"Album Reviews"

Sponsored In Part By
Try Me?

by MikeSOS... 

Dismember • Hate Campaign

Nuclear Blast Records
Dismember’s latest release is a nonstop 11-track metal monster of an album. >From the lack of space in between tracks, the mood remains the same throughout one of complete metal domination. Imagine Slayer meeting Hatebreed ("Questionable Ethics") with some Pro Pain mixed in ("Mutual Animosity"), and we’ve got a live one, folks. If you’ve lost faith in metal, this may be the pick-me-up album you need. 

The Gathering • Superheat

Century Media Records
The latest release from Holland’s The Gathering is a 10-track live disc that chronicles the band’s 10-plus years together. A very big sound is what you’ll find here, complete with thick guitars and a sturdy rhythm section that complements the female lead vocal. If you’d like to hear Garbage go a little heavier, then The Gathering is the band for you. 

Brutal Truth • Goodbye Cruel World

Relapse Records
Grindcore’s grimiest Brutal Truth make this two-disc offering their swan song, compiling a live show with some B-sides and cover tunes that the band had recorded through their stint. If you’re a big fan of grind, or if you’d like to hear BT bang out some wacky covers, then pick this one up and pay respects to a band that helped pave the way for many of the new death metal bands you hear today. 

Red Giant • Ultra-Magnetic Glowing Sound

MIA Records
This Cleveland, OH trio has definitely come up with the perfect title for their latest release. This 12 track CD gives you an earful of space rock at its finest ("1960 Starchief"), complete with Sabbath-esque attitude and that big rock sound that bands kill for. If you dig stoner space rock and you need a new fix, Red Giant has got whatcha need. 

Three Sixes • Possession

Universal Sign Records
Three Sixes is a duo that takes their music with a full cup of evil. While this 8-track CD’s main thrust is to mesh the brutality of Fear Factory with the demonic flare of vintage Danzig with the tongue in cheek humor of SOD, it accomplishes none of the above. Instead, the result sounds like Sam Kinison rapping over some of Rob Zombie’s rejected riffs. If you like naked girls doused in blood and your lyrical content sophomoric, then try this on for size, otherwise throw it back, baby.

by Eric Harabadian... 

Mak Wolven • American Landscape

Pinecone Productions/Serge Entertainment Group
Wolven is a songcraftsman who knows how to paint pictures with his words. Throughout this fourteen song disc the listener is drawn in by Mak's stories of Texas, the dignity of the American farmer, living the simple life and time-honored tales of love. Couple these gems with some hot guitar, a crack band and Wolven's honey-drenched baritone, and you've got all the makings of success! New England-based Mak Wolven is an artist of the highest order, and one would be well-served to experience this up and coming country dynamo! 

Phillips, Craig and Dean • Restoration

Sparrow Records
Randy Phillips, Shawn Craig and Dan Dean are three singing pastors who truly put their money where their "message" is. Through a collection that spans rock, modern country, folk and dance grooves, these three lift their voices to the Lord in a joyful noise we all can appreciate. Each track is a potential pop Gospel classic, and Phillips, Craig and Dean exhibit harmonies that would rival the best vocal bands such as Crosby, Stills, Nash and Young and The Eagles. The liner notes also indicate their contributions to helping people with AIDS and the development of a music degree scholarship in their honor. A great sounding album from a nice group of people who have compassion and heart. 

by Tyler Moore... 

Three Finger Cowboy • Hooray For Love

Daemon Records
Three Finger Cowboy lacks nothing. They are crowd pleasers with depth. Not only that, but they have a lot of originality. The sound is light enough not to intrude the sensitive parts of an easy listener’s ears, but heavy enough to appeal to the rock fans. Both their clean-cut and unpolished guitar sounds combine with driving beats and various other effects to diversify a central sound. The lyrics are all very positive and optimistic. The music has a very happy and energetic feel. The melodies all have sing-along quality and the ability to linger in your mind. Hooray For Love demonstrates the band's ability to stay consistent and interesting. This is an album that is missing only one thing... more. 

Earfood • Tasty Treats

Omnigroove Records
Tasty Treats from Earfood is generally lively. Some parts, though, almost belong on the Tom Green Show. "Munchkin Land" is one such part. The sound is very unique. Basically, it’s light rock with lots of guitar usage. Although it’s lively, it’s also very dreamy. It is reminiscent of the period of rock between disco and the British Invasion with some more modern sounds similar to that of the Presidents of the United States of America. This album is just fun. 

G. Love & Special Sauce • Philadelphonic

550 Music
Philadelphonic is made up of jazz, blues, and rap. The first time I heard it, it didn’t exactly sound right. The more I listen, though, the more appealing it seems. It’s not like Dr. Dre, Master P, Puffy, or any of that, but gentler and more insightful; more thoughtful. The jazzy sound comes a lot from the guitar and the parts it plays in the songs. The sound stays very clean and steady. The final track, "Gimme Some Lovin’," is more in the style of Bob Dylan and is an excellent conclusion. Philadelphonic is one of the only recordings I have heard that can link rap and the guitar in such a gentle and refreshing way. 

Lou Bega • A Little Bit of Mambo

RCA Records
We all know "Mambo No. 5" ("a little bit of..."), but what else is there to Lou Bega? There’s a taste of what could be best classified as Mambo Rap, being seasoned with horns. "I Got A Girl" is simply a continuation of "Mambo No. 5" except it touches on location rather than names. The theme of the album is women and Bega’s desire for them. The songs tend to stay quick and upbeat, keeping pace with the testosterone. The album concludes with a salsa number, "Mambo Mambo." If you like "Mambo No. 5" and you want something to dance to, this album is great. 

by Vic Gemmingen... 

Nick Gallup • Nick Gallup

Caprice International Records
On his debut CD, raspy-voiced Nick Gallup offers straight-ahead rock and roll in the style of John Cougar and Bruce Springsteen on tracks like "Jealous Fool" and "Shake It Up and Down." 

Slink Moss • Legend

Rattlesnake Records
How nice is this, an eclectic collection of rock-and-pop-abilly from Slink Moss. Highly infectious garage rock on "Good Groovin," subtle sweetness on "Rose" and "Jane," cool spacey surf-rock on the appropriately titled "People of a Planet Called Earth"... listening to this gem is like finding a box of records from the '60s that would (and definitely should) have been played as many times as "Louie, Louie." Highly recommended. 

Ramiro Medina • In Pieces

Piranha Records
Ramiro Medina has mucho charisma. He leads a great band through some very impressive songs with a deep amount of soul. Recorded live-in-the-studio, this is one disc where you really do feel like you’re there in the coolest place in town. "Change" and "Beggar at Rosecrans" are incredible. Quick description: a soulful Tom Petty crossed with Lenny Kravitz during the "Let Love Rule" phase. Real music here, folks. 

by Pam West... 

Steel Pulse • Living Legacy

Tuff Gong International
It was a dark and snowy rush hour in downtown Detroit when I fumbled for a CD in the stack of review copies I'd been sent. Imagine my sunny bliss when I pop in a live CD from what is, in my opinion, one of the best reggae bands in the world, Steel Pulse from the UK.  You may remember them from the 1993 Clinton Presidential Inauguration!  If you like reggae -- especially that which leans more toward progressive rock than rap -- this CD is a must for your collection.  Founding members David Hinds (rhythm guitar and lead vocals), Selwin Brown (keyboards, vocals), and Steve Nesbitt (drums) are backed by a phenomenal nine-piece ensemble, performing their world-renown songs of hope, education, and activism with pure spiritual soul. 

by Mike Farley... 

Dufus • This (Dufus) Revolution

This full length tape entitled This (Dufus) Revolution is easily one of the more unique pieces of work I've heard in a while. While some of it is difficult to follow the first time around, parts of it are so catchy that you can't help but listen further. Then the second time around you get the feeling this stuff borders on brilliant. The writing is really, really good, and the band has many influences, from what I can hear, from XTC to Queen to David Bowie to Metallica. Very interesting stuff! 

Brian Curti • Piano and Beyond

Peridot Records/Caprice International Records
This CD called Piano and Beyond is aptly titled. With wonderful piano playing and production, these songs kind of take the listener to someplace "beyond." Reminiscent of such established artists as Yanni and John Tesh, Brian has produced scores for TV and movies, and it's easy to see and hear why. For those of you who listen to music to relax and have it take you "someplace else" in thought, this record has got to be added to your collection!

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.

by MikeSOS... 

Karma To Burn • Wild Wonderful Purgatory

MIA Records
Karma To Burn’s latest release is pure instrumental magic, however not in the cheesy K-Tel Compilation kind of way. Instead, the numerically named tracks take you by the feet and sweep you away into the magical land where stoner rock reigns supreme. This Virginia trio knows how to create mood and atmosphere without the usage of a vocalist, no small feat especially for a rock band. KTB is the kind of band that in one foul swoop put both Yanni and Megadeth to shame, and if that’s not reason enough to pick up this puppy, then what else do ya need? It rocks, go get it!! 

Pegazus • Breaking The Chains

Nuclear Blast Records
Australia’s music scene is not limited to Men At Work and Silverchair anymore folks. There’s a new kid on the block, and despite the fact that they may have arrived in a time machine sent from 1986, Pegazus kicks some serious ass. This quartet from down under has definitely brushed up on their Manowar ("Metal Forever"), but they’ve also got a touch of Maiden and Priest ("Chariots Of The Gods") in them. OK, so it’s not exactly "trendy" but hey, isn’t ’80s metal retro now? If you’re a metal soldier, then this is a CD you need in your arsenal for sure. 

Chevelle • Point #1

Squint Records
>From the city that’s brought us The Pumpkins and Urge Overkill come a trio that make My Three Sons look like the Stepford Children. The brother’s Loeffler’s project is named Chevelle, and their debut 11 track CD has some of the most honest to goodness kickass '90s rock ever heard on album. Produced by Steve Albini, Chevelle’s influence range from the obvious by association (Nirvana, Smashing Pumpkins,) to some clever crossovers (Deftones) which gives these guys some major fat to chew on. Chevelle also knows that throwing in snippets of Tool ("Dos") and Hum ("Point #1") into the mix only enhances the raw emotion of their audio onslaught. And to think these guys are all under the legal drinking age. Nonetheless, Point #1 is an excellent album by some new jacks that we hope don’t appear on VH1’s Behind The Music in five years. 

Enis • Songs From The Bin

7 Song CD
Enis is a NYC quartet that rumbles like thunder yet is as sublime as a summer breeze. Their 7 song CD is a gem from start to finish, complete with beautiful melodies on the top of intense rhythms down below a la Soundgarden ("Ripped"). However, this band offers much more than '90s grunge, like their stalwart metal tendencies ("Rain On You") and their deep sense of soul ("Sixth Hour Of Sobriety"). Enis is a band that can pound you into oblivion without turning up to 10 or screaming their heads off. Rather, they do it within the confines of well-structured, emotionally rich songwriting. Contact these guys at www.thicksole.com and see what the fuss is all about. 

Sons Of Otis • Temple Ball

Man’s Ruin Records
The Canadians get in on the stoner rock movement too, eh? Yup, that’s right, from the Great White North come Sons Of Otis, and their 10 track space rock meets bluesy doom opus, complete with a cover of Mountain’s classic "Mississippi Queen," and enough sludge to stop an 18-wheel truck dead in its tracks ("Down," "Steamroller"). This one’s a little slow going though, folks, so if you're used to a little more uptempo stuff, be prepared to take a quaalude vacation before popping this one in the old CD player. 

Mercury • Luminary Stanzas

8 Song CD
>From Texas comes a quartet that hits with the force of a Marlboro Man stampede. Mercury takes bits of Korn ("Coming At You"), Pearl Jam ("Whale"), and '90s rock and comes away with a fresh new sound full of fury and vigor. If the future sounds like this, buy a time machine now!! These guys can not only rip your face off with an intense riff ("Caught In"), but they can also bring you down gently with a subtle interlude ("You Know What I Mean"). Check them out at http://www.ieweb.net/mercury. 

The Obsessed • Incarnate

MIA Records
The influential Washington DC stoner doom trio The Obsessed have their career chronicled in this MIA release Incarnate. The 13-track disc highlights many of the B-sides and one-offs throughout the band’s 5-plus year tenure, a stint that featured DC legend Wino and bass guru Scott Reeder. Standout tracks include their covers of Eric Burdon’s "Inside Looking Out," and Skynyrd’s "On The Hunt" (with help from the Melvins!) If you dig Sabbath’s grooves with punk pretense, then check out this CD for starters, and then search for the rest of The Obsessed’s discs. 

Lockup • Pleasures Pave Sewers

Nuclear Blast Records
Featuring members of metal juggernauts such as Hypocrisy, Napalm Death and Cradle of Filth, Lockup’s debut is as star-studded as it’s brutal. Death metal that maintains its integrity with hints of melody is extremely rare these days, yet Lockup’s 12 track disc does just that. From blast beat ("Delirium") to churning guitar riff ("Slow Bleed Gorgon"), this one’s got it all, folks, and it’s all done the way death metal was meant to be heard. If you’ve lost faith, reaffirm it with Lockup’s latest. 

Toy • Magic

Human Entertainment
Toy is an ambitious project spearheaded by lead vocalist/guitarist Alice. This 8-track disc creates atmospheres interwoven between songs and storytelling. Adventurous and unorthodox, each of the tracks have their own distinct feel and flavor, from Middle Eastern flair to '50s jazz noir to '90s ambiance. To find out more about this eclectic artist, email toy@the_agora.com. 

Bastards of Melody • Keep It Down

Ransom Records
Hailing from New Jersey, post punk popsters Bastards of Melody stay true to their name, giving us tons of melody while being... well you get the picture. With catchy, jangly ditties ("Must Be Stoned") that seem perfect for the background of an NBC sitcom, this NJ quartet have got their tongues firmly in cheek and an abundance of musical chops on the table ("Born To Raise Hell"). Perfect for the reformed body pierced/over 25 crowd, BOM gives ya smart bursts of punk within well crafted songs. Contact them at bastardsofmelody@hotmail.com. 

One4One • Seven Year Cicada

Triple Crown Records
New Jersey’s finest One4One return with 8 tracks of anger ridden, supercharged hardcore that’s bound to make any fan of the scene stand up and take notice. This veteran quartet have paid their dues, and yet they’ve remained intense ("Walk Away") and as current as any other hardcore band on the circuit. If you dig the East Coast scene and need a surge of brutality, then pick this CD up. 

Bal-Sagoth • The Power Cosmic

Nuclear Blast Records
If there were to be a Manowar cartoon, then Bal-Sagoth would be the foremost band to score it. Their latest release contains 8 tracks of pure metal majesty, complete with spoken word interludes that sound like Charlton Heston’s Bud commercials, over-the-top keyboard overlays and neck spraining speed metal parts. The Power Cosmic kicks ass in a cheesy, don’t-you-dare-take-it-seriously kind of way, but unless you’re a fantasy novel fanboy or have an intense need to escape reality for elongated periods of time, stick to your Pantera albums. 

Control Denied • The Fragile Art of Existence

Nuclear Blast Records
Control Denied is the new project of Death founder Chuck Schudliner, and, albeit a bit of a departure from what we’d expect from the pioneering six stringer, The Fragile Art of Existence is an 8 track progressive hard rock masterpiece. Meshing rapid fire guitars with odd timed drumming and adventurous basslines ("What If...," "Cut Down") Control Denied draw the fine line between being "too musical" (thus alienating people) and creating melodic music for the masses without crossing it either way. If you like Fates Warning, Queensryche, or just metal with both musicality and muscle, then check out the latest from Control Denied. 

Entombed • Black Juju

Man’s Ruin Records
Entombed is a metal band that has undergone many changes throughout their career. Taking pages from both Metallica and Slayer, they too have decided it’s time to punk it up and bang out an album of less '80s thrash and more '90s raw, a la Motorhead ("Tear It Loose") and the like. The results are a bit spotty, but there’s some good stuff on here, like the 1:11 "Satan," and the doomy, Sabbath-esque "Sentimental Funeral." If you’re expecting Wolverine Blues Part 2, look elsewhere, but if you’d like to hear a side of an underrated yet kick ass band, then check this special CD out. 

Agathodaimon • A Higher Art of Rebellion

Nuclear Blast Records
Blending Gothic ambiance with death metal brutality, this German group of musical miscreants creates a sound akin to a black metal smorgasbord. Not as scary as say a Cradle of Filth, but while the scare factor is low, the musicianship is top notch and the band gets extra points for spewing forth vocal venom in both English and Romanian. If you dip into your Black No. 1 every now and then, pick this album up. 

Slydog • Slydog

McC Records
Slydog is a hard rocking quartet hailing from the other city that never sleeps, Las Vegas. And they take their hometown’s energy and put it all into their 8-song debut CD. Taking pages from such '80s rock bands as Whitesnake ("Down To The River") Tora Tora and mainly Van Halen, Slydog’s not a thinking man’s band, and hey, that’s OK. What they give you is some good time rock and roll that puts you in the party mood, something many of today’s bands really can’t achieve. And, they also know how to write some catchy hooks and have the chops to back up their lack of substance. To find out more, contact mccrecords@aol.com. 

Smart Brown Handbag • Just Like Driving Backwards

Stonegarden Records
In a land full of pop stars that would rather make the front page headlines than the top slot on Billboard, it’s refreshing to see that sometimes good pop bands with no other pretense besides the fact that they’re a damn good pop band can shine through the usual murk. Smart Brown Handbag’s latest is both crafty and dreamlike, much like Morrissey or even a less cheeky Robbie Williams. Strong lyrical imagery lies among lush orchestrations ("Greetings From The Longest Weekend") likening SBH to many Brit pop outfits. However, there’s also pieces of Joe Jackson, Michael Stipe ("I Love Everyone"), and Elvis Costello in there, too ("Penalized"), that makes the entire 10-track album one of the most listenable records thus far this year. If you like your pop crisp and intelligent, then Smart Brown Handbag would be a wise choice. 

SFB • The Last Dance

MBI Records
SFB is a San Francisco quartet that mixes it up quite a bit on their 9 track CD The Last Dance. They can move you in the usual aggro rock way, complete with big guitars and anguished vocals ("Nothingland"), or they can make you move to the beat a la Trent Reznor ("When The Pain Stops"). Reminiscent of Stabbing Westward and Gravity Kills, the best thing about SFB is they never lose sight of a melody. Even while there’s a techno beat over a churning guitar, these guys still find time to deliver a hook that’ll stick in your head ("Fall"). Impressive stuff for any fan of NIN, FNM, or suped up college rock. Contact them at sfbcars@aol.com. 

Deridian • Deridian

Two Headed Cow Productions
Deridian is not as much a band as it is a commune of musicians with eclectic and varied influences and experiences that meet somewhere within the 15 tracks on their disc. Led by singer/guitarist Tristan Kromer, Deridian uses elements of jazz, folk (matter of fact, all the instruments on the CD except one are acoustic), rock and funk intertwined with poetic lyricism and world beat instrumentation that creates a relaxed atmosphere. The key to Deridian that makes this disc such a truly enjoyable listening experience is that the music is not self-indulgent; it invites you to dance ("57 Feet"), to sing ("Double Dip"), to rejoice ("Shanti"), in short, to participate. If you a fan of roots rock like Dave Matthews and Phish, or if you’d like something more earthy and spiritual, then Deridian is definitely worth a spin. Contact them at Twoheadedcow@deridian.com. 

Sinner • The Second Decade

Nuclear Blast Records
German metallers Sinner have come ten years and barely anyone in America has noticed. Funny, because these guys sound like every '80s thrash band, especially Megadeth ("Jump The Gun"). So, two questions -- #1: who’s ripping off who and #2: why haven’t we heard of this metal machine? If their next few albums are as good as this release, which is full of B-sides and rarities, then we’ll sure to be looking towards Sinner’s third decade. Only for the truest metal soldier. 

by Tyler Moore... 

Paxton • Paxton

Nemporor Records
Paxton has been described as a post punk progressive pop band. Despite the complex title, they were the most nominated band in the 1999 GLAMA Music Awards. Most of their sound is gently upbeat. It never lacks energy. "The Morning Song" is hilarious, excellent for waking someone up, but probably one of the most annoying songs to have to wake up to. Paxton has an excellent ability at the narrative song. The sound is close to REM, John Mellencamp, and has pieces that could represent the better rock of the eighties. Well rounded energy focused on emotion is the best way to describe Paxton. 

R. Kelly • "If I Could Turn Back the Hands of Time"

Jive Records
This single from the multiplatinum recording, R., is definitely one of R. Kelly’s most powerful works. The lyrics relate the story we all have told of wishing to have the past to do over again. The orchestration is excellent. The song follows a slow and steady progression, each element adding depth one instrument at a time. The way the song is constructed and sounds leaves one believing that perhaps Kelly has drawn much of his inspiration from Nat King Cole. The song is very easy and peaceful. It far surpasses "I Believe I Can Fly" and leaves listeners anxious for more. 

by Diane Anderson... 

Soulfly • Soulfly remixed

Roadrunner Records
For those of you who love Soulfly and really understand the message given out by Max Cavalera, then you will love the new remixed version of the Soulfly original album. Soulfly has remixed 12 songs and added one new cut called "Soulfly (Eternal Spirit Mix)." If you saw Soulfly in concert, then you know that Ritchie Cavalera sang "Bleed with Max." The new remix of "Bleed" has Ritchie on vocals.

The Soulfly remix adds more of the throat-shredding screams, haunting chants and tribal beat, that gets in to your soul and makes you never forget about pain and the survival of Max and why Soulfly was created. But the CD also gives you the chaos and the excitement that makes all the fans so passionate about Soulfly. The remix of "Umbabarauma" will have you chanting "Umbabarauma, goal man goal" all day long.

This remix comes either as a single CD or a double set, with the original CD, plus the bonus CD. It’s a must have for all true heavy metal rockers. P.S. Remember your tribe and God bless Dana and God be with you, Max.

Next Page
Back to the Spring '00 Index
 Back to the Geoff Wilbur's Renegade Newsletter Homepage