coast’s slash and burn style a la Hatebreed with shards of Swedish technicality, LIFE IN RUIN is an album capable of creating utter chaos. www.metalblade.com
www.metalblade.com
Rating:

Review by Mike SOS


Between the Buried and Me,"Alaska" (Victory)
How a band hailing from North Carolina comes up with ALASKA as an album title is perplexing, but not nearly as head scratching as this 11-track schizophrenically sonic sojourn. Between the Buried and Me confidently displays all of the dastardly metallic devices needed to blow your head clean off your shoulders on tracks like “Roboturner”, but it’s during songs like “Selkes: The Endless Obsession”, where the band gets all Opeth meets Genesis on your ass, or on the acoustically-led Caribbean feel of “Laser Speed” when you can actually see why this band is one of the most brilliant on the extreme music scene today. Lose your inhibitions (don’t fret, tough guys, there’s enough testosterone here to fill your most violent urges) and soak in the progressively pummeling beauty of ALASKA.
www.victoryrecords.com
Rating:

Review by Mike SOS


Amps II Eleven,"Amps II Eleven" (Smog Veil)
The Mistake by the Lake has gone up and done it again, as Cleveland quintet Amps II Eleven uncork a raucous rock ‘n roll rebellion with their eponymous earth-shaking 12-track offering. Songs like “Bourbon Sprawl” truly embody the feeling of having a fifth in ya, while the badass back alley boogie on tunes like the deliciously titled “Dirty Handshakes” assuredly contains enough grime for all. Exposing the underbelly of the rock world never sounded as booze-infested, whore-lovin’, or just plain fun than when this band of outlaw rockers truly evoke the smell, feel, and spirit of 1974 that has evaded us and been repackaged into easily digested mall rock a la Jet. Looking for danger, baby? Amps II Eleven will hold the door wide open for you.
www.amps2eleven.com
Rating:

Review by Mike SOS


Vaux,"Beyond Virtue, Beyond Vice" (Atlantic)
It’s a shame that Atlantic Records and Vaux parted ways before this 11-track album was released, as this Colorado sextet truly embody everything right about rock music on BEYOND VIRTUE, BEYOND VICE. Taking ample influence from Warped Tour alumni, grunge-era superstars, grimy punk players, and Radiohead’s radiance, songs like “Cocaine James” infectiously romps inside your brain while retaining its darkened aura. Able to transcend the intangibles and keep the music mattering first, songs like “A Simple Man” creates atmosphere, tells a story, and rocks, all in one. When was the last time a song you heard did all three? Hopefully order will be restored and this disc will be widely available for the rock world to fully embrace.
www.vauxrocks.com
Rating:

Review by Mike SOS


Fivespeed,"Morning Over Midnight" (Virgin)
Pheonix, AZ’s Fivespeed pack a sonic punch on its major label 10-track debut, as this quintet’s sound falls somewhere between Taproot’s metallic malaise and Saliva’s tugging of the heartstrings. Heavy-handed tracks like “Blame It On You” exhibit nu-metal dexterity, while “Lights” finds the band tapping into its inner sanctum for a mid-tempo soul searching a la Staind. Undoubtedly MORNING OVER MIDNIGHT sounds huge, rocks speakers, and is primed and ready for the radio. But the real question remains…does today’s fierce face of rock radio have room for Fivespeed?
www.virginrecords.com
Rating:

Review by Mike SOS


Sponge,"The Man" (Idol)
Shedding some emotional baggage without shedding its grungy skin, the ‘90s rock troupe Sponge may sound a tad irrelevant in today’s rock realm, but who could’ve predicted Motley Crue would be packing arenas in 2006? Sounding as angst-ridden as ever while keeping the guitar lines dirty yet simple, songs like “Glue” and “The Man” may not contain standout riffs like the band’s breakout hit “Plowed”, but after hearing the heartbreak on the acoustic “For All The Drugs in the World”, you can tell this Detroit, MI act has come full circle. Laying down its pain in the most convincing of ways, THE MAN finds this band compellingly retracing its steps back from the where are they now file back to the dusty rock ‘n roll trail.
www.idolrecords.com
Rating:

Review by Mike SOS


Withered,"Momento Mori" (Lifeforce)
It’s ironic how much of the New Wave of American Metal sounds like Swedish and Norwegian thrash and black metal, but that’s the case once again with Atlanta, GA’s Withered. Add in some of Mastodon’s more majestic posturing and a pseudo-Goth metal façade, too, as this seven-track, 37 minute long bonecrunching barrage melds the styles with a viscous coating of stoner rock, evident on tracks like “Within Your Grief”. Changing tempos with savage grace and capable of slugging out a sludge-a-thon on the nine-minute “Like Locusts”, MEMENTO MORI is an album rich in metallic influence and executed with pounding precision. Adventurous and abrasive, this disc needs your most metal of attitudes to be properly enjoyed.
www.lifeforcerecords.com
Rating:

Review by Mike SOS


Drop Dead, Gorgeous,"Be Mine, Valentine" (Rise)
Despite half the band still being in high school, Drop Dead, Gorgeous manage to stir quite the calculated mess up on its six-song EP. BE MINE, VALENTINE is stocked with screamo from top to bottom, as the screeching vocals are relentless, as are the jarring guitar noises heard on tracks like “Well, I Never Knew You Were So Much Fun”. If The Bled crossed over with Poison the Well, the end result may just be this Denver quintet, whose high-pitched guitar attack and demonic bottom end make for quite the unsettling listen.
www.riserecords.com
Rating:

Review by Mike SOS


Clawfinger,"Hate Yourself With Style" (Nuclear Blast)
Rap-metal pioneers Clawfinger come back swinging as hard as ever on HATE YOURSELF WITH STYLE. This latest endeavor is an uncensored, unashamed 11-track release that not only showcases the outfit’s penchant for creating engaging and powerful music, but also does its share in providing some inspired debate. From the opening title “The Faggot in You”, straight away you know this is not an ordinary band, and this is what has made this band such an entity throughout its 18-year career. Willing to stick their necks out on the line by writing about controversial topics honestly, songs like “Right to Rape” and “Hypocrite” hit equally hard with words as they do with chords, truly tapping into the power of the Swedish band and its political and socially conscious wares.
www.nuclearblastusa.com
Rating:

Review by Mike SOS


Electric Six,"Senor Smoke" (Metropolis)
Electric Six’s electronically tinged arena rock may sound like it’s supposed to parody dance music, but that’s the beauty of it all. These guys are for real, and the dance rock nuances are so very intentional. In fact, when playing SENOR SMOKE, the Detroit outfit’s 15-track feel-good sophomore effort, the feeling that a drug-fueled orgy has just been unleashed is expected. This is the ultimate white boy funk, as songs like “Bite Me” and “Dance Epidemic” compliment both Foreigner and Kool & The Gang perfectly, only with a firmer tongue planted in cheek. Yeah, it’s a little on the metrosexual side of the fence, but damn, the beers will fly down the gullet when this disc is playing at the next soiree you attend.
www.metropolis-records.com
Rating:

Review by Mike SOS


The Ocean,"Aeolian" (Metal Blade)
When you name your band something as broad as The Ocean, you best be prepared for questions. Well, at least this German troupe, who’ve incorporated six different vocalists on this recording, play a versatile array of metal that meshes the ambiance of Neurosis with the crushing might of New England metalcore like Converge, whose singer Nate Newton appears here. Pushing forth a sprawling 10-track affair as lush as perilous, tracks like near-10 minute “Austerity” shift mood and time signature effortlessly, while “Killing the Flies” demonstrates the collective’s belligerence by exposing its bruising side. There’s a lot to take in on AEOLIAN that requires a love of heavy music and an undistracted ear, and once that time has been rendered, you’ll understand this band’s the power of The Ocean’s intricate approach to extreme metal.
www.metalblade.com
Rating:

Review by Mike SOS


Bad Wizard,"Sky High" (Howler)
NYC’s Bad Wizard bring the boogie back to rock, as the quintet’s nine-track release reacquaints the lower half of the body to rock music with solid results. From the breakaway guitar solo of “Jealous Man” to the devilishly clever cowbell intro and heavy metal guitar gallop of “Strawberry”, there’s a whole lotta shakin’ goin’ on courtesy of this outfit, who could not only single-handedly host the I LOVE THE ‘70S show on VH-1, but sound entirely convincing throughout. MC5, AC/DC, Molly Hatchet, and a lot of liquor and drugs equals this badass band whose ‘70s rock salvo hits its peak on the fire and brimstone delivery of “13X Around the World”.
www.howlerrecords.com
Rating:

Review by Mike SOS


Supercreep,"Supercreep" (Universal)
Supercreep is the solo vehicle for Jodi Delli Santi after he dropped his band and the “s” from its name and decided to take the show on the road alone. What that act yielded is the 12-track self-titled release by this New Jersey native who bridged and tunneled it to the East Village for a great deal of musical inspiration. From the Rival School feel of “Polite” to the electro-rock vibe a la The Bravery of “The Haze” to the Strokes-esque laissez-faire feel of “Mushroom Cloud” , nary a hipster should be without this disc, which practically provides a blueprint to the indie rock scene of NYC without getting messy or convoluted. If you dig highly produced dance rock with a little dirt under the fingernails, Supercreep’s debut is worth a listen.
www.supercreep.net
Rating:

Review by Mike SOS


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