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Pimpadelic • Southern Devils

Tommy Boy Records
Pimpadelic is a white trash quartet from Ft. Worth, Texas that take the done-to-the-balls genre of rap rock and put their own... nah, they're pretty generic, folks, but hey, if ya like the Kid Rock ("White Trash") vibe, then you’ll be sure to dig this.  Cool samples and some well thought arrangements are strewn throughout Pimpadelic’s 14 track sex, drugs and rap-rock assault. Full of sometimes twangy, sometimes heavy guitars, a plethora of rock star references (one full star given for the Bon Scott mention in "Vegas"), liquor and drug glorification and pure misogyny and stupidity, it’s sure to piss off parents, annoy public educators, and sell a million if marketed correctly.  For those with a sense of humor or the totally clueless.

Fleshcrawl • As the Blood Rains From the Skys...

Metal Blade Records
German metal is generally regarded in a cheesy ’80s metal light, a la Scorpions and Accept. Not anymore, folks. Bursting onto the scene and blowing right through your speakers comes Fleshcrawl, a quintet from the Rhein that’ll blast beat you right out of your easy chair. Heavy, heavy shit a la Obituary-meets-At The Gates ("Path Of Endless Fire"). No Bic-flicking power ballads here, just a dead-on assault of your unforgiving eardrums ("Creation Of Wrath," "The Dark Side of My Soul"). Satan would be proud.

Gearhead Freaks • Not a Pretty Picture

SonicUnderground Productions
Gearhead Freaks is the brainchild of two Long Island, NY guys whose collective musical vision has no boundaries or restrictions. This CD is a total departure from anything familar or popular, yet it documents fragments of pop music from the last 35 years or so ("Ordin’airely"), and that’s what makes Not a Pretty Picture such a damn good record. This 15 track CD is an eclectic mixture of rock, pop, soul and jazz that’d make Frank Zappa proud ("Aluminum Pennies"). In addition to GHF’s multitude of influences, they show the capacity to arrange a near perfect song. With firm grasps on mood and feeling and a keen sense of musicianship ("Lazy Lyla," "Down Time") these boys from Lawng Eyeland hammer home singable melodies with excellent precision a la Steely Dan ("Wherever You Go"). If you like quirky music that is chock full of brilliance, then check out Gearhead Freaks. To find out more on this dynamic duo, go to www.sonicunderground.com.

Angel Dust • Enlighten the Darkness

Century Media Records
Power metal from Germany comes to us by way of the reformed Angel Dust, a quintet that packs a powerful punch. Their 11 track disc bursts with Judas Priest/Maiden structured power grooves, complete with stellar guitar work and headbanging melodies that’s sure to make the metalhead in all of us raise a fist into the air. While Angel Dust can be viewed as metal specialists ("Let Me Live," "Cross of Hatred"), they also show a keen knack for writing a heavy hook around a memorable chorus ("Enjoy"), as well as the ability to reach down deep and pull out a power ballad that’s easy on the cheese and laden with substance ("Oceans of Tomorrow," "Beneath The Silence"). If you dig Queensryche, Dio and the like and you yearn for the days that metal bands actually rocked instead of posed, check out Angel Dust and reintroduce yourself to a solid metal outfit.

The Sins of Thy Beloved • Perpetual Desolation

Napalm Records
Gothic death metal is what The Sins of Thy Beloved is all about, and man, are they gloomy. This album has a Kate Bush meets Cradle Of Filth kind of vibe with its eerie interludes blasting into a death metal assault. TSOTB also implement the use of two keyboards and a violin, which gives the band a free range of sounds and allows them to experiment quite a bit, throwing in a good number of symphonic breaks into their cacophonic stew. The kicker on this nine track release is their Goth metal take on Metallica’s "The Thing That Should Not Be," done interestingly enough with female lead vocals. If you like your mope music murky yet symphonic, look no further than The Sins of Thy Beloved.

Luddite/Clone • The Arsonist and the Architect

Relapse Records
Noise rockers Luddite/Clone’s six song disc has everything you’d expect from a Relapse artist; out and out brutality, a mixture of grind, death and extreme metal and pure mayhem in general. This New Jersey quintet has a penchant for taking some skull shaking riffs ("Bottom King") and taking them to the next level of sick with their lunatic fringe rhythms and offbeat song structure. Imagine the power of Pantera with the progressive overtones of Candiria with the devil-may-care attitude of Brutal Truth ("Arthropod") and what you’ve got is a six song release that will snap necks as it turns your head wondering "what the hell was that?" Bone crushing and worth every cent. Pick it up and feel the burn.

Sacred Steel • Bloodlust

Metal Blade Records
Ever wonder what happened to the days where metal was a type of music that told stories of war and death and salvation, almost like a steroid induced Shakespeare story, while a band backed up the singer’s tales with anthemic opuses that took a near majestic tone? Sacred Steel still lives under this guise, and their latest 10 track disc is a testament to their stance. Bloodlust tells a story of all of these things, and the music is just as anthemic as any third rate Maiden clone. While Sacred Steel’s brand of power metal may be considered passe, their chops are well noted and the voice is distinct, albeit sounding a bit like Geddy Lee with a cold. If you dig metal the old fashioned way, then be sure to pick up Sacred Steel’s latest.

Halford • Resurrection

Sanctuary Records
Rejoice, all metalheads, as the Y2K has brought us many bright spots to hold near and dear to our hardened hearts. First comes the return of Iron Maiden with a triple guitar assault and Bruce firmly back in the fold, then straight out of the closet comes a rejuvenated Rob Halford, leather and all. Halford comes back to the realm of metal with a 12 track disc that screams for vengeance a la Priest’s Painkiller and shows Halford and company to be back in the metal state of mind that we know and love good old Rob for. From the opening riffs of the title track to "The One You Love To Hate", a totally metal duet with Bruce Dickinson that’ll have you raising your horned hands in unison, it’s obvious that Halford has returned to his old self, complete with the signature falsetto screams ("Night Fall") and enough lyrical depth to fill a puddle (hey, Rob isn’t exactly Chaucer). It’s metal, baby, and we’ve got one of our favorite sons back! Halford actually does a fine job reaffirming his place in the metal thick of things with Resurrection, matching ear splitting riffs to supercharged anthems that make you proud to be a metalhead again.

Dee Snider • Never Let the Bastards Wear You Down

KOCH Records
The return of Dee Snider, one of the more prolific ’80s metal frontmen, may prove to be just what the rock world needs to give it a good kick in the ass. Staying hungry as ever, Snider and company rip through 10 tracks of high octane rock and roll ("Hard Core") that’s heavy on the hooks and light on the sap. Keeping it upbeat and rocking basically throughout the whole 10 track offering, Snider and his more than capable counterparts put new twists on old standards ("The Wanderer") and also give us some new bones to chew on that can stand right up to his previous work with Twisted Sister ("Ride Through The Storm," "Isn’t It Time") as some good old stomping rock tunes. If you want to hear some straight up, no gimmick rock and roll, check out how one of the seasoned veterans gets the job done. You’ll be glad you did.

Agent Steel • Omega Conspiracy

Metal Blade Records
Agent Steel is a metal quintet from California that blends thrash and classic metal akin to Judas Priest (even going as far as covering their classic "Beyond The Realm of Death") with a progressive twist, especially in the lyrical content. Dealings with aliens and conspiracies aplenty are sung about over a metal opus is what you'll find from these metal mavens. So, if you dig Overkill, Hades or any given Swedish metal outfit, then Agent Steel is right up your alley.

Hypocrisy • Into the Abyss

Nuclear Blast America
Hypocrisy comes out with another chest pounding, heart stopping death metal release that’s sure to wake the dead and leave scars.  Their 10 track disc contains some of the most calculatingly brutal riffs this side of Carcass ("Blinded").  On their 10th release, this Stockholm trio delivers the goods, blending all of the various sounds that have defined the Swedish scene and in turn, making Into the Abyss a virtual handbook into the world of underground metal.  From the keyboard induced trance of "Unleash The Beast" and "Unfold The Sorrow" to the the blast beat mayhem of "Total Eclipse," Hypocrisy have once again showed why they are one of the premeire bands in the whole scene today.  If you’re a fan of the whole European metal scene, this disc is essential.

NOTE: Due to space constraints, the following reviews were not included in the print edition of Geoff Wilbur's Renegade Newsletter.  These reviews are only available here in the online edition.

Boy Sets Fire • After the Eulogy

Victory Records
Boy Sets Fire is a Delaware quintet of epic proportions.  These guys take the raw emotion of hardcore and add thick layers of indie rock, country and metal to the mix to create a truly powerful music machine.  Imagine John Mellencamp jamming with Metallica, or even COC and CCR getting together for a session with a hardcore undercurrent and punk sensibilities. What follows is nothing but 13 lyrically brilliant, sonically satisfying tunes sure to grab you by the balls and the brain.  Albeit the messages and politics of the band sometimes distract from the sheer power they wield, BSF show that on After the Eulogy that they’re ready for the big time.  This heavy music juggernaut is poised and ready to take their Social Justice 101 lesson meets hardcore punk metal consciousness to the next level.

Disturbed • The Sickness

Giant Records
The Windy City brings us Disturbed, an electronic metal quartet that shares as much in common with White Zombie as they do Godsmack.  Their 12-track disc sizzles with power and bubbles over with emotion, thanks to the vocal gymnastics of their singer David Draiman.  Riding the whole Static X/electronic metal wave, these Chi-town metalheads have got all of the elements to be the next big band; big hooks ("Stupify"), twisted vocals that at times, don’t even seem human ("Down With The Sickness"), and overall the ability to command a familar sound while still being able to place their own stamp on it ("Numb").  They even do a really cool cover of Tears For Fears’ "Shout."  If you like the sounds of new metal, then Disturbed is a must have in your collection.  Check them out on this summer’s Ozzfest and see for yourself what the hoopla is all about.

Papa Roach • Infest

Dreamworks Records
Papa Roach is the newest band from the "pissed off from California" line that some factory in Silicon Valley is seemingly pumping out these days.  Keeping up with the dissonance of Staind ("Between Angels and Insects") or the bounciness of Offspring ("Last Resort") isn’t easy, yet PR does both commendably.  Definitely devoid of substance, PR makes up for their lackluster lyrical subject matter on their 11 track debut by rocking.  And rocking hard ("Dead Cell"), with a B-boy, Korn meets Limp vibe with chunks of funkified metal guitar riffs and driving rhythms that’s sure to sound good to every high school junior attending the Warped Tour this summer.  Papa Roach brings to us a hip-hop hardcore hybrid of rock without any message, which in reality, isn’t really a bad thing.  If you’re under 18, these guys will speak to you in volumes, but if you’re over 18, turn your brain off and rock out!

Mint 400 • Intercomfort

Vile Beat Records
Mint 400 is a Brit band with a big rock sound that's not as sanitized as Bush, but isn't as avant garde as Blur or Jesus and Mary Chain. Their 14 track disc contains a bevy of guitar driven, hook laden songs that tend to rock a little harder than your average alternative rock band ("Dig"). Kinda like a more subdued Monster Magnet, this limey quartet is bold, brash, psychedelic and trippy ("White Cadillac Man") and overall, manage to put out a pretty rocking release. If you dig (or even know) Catherine Wheel, A or Muse, then Mint 400 would be a welcomed addition to your Brit rock collection.

Glassjaw • Everything You Always Wanted to Know About Silence

Roadrunner Records
>From the streets of Bellmore, Long Island, NY come a quintet called Glassjaw, a name you're sure to hear from for many years. Blending the abrasive NYHC sound with touches of art rock and nu metal, this Ross Robinson produced debut 12 track disc is as mesmerizing and captivating as rock music gets. There's a lot of Faith No More in here, as well as Quicksand, Deftones, VOD and many other underground heroes' sounds bubbling underneath the emo rock surface of this multi-faceted and talented outfit. Creating intelligent angst is no easy feat, yet lead singer Daryl Palumbo's creatively manic style complement the aural assault of the twin guitar and driving bass and drum rhythms. The music Glassjaw creates is truly unique, yet pleasantly familiar, blending dissonant chords with singable melodies and complex song structures that at times go into uncharted territory with jarring results. If you think that all new metal sounds like Korn, or if you like your metal edgy and laden with intelligence without sacrificing brutality, then check these guys out. Quite possibly the bets new release this year.

False Prophets • Blind Roaches and Fat Vultures

Alternative Tentacles
The False Prophets were one of the seminal bands of the early 1980s punk rock scene in NYC. On this retrospective 21 track CD, the band is chronicled from early demos to their first full length album. If you'd like to learn more about where your local punk rock band is getting all of their cool ideas and where they're getting their angst from, pick this release up and see for yourself. Take some time out and learn from some elder statesmen on how it's done, boys and girls.

One Way Ride • Straight Up

MCA Records
Riding the wave that Creed and STP created, California quartet One Way Ride try and take the rock and roll world by storm by creating heavy hooks, a strong male vocal that's sure to turn on the female contingent and enough sing along choruses that will make Bic lighter stocks rise through the roof. What they achieve in doing, however, is making a bland 12 track album that reeks of plagiarism of today's radio friendly rock mixed with senseless lyrics and a complete lack of feeling. If you dig all those copycat bands that will be in heavy rotation for 2 weeks and then drop off the face of the earth, then pick this up, otherwise, why bother? Buy yourself something else with the $15 you'll save.

STB • Spit

Elbo Records
STB is an alternative rock trio that shares as much in common with The Indigo Girls as they do Nirvana. On their 10 track disc, STB changes moods and tempos from fast and furious ("Spit") to laid back and sublime ("Lies") without the listener feeling cheated or disturbed. Solid songwriting and strong vocals back up the this band's sometimes lush ("Beggar, Queen and Thief"), sometimes loud ("Running Out Of Time") but overall enticing musical endeavors. If you dig Mazzy Star, Concrete Blonde or The Breeders, then check out STB for some female fronted rock that is as sonic as it's sultry.

Metal Church • Live

Nuclear Blast Records
Metal Church seems as if they’re merely at the end of their record contract, as they release this pointless CD that documents 11 live tracks dating back to 1986.  Even though the band’s chops and performance is top notch here (as they normally were), why in the hell would they release a live album of tracks that they can’t even document because "they’ve been in the vault for so long?" I guess there’s nothing new with these guys.  If you’re a super Metal Church fan, pick it up, otherwise steer clear.

Savatage • Ghosts in the Ruins

Nuclear Blast Records
Savatage is one of the more underrated metal bands on the circuit today, and this live album which documents the quintet in all of their splender shows exactly why.  This 13 track CD serves the dual purpose of saying goodbye to guitarist Criss Oliva as well as treating their fans to their greatest hits in a live format.  More epic than most, Savatage had a definite flare for firing up operatic metal melodies complete with catchy hooks and an overall majestic feel.  If you’d like to hear some great 80’s metal done live, as well as pay your respects to a guitarist that left us before his prime, then check out this CD.

Crowbar • Equilibrium

Spitfire Records
The brutal bohemoths Crowbar bring the sludge they’re made famous for back on their latest 11 track outing.  The grind of guitars combined with the ultra heavy bottom end and throaty vocals make this Louisiana quartet a major force to be reckoned with. But this time around, it seems as there’s as much concentration on the songwriting ("Command Of Myself," "To Touch The Hand Of God") as there is the groove.  So, while the sludge bogs you down and tears into the deepest recesses of your brain, there’s a melody to sing over it.  Brilliant.  These guys continue to tear it up, and they get better each time out.  If you like it slow, deep and hard (check out their sick-ass cover of "Dreamweaver"!) a la Type O, then get this quick and feel the weight of Crowbar.

Armored Saint • Revelation

Metal Blade Records
After an absence of nearly a decade, Armored Saint has returned in full glory on their latest 12 song CD, Revelation.  Staying true to form, John Bush, Joey Vera and Gonzo pound out the metal ("Pay Dirt", "Tension").  However, it’s not in the "we’re back cause we’re broke and we still gotta pay the mortgage" regurgitated nonsense that so many bands succumb to.  In fact, they don’t sound dated or bloated, proving that they still can bang out a tune or two ("What’s Your Pleasure"), after a lengthy absence.  The return of the Saint sounds just as fresh or current of any veteran band still staying true (Testament, Priest, and of course, Anthrax.)  Matter of fact, if you close your eyes, you’d think Revelation was Anthrax with Dan Spitz again, or even better, the way Metallica may’ve sounded today if Bush had joined them in 1984 ("Damaged").  Armored Saint is back, and while Scott and Charlie do SOD, hopefully John and the rest of East LA’s finest can keep up the pace they’ve set on this great comeback.

Agents Of Oblivion • Agents Of Oblivion

Rotten Records
Agents of Oblivion’s self-titled debut is atmospheric to say the least.  The Agents were formed from the ashes of notorious Southern noisesters Acid Bath, but if that were never written, no one would ever have guessed.  Their complete musical turnaround is quite different than what you may expect.  And what is that exactly?  Well, think melodic and heavy yet sleepy, like a small Louisiana bayou community ("Endsmouth") or better yet, the sound of the Seattle supergroups like Temple of The Dog or Mad Season ("Phantom Green").  Southern fried rock that’s epic and lush, yet still manages to kick some ass ("Ladybug", "A Song That Crawls").  If you dig Black Label Society, or can envision CCR with a metal flare, then Agents of Oblivion are for you.

The Eye • The Joy Of Diving

Miltona Records
The Eye is a Los Angeles based trio that shows their love for alternative music of the early to mid 80’s on their 16 track CD The Joy Of Diving.  Solid songwriting ("High," "In My Head"), and perfect production help The Eye achieve the lofty position of having a sound that everyone from 8 to 80 can enjoy.  If you like to groove to some of the more mature rock bands out there, like Matchbox 20 or Dave Matthews, or if you have a penchant for great alternative rock like REM ("Steer Clear") or the Gin Blossoms ("You And I"), then you should check out The Eye.  Especially check these guys out if you want to hear some great cover versions of the Cure’s "Killing An Arab," or Joy Division’s "Ceremony."  Check out www.miltonarecords.com for more.

Cradle Of Filth • From the Cradle to Enslave

Metal Blade Records
The biggest black metal band in the world come back with an EP with a cover tune, namely The Misfits "Death Comes Ripping," and some more of their infamous debauchery.  Cradle of Filth, that English band everyone moral loves to hate return with more of their usual assault.  This CD shows just why these guys are at the top of their game, and it’s not only in the gimmick field either.  Ethereal screams and keyboards topped off of blast beaded drums and thrashing guitars are a COF trademark, and this EP is no exception.  Add those to odd signature timings, the usage of orchestration, and solid musicianship all around within a 7 minute song and you have another indication as to why Cradle of Filth are the premiere black metal band.  If you’re curious, or if you dig this stuff, pick up Cradle’s latest.

There • II

Say Jim That's A Bad Outfit Records
There is an outstanding three-piece band from Massachusetts that really brings the rock home.  So who are they?  Reread the first sentence.  No, you didn’t read it wrong; the name is included.  The name of the band is There, and this trio has to be heard.  Imagine Zep, Sabbath and Cream ("Jimminy Cricket") getting together and jamming and maybe you get an idea.  Deep rooted in the blues ("Papa"), and amplified with metal and hard rock tendencies ("Ransack",) these guys are surely a force to be reckoned with.  And, even though they rock so hard, they even have a sense of humor, shown in their choice of cover tunes.  Never has a Jim Henson movie song kicked such ass, but There pull it off with their funky rendition of "Can You Picture That," from The Muppet Movie!  For more info, you gotta check out www.thererock.com.

Soilwork • The Chainheart Machine

Century Media Records
Swedish metal mongers Soilwork have accomplished the arduous task of standing above and beyond many of their homelands’s other metal bands.  How, you may ask?  Well, imagine a 6 piece metal machine that’s part Carcass, part Megadeth, and part Judas Priest, and that’s only one song ("Chainheart Machine").  Mixing many of underground metal’s sounds (goth, blast beat thrash, progressive) into a heaping stew of 10 hearty songs that any ambitious metalhead can thrash and groove to ("Milionflame", "Machinegun Majesty"), Soilwork may be one of the few band’s that can actually live up to their own bio’s hype of being "one of the big surprises for the new Millennium."  If you’d like to be blown away, check these guys out.

Bump City • Next Destination...Bump City

Citymade Records
Damn, these boys bring some soul to the hole!  Bump City is a NYC quartet that take James Brown, Parliament and Sly and The Family Stone and funkify the grooves with a Y2K flair.  Butt shaking grooves are what you’ll find on this 11 track disc, and if you’re afraid of the funk, you best not need apply, cause this shit is as funky as gym socks left in a locker over Christmas vacation ("Bad Man", "Blame Tonight").  Imagine Jamoriquai, Stevie Wonder and Ben Folds Five jamming on some Curtis Mayfield and Issac Hayes standards ("Bittersweet Days"), and that’s what Bump City is all about.  If ya want the funk, contact them at www.bumpcity.org.

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