"Leadhead's Lounge"

by Shane Copher


(Relapse Records)

Mega-aggressive grindcore that will satisfy only the really heavy-handed. The vocals are in the gargling glass category, with "how quick can we play" rhythms and not a lot of attention paid to individual song structures. I like my music heavy, but this one doesn't sound at all musical.


(Pessimiser-Theologian Records)

Another contender in the doom metal sweepstakes, Boston's Grief lays down a good foundation, but sadly enough, overloads the top layers. The production is a bit "fuzzy," and in trying to sound overly vicious, the vocals are at times lost. Grief shows some promise, but they need to concentrate more on the music and a bit less on the "attitude." There is talent here, but it's still trying to claw its way to the surface.

Roger Brown & Swing City-ROGER BROWN & SWING CITY

(Decca Records)

Wow! A breath of fresh air at last. In the tradition of Bob Wills but with all the modern technology. This is quick becoming my favorite release (and keep in mind that I'm a headbanger at heart). Roger Brown cuts loose on five fully orchestrated tracks of pure western swing, from the rousing, horn-filled "Swing City" to the fiddle filled waltz "Adobe Walls." This album should fill dance floors from coast to coast with REAL dancers, so get out of line. "Western Women" is the kind of swing that George Strait has made a trademark, while "Boogie Till the Cows Come Home" will have you doing just that. Flawless!


(Nidus Productions)

Mainstream heavy rock with a metal edge and modern elements tossed in the mix. Crystal production and superb compositions make this a major league threat. From the opening strains of "Kyle" to the closing chords of "Soul Control," there's not a dog in the bunch. The vocals are outstanding and original -- no need for imitation here. Excellent axework throughout, matched with steady bass licks and a thunderous backbeat, Rude Awakening stands to scare more than the paper people with this release.


(Radical Records)

Classic punk in the tradition of the Sex Pistols -- fast, fun, and furious. 20 tracks with no redeeming social value. Ya gotta love it. And I almost thought the "pogo" was dead... silly me.


(FT Records)

The new release from Mac Charles is a bouncy, easy-rockin' single with soulful vocals and a smooth delivery. A tale of lost love, but the happy beat suggests it's not that big a deal. Very catchy stuff.


(Fortunate Records)

An excellent release from start to finish. Medalyon has a distinct resemblance to early Queensryche, who they list on the album notes as an inspiration. Powerful arrangements, tight musicianship, and Rick Shay's vibrant vocals easily give Geoff Tate a run for his money and should help Medalyon swallow up some fans, as well. I highly recommend this one; it's top notch.

NOTE: Due to space constraints, the following reviews were not included in "Leadhead's Lounge" in the print edition of the RENEGADE. They are only available here in the online edition.


(Century Media Records)

Germany's Morgoth plays straightforward metal that can absolutely rip, without sacrificing melody. This album begins with solid songs, strong hooks, and memorable rhythms, and essential element that bands tend to ignore in their attempts to be aggressive. Plenty of great guitarwork comprises the next layer, along with an impressive vocal outing that doesn't lose power by pronunciation. A clean production makes this the complete package. There are an awful lot of bands that could learn a few things from this record.


(MIA Records)

Death metal in the Cannibal Corpse mode, but MUCH better. Oppressor doesn't splatter the album with gallons of gore as, unlike many of their counterparts, this band writes songs.

The music is brutal but without being obnoxious. On the strength of this effort, I'd put Oppressor at or near the top of the heap.

The Thompson Brothers Band-COWS ON MAIN STREET

(RCA Records)

Ultra-hip country from Boston with harmony vocals, a rock and roll attitude, and a honky-tonk feel. The Thompson Brothers fit the modern day outlaw mold, a la Steve Earle, who they cover here on "The Rain Came Down."

This EP contains four strong originals, along with the Earle track and an outstanding cover of Neil Diamond's "Solitary Man."

With a little push, the Thompson Brothers could successfully combine country purists with the college crowd, and that could spell big bucks.


(MCA Records)

George's strongest effort in decades, his voice has never been stronger or the music better suited. He may have given up the drink, but, thank heaven, not the drinkin' songs. "The Lone Ranger," "I'll Give You Something to Drink About," and "Hundred Proof Memories" are perfect examples of honky-tonkin' at its best. Bobby Braddock's "Billy B. Bad" is a satirical look at today's "Hunk-of-the-Month" club that, sadly, holds more truth than fiction. Ten tracks of pure country pleasure, the kind that made Mr. Jones the legend that he is.


(Dojo Records)

A sampling of the revamped and reissued Motorhead offerings by Dojo Records, covering OVERKILL, BOMBER, ACE OF SPADES, NO SLEEP 'TIL HAMMERSMITH, IRON FIST, and ANOTHER PERFECT DAY.

The new packages include new liner notes, unseen photos, and several rare and unreleased tracks. REvisit the granddaddies of heavy metal on these top notch releases. Motorhead wrote the book on playing over-the-top, and though they've lost some steam in recent years, their material hasn't aged a bit.


(RCA Records)

Nobody can argue with the success of Clint Black -- his strong voice, the great songs, and the string of hits he's had reflect the time and effort put into his products. The only thing left to complain about is the material that's NOT included here. This collection ignores some of his number one songs while including less successful tracks, along with three new tracks. While this serves as a nice retrospective of Clint's career to this point, a TRUE greatest hits package would include all the chart-toppers and less of the near-misses.


(CMC International)

This is still the same old Warrant, they've just altered their musical style to compete with the "alternative" acts that are dominating contemporary radio. The music is probably as good as most everyone else, but as a bit of a purist, I must question their integrity. I mean, what's next in line? Gangsta Warrant '97?

I've always contended that Warrant is nothing more than a modern day Monkees, and I still haven't been convinced otherwise. This will surely sell, but that's exactly why it was released, to put money in the bank... I smell sell-out.


(Fortunate Records)

Gothic metal from the Akron area, with hints of everything from Maiden to Manowar. Outstanding songwriting and piercing vocals highlight this release, with solid musicianship throughout. Dragonwyck has delivered a debut that's strong enough to contend with the big dogs. An excellent release that has quickly become a staple on my stereo. Snap this on up!


(Mercury Records)

This hardcore rap outfit has come a long way since its debut release. This is a stronger, tighter, and more mature effort, with power to spare! The production is clean, the music deafening, and the whole package benefits from a killer mix. Downset will appeal to a diverse audience as it raps, but with an edge that is definitely hardcore. Along the lines of Stuck Mojo. DEAD LANGUAGE includes 14 and 1/2 tracks of blistering social commentary that hits the mark. Outstanding album!


(Century Media Records)

Fans of last year's WOLFHEART will be even more pleased with Moonspell's latest offering. Continuing along the lines of the black/Gothic metal genre, IRRELIGIOUS shows a touch of progression, with more intricate arrangements and an elaboration on their melancholy melodies. Cuts such as "For a Taste of Eternity" and "Mephisto" return Moonspell to the monsters and magic themes of the past, without sounding recycled. This Portuguese band is fast becoming a favorite of mine... a Celtic Frost for the nineties.

Type O Negative-OCTOBER RUST

(Roadrunner Records)

Less heavy than their last release, BLOODY KISSES, T.O.N. has actually evolved a bit with OCTOBER RUST. The Gothic, and at times macabre, lyrical content is true to form, but this album is more orchestrated, borrowing elements of everything from Floyd and Hawkwind to N.I.N. A "wall of sound" production explodes from the speakers, leaving resounding echoes of their neo-technical synth metal reverberating in your brain.


(Decca Records)

Another of country music's new "hunks," Rhett rises above his contemporaries with an album that includes ten strong, yet diverse tracks. From the formulaic "No Match..." to the more traditional strains of my personal fave, "K-I-S-S-I-N-G," Rhett tackles anything tossed his way. "Don't Get Me Started" is a honky-tonk hit, while softer ballads such as "Where Angels Live" and "Carolina Line" will keep the slow dancers happy. This is a solid package from an exceptional new talent.

Bellamy Brothers-DANCIN'

(Intersound, Inc.)

This smells suspiciously like a commercial rip-off. The ploy: Take a ton of certified hits from the boys' past, record extended "dance" mixes, and sell a ton of this crap to DJs for club catalogs. These mixes take what were great songs and make 'em sound boring and lifeless. It'll be a hit with the two-steppers and line dancers, but music fans should steer clear of this dog.


(Royalty Records)

Strengthy debut from this L.A. four-piece -- clean vocals, bold rhythms, and plenty of "fuzz-box" guitars lend Skunkweed a "garage" sound that is crisp and crunchy. Avoiding the "trendy" categories, this album combines mainstream rock with a touch of psychedelia, with the end result a bare-bones rock and roll collection. "Truth" and "Chelsea" stand out as the most commercially appealing cuts.

Skinny Puppy-BRAP

(Nettwerk Productions)

This collection of demos, outtakes, and live recordings (including bootlegs) fills the void for Puppy fans left hungry after the band's demise. Ranging from the synthesized psychedelia of "Splasher" to the heavier strains of "Spasmolytic" and "Tin Omen," BRAP serves as a retrospective of one of rock's electronic experimentalists who helped pave the way for today's industrial acts. A welcome addition to their catalog.

Stuck Mojo-PIGWALK

(Century Media Records)

An explosive live act, Stuck Mojo comes close to capturing the intensity of their stage show on their latest release. There are no major surprises here, but plenty of neck-snappin', skull-crackin', hardcore riffin', with thunderous rhythms and street-wise raps. At once breathtaking and brutal, Stuck Mojo shows no signs of letting up. Unrelenting, unadulterated aggression with crisp production.


(Backstreet Records)

After a six year hiatus, Boston's brash metal outfit is back, with a new line-up and their third studio effort. Meliah's rage seems mild these days compared to the OTT brutality of their contemporaries, but the band brandishes plenty of power for fans of metal's "old school." Strong hooks, good axework, quick rhythms, and ample vocals supply DEATH VALLEY DREAM with all the ingredients to feed fans of headbanging, not headhunting. Great material.

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