by Shane Copher
Sponsored In Part By
Falling somewhere between '60s British pop and surf punk, FLIPP is a very catchy batch of tunes. "I Wish I Was a Planet," "Schizo Boy," and "Slag" are among the most infectious tracks. Flipp has a slightly "bubble gum" mentality, but good rhythms and some slick guitarwork give this album a punk edge. This won't stand the world on their ears, but it'll get 'em tappin' their toes.
Speedball-DRIVE LIKE HELL
The new EP from Detroit's Speedball shows more of the hard-driving rock style displayed on their DO UNTO OTHERS debut. Fast and furious guitar-driven rock with strong hooks and a smooth delivery. This release contains four fresh tracks, with "Operation Get Down" and the title cut leading the way, along with three live cuts from their aforementioned debut. A strong pacifier for Speedball fans anxiously awaiting a new full length release.
Killing Culture-KILLING CULTURE
Edel America Records
Produced by Anthrax's Scott Ian, Killing Culture is a new entrant in the power metal sweeps. Mega-aggressive thrash with damaging rhythms, severe leads, and fierce vocals. This album stands comfortably between the likes of Pro Pain and Pantera... Very mosh friendly. "Lockfist," "With Strife," and "Ironside" are as strong as anything else on the market.
Solid Frog-PEPPER SPRAY
This is an excellent offering from Solid Frog, with clever lyrics, driving rhythms, and brilliant musicianship throughout. "Goin' Pro" and "Telluride," along with the title track, are perfect examples of the band's catchy, somewhat aggressive, "alternative" style. The vocals are way above their contemporaries and the production is crisp, leaving nothing on the table. PEPPER SPRAY is an outstanding release and should give the Frogs a big boost.
Kenny Chesney-ME AND YOU
This fast rising country star has a great voice and delivery that handles a wide variety of tempos with equal success. In an overcrowded market, it's easy for a new artist to get lost in the shuffle. Kenny manages to stand out despite this, and he owes a lot of that to the material he's selected to include on his albums. Kostas, Skip Ewing, and Lee Roy Parnell are among the contributors here, along with songwriting legend Bob McDill.
Metal Blade Records
Glass gargling vocals, throbbing bass, jackhammer drummer, and buzzsaw guitar. Totally over-the-top, grinding death, a la Cannibal Corpse. This album is absolutely f*ckin' brutal. What more can I say?
The Newlydeads-THE NEWLYDEADS
The brainchild of former Pigface and Faster Pussycat vocalist Taime Downe, The Newlydeads are a blend of techno-industrial pop with hints of metal and progressive rock thrown in the mix. The tracks have a distinctive pop "feel," while the music itself changes at every turn. The combination has a tendency to make the songs stick with the listener. Ordinarily, this style would not be down my alley, but Taime and the band do such an impressive job on this debut, I couldn't help but like it. Give it a listen, and you'll see what I mean.
The Mark of Cain-BATTLESICK
The first American release by this band, on Henry Rollins' 2-13- 61 label. Recorded in 1989, this sounds as fresh as anything else on the market. Hailing from Australia, The Mark of Cain displays an albumful of thought-provoking lyrics, in a heavy setting, that seeps into your head rather than being pounded there. The musicianship is top notch and the vocals are excellently suited to the material. It reminds me a bit of early Danzig. The bass work is brilliant. Highly recommended!
W.A.S.P.-STILL NOT BLACK ENOUGH
Still carrying the W.A.S.P. moniker, Blackie Lawless does most of this on his own, handling bass, guitar, and vocals. Bob Kulick adds guitarwork, and Frankie Banali mans the skins on an album that carries the distinct sound that W.A.S.P. fans are accustomed to. The biggest difference is that this album kicks, where the last few just flailed. Several killer tracks make this the strongest effort since their sophomore disc THE LAST COMMAND. Three interesting covers are included: AC/DC, Queen, and Jefferson Airplane.
NOTE: Due to space constraints, the following reviews were not included in the print edition of the RENEGADE. They are only available here in the online edition.
Peace Sanctuary-DEFY THE SYSTEM
12 thundering cuts of progressive metal, with the emphasis on power rather than speed. Solid playing throughout along with a great production effort help this album to stand apart. The vocals are clean, the lyrics well-penned, and the delivery convincing. Peace Sanctuary has the same impact as Pantera... with a less frenzied pace but comparable punch.
Aggressive hardcore thrash along the lines of Pro Pain, Prong, ET AL. with great bass work, killer riffing, and a pounding rhythm. "One Thing" kicks this off with force, followed by the very catchy title track. 10 cuts in all, no slackers. Nothingface seems poised to pounce. Major labels pay heed, 'cause this shit kicks!
Headshop-CAUSE & EFFECT
Headshop's latest offering is a progressive adventure into "modern" metal with lots of crunch, strong guitarwork, and equally impressive vocals. The songs reflect the band's observations of society at large, with "Critaschism" and "In Too Deep" leading the way. A strong effort from this Texas troop that's well worth tracking down.
The Brand New Heavies-SHELTER
Delicious Vinyl Records
A very commercial blend of soul, jazz, and hip-hop, The Brand New Heavies offer up a disc that would be right at home on the turntable of your local dance club. Smooth vocals and plenty of emotion, along with a clean production, make SHELTER a release that is bound to get plenty of attention. Their sound defies categorization, and that leaves the market wide open. Tracks like "Sometimes" and "Day By Day" should help them cash in.
Bekka & Billy-BEKKA & BILLY
Bekka Bramlett and Billy Burnette team to provide a co-ed duet sound that's long been missing in country music. While it ain't quite Conway & Loretta or George & Tammy, it's a damn sight better than Porter & Dolly.
The songs are mainly contemporary country, but each member adds their own vocal flair to the mix. Billy shows off his rockabilly roots when the songs allow, while Bekka can go from wailing the blues to sultry seduction at the drop of a hat. When their voices combine, it soars.
"Soul Searchin'" and "Through the Walls" are the best of the bunch, although "God Knows I Love You" is the most commercially viable and a likely first single. This is an impressive debut.
Pugs-BITE THE RED KNEE
This band from Japan has got me puzzled. One minute, it's and alternative sound; then it's pop; next it's punk; and at some point, I think they hit every musical style that falls in between. A very avant garde release that's too quirky to be a mainstream hit but too bizarre not to take notice.
Frontwoman Honey K is screamin' out of control on one track and practically singing to herself on the next. The guitars at times are blistering, later almost non-existent. The Pugs ride this roller coaster ride of weirdness throughout the album.
BITE THE RED KNEE is definitely not for everyone, but I gotta think that somewhere, someone has been waiting for something like this... but, alas, it wasn't me. Very strange!
The Children-MY SNAKE
14 tracks of modern rock with an "alternative" flair and a strong blues influence. "Good Day to Die" kicks this album off in grand fashion, drawing your attention at once to the strong vocal performance, which is sustained throughout this release. The band is tight and the production is superb, showcasing a powerful band that delivers great songs, not just the riffs.
Obituary-BACK FROM THE DEAD
It's been three years since the death metal scene last heard from this powerhouse. WORLD DEMISE was a killer, and one listen to the band's latest, and you'll forgive them for making us wait.
While many of today's death bands are busy spewing garbage lyrics, attempting to be more disgusting than the next guy, Obituary sticks with songs of horror and doom.
The guitars are grinding, the drums deafening, while the thundering bass riffs keep your head banging away.
A new batch of brutal songs, with strong, understandable lyrics and groove-laden rhythms. It shouldn't take Obituary long to slide back into a slot near the top of the death metal heap. An excellent effort from a noteworthy band.
By the way, this is an enhanced CD, with user-friendly instructions for access, depending on your system.
Badwrench possesses a strong alternative style that is at once both aggressive and infectious. The songs have a mainstream appeal with plenty of hooks, great tempos, and strong vocal performances.
"Checkmate... You're It" and "Notch" are good examples of this band's talents. Badwrench shows a knack for diversity, leaving songs to be measured on individual merit and not just a "sound."
Comparisons to Soundgarden and Pearl Jam are inevitable but not really justified, as the band stamps the 12 tracks with its own unique brand. An impressive debut.
Kentucky Headhunters-STOMPIN' GROUNDS
With the return of Doug Phelps and a great batch of songs, the Headhunters have returned to the form that made their debut, PICKIN' ON NASHVILLE, the talk of the town.
Dare I say, this album is even stronger than their first. The boys rely less on established hits from the past and, at last, feel comfortable with their own blend of hillbilly rock.
"Kentucky Wildcat" and "See Rock City" are as strong as any songs in their repertoire. If the Kentucky Headhunters can avoid the "internal" strife that's affected their past, they can benefit from a bright future indeed.
Metal Molly-SURGERY FOR ZEBRA
This is very bizarre "pop"-alternative that seems to utilize damn near every instrument known to man and a few they've just discovered. The lyrics are every bit as odd as the music, from "Flipper" to "60,000 Brill Buildings and Rising," this band is definitely weird!
What's even weirder is the fact that I found the entire disc very entertaining. In the midst of the musical mayhem, Metal Molly provides strong hooks, bouncy beats, and a knack for mastering their instruments, whatever they may be.
"Orange," "Superchunk," and "Autumn Colours" should find their way onto college playlists, where I predict they'll be welcomed with open arms. Very catchy dementia.
Karma to Burn-KARMA TO BURN
This is a killer debut for Karma to Burn. Hailing from West Virginia and incorporating the concerns of rural America into the mix, the material is beyond strong.
Managing to avoid categorization, the music has everything from hardcore rhythms to industrial elements, wrapped in a progressive metal package. Strong tracks throughout, from the almost tribal strains of "Patty Hearst's Closet Mantra" to the blistering heat of "Twin Sisters and Half a Bottle of Bourbon." A five star debut -- don't miss it!
John Anderson-GREATEST HITS
I've long been a fan of John's, and this is a good collection of his traditional country offerings. This covers John's career since joining BNA, so don't expect his old Warner Brothers tracks, though there is a remake of his signature song "Swingin'."
15 songs, including the chart-topping "Money in the Bank" and "Straight Tequila Nights," along with "Seminole Wind," "Country 'Til I Die," and "I Wish I Could've Been There."
Close to an hour of solid country music, with one foot in yesterday's traditions and one kickin' open the door to tomorrow.
The Feud-THE FEUD
Johnny Cash meets Johnny Rotten; it's punkabilly! This is some of the coolest shit I've heard in a long, long time! High speed hillbilly rhythms, like Dwight Yoakum on 78. (Y'all do remember turntables, don'tcha?)
Paul Riley handles the vocals with his Cash-like baritone, while Dane Osborn covers the fretwork. Bass players Chris Bradley and drummer Steve Joiner round out The Feud.
There are traces of everything from Flatt and Scruggs to D.R.I., rolled up into the beer-slammin'est, foot-stompin'est, shit-kickin'est sounds to ever come down the pike.
"Johnson Brothers," "Louisiana," "Manure Madness," and a cover of "Stand By Your Man" that makes Lemmy's version sound just like Tammy. The wave of the future for sure... HOOOUUNNDDOGGIE!
Ray Vega-REMEMBER WHEN
By now, you've surely heard the title track or caught the video on CMT. Ray has quickly become Nashville's flavor of the month, and for good reason; he's fresh. His vocal stylings owe as much to rockers like Roy Orbison as they do to country.
The soft handling of emotional material brings to mind the Everly Brothers, among others. Even more impressive is the fact that Ray had a hand in writing seven of the eleven tracks included here.
"My Blue World," "I Can Dream," and the George Ducas-penned "Only Sometimes" help make this an album worthy of attention come CMA time... Very impressive.
Metal Blade Records
The Nefilim is the mastermind of Carl McCoy, who composed, produced, engineered, even provided the artwork. The end result is a masterful blend of traditional "Gothic" metal with progressive "doom."
Rarely does a new band come along that is able to separate itself from the pack, as dark metal has become a very clustered genre, but this stands head and shoulders above its competitors. The tracks are excellently written and avoid the plague of sounding alike. Carl's vocals are outstanding. Plenty of power, easily understood, and delivered convincingly. After several listens, I can't find a standout cut... the whole project is impressive. Don't miss this one.
The opening track describes this industrial outing in a single word: "Chaos." An electronic overload of heavy computerized sampling, frenzied guitar, pulverizing rhythms, and electronic wizardry. A lot of the post-modern digital cyberspace music, quite simply, bores me to death. This is different. It contains enough conventional composition to keep my interest, and the electronics enhance rather than alienate. A solid outing that could bring new listeners into the arena.
Humble Gods-NO HEROES
Just what you'd expect from the California surf-punk scene. The Humble Gods deliver aggressive, quick-as-shit, adolescent angst. From the opening cut of "Fu--ed Up" to the aptly titled "High Speed," this band rips, with energy to spare, opinions to voice, and absolutely no concern for the timid. 16 tracks of no-holds-barred punk... with an amusing cover of Tom Petty's "American Girl."
The Almighty Ultrasound-SONIC BLOOM
Grab your headphones, crank the volume, and prepare to be pummeled. This album will overload your senses with its wall of sound production, intense craftsmanship, and unlimited power. An excellent blend of "heavy/alternative" rock, with a tasteful but not overwhelming supply of sampling. The vocals are top notch, the musicianship outstanding, and I can't say enough about the production. Absolutely killer... Lethal when cranked... Eat this up.
This is a promo sampler from the upcoming BEST OF THE BEAST compilation. There will be three versions to choose from -- a limited edition 2-CD set with 27 tracks and a 60 page hardcover book, an "ultra-limited" quadruple vinyl set with 34 tracks and a 48 page book, and a single disc with 16 tracks and a 20 page book. The collections include cuts from the band's complete history, including cuts from the notorious "Soundhouse Tapes." The ultimate addition to any rivethead's collection, and if this disc is any indication, an expertly packaged piece. Don't miss out on this unique collectible.
Nevermore-THE POLITICS OF ECSTASY
Red Records/Century Media Records
With the release of their EP IN MEMORY, I raved about this metal outfit. The release of this album just adds fuel to an already raging fire. This band is as strong as anyone on the market and way ahead of overrated acts like Metallica.
Great songs, piercing guitars, throbbing bass, jackhammer drumming, and outstanding vocals. This confirms Nevermore's spot at the top of the heap. Flotsam & Jetsam is the only band that currently comes to mind that could hold its own with this outfit.
Mac Charles-LIVE PROMO
An advanced promo tape of live in-the-studio tracks from Mac Charles! Four tracks of contemporary rock -- well-written, expertly produced, and cleanly delivered. Mac has a great voice and strong compositions to offer. There's a strong jazz influence in his music and an honesty in his writing that's difficult to find in today's scene. Keep an eye (and both ears) open; I expect you'll be hearing a lot from this young artist in the near future. Great stuff. Track listing: "Stay Right Here," "May," "Where is the Sun?" and "Don't Break Up the Band."
Harlingtox A.D.-ANGEL DIVINE
Laundry Room Records
A side project consisting of members of Churn, Foo Fighters, Nirvana, and 9353 that sounds like a modern day Mothers of Invention. Chock full of socio-political satire, the writing is top notch and the instrumentation immense. I suffered some serious Zappa flashbacks from this one and enjoyed every minute of it. This is a strong album in every aspect, and I urge you to check it out, as it is as fine a project as I have heard, and, by being released on an independent label, could be in danger of slipping into obscurity... and that would be a serious shame.