"Mike's Reviews"

by MikeSOS

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Ethynol is a much buzzed about nu metal group that hails from Texas. On their four-song sampler, you get what you'd expect from the sounds all the kids dig these days, complete with staccato guitars and a raw underbellied rhythm section ("No DJ"). Ethynol isn't overpowering, yet they use dynamics very powerfully, a la Deftones to create swirling melodies and circular vocals ("Anger Pains"). Look for them to lead the new jack charge.

Canyon Creep • Hijack the World


Canyon Creep is an ass shaking trio from The Bay Area whose musical leanings lie somewhere between the debauchery of stoner rock and the third row of a Boston concert. Ultra anthemic and booty moving, Canyon Creep keep the guitars loud, dirty and tuned down for your head bobbing pleasure ("Black Bra"). Thunderous rhythms and lyrics that would make Bon Scott proud are also positive traits that they share with the rest of the class ("Gimme Some," "No Brakes"). Nine tracks of raucous rock and roll is what you'll find on this perfect companion CD for a night of whiskey chugging and strip bar visiting. Turn it up and let your hair down to this one, folks.

NJ Bloodline • Faceless

Too Damn Hype; www.chordrecordings.com

New Jersey bruisers NJ Bloodline get personal on their latest release. With some of the most in your face, almost confrontational lyrics this side of NYHC ("Blackout #2," "Dishonest Life"), their metalcore assault is brazen with anger and aggression. Perfect for the pit or for a demolition derby, NJB's hefty onslaught of six-stringed madness and tumultuous bass and drum walloping is enough to incite the beast inside of you ("Be Afraid..."). And even through this virtual audio beating, these Jersey boys retain a Soprano-esque sense of humor, dispersing clever sound bites in between the crushing tunes for some much needed comic relief between application of bandages from injuries suffered.

Jersey • Definition


Jersey is a poppy punk band heavily influenced by bands like Rancid. On this five-track disc, their brand of gutter punk sounds like it stepped right out of CBGB's ("All Rise"). Armed with melodic guitars and a punk rock sneer, Jersey may have a tough time trying to establish an identity, but they do provide us with some fist raising, pogo filled musical moments ("Institution").

New Town Animals • Is Your Radio Active?

Mint Records

Canadian punk, eh? Yup, in the form of New Town Animals, a five piece outfit whose punk style is set along the lines of The Dead Boys/ UK punk from the 1970s. Brash and bold with a sense of humor and a sense of what punk rock actually stands for ("Excuse Me Suzy!"), New Town Animals shun the current boy band MTV punk wave and get as ugly as they wanna be. They also come complete with an authentic English lead singer, whose vocals only help to give these Canadians that edge that makes them sound like it's 1978 all over again. Containing 13 tracks of old school punk for you and your family to enjoy, it's the perfect album to safety pin your pets and trash the living room to.

Duotang • The Bright Side

Mint Records

Duotang is an eclectic Canadian duo whose latest 14-track release not only shows minimalist music a thing or two, but also gives props to many of the ‘60s pop that we all sing along to on those long car sojourns. This bass and drum (with some keyboard help) dominant tandem show their inherent love for the sun soaked melodies of The Beach Boys and even latter day music like Weezer ("The Day We Left The World Behind," "Present Blind"). And with the lack of any six-string guitar present, the beat is what is boils down to, and Duotang keep the mood loungy and airy throughout the entire disc. Something for those quiet moments while sipping General Foods International Coffee.

F-Minus • Suburban Blight


Just when you start to lose faith in something, there comes a sign from God to make you feel at ease. F-Minus's latest disc is just what the hardcore scene needed, as it defiles the constant churning metal and hardcore fusing which have become such a monotony as of late. Instead, the two guys and two gals in F-Minus go straight for the jugular with 20 under-2-minute ditties that maintain the buzzsaw velocity of classic pit styled hardcore and slap you in the face as imminently as SOD's classic Speak English or Die, sans the metal pretenses ("Food Not God," "Property Damage"). Add in a sprinkle of political ranting for importance and an undying spirit of keeping the punk/hardcore amalgamation thoroughly intact, and what we've got is an album we've been waiting for. Pick this one up and feel the fire burn through your belly again.

Kittyhawk • Kill Devil Hills


Kittyhawk is a rock clan from NYC whose female fronted musings are akin to Sheryl Crow and Paula Cole, only with a more folksy, rootsy band behind the vocals ("Richard"). With an almost country flare, Kittyhawk's 12-track release jangles through tales of bad breakups and heartaches ("Really Over Now"). For a folksy jolt in the arm that contains superb musicianship, kick your shoes off and check out Kittyhawk's latest disc.

Misura • Shame of the Nation

Too Damn Hype

Misura hits like a cinderblock into your cranium, as this Virginia quintet purges out some of the most churning guitars and tortured vocals this side of Hatebreed ("I Love You To Death"). This metalcore band is no joke, as the pulverizing drums and chunky guitars help to retain their seriously brutal tone ("A Girl Named Pinnochio"). While their offense isn't exactly original, the ferocity which they display is second to a very select few, which puts these folks in fine metalcore company. If you crave the churning guitars and snappy snare drum of today's hardcore, Misura aims to please.

Reducers SF • Crappy Clubs and Smelly Pubs

TKO Records

Reducers SF are a raucous punk band whose 13 tracks of punk rock anthems will have you drinking tap beer and raising your fist in the air all night long ("No Control"). Produced by Cock Sparrer's Steve Burgess, this Bay Area quartet pulls no punches and wastes no time in providing you with tight rhythms ("Empty Bottles") and choruses that scream for group sing-alongs ("Another Day Older"). For some solid working class grooves, check out Reducers SF latest disc and buy the bar a round in the meantime.

Iroquois Stealth Pilots • Superfreaker

Baby Pea

Besides having a really odd name, there's nothing too special about this outfit, as they trudge through Offspring riffs with a dash of Third Eye Blind's melodicism to create another faceless rock outfit that, barring a big budget and a singer with the right look, shouldn't make any waves. The two songs on this disc are competent, but nothing we haven't heard before, folks.

The Actual Tigers • Gravelled and Green

Nettwerk America

The Actual Tigers have got this quirky Paul Simon sound that hovers around their 12-track disc that makes the disc very likable. With finely phrased lyrics ("Standing By") and mellow Beatle-esque melodies staggered throughout the expertly slickened product ("Time And Space"), its laconic nature has got a Sunday afternoon in a hammock written all over it. The mainly acoustic album also harkens images of Dave Matthews ("End Of May") and even '70s stars like Cat Stevens and James Taylor ("Shades Of Brown") . For an album that challenges your easy listening side, check out The Actual Tigers' mature sound.

The Dames • The Dames

Angry Seed

The Dames are a Minneapolis, MN trio whose grungy overtones and stoner rock attitude mixed with an indie music quirk make for an enjoyably thrashing listen. The key to The Dames power however doesn't lie in the gripping power chords ("Chopsticks"), nor does it come in the form of a chugging rhythm that could level tall buildings at a single swipe ("Taiwan"). Instead, it's the intelligence that comes from within the raging mix of metal and punk which holds the whole shebang together ("Soapbox," "Lex Talionis") and guards The Dames from the evils of being another stupid heavy band. If you loved Nirvana and Helmet and wondered what they'd sound like together, this is pretty damn close. Pure rock fury, indeed.

Tekluvi • Who Knows Where We Are

Camel Clutch

Tekluvi's latest disc seems to be based on the concept of the big buildup, as many of the nine tracks display a lot of music and not a lot of vocals for a good minute or so. This emo outfit instead stacks the haunting melody lines over some jazzy drumming ("Pop Culture," "Euclidian") rather than utilizing usual emo band vocal warbling, which is a good thing. However, all good things don't last forever, and tracks 6-9 manage to sound just like tracks 1-5, which really disorientates the listener. Maybe they were going for an extended song feel, or maybe they're just content with lulling the listener into a deep sleep. Either way, it's a risky endeavor to operate heavy machinery while listening to this one.

Nocturne • Welcome to Paradise

Triple X Records

Female fronted metal is a very touchy genre these days. Unfortunately, Nocturne doesn't do much for the hard to take serious subdivision, as their 12-track disc recycles Korn riffs and disjointed lyrics to create a pretty haphazard offering. If you like My Ruin or Kittie, you're probably female, 14 and have Courtney Love posters all over your wall; you'd probably dig this too. Otherwise, don't bother with this rambling release.

Mad Daddys • The Age of Asparagus


There's kitsch, there's terrible, and then there's The Mad Daddys, a perfect blend of the two. Barring the semi-clever title, this band sets rock and roll back on the dumb meter. Lyrically ridiculous yet somewhat redeeming musically, this New Jersey quartet try to inject some cock rock flare into their Iggy Pop delivery with disastrous results. If you enjoy losing brain cells at a rapid pace, this CD will surely help you attain your goal with the quickness.

59 Times the Pain • Calling the Public

Epitaph Records

59 Times The Pain is a Swedish punk band whose roots are firmly placed in the hardcore scene. With both of these fronts working on their latest release, the outing showcases much punk rock sneering and jeering ("The Emergency," "Welcome To The 21st Century"). However, it also retains a certain working class ethic that helps the music breath and speak to the public ("Freedom Station") in a way that hardcore has a tendency to do. For those that moan and groan about melodic pretty boy punk, check out 59 Time The Pain's latest and your current ills may be a forgone conclusion.

The Ted Bundys • Look What We Dug Up


The Ted Bundys are quite the eclectic outfit for certain. On this 11-track jaunt, this Michigan outfit jumps from ‘80s metal heroes to Gothic mopesters to comedic rockers, and that's only the first three songs ("Ozzy Made Me Do It," "Sister Europe," "Penal Perpetrator"). This multi faceted outfit uses electronic drums (minus 5 for that one), yet they manage to shred like guitar gods and may be clunky at times, but will always leave you wondering "what the hell was that all about"? ("Psycho Bitch"). Pushing the envelope and switching genres midstream like pros, The Ted Bundy's are an act whose act is as good as their music ("Died Like The King"), and in the wild world of odd music, that is an oddity worth savoring.

The Staggers • The Sights the Sounds the Fear and the Pain

Haunted Town

The Staggers are a punkish outfit whose got more than just a little bit of country in their mix of bouncy punk music ("You Won't Live To See Tomorrow"). With enough battle cried choruses to rally any good amount of drunks into battle ("A Man With A Voice"), The Staggers are armed and dangerous with infectious melodies and foot stomping grooves with a Spaghetti Western flare that would make any pub a jumping joint or any saloon a hootenanny ("Screams"). Check out their cover of the classic "Stagger Lee" also for some hellraising and beer drinking.

Sugar Ray • Sugar Ray

Atlantic Records

Damn you, Sugar Ray! What happened to you guys? Did Mark let too much hair dye seep into his brain? Is the Hollywood lifestyle that lucrative that you abandon your hard rock roots and instead settle for middle of the road pop rock numbers to satisfy the MTV and Top 40 radio contingent? Probably, but thankfully, Mark McGrath and company haven't their innate ability to write catchy, hook laden numbers ("Answer The Phone," "Disasterpiece"), even if they're mainly fluff pieces. It's stuff that your girlfriend creams over, but at least when she drags you to their show, they have a chance of playing "Mean Machine" or "10 Seconds Down." Yea, their new eponymous disc is sickeningly slick and massively overproduced, but its overall cheekiness and their ubiquitous finger snapping summer jams ("When It's Over," "Words To Me") are hard to resist.

Goliath • The Gate

The Music Cartel

Goliath is a Christian rock trio whose doom-laden riffages and metal opuses seem contradictory to the overlying religious theme. However, Goliath's sloth like delivery and predictable style are probably some of the reason why many people don't worship like the good God fearing folks we were raised as. This band is as dull as Sunday morning mass in a different language. Not inspiring in the least.

The Workin' Stiffs • Dog Tired... and Then Some

TKO Records

The Workin' Stiffs, in case you couldn't tell from their name, are a middle class punk rock outfit that hail from San Francisco. Their latest 17-track disc not only contains a reissuing of their first disc with singles and out of print 7" tracks, these common men give you more bang for your buck by cramming all of these hyperactive punk ditties with a flare for oi and Brit punk ("New Man") on to one disc. If you'd like to hear where the San Francisco street punk sound originated from, the Workin' Stiffs latest is a great beginner's course.

Open Hand • Evolutions

American Propaganda

Open Hand's five-song display is a pleasant mixture of hard-edged indie rock with swirls of hardcore and melodic rock thrown in for added measures. The key to why this Los Angeles quartet stands out above other acts isn't because of what they do, but instead how they do it. For starters, they are airtight and have an innate capability to switch gears without batting an eyelash ("11th Street"). They each have the talent to not only fall into the pocket, but also can step up at crucial times to create drama or maintain mood ("Life As Is"). And they have some interesting songwriting ideas which may sound like certain bands at times, yet are original enough to be considered their own. Open Hand's a rarity these days in the world of music; a band that actually works as a unit, rather than being a star vehicle for one of the dominant members. For united indie rock that will have you singing along and believing in the spirit, check out these guys right away.

Solace/Life in Your Way • The Heart and the Flesh Cry Out

Salad Dressing Records

Solace and Life In Your Way are two bands cut from the same cloth whose collective efforts make for a heavyweight split CD. With both outfit's religious decisions firmly displayed on their sleeves, Solace's aggressively metallic assault comes up first. With Bible quoted lyrics screamed over intense, almost hardcore metal ("Forsaken Wrath"), this power trio's diversity and succinct musicianship helps them to stand above the average garage band offering most metal is relegated to. Life In Your Way's contribution also contains an equal amount of the fire and brimstone lyrical delivery ("In That Day"). However, this Connecticut quartet's musical style leans a little more on the avant garde side of the spectrum, much like post hardcore bands like Drowningman or Dillinger ("Untitled"). Either way you slice it, if you're looking to replace your Stryper albums with Christian bands with more substance, this split is a good start.

The Kingpins • Plan of Action

Female fronted rock with an ‘80s rock twist comes to us straight from Canada in the form of The Kingpins. This quartet is very snappy, as they incorporate ska backbeats a la No Doubt with the chanteuse dance floor sensibilities of Debbie Harry to create some interesting loungy music that would be a hit at the Swingers Club ("Designated Driver"). While their output is danceable and good for a devil may care party vibe, that's about as far as it goes. But, if you dig the horn soaked rhythms of ska coupled with a rocking underbelly comparable to The Police ("Matchbox"), check out Canada's answer to Save Ferris.

Man Without Plan • I Feel Bad

Creep Records

Man Without Plan shows themselves to be an explosive tandem from the get go, charged with a flurry of punk rock fury and a desire to blast the hell out of everything in their way ("Lone Cyclone"). A good mixture of emo posturing, metal guitar rock god primping, and punk rock's melodicism ("Handset Locator," "I Think I See Where This Is Going") is what these Rye, NY natives bring to the party, and it's a safe bet to place that when these guys leave, father's of teenage daughters will panic and major home reconstruction is in order. Your typical punk rock band? Maybe after shedding 10 layers, but MWP, like Grade and Thumb, keep it moving and shaking… but, above all, really interesting.

Skins and Pinz Volume II

GMM Records

GMM comes out with a brash and brazen oi/punk comp to coincide with the summer's Beer Olympics. This 26-track disc is packed to the gills with oi tinged punk bands like Templars, Agnostic Front and Dropkick Murphy's, as well as many lesser known, but just as intense bands whose work ethic and upbringing fuels their musical fires. For a fist pumping trip to Anthemville, USA, check out this comp and don't forget the struggle.

The Scott Farkus Affair • We Will Become Destination

Ambiguous City

The Scott Farkus Affair is an emotional rock outfit which hails from Maryland. On their 11-track outing, they evoke images of Fugazi at their jazziest and deep in the pocket Goth rock ("The Loyalist," "The John Smith Detail"). Minimalist melodies that spring into twin guitar assaults and out of control college rock is what these guys specialize in ("I'm Not You're In"). While the singing could be crisper, there's so much going on underneath that it doesn't make a difference. If you like indie bands with a bit of bite, these guys may be something to check out.

CO2 • First Time Around


CO2 is a hard rocking quartet from Brooklyn, NY whose five-track disc is a hybrid between the funk rock of Living Colour and the rock star posturing of Stone Temple Pilots. With a husky, strong lead vocal leading the charge, their groove-laden riffs ("Temptations") are complemented by a very flexible rhythm section who show their capability in rock as well as the art of the Middle Eastern-tinged Led Zep ballad ("Falling Back"). For hard rock written and played with a zest for the art, check out CO2.

Dropface • Reflections of the Incomplete


Dropface is an Upstate NY metal troupe whose technical excellence mixes the brutality of death metal with the melody of much of the techno metal a la Nothingface and Sevendust. On their four-track sampler, this aggressive quartet take snippets of Slipknot, Limp Bizkit and Fear Factory and blend them together for one angry experience ("Shackled"). For a lesson in how to maintain intensity through technical advances, check out Dropface's prowess in bringing the pain ("Suffocate").

Jangli Jaggas • Vampire Promo


Pakistan based Jangli Jaggas bring the bland, Vegas sideshow synthesized music world to its knees with their 10-track release. With nods to Gothic rock ("Dark Metamorphosis"), power metal ("The New Age") and Yanni, this project has all the energy and passion of a John Tesh CD. Get some crystals and aromatherapy and sink into this disc like a Calgon bath, folks.

Jaya the Cat • Basement Style

Gold Circle

Jaya The Cat mix the reggae vibe of 311 with the punk stylings of Rancid on their 18-track disc. While their dub style seems forced and insincere, JTC's rock sensibilities seem very much intact. So much so, in fact, that this California tribe's punk diatribes shine far and above the tired rasta rock they try to incorporate ("God And State," "Basement Style"). Politically charged at times, while laid back at others ("Borrowed Time"), this outfit doesn't always succeed in their quest for Tosh meets TSOL, yet their punk infused anthemic thread help smooth the ride out.

Void Lucy • Seems So Charming


Void Lucy is an alternative rock outfit from NYC whose female fronted, highly orchestrated and surprisingly aggressive musical delivery borders on metal and/or Kate Bush performance rock ("Lie"). Despite their childhood trauma angle going a bit over the top, this act is musically sound and uses all of the latest devices in hard rock to convey their angst and explain their penchant for the melodrama. Like proper sequencing where applicable, as well as grinding guitar work and thumping basslines that make bands like Kittie and Disturbed all the rage among the young ones. For an unsettling and at times convincing look at the fragility of the human spirit, set to an alternative metal backdrop, Void Lucy is the band to seek out.

Flupejac • Who's Your Daddy?

Land Speed

Flupejac's second disc picks up right where their hook happy and moderately heavy previous offering left off. This California trio's latest batch of songs retain both the melodic choruses and driving rhythms ("My Back Pocket"), without sacrificing anything. In fact, they've managed to spruce up the production level a bit, for your audio delight. Rare these days do you find a band whose bark and bite could appease not only the ardent 16 year old teen as well as the hardened and often disappointed rock fan whose seen all of his heroes go down in flames. Flupejac is out to stop the bleeding, and do a damn fine job in doing so. For intelligently crafted hard rock that has something for everyone, this outfit is one to watch.

Grade • Headfirst Straight to Hell

Victory Records

Grade is a band that is no stranger to breaking the mold and creating a new standard by which other bands will follow. Their newest 13-track gem is no exception, as this accomplished Canadian quintet once again roll out their brand of ultra melodic and imminent hardcore. Headfirst Straight to Hell isn't just a scream-athon, though, even though it has its moments of pure vocal mayhem ("The Sixth Chamber"). The melodic passages and instrumental interludes ("Little Satisfactions," "Will Pending") which these boys chose for this album may be their best to date, and they even hone up to their NWOBHM upbringing by taking a bit of the Priest and Maiden in the mix ("In The Wake Of Poseidon"). Perhaps their previous release of metal tinged rarities was a useful ploy after all; preparing us for the inevitable in a kind, gentle way. No matter, because if you listen to many of the newer and less original hardcore crossovers out in Bandville, you're sure to hear snippets of what Grade makes so good. On Headfirst, you hear why Grade is better than those bands and is great. Make this a priority purchase on your next trip to the record store.

Jerry Cantrell • Degradation Trip Five-Song Sampler

Jerry Cantrell is one of the most important figures from the '90s metal scene. Just listen real close to your old Alice In Chains albums, and not only does his flawless guitar work shine through, but his singing, often which is mistaken for Layne Staley's, remains some of the most memorable and enduring voices from the whole grunge movement. Despite the fact that he hasn't really gone anywhere, Jerry returns with an amazing band and a handful new tunes guaranteed to ease the blow that Layne has sworn off the industry ("Castaway"). Assisted by a who's who of the hard rock world (FNM skin basher Mike Bordin, Suicidal Tendencies bassist extraordinaire Robert Trujillio and ex Queensryche six-stringer Chris DeGarmo), Cantrell has armed himself with a bevy of talent around him. And with hearty heapings of the Alice songwriting formula working, complete with a haunting overbearence that Boggy Depot lacked ("Psychotic Break"), Cantrell's latest outing is bound to show not only his guitar gymnastics but also his innate ability to write and sing a song that contains swamp rock melodics with a metal hero flare ("Solitude"). Never forgetting he was from Seattle, Cantrell retains the rainy day sound that made his previous work such a favorite ("Angel Eyes"). Hopefully, if there's justice, Cantrell has sealed a deal with a major label to release the rumored double album from which these selections originate from so that we can welcome him back into the limelight again. Keep your fingers crossed, boys and girls, because if these five tracks are any indication, we should be hearing a lot more of Jerry and company soon.

Stone Temple Pilots • Shangri La Dee Da

Atlantic Records

Stone Temple Pilots have endured substance abuse issues and changing musical climates and have come out stronger than ever on their fifth full length release. Once again hooking up with Brendan O'Brien, STP's 13-track collection shows a maturity that comes with their tumultuous career, yet it doesn't become bloated or any less powerful. While it is a lighter album, per se, in terms of loudness and distortion, Weiland and the boys still can pound out a pseudo Zeppelin rocker ("Coma") when need be. But they don't always need to turn to 11, as STP, in a Eagles-esque moment of clarity, decide to let their guitars jangle and the melodies border on the country rock side of things ("Bi-Polar Bear") They let Scott's amazingly melodic, almost angelic vocals shine through many of the tracks and let the music play as a soothing backdrop ("Wonderful," "Hello, It's Late"), a strength which puts STP in the upper echelon of rock bands a la Queen and The Doors. In fact, it seems as if Stone Temple Pilots have embraced their rock stardom and have reflected this realization on us all, almost like the antithesis of Pearl Jam, an outfit to which STP is still unfairly linked. Shangri La Dee Da shows a sturdy and arduous STP, ready to bask in their properly placed reverie and armed with more of the driving melodies and rock star posturing we knew they always had in them.

Fantomas • The Director's Cut


Mike Patton's eclecticity has no end in sight, as his latest project Fantomas comes back out with a stirring concept album. This time around, Patton and crew, rounded out by ex Slayer skinsman Dave Lombardo, Melvin's guitar icon Buzz Osborne, and longtime Patton contributor Trevor Dunn take to the movies, and lovingly cover many of their favorite movie scores. Don't expect your average cover album here, folks; this is Mike Patton we're talking about, and judging by the Fantomas lineup, you can see it's going to be heavy and loud and probably all over the place. Taking scores from such notable films as Rosemary's Baby and The Godfather, as well as many other scores no doubt taken from Patton's weird world of film, Fantomas do a clever job on their reprises, and add just the right touch of cacophony into the mix to make these songs as unsettling and brilliantly brutal as they can be. For an album even Siskel and Roper would give two thumbs up to, grab your bucket of popcorn and hit the theaters with Fantomas.

Fenix TX • Lechuza

MCA Records

Fenix TX isn't your average pop punk outfit, even though they may be marketed as such. This Texas quartet has a lot more savvy ("Threesome") and a hell of a lot more substance ("Katie W.") when it boils down to it. On their sophomore effort, the boys dabble in a few magics, such as the punk rock lost love lamentation ("Tearjerker"), as well as the get sweaty and mosh fist pumper ("Manufactured Inspirato," "Something Bad Is Gonna Happen"), and the all-important ode to the ‘80s ("Phoebe Cates"). It's their cheekiness combined with their 3 chord stomp that puts them heads above the pack of punk rock pretty boys and pretenders. Special guest stars Roddy Bottum (FNM) and Dennis Hill (Lefty) also help add dimensions to the 11 fun filled, high-spirited tracks Fenix TX pounds out. For punk rock with a punch and some power behind its performance, Fenix TX is a bonafide hit.

Jimmy Eat World • Bleed American


Jimmy Eat World's newest CD coincides with the new Weezer album quite nicely, as its 11 compact tracks are anthemic ("Bleed American"), complete with infectious choruses and hook laden guitar riffs, much like Mr. Cuomo's and company's eponymous new release. However, remember that JEW is an emo band, too, and they do not let you forget. Their hearts are firmly displayed on their sleeves with effectiveness and without remorse ("Your House," "Hear Me You"). The sensitivity runs its course, but Jimmy Eats World's methods always manage to intrigue, whether it be the use of a dance track like vocal ("Sweetness") or a guitar charged, heavy backbeated slice of good old American pop rock ("The Authority Song"). Anyway you look at it, this Mid Atlantic quartet make emo rock palatable by keeping the songwriting crisp and the warblings nearly nonexistent. For a pleasant walk through a heavy pop rock band, Jimmy Eat World's latest hits the mark.

Sprung Monkey • Get a Taste


Sprung Monkey is a five piece rock outfit whose sound falls somewhere in between the high charged rock of Lit and the lighter side of Sugar Ray. On their latest 14-track outing, they successfully mesh DJ scratches with laid back melodies ("Get A Taste") to create a sunny disposition perfect for California dreaming. However, these guys can crank out a punky tune ridden with angst with the best of them ("American Made," "Beautiful") and are also capable of infusing some funk, too, expertly displayed through their updated rendition of Harry Nilsson’s "Coconut." For some good, clean rock and roll, check out Sprung Monkey’s soundtrack to a day at the beach.

Ditchwater • 3-Song Sampler


Ditchwater may just be the Midwest’s best kept secret, but not for long if they maintain the breakneck rhythms and maddening pace showcased on their latest three-song release. Heavy in all the right places, with the proper placement of hooks and riffs to make it all memorable ("Headcase"), these guys are ripe for the picking. If you dig Korn, Slipknot and Sevendust ("Nothing Wrong"), you’ll soon realize why Ditchwater is a band to look out for.

Provoke • No Way Out


Provoke proves that the Slipknot 9 aren’t the only heavy thing to come from Iowa, as this slamming quartet take hearty helpings of the NYHC groove and incorporate it into their latest 10-track collection. Chugging guitars ("No Defense") lead the charge as Provoke stomp their way through their version of Madball meets Biohazard inspired hardcore ("Bound By My Honor"). Gravel throated vocals and pulverizing backbeats ("Bled From Discipline") are par for the course, as Provoke keeps the grooves thick and the mosh pit busy.

Tank Records Sampler

Tank Records

Tank Records is a punk label whose stable contains some up and comers. Standouts include the melodic speed dealings of 5 Cent Deposit ("Bird On A Wire") and the deep rooted emo punk of Broken Star ("Erase Today"). And while labelmates Smackin’ Isaiah and Don’t Look Down are good in their own formulaic power pop kind of way (Don’t Look Down’s "Moto"), they don’t seem to have the breakout potential of the other two outfits. Tank Records have a hot little sampler on their hands and hopefully, they can continue giving us some fine punk offerings.

Buckfast Superbee • You Know How the Songs Go

Walking; www.buckfastsuperbee.net

Buckfast Superbee’s latest sampler contains five tracks of middle of the road punk rock that isn’t anything that we haven’t heard before. Extraordinarily average, this California outfit opts to take the road more traveled for a walk on the mild side ("S.D. vs. L.A."). They do, however, have a grasp on how to create a moody melodic tune, a la Joe Jackson ("Apology In E"), which may be their saving grace after all is said and done.

Akuma • 100 Demons


Akuma is a Canadian clan whose 12-track release is a subtle mix of The Mighty Mighty Bosstones and Sheer Terror ("As One"). With bowel shaking vocals and a purely old school punk overlay, Akuma’s songs are more akin to being battle cries than melodic endeavors ("Down"), although the catchiness and song composition are both top notch ("The Streets Are Mine"). Suitable for kicking someone in the head to, consider this Canadian quartet’s newest a soundtrack to kick serious ass by. And so what if some of the songs are in French, it makes the chaos that much more justified ("la Grande Illusion"). For fans of Agnostic Front, Ignite and old school punk rock that have few things to look forward to, Akuma is a band that will help you get through the bleak state of today’s cleansed scene.

DRI • Greatest Hits

Deadline; www.dirtyrottenimbeciles.com

DRI is one of the more prolific underground outfits in the indie scene these days, and their legacy is captured on this 17-track collection. Highlighting the early years of the San Francisco by way of Texas pioneer punk thrashers, namely their first three releases, it’s no small wonder after listening to these groundbreaking tracks why DRI have remained a force to be reckoned with for nearly two decades. DRI’s latest isn’t only just for fans, but for those that enjoy a good musical history lesson and who like to see where it all began. The only downside to this album is that it doesn’t contain any of the band’s classic breakthrough hits, but there’s always room for Volume 2, right?

Simulcast • Stick It In Your A Drive


Electronic rock can sometimes be stigmatized for being a disposable brand of music, but NYC’s Simulcast attempt to change all of that with their 16 tracks of technologically advanced rock music. This quintet’s rock sensibilities shine through nicely ("Love Drug"), as they prove that could strip the effects down and still have a fine crafted tune on their hands ("Rid Of You"). Although, their strength does lie in the usage of today’s modern advances to motivate the music to go that extra mile, whether it is to increase its pulse and keep your ass on the dance floor or to enhance the drive on a song’s mood ("Creature"). Simulcast combines the emotionally charged intensity of a full scale band with the energy and essence of dance music in a way that you can’t help to appreciate, even if that kind of music isn’t your bag. However, if you dig Stabbing Westward, Gravity Kills or think that you may enjoy a harder version of New Order, then Simulcast will be a favorite of yours for certain.

Soilent Green • A Deleted Symphony For the Beaten Down

Relapse Records

One of the masters of the swamp metal movement returns in fine form with 10 tracks of audio deconstruction. Yes, all ye faithful, Soilent Green have returned, grimier and heavier than ever. Named one of Rolling Stone’s top ten metal bands by no accident, this Louisiana quintet unmercifully beat the hell out of you with odd time changes ("Later Days"), sludgy interludes ("Afterthought Of A Genius") and a plethora of screams and yowls that would make face painted Scandinavians blush. And, they get low, too, grinding and grimacing and sounding just like a painful movement of the bowels should seemingly sound like ("Swallowhole"). Soilent Green’s latest mixes the brutality of death metal with the groove of Sabbath and the metal senses of Pantera to create one of the year’s finest metal albums.

Solarized • Driven


From New Jersey, it surfaced. The hydroponics retro rock sounds of the quartet known as Solarized have been captured for your pleasure. 12 tracks suitable for a parking lot kegger or the go-go bar, Solarized’s undeniable rock and roll boogie ("Firefight"), dirty grooves ("Southbound") and supercharged rhythms ("Dig The Ride") make other rock bands look darn right pathetic. And while these guys and gal may play like it’s 1978 all over again, it’s done with an effortless conviction and a true love of the game. With a stoner rock vibe that you can feel, Solarized’s latest stomps, rocks and overall will make you a fan, like it did to fellow Jersey boys Monster Magnet. Get Solarized!

Bruce Dickinson • The Best Of

Sanctuary Records

When Bruce Dickinson went astray from his longtime band Iron Maiden in 1990 and released his first solo album, an era in metal music had abruptly ended and many of the faithful fans were in both shock and dismay. While Maiden trudged on with minimal success, Bruce and company, which included at times Janick Gers and Adrian Smith, went back to their roots and forged ahead, releasing albums and playing to audiences worldwide. 10 years later, Dickinson finds himself not only back in the Maiden fold, but also releasing his very own greatest hits album. This 13-track disc contains two new tracks, as well as many of Bruce’s better-known solo outings, such as "Tattooed Millionaire" and "Chemical Wedding". If nothing else, this collection proves that while Bruce didn’t exactly overtake the world with his solo efforts when he departed from Maiden, he did, in fact create an impressive body of work that was fresh and that he and his fans should be proud of.

Uncomfortable Silence • 3-Song Demo


Metal mongers Uncomfortable Silence have got a good groove going on, currently audible via their three-song demo. Keeping it heavy, akin to early Life Of Agony, this Connecticut quartet play with an in your face style and a provocative attitude that takes the listener on a roller coaster ride of emotions, thanks mainly to the versatile vocals, which flow from desperate to declarative ("Provoke"). With a dash of metalcore guitar riffages and a weighty rhythm section, Uncomfortable Silence’s latest makes for some uncomfortable moments, especially if you stand too close to the mosh pit.

The Saints of 35th Street • A Breath Away From My Last

No Light

The Saints Of 35th Street’s sound would fit in perfectly at next year’s Warped Tour, expertly displayed on their latest 14-track release. This Queens, NY quartet definitely have an awesome 3-chord arsenal behind them ("Just What I Needed Right Now," "Bad News"), but there’s a lot more to them than being another faceless punk outfit. Their gothic overtones a la AFI stand out strong ("A Safe Place," "World Without Me"), as does their penchant for the melancholy, at times circling The Cure and Morrissey’s territory ("Some Things Will Never Be," "If I Never..."). For a refreshing reminder that punk rock can morph into other genres and still rock, seek out the latest from this viscerally versatile band.

Champion • Come Out Swinging

Phyte (www.phytemusic.com)

Champion is a hardcore outfit whose seven tracks fit quite nicely in between Shelter and Boys Sets Fire. Their punkish slam is met with a super tight rhythm section and some stellar fretwork ("Assume The Worst"), all underneath impassioned vocals that liberally borrow from Minor Threat and Fugazi. Post punk or hardcore? Champion lets you decide, as they delve into both medium well enough to warrant some crossover flavor, but nothing that’s going to break barriers.

Anathema • A Fine Day to Exit

Koch Entertainment

The lush soundscape, which encompasses Anathema’s latest release, may not appease their long time fans, but those that are in the know are bound to soak in A Fine Day to Exit’s nine tracks of audio bliss. Ethereal and esthetically pleasing to the ears, this English outfit opt to go the Pink Floyd/ Radiohead route, as the songs gradually build to a fever pitch, without forsaking melody and maintaining an amazing sense of both musicianship and dynamics ("Looking Outside Inside"). For those that understand that it doesn’t have to be loud and distorted to be heavy, Anathema is the band to check out ("Underworld").

Undisputed Heavyweight Champions • Stay Down

Starvation Records

Do you miss the days of DRI and Suicidal Tendencies? Then check out the latest from Undisputed Heavyweight Champions, whose 13-track disc contains much of the same riff laden punk energy and chunky guitars from the aforementioned stalwarts. With a firm foothold in the late ‘80s punk sound, UHC’s delivery is a welcomed throwback and an affirmation that there’s some semblance of substance in the punk genre these days.

Mastodon • Lifesblood

Relapse Records

Mastodon is an enthralling new metal group that hails from Atlanta, GA, and whose sound mixes the swamp metal dirge with a solid slab of technical death metal musings. Their five-song EP leaves you chomping at the bit for more of their blissfully brutal mix, as these cats truly have got the art of shred down to a science, but can also go the artsy route as well without crapping out ("We Built This Come Death"). Definitely an outfit worth investigating and checking out, Mastodon will surely please the metalhead within.

Gwar • Violence Has Arrived

Metal Blade Records

Gwar is quite possibly the most well known joke metal band this side of Spinal Tap, but it seems as if they get a little more serious on their recent three-song offering, although "Bloody Mary" contains lyrics that would make even Andrew Dice Clay blush.  Bludgeoning riffs and lyrics without chicanery seem a bit out of place from the folks that slime their audience on a nightly basis, but it works, and it may even change people’s perception to what many of the loyal fans already know; that Gwar kicks serious ass. You have been warned, but bring the raincoat to the next show just in case Gwar shows that old habits die hard.

Dust to Dust • Dust to Dust

Sanctuary Records

Dust to Dust is an industrial tinged rock band hailing from Brooklyn, NY who, not unlike fellow county mates Pist-on and Type O Negative, utilize hammering rhythms and anguished vocals to get their point across. Dust To Dust’s keyboards also play a major role in their audio assault, as the samples come out as fast and furious as the downtuned guitars ("New Low"). When creating a danceable form of metal, DTD is successful ("Breathe"), however, their lyrical content and monotone delivery throughout the 12-track disc leaves the listener feeling a bit flat. Perhaps if their songwriting skills mesh with their slamming sound, we could have a winner on our hands, but for now, Dust To Dust is just a hybrid work in progress.

The Bronx Casket Company • Sweet Home Transylvania

The Music Cartel

DD Verni, known for his work in the long running metal troupe Overkill, also has a notable side project aptly titled The Bronx Casket Company. With DD at the helm, this pseudo Goth metal outfit takes bits of The Misfits, Type O Negative, Danzig, Sabbath ("Dead...For The Moment") and of course, Overkill, and blends it up for a ghoulish nine-track concoction. While this project isn’t as powerful and sturdy as Overkill, DD lets his inhibitions go and in turn, with the help of some of his musical buddies, plays outside of the box for a bit ("Killing Mary Jane"). If you dig your metal dark and brooding, then the Bronx Casket Company may be the shock your system needs.

The Seth Project • A Rehearsal For the Great Uprising


In the spirit of DIY comes the Seth Project, an ambitious yet musically lacking project whose 19 tracks mix spoken word with highly orchestrated, yet poorly produced offerings. Not surprising to note that this project is seemingly the culmination of a summer’s worth of band camp practice based on its lack of production value and overall mediocre performance. If this is to become a usual release for the summer campsters, let’s hope Groundhog’s Day shows us six more weeks of winter.

Crash Rickshaw • Crash Rickshaw

Tooth and Nail

Crash Rickshaw is a post punk trio whose strong rhythmic grooves would remind you of early Nirvana ("Angry Sunset") and whose vocal style compares to Geddy Lee meets Ian Mackaye. On their debut 10 tracks, these guys (two of which come from quasi Christian rockers Project 86), stomp around and riff out like The Foo Fighters ("El Gato"), but also have got a quirkiness about them, which allows them to explore vast soundscapes ("When"). Adventurous and rocking in all the right places, Crash Rickshaw pull off the uneasy task of balancing their art and their balls nicely, which makes for an enjoyable listen.

Rival Schools • United By Fate

Island Records

Oh where did our beloved Quicksand go? Sadly, the uber influential band (just ask At The Drive In and Glassjaw) have parted ways after a brief reunion courtesy of The Deftones, but rising from the ashes comes Rival Schools, led by geek rocker extraordinaire Walter. Their 13-track gem is jammed packed with melody, however gone is the usual wall of reverberation that longtime fans are accustomed to. Instead, RS opt to hammer out infectious melodies and lighter interludes to get their point across, and they do so effortlessly. While the album is on the whole a lot more toned down ("Everything Has Its Point," "Undercovers On"), the songwriting remains top notch, and they even manage to squeeze in a few barnburners to wet your appetite ("Used For Glue," "The Switch"). Rival Schools is by far way ahead of its time, as was Quicksand, in giving us heavy handed melodies that can be made love to, sung in a large group and even crowd surfed to. One of the highlights of 2001 by far.

Ringworm • Birth Is Pain

Victory Records

Ringworm is a mainstay in the Cleveland metalcore scene and they’re about to invade your eardrums via their 11-track Victory Records face ripper of an album. Not for the faint of heart, this quintet is relentless in their jack hammering delivery, leaving you only time to groove to the melodic breakdowns ("Take Back What’s Ours") before getting repeatedly crushed by their musical might ("Madness Of War," "Dollar Whore"). If you dig Leeway, SOD, and early Prong or are just a fan of intense music that combines the imminence of hardcore with the pummeling power of metal, Ringworm is the band you need to get down with.

Kamelot • Karma


From the power metal contingent comes Kamelot, a quartet from Florida whose riff heavy 13-track release ("The Spell") is chock full of elements that make up a good power metal album. Besides the fantasy-based imagery, you’ve got a thunderous rhythm section that’s locked in together from beginning to end like a machine ("Wings Of Despair"). Acoustic guitar interludes and wonderfully led orchestrated numbers ("Don’t You Cry") also help Kamelot stand tall amongst their peers on the musical front, as well as the well placed and precise lead vocals, which are sure and steady throughout without reaching high marks on the cheese-o-meter ("Across The Highlands"). This album has it all for the discerning headbanger, and it’s a safe bet to say that Kamelot would make a fine addition along side your Queensryche, Dio and In Flames albums.

Punch Drunk III

TKO Records

From the label that brings us the finest in pub styled punk and rock comes TKO’s latest collection of the roster’s finest artists. For a nice jolt to the system and a firm middle finger to commercial rock radio, TKO once again brings out some hard hitting, catchy music that’s a nice change of pace for what gets passed around as punk these days. Unlike what MTV shows you, this is real punk where the band’s look is questionable and not sanitized for your approval. These bands sneer and snarl and embody the true spirit of punk, knowing that it’s not something that can be bought in a mall. Support the cause and check out a few new cool bands via the new TKO comp.

Sunspot • Radio Free Earth


Sunspot is a trio from Madison, WI whose tasty blend of rock and pop screams for radio attention and national exposure. With a firm grasp of melody and how to write a memorable hook, complete with lyrics that are smart but don’t go over your head, ("Broken Toy," "Three Corners"), Sunspot’s energy and aura rival that of Sugar Ray and Everclear. With an apparent background in punk and alternative, Sunspot has seemingly retained their influences and has built upon them nicely by adding mature compositions ("Change The World," "Prozac Girl") to their already solid mix. For a band ready for mass consumption, check out Sunspot’s latest 15-track offering.

The Commercials • Twenty Years Tonight


The Commercials are a quartet that hails from Pennsylvania and whose 10-track release starts intensely and keeps the feeling going throughout. With so many musical devices working on their side, such as harmonic sing along vocals, chugging guitars which switch effortlessly into clean toned melodies ("Today The Farewell") and an excellent sense of dynamics, which drapes an dramatic feel on the entire collection, The Commercial’s display a versatility that should allow their appeal to crossover to so many different music fans. If you dig Grade, Thursday and Jimmy Eat World, these guys are a logical choice, but even if you’re feeling adventurous and would like to explore an outfit that contains the heaviness you crave with a strong sense of melody, The Commercials would be a good choice.

The Princess and the Warrior soundtrack

Trauma Records

This soundtrack contains mainly female fronted ambient music that relies on drama for its power. Barring a blockbuster performance from ex Skunk Anansie frontwoman Skin ("You Can’t Find Peace"), this collection, broken into two parts, the music inspired by and its score, is no different than a Portishead album in depth and style. If you’re into the updated orchestrated sound that mixes dance and rock, this may be a worthwhile purchase for you.

Chaotic Culture • Chaotic Culture

Metal Barn

Chaotic Culture is a metal quintet that has done their homework and have decisively created a volatile concoction of metal that contains elements of old school hardcore, pummeling thrash and even stretches out to touch on the sound of Sweden’s sanctimonious scene ("Demise"). The nine tracks that comprise this California outfit’s eponymous output are screamingly loud and poignantly brutal, akin to At The Gates or Carcass, yet they also retain a sense of Stateside metal with their jagged edged melodies and group chorus scream-alongs ("My Addiction"). These guys probably own a good cross section of the Victory Records catalogue, as they sound amazingly like the perfect mix of Shutdown, Darkest Hour and All Out War. If you crave a hybrid sound, Chaotic Culture’s got the market cornered.

Zen Guerrilla • Shadows On the Sun

Sub Pop Records

Zen Guerrilla kicks ass the old fashioned way, without any new fangled devices or illusionary gimmickry. Instead, this scaled down, lean and mean beast of a band who reek of motor oil and dirty rags straight from the garage turn up, crank out and burn ‘em down. And with mastermind producer Jack Endino steering the 14-track excursion, we know we’re in for one hell of rock and roll ride. Saturated in volume and marinated in the blues ("Graffiti Hustle"), Zen Guerrilla brilliantly blend the spirit of rock and roll by letting the music do the talking, a noble concept by any means of approach. Imagine a modern day MC5 to get an idea of how organic these guys are ("Dirty Mile"). For the deprived and downtrodden who long for a kicking band to jolt them out of the mainstream rock doldrums, Zen Guerrilla are ready to beckon the call.

Boot to Head Records Sampler 2

Boot to Head

This Oregon based label wheels out 28 tracks of their artist’s work in a nifty little package for your consumption. With most of the bands on the collection bordering on punk rock in one form or another, with the obligatory Misfits cover tune thrown in for nostalgic purposes, the folks at Boot To Head show that they still maintain a pulse on what’s bubbling up from the underground. Choice cuts include the seething Scum Of The Earth and the driving NYHC style of Ceasefire.

Black Label Society • Alcohol Fueled Brewtality

Spitfire Records

Zakk Wylde is by far one of the best damn guitarists on the scene today in the world of metal, and his very own project, Black Label Society, show that they can get the job done live as well on this two disc set. Taken from various live shows on the Penchant For Violence tour, Zakk and company stomp through 13 tracks of relentless riffages with a Southern metal flare that rival the output of Pantera and COC. But, the best part of the collection is disc 2, where Zakk strips down and waxes acoustic, adding depth and a breath of fresh air to Neil Young’s "Heart Of Gold" and Sabbath’s "Snowblind." If you want to get to know BLS, this disc is a good start, and if you’re already a fan, drop the six-pack and get this album quick.

Heavy Metal Geomatrix

Sanctuary Records

Naming like a who’s who in the world of hard rock, this soundtrack to the video game contains 12 tracks of aggressive poundings sure to keep your thumbs limber and your reflexes sharp through the night. One warning comes with the disc; wear headphones for late night gaming, because with all of the heavy hitters (Megadeth, COC, Rollins Band, Biohazard) on this disc, it’s a surefire neighborhood nuisance if played at high volumes. Even though most of these tracks can be found on the artist’s latest releases, it’s a worthwhile collection.

Bionic Jive • Armageddon Through Your Speakers

Interscope Records

What would a modern day Public Enemy sound like? Most likely the 14 tracks that make up the latest from Bionic Jive, as this hybrid mix of rap and rock does satisfy most of the genre’s checklist, however BJ tend to keep a certain fervor about their style that make your average DJ infused outfit look as if they’re merely going through the motions ("Pump"). Imagine the verbal flow of Outkast with a discernible hard rock sound and Bionic Jive is what blows through your speakers. And, like Chuck D. did back in the day, the emcees that comprise this quintet tend to get up on their soapbox and tell it like it is ("Rock On"), truly blending hard music with hard lyrics ("I Shot Lucifer"). If you dug Body Count and if you think Limp Bizkit is the shiznit, then Bionic Jive is the next logistical choice for your stereo.

Lazy American Workers • Another Half Assed Job Well Done

Biscuit Scrubbers

Hailing from Toledo, Ohio, the four guys that make up Lazy American Workers may be lazy at their regular 9 to 5 drudgery, but their seven-track release suggests that this outfit takes their punk rock band occupation very seriously. With a biting lyrical content in front of a jarring rhythm section ("I’m Just A Guy"), LAW mixes up the fury of punk rock with the attitude of hardcore to create music that gives you a swift kick in the ass ("Going To The Show"). Raw, crass and maybe a bit ugly ("The Usual"), LAW embodies a punk spirit that is undeniably American.

The Black Widows • Arocknaphobia

Vital Gesture

The Black Widows use a lot of vibrato and chorus effects on their 18-track instrumental album, which is chock full of tracks that you’d expect to hear in a late night spy movie or in a surf shop ("Agent Double-O Swing"). With such a swinging sound going on, The Black Widows let the groove overcome you and whisk you away into the mid ‘60s, complete with shag haircuts and bad beach movies strewn about ("Que Mala," "Bop-a-roo"). Definitely an album to throw on at your next soiree, The Black Widows are rumored to contain members of The Bellrays and The Streetwalkin’ Cheetahs, but what isn’t a rumor is that this quintet has quite the handle on how to create compelling instrumental music that gives Zamfir a run for his money ("Rasputin’s Holiday").

Sugarbomb • Bully

RCA Records

Looking for some middle of the road music complete with sunny harmonies and radio ready hooks? Well, look no further than the latest 11-track offering from Sugarbomb, as they play the kind of rock that an upbeat dentist may rock out to while performing a painful procedure ("Life Goes On"). While this band may be written off as another disposable rock outfit, they do make for some upbeat office music. Mixing the sounds of Sugar Ray, Smashmouth ("Clover") and Vertical Horizon, Sugarbomb’s cautiously composed tunes ("Hello") are pristine and sterile for mass consumption and should be a hit in the typing pool.

Matthew Jay • Draw

Capitol Records

Matthew Jay is a singer songwriter whose Ray Davies impersonation is dead on ("Let Your Shoulder Fall") and whose 11-track album is remarkably ready for the coffee house contingent. With a hint of Dave Matthews in his delivery ("Meteorology") and a sturdy sense of orchestration behind his smooth vocals, Jay doesn’t draw as much as he paints a picturesque soundscape that should capture many a General Foods International Coffee moment ("Remember This Feeling").

Pivot • Natural Selection


Pivot is an outfit that mixes the Korn and Slipknot sound into a concoction that would sound a lot better if their drummer kept up with them. While their seven-track disc pounds you into the ground with the strength of a jackhammer and the might of a piledriver ("Middle Of Everywhere"), the production level isn’t up to snuff with the level of the band, which leaves this imaginative band sounding a bit flat at times. However, Pivot does manage to get its message across despite the static, and it’s definitely not one full of good cheer. Angry and aggressive, Pivot’s latest should please any pissed off youth you know.

The Break • Cut the Shit, Start a Pit


The Break’s melodic punk hardly allows you to act on the disc’s title, but the six-track offering does contain a slew of catchy punk songs that have got the sunny Cali sound stamped all over them ("Profit Motive"). Guitar led harmonies are this outfit’s strong suit, as are melancholic lyrics which are neatly tied together by competent performances that scream for pop cultured acceptance ("The Meaning Of Regret"). If you like Lit, you should love these guys.

Aborym • Fire Walk With Us

World War III

Aborym is another one of those face painted macabre metal troupes that claim to be at the right hand of Satan and play their music in his name. Their nine tracks of meaningless mayhem aren’t anything you couldn’t find done better on any Scandinavian metal band’s album, and their blast beats and spooky choral chants are pretty third rate. If these guys are as true of a demonic musical threat as they say, then the God fearing folk of the world have nothing to worry about.

Reno: Where Dreams Come to Die

Sedition Records

Reno, NV seems pretty pissed off if we take Sedition Records’ 16-track compilation into account. Who’d to think that the offspring of the player’s club would spawn such an undercurrent of rebellion, yet it has and they are angry. Take Vae Victis for instance, whose desperate screams are only underscored by the destructive melody below them ("Last Man"). Add The Shookups to the list as well, as their swinging social commentary "Deadboy Strut" shares a similar bleak outlook. So, next time you’re in Las Vegas painting the town red, remember not too far away there are a plethora of bands dispelling the myth and tearing the walls down.

Proudentall • What is Happening Here

Caulfield Records

Proudentall is a jarring outfit from Kansas whose latest release is a swirling mix of indie rock sensibilities and hard rock melodies with a disjointedness about it that makes this outfit impervious to classification. The closest thing to contrast these guys may be At The Drive In, but they seem to have more control than that, almost in a Radiohead kind of way ("1002"). Decisively heavy but not tasking on the ears, this band is much more deep than your average rock group, and they utilize stellar compositions to showcase this ("Line Drawing Dead Winter," "Sharp Confessor"). For an avant garde walk through rock music, Proudentall is your best bet.

The Bodies • Firepower Is Our Business

TKO Records

The Bodies are a California punk rock band who get their faces painted and perform straight ahead punk rock. Their seven-track disc isn’t anything that we haven’t heard before, but it does have a certain catchiness to it a la The Misfits ("Justice") that reels you in and allows you to enjoy the simplicity of their output ("Fly The Flag"). For a quick shot of punk rock that is unassuming and without pretenses, check this Sonoma Valley quartet out.

Self Riot • Self Riot


The eight tracks that make up Self Riot’s release are laden with anger and fueled by a strong hybrid of hardcore and punk. With an undercurrent of NYHC running throughout the disc ("17 Years"), these Queens, NY natives show that they’re not playing around ("Bored To Death").  Heavy riffs that border on metal clash with punk rhythms and keep the pit flowing nicely. Keeping the underground a sanctimonious entity is not an easy thing, yet Self Riot’s sound does just that, with just the right amounts of production and attitude to pull it all off.

Spyglass • Strategies For the Stranded

Pattern 25

Spyglass is a female fronted quintet whose Garbage-meets-Portishead style fits nicely while sipping on a martini after a tough day of work. A bit on the ethereal side, Spyglass succeeds in creating interesting arrangements that leave a haunting mystique ("Photograph"). Containing nine tracks of subversive pop that leaves a heavy feeling in your head and a film noir type feeling in your gut ("The Longest Day"), Spyglass seem like the perfect band to listen to on a long European train ride or in a swank lounge environment. If you enjoy deep grooves and female fronted music that is left of center, Spyglass is the band to tune into.

Psychotic Reaction • Last Train to Nowhere

Psycho Bubblegum

This Connecticut quartet take the time machine back to early ‘80s NYC, as their spiked hair melodics and safety pinned rhythms are as retro as it gets. Sneering like it’s 1977 and playing with a disposition that reflexively throws the middle finger in the air without concern ("I Could Care Less"), these guys aren’t reinventing the wheel, but instead their trying to take the power back and remind the people what punk is really about, which is basically bitching about things as loudly and obnoxiously as possible ("Trust"). It’s here where PR succeeds, and they’ve got the attitude and the songs (18 in all!) to back up their claims. Viva the real deal!!

Comadose • Re-Up

Screaming Ferret

From the New England harvest of heavy bands come Comadose, a sextet whose hip hop is hopped up with slamming grooves and phat beats that rip out like rock is meant to ("Velcro"). While the genre that these guys work in isn’t exactly the most original out there, what sets Comadose apart from other rap rock outfits is their gut wrenching guitar sound, which smacks you in the face just as hard as Hatebreed or Diecast ("Cushion"). Seven tracks that will have your head banging and your ass shaking is what these guys deliver, and based by the disc, it’s a safe bet that they can throw a mean mosh pit as well.

Velvet • Demo 2001


Velvet is a Mid Atlantic outfit whose musical style resemble the month of March, whereas many of the 10 tracks that comprise this untitled collection come out of the gate roaring like a lion, yet towards the end, tend to subtly fade out as gently as a lamb ("They All Float Down Here"). With a touch of emo warbling in their indie rock swirl ("Not What You Had In Mind"), these guys take bits of Hum, Grade and The Deftones and create ambient rock music that boils over with emotion ("Expectations"). For those that crave some sensitivity in their rock without going the way of Vertical Horizon, check out the latest from Velvet.

Infinite Winter • 4-Song Demo


Infinite Winter is a female fronted hard rock outfit from Queens NY whose four-song demo showcases this quintet’s versatile musical talents. With a solid slab of hard rock driving the tunes through your speakers, IW rounds out their thick sound with a twin guitar assault that shreds ("My Cell") and a stellar rhythm section that holds it all down. Music this intense usually requires a male vocal to bring it on home, but the female leads not only will blow you away, but are also a welcomed change of pace ("Bring Me Down"). Infinite Winter provides a winning formula on many different levels and are worth a listen if you think the realm of radio rock has gotten a bit stale as of late.

King's X • Manic Moonlight

Metal Blade Records

The long running and cult favorite King’s X return with another gem of an album. Their ninth release finds Ty, Doug and Jerry once again wheeling out the warhorse and delivering 10 tracks of the unique sounds that have made this Texas trio such an underground favorite. Summoning on the 1970s, Manic Moonlight contains chunky riffs that have got that funky shuffle ("Yeah"), but King’s X broadens their horizons a bit and dabble in the technological side of things, throwing in samples, loops and electronic drums for added flavor, without sacrificing their trademark heavy harmonies ("Vegetable," "False Alarm"). With no end in sight, King’s X continues to open new doors and rock the block. If you’re a fan of rock and don’t own any of King’s X’s albums, Manic Moonlight is a good place to start. Even though it’s not their best work, it nonetheless exemplifies just why they are such a force in the world of rock.

Slim Cessna's Auto Club

Alternative Tentacles

Slim Cessna’s Auto Club is a honky tonkin’, beer swiggin’, good time 14-track album that puts the straw back in the mouth of country music ("Fifteen Years"). With many of the tracks sounding as if they could have turned up on original soundtracks to many of the classic John Wayne Western flicks ("My Goodness Me"), this outfit capture the essence of Americana quite nicely in a down home package, suitable for the front porch or the county fair ("Willow Garden"). Alternative country music with its position firmly on the fence between mainstream and the underground, Slim Cessna’s Auto Club is a howling good album that yodels, reels and square dances your way to your heart. Maybe if these guys provided the music for your grade school dance festivals, those dreaded functions may have been fun after all.

Scene Killer • Scene Killer

Meteor City

Ed Mundell is as busy as a one legged man in an ass kicking contest, as not only does he back up the Superjudge himself in Monster Magnet, but he also plays in Atomic Bitchwax. But, his musical endeavors don’t end there, as Ed rounded up some of his stoner rock buddies and made an album not unlike Josh Homme’s Desert Sessions. With the collective strength of Core, Solarized and Halfway To Gone among others, Scene Killer is a colossal 13-track collection of organically grown rock and roll that stomps, wails and give you that "Have A Nice Day" feeling all over ("Midnight Snack"). Fuzzed out guitars and groovy rhythms are where these cats are coming from ("Pit Of The Soul") and man, is it a nice place. Imagine the laid back grooves of Fu Manchu meeting crunchy hard rock that screams to be played at a go-go bar ("Back Of My Mind") and that’s what Scene Killer gives you, complete with teeth gnashing rockers and out from left field guitar noodlings to satisfy every walk of musical life.

The Aeffect • A Short Dream

Fueled By Ramen; www.theaeffect.com

Do you like New Order and long for the days of sailor suits and synth pop? Well, The Aeffect should hold you over nicely as their short and succinct six tracks of Pet Shops Boys sparkle fit in quite nicely at a swank dance club ("Insomnia"). With that driving bass beat to satisfy the glow stick crowd ("Of Truth"), The Aeffect strike a chord that dance music lovers should be able to rave until dawn over.

Square John • Square John


Square John is an outfit whose output is a seething stew of aggressive riffs and intelligently crafted hard rock that sounds very much like the post hardcore of the middle 1990s NYC scene, a la Quicksand and Helmet. On their five-song release, this Los Angeles quartet take pieces of the aforementioned groups and add a pinch of Fugazi to steer their ethereal brand of heavy music ("Untitled"). Creepy chords and jaded rhythms ("Overstep The Fall") fade in and out as a plain yet passionate vocal is blanketed over the music. While these guys may not be the most overpowering band to hit the scene, their incredible sense of dynamics and composition help to make them one of the most interesting listens of the year ("Suckerpunch"). For a swift kick in the ass indie style, check out Square John’s artistically crafted noise.

Underdrive • Giving Back the Monster


Underdrive is a Long Island trio whose strong songwriting sensibilities propel their 10-track disc and keep the listener attentive. With a firm foothold in rock music, Underdrive succeeds in writing anthemic chorus led tunes ("Stop Me"), as well as letting their hair down and rocking out like it’s 1987 all over again ("Untitled"). With the right dosages of funk, grunge and punk in their mix ("You Know Something"), Underdrive manage to keep their hands in many pies and maintain a consistent level of solid musicianship throughout that at times sound like Megadeth meeting the Smashing Pumpkins ("Tribe"), which undoubtedly makes for an interesting listen.

Scar Culture • Inscribe

Century Media Records

The metal adventure Scar Culture displays on their 12-track debut is bountiful, as it runs the gamut from deep death metal to hardcore groove ("Keep It To Myself") and then into whatever else they have in mind within split seconds, making for a roller coaster ride of an album. With some of the finest guttural growls on the scene today, Scar Culture sets a monstrous tone that is accentuated by the powerhouse rhythm section and jackhammering riffs that switch from Machine Head grind to Dying Fetus speed to Hetfieldian grandiosity ("Vision," "Branded"). Yea, these guys are a little bit different. But guess what? That doesn’t make them any less brutal. Instead, it makes this fearsome foursome more deadly, thanks to the art of unpredictability and the element of surprise. Maybe that’s why Faith No More’s "Surprise, You’re Dead" appears as unlisted track 13? Something to ponder after the metal mayhem Scar Culture unleashes truly hits you where it hurts, your head.

New York's Hardest Volume 3

Go Kart Records

Better late than never, New York's Hardest Volume 3 hit the streets recently after being shelved for unspecified reasons. Now available, it gives the listener a decent composite of what the scene consists of in the Big Apple, showcasing such hybrid outfits as the Latin tinged metalcore of Ill Nino and the funky slam of All Boro Kings. Also here are NY stalwart hardcore kings Agnostic Front and the perennial metal all stars of SOD, as well as local hardcore heroes Inhuman and the bluesy boom of Demonspeed. 24 tracks in all, and while you may hit the skip button a few times, the tracks by the aforementioned artists are unreleased and worth the time.

Crowbar • Sonic Excess In Its Purest Form

Spitfire Records

Although the title of the album is a bold statement, who better than the New Orleans masters of sludge to back that claim up? Nobody. Crowbar comes back dirtier, meaner, and decisively leaner, with 11 tracks that will make you feel all thick and gunked up inside ("Repulsive In It’s Splendid Beauty"). Still striking those bowel shaking lows and taking the metal dirge to new heights ("Thru The Ashes"), Crowbar’s latest is an amalgamation of what a steady dose of weed, massive guitar distortion, Black Sabbath’s entire catalog and Southern living can do. Get ready for the onslaught.

Deceased • Behind the Mourner's Veil

Relapse Records

The long running Virginia based Deceased come out with a seven-song release that not only stays true to the metal genre, but seemingly have fun with it as well, thanks to the inclusion of some interesting cover songs. From DRI’s "Reganomics" to Anthrax’s "Death Rider," Deceased has not only paid homage to their peers, but have also created some kick ass versions in the process. And their original songs are laden with total metal sensibilities ("It’s Alive") and will have you digging out your jean jackets and leather vests and headbanging accordingly. Metal done right is what Deceased delivers, so those of you that yearn to rock hard, get on the stick and find this album.

Autoclad • 5-Song Demo


Autoclad is an adventure in electronic rock, as this five-song disc contains music you’d hear on a video game juiced up a tad. Decent beats and a good sense of dynamics help Autoclad’s instrumental excursions hold up ("Blue Note"). Listen closely when you’re playing your next Playstation game or viewing your next low budget skin flick, for it may be the supercharged sounds of Autoclad providing the audio for your viewing pleasure.

St. Huckleberry • Long Way Home


Mike Galucci once again takes us on a journey into his world via his long standing outfit St. Huckleberry and as always, the ride is chock full of wistful lyrics ("Cages"), sweeping melodies and lush soundscapes ("Wait For The Spring"). The latest batch of 15 tunes take elements of The Beatles, Steely Dan, The Eagles and Van Morrison ("Priorities") and adds Galucci’s stellar guitar work and gritty, Tom Waits-esque delivery, with tongue firmly in cheek and sarcastic wit rightfully in tow ("Breathe"). For a lesson in well-crafted songwriting that is performed with the right amount of roughness around the edges, do yourself a favor and check out one of Long Island’s premier bands.

Mayhem • US Legions

Renegade Records (www.renegaderecords.com)

Mayhem is one of Norway’s most infamous outfits, shrouded in controversy and scandal since the murder of lead singer Euronymous. One thing that hasn’t suffered, though, is their ability to blastbeat their way to Beelzebub, as their latest 12-track disc suggests. Containing both live and rare cuts, their take no prisoners assault on your eardrums ("Carnage"), complete with pulverizing guitars and bleak lyrical outlook, will still keep you believing that they are still on top of their game. For a shot to the head that you soon won’t forget, check out this release and feel the power of Mayhem in the privacy of your own home.

Biohazard • Uncivilization

Sanctuary Records

Back from the proverbial dead comes Brooklyn’s own Biohazard. After a string of sub par releases and disappointing decisions that put the band on the treadmill, the boys are back in a big way. Enlisting the services of many of those that have either looked up to them (Hatebreed, Slipknot) or have been there since the beginning (Pantera, Agnostic Front, Cypress Hill, Sepultura), Biohazard successfully finds a new sound that is stronger, heavier and decisively more metal ("HFFK," "Domination," "Cross The Line"), yet still manage to retain the hardcore integrity that brought them to the dance ("Sellout," "Get Away"). While many of the old schoolers still cry "sellout" from the rooftops of Bay Ridge, one thing remains clear: Biohazard is one of the pioneers of the metal genre, as their fusion of rap and rock is still being imitated in a small town near you. And while there are some misses on this album, like the clumsy hardcore anthem "Unified," the overall prognosis for this album is that it connects everything Biohazard has done succinctly, as well as shows that perseverance and adaptation goes the distance. Welcome back, boys from Crooklyn!

Twisted Forever

Koch Entertainment

Long Island’s metal heroes Twisted Sister have spawned a tribute album which pays homage and gives proper respect to the band that put integrity and balls into the ‘80s metal scene. Reading like a who’s who of the music world (Anthrax, Motorhead, Joan Jett, Lit, VOD), it’s staggering to see how many bands Dee Snider and company influenced. While some renditions remain true to the originals ("I Wanna Rock" by Lit, "You Can’t Stop Rock And Roll" by Sebastian Bach), others stray from the format, with mixed results (Nine Days doing "The Price," "Wake Up The Sleeping Giant" by Chuck D.). And even the men of the hour take the stage, and in the tribute spirit, bang out a triumphant version of AC/DC’s classic "Sin City". As far as tribute albums go, this CD is a must have not only for collectors and TS fans, but also for folks that dig hard rock done well.

Patricia Ossowski • My Best Mask On


Patricia Ossowski’s nine tracks of predominant piano and string compositions are a breath of fresh air in the female singer songwriter circle. With a voice that is reminiscent at times of Natalie Merchant, Ossowski’s delivery is complemented wonderfully by her rich tinkling of the ivories ("Go Quietly"). While the mood is generally overcast throughout the nine tracks ("Candy"), giving it a very Tori Amos type quality, there are spots where the sun shines through and a bouncy beat peeks through the clouds ("Weapon"). Excellently produced, Patricia Ossowski’s latest release creates an ornate landscape that fans of deep seeded music should enjoy greatly.

Destroyer 666 • Phoenix Rising

Renegade Records (www.renegaderecords.com)

Australian metal mavens Destroyer 666 sound as violent as their name suggests, as this hellhammered collection of eight malevolent tracks will appease all who bow before the altar of death metal. While it’s not as fast as some of the blast beat bands out there, nor does it hit the punishing lows that many of the sickest bands do, Destroyer 666 concentrates on walking the line between melody and brutality ("The Last Revelation"), and with their sonic rhythms and bombastic fretwork, these Aussie quartet do just fine in that department. Imagine a darker, more evil Megadeth ("The Eternal Glory Of War") for a referral to what Destroyer 666 is all about. For a band that goes the extra distance to provide the best blend of savagery and musicianship, Destroyer 666 is the goods.

For Those Who Stand

Tear It Down Records

Tear It Down Records have released a compilation benefiting gay rights, which features some very heavy hitters in the underground. Bands like AFI, Refused, Shay Haled, Boy Sets Fire and Snap case lead the charge for this humane cause, and while most of the music on the disc has seen the light of day via other albums and collections, the collection is well worth a look for the amazing talent it displays, despite your social slant.

Pinhead Circus • Downstroke Sweep

Not Bad Records

Pinhead Circus is one in a long line of many punk bands whose clever lyrics and catchy arrangements aren’t groundbreaking, but whose songs are emotionally charged and delivery is solid ("Foghat"). This five-track disc runs like a whirlwind, as the staccato guitars and double timed drums keep the melodies flowing and the point concise ("Old Yeah, Jaded Maybe, Bitter By Choice"). And this California quintet’s cover of Prince’s "I Could Never Take The Place Of Your Man" is a sure fire way to keep these guys embedded in your head for a while. Pinhead Circus seem to have not only the musical brawn that good punk requires, but also the intelligence to know what works and what doesn’t.

Drain Bramaged • Seven Course Meal

Know Records

Old schoolers, lend me your ears! Drain Bramaged is a five piece punk band from the land of punk, California, whose 15-track disc is a nod to the old days when the drums were fast and furious ("Jerry Springer"), the chords were obvious and easy ("Boiling Pot") and the lyrics were self serving, offensive and embodied the true spirit of punk rock ("Piss You Off," "We All Cuss"). With streaks of the Offspring, Bouncing Souls and NOFX running throughout their music, Drain Bramaged firmly plant their flag in Punkrockville, USA, and rightfully deserve to stake their claim in the punk scene.

Upshot • Return of the Corduroy Killah


NY’s Upshot come out blazing with their 11-track disc that will constantly keep your head bobbing and your ass shaking. With a RHCP rocking hip hop feel ("The Wave") and a Dave Matthews-esque charm dispersed within ("Get It Together"), Upshot successfully balances the nuances of alternative rock and world beat ("Edith"). This dynamic duo, dutifully backed by some impressive musicians, whose flute and trumpet work is especially of notice ("Pickin’ Up The Slack"), take us on a magic carpet ride that’s chock full of good times, soulful grooves ("Lipps") and encompasses the spirit of the ‘60s in a modern day package. For some flower power for the year 2001, have a nice day with the laid back tunages of Upshot.

The J.J. Paradise Players Club • Wine Cooler Blowout

Tee Pee Records

Brooklyn bred and oh so badass, The J.J. Paradise Players Club is an amalgamation of punk, stoner, Southern and hardcore all tightly rolled into a fat blunt and able to be smoked at your discretion ("Wine Cooler Blowout"). Formed from the wreckage of some of NYC’s finest underground outfits, J.J.’s burns through grooves like Skynyrd and snarls like a NYHC band, but there’s such a fine thread of good old foot stomping rock and roll inside the mix ("House Of Torment") that you can’t help but cite bands like Foghat, Grand Funk and any band that appeared on the soundtrack to Dazed And Confused as a staple of the Club’s sound. Not afraid of technology, nor traveling in the time machine ("Linden Bulletvard"), J.J.’s latest 11 tracks perfectly meld the freedom rock spirit of 1976 with the chaotic maelstrom of today’s avant-garde metal. Do your ears a favor and take a listen.

DFunk and the Phatfunk Clique • Pandemic Love


This seven-track disc swings and brings da funk back from the hood and to your ears. DFunk and company keep the bass pumping and the beats jumping ("A Little Bit More"), with a dash of sexual tension to back up those deep grooves as well as that ass up. While the songs tend to lag a bit, you probably won’t mind when you’re making sweet love to your special lady as this disc is kicking through your system ("Jazzy Jam"). So, in order to get yourself in the mood quicker, you must buy your own copy of this CD, my brother, and let the funk flow through you.

This Changes Everything

Second Nature Records

Second Nature Records have an impressive roster of talent, from which 14 bands have been chosen to appear on this mainly hardcore and emo collection of tunes. Underground luminaries such as Grade and Isis grace this compilation, while bands like The Casket Lottery and Waxwing lag behind, holding this disc from being extraordinary and instead deeming it yet another mediocre compilation disc showcasing all sides of what this label has to offer. If your not big on filling your collection with rarities and b-sides, don’t bother.

Cage • Astrology

World War III

Bust out the spiked wristbands and tease the hair, folks, Cage brings us back to the olden days of metal when the end of the world was a lyrical complexity and lead singers screamed for vengeance. Cage’s latest 13-track disc is so metal, it clangs when you drop it on the floor ("The Edge"). Despite the fact that these guys should pay Judas Priest royalties for "borrowing" their riffs and vocal lines, Cage successful takes you back to a place where it was ok for men to wear a lot of leather and not get leered at quizzically. In all honesty, if you enjoy the late ‘70s to mid ‘80s metal that spawned Queensryche, Metal Church, Savatage and much of the vintage Priest material, Cage is a godsend.

The Prostitutes • The Prostitutes

Pelado Records

With a name like theirs, it’s a safe bet that this Pennsylvania quintet isn’t a Christian rock outfit. What they are, however, are snotty punkers whose 24 tracks of "punk rock fury" sound just like everyone else’s punk bands brand of furious punk. Nothing to really write home about here, except the stellar rockabilly guitar and the Sex Pistols-esque arrangements that will surely set off an alarm in your skull.

Oblivion • The Ultrasound EP


Oblivion is a rock outfit whose sound is what you’d expect from the college contingent; slightly anguished vocals with a tinge of emo and a hint of ‘80s New Wave ("Dreams"). Their six-song debut lies somewhere between the airy nature of early REM ("Over") and the smash hit sounds of new post grunge darlings Nickelback ("My Hope") with a hearty helping of classic rock. Well textured acoustic and electric guitars with a Smiths-esque tone ("Last Time") earn this clan extra points and steer them past the frat rock category with style.

Sanbox • 3-Song Sampler


Punk rock at its brattiest, Sanbox is a trio hailing from New Jersey whose three songs probably cost them their whole summer job pay. In turn, it was money well spent. Bouncy and sarcastically charming ("Whose Fault"), Sanbox stray away from the Blink disease that plagues many new jack punk bands and instead opt to mimic Green Day, complete with the necessary three chord musings and proper breakdowns ("Alice Jeanne"). Nothing that will drop your jaw, but it’s a nice escape for the time being.

Six Going On Seven • American't (Or Won't)

Big Wheel Records

Six Going On Seven have got a sanitized punk rock aura all over their latest 10-track release that may remind you of Samiam or Everclear at times. With a very up front vocal style that is very similar to the golden-throated styling of Elvis Costello ("Readying"), SGOS rely on clever wordplay and sunny ‘60s pop melodies ("As Is") as their method of choice. Containing songs that would sound best as prime time network sitcom themes ("Good On Paper"), Six Going On Seven’s latest set displays zero angst and nary a sign of testicles. However, with their Ben Folds Five with guitars approach, they may just have the formula necessary to rock the suburbs, as WASP-y as they can be.

Neurosis • A Sun That Never Sets

Relapse Records

The darlings of underground metal return with another smorgasbord of noise and fury, as Neurosis bring their avant garde brand of metal to the masses once again. Want six minute plus dirges? They’ve got them ("From The Hill"). How about songs that gradually build from tranquil melodies to progressive metal masterpieces? In there, too ("Watchfire," "Falling Unknown"). Precise and pristine, yet bottom heavy and cranially crushing ("From Where Its Roots Run"), the latest batch of tunes from this San Francisco outfit is perfect for those who feel that Tool is too mainstream.

Nine Lives • The Fugitive

Too Damn Hype

Nine Lives is a long running band from NYC who dabbles in both hardcore and punk. The end result is a 16-track disc chock full of catchy choruses that scream for a sing along ("Red Nut Square") as well as a lesson in how to produce well crafted three minute punk rock songs that not only contain balls, but also a strong sense of melodicism ("Entertaining Angels," "The Drop"). While Nine Lives may be considered too light for many of the hardline hardcore fans, they have an undeniable sense of early East Coast punk rock, shown not only in their songs ("Hold You Down"), but also in their cover of the Misfits’ classic "Skulls." Providing music for those that still sport wifebeaters, but are too old to participate in the beatdowns, Nine Lives have made a mature and positive album that kicks ass.

Lifer • Lifer

Universal Records

Lifer is a five piece rock band from Pennsylvania whose Deftones-esque inclinations are rounded out masterfully through production by none other than Alex Lifeson of Rush. While Lifer, like countless other nu metallers, employ a DJ, it doesn’t impede on the full rock sound of the band, for once ("Disbelief"). And, even though some may say that they sound like every other metal band currently vying for a slice of the limelight, their huge arena rock choruses ("Boring," "Swallow") and commanding use of that brand new heavy guitar sound ("New") should catapult these boys to the head of the pack. If you enjoy Sevendust, Systematic and Taproot, Lifer’s 12-track disc is a nice addition to your nu metal CD family.

The Monsoons • Orographic Effect


The Monsoons are bound to put a smile on your face, or at least let you kick your shoes off for a bit and relax. Their latest four-song release allows the listener a virtual time machine ride through various time periods of music, as this juggernaut of a band touches on ragtime, blues, country, rock and pop with a spring in their step and a carnival like atmosphere ("The Roy Orbison Song") all in the mix. The Monsoons go deep into their music, and are unafraid to experiment with different styles and flavors, although they mainly employ a jam like, Grateful Dead-ish ‘60s laconic tone. And much like Zappa, this eclectic band display enough audio stimulants and surprises to keep your ears on point, only on a more pop horizon. In turn, The Monsoons have successfully created their own brand of smart and sardonic music that is difficult to categorize but is easily enjoyed.

Agnostic Front • Dead Yuppies

Epitaph Records

The undeniable godfathers of NYHC have returned with yet another socially conscience ass kicker of an album ("Politician," "Urban Decadence"). Agnostic Front’s latest 14-track endeavor is exactly what you’d expect from this seasoned outfit; loud guitars and pounding punk rhythms ("Out Of Reach") all tied together by the distinct howl of Roger Miret ("Dead Yuppies"). AF is a band that, like AC/DC and Motorhead, define a genre and never stray from the formula that made them, and for that we thank them. Old schoolers and new jacks alike can learn a trick or two from Agnostic Front, as they still display the goods to bring it on home after all these years.

American Nightmare • American Nightmare

Bridge Nine

American Nightmare is an angry band whose seven tracks of audio anarchy contain well-endowed hardcore leanings. By the use of ferocious lead vocals, punk rock melodicism ("The Day The Music Died") and steadfast breakdowns that would make Madball proud ("Fuck What Fireworks Stand For"), these guys give tough guy music a brain and a run for its money. This Boston quartet hit harder than Jim Rice and Ray Bourque combined and has the inane capacity to create a bruising social commentary regarding the state of the world. For those that demand a band to kick them in the teeth, American Nightmare has come to answer your prayers.

Saskatoon Or Bust

Union Label Group

A punk rock potpourri straight from the Great White North is what this 15-track, 5 band smorgasbords offer. And while most of the tracks on the disc are your garden variety punk rock songs, the songs by Guttermouth especially stand out as being the most palatable ("Six Foot Party Sub"). However, it’s worth a shot if you’d like to hear what our neighbors to the North are doing musically these days.

Progression Through Aggression

Ferret Music Corp.

Up and coming label Ferret have a lot to gush over, if you dig the crossover sounds of the metalcore genre. With a lot of hungry new bands in their camp, like Martyr AD, Skycamefalling and recent Roadrunner signees Kill.Switch.Engage., it’s no small wonder why this label has been garnishing phat props from the underground. And with bands like From Autumn To Ashes and Stretch Armstrong under their banner, they show that they’re doing their part to keep it real up in the field. Do yourself a favor and seek this compilation out and see what the future of metal will sound like.

Shady View Terrace/The Lawrence Arms (split CD)

Asian Man Records

This split CD contains two emo-ish bands whose styles mesh quite nicely. First up are the treble charged and dual vocalled styles of Shady View Terrace. This New Jersey group’s heavy-handed attack is fierce and supercharged with screaming over shouting and a penchant for speed ("The Way She Felt"), yet they also show the versatility to take it down a notch and groove ("Fatt"). The Lawrence Arms are a bit thicker in the music department, displaying a bit more punk rock bravado ("A Toast") and indie rock sensibility both in the chords they choose and the expository lyrical content ("Nebraska"). For a nice one-two punch that complements each other nicely, check this split CD out.

Pain • Rebirth

Renegade Records (www.renegaderecords.com)

Pain is the brainchild of superstar metal producer Peter Tagtren and it fully encompasses the sounds and vision of the man behind some of the finest exported metal music to date. With a very technofied metal stamp on the 12 tracks, Pain feels like it could move a dance floor with NIN exhilaration ("End Of The Line"), yet it still retains a touch of the Gothenburg sound, which Tagtren has worked so well in ("Parallel To Ecstasy"). Chunks of riffy guitars come soaring through deep electronic tracks that are grooving and forebodingly heavy ("Crashed") to make Pain sound like Fear Factory, Rob Zombie and Soilwork all wrapped in a Ministry swirl. Move over Trent, here comes a brand new one-man show whose devices of dissecting melody and usage of the heavy harmony are just as powerful and engrossing.

The Rollins Band • Nice

Sanctuary Records

Henry Rollins makes his annual sojourn back to the world of rock and roll with Nice, a predictably intense yet surprisingly funky outing from everyone’s favorite misanthrope. Rollins really seems to not only be enjoying himself as of late musically (thanks to the hard rocking talents of backing band Mother Superior), but also seems to be living out a rock and roll fantasy of sorts. While the 12 tracks that comprise Nice do manage to produce the standard Henry screaming vocal over soaring hard rock ("Gone Inside The Zero," "What’s The Matter Man") and the ever entertaining gutwrenching blues numbers ("Hello"), it also consists of a few surprises, such as gospel-esque back up vocals and a hearty dose of funk ("Up For It," "I Want So Much More"). It’s these departures from the usual mope and grind of a Rollins Band album that make it that much more interesting, as well as a wondering just where Rollins is coming from that makes NICE an angry, heart ripping mind exercise of a nice album.

Dogpound • Dogpound


Dogpound is a quartet whose seven-track disc is a melodic journey through hard rock which has got not only bite but also some sense that time has passed by not rekindling an old genre but, rather, adding a new twist to an established concept. With a strong guitar presence leading the charge ("Welcome To The Mystery"), Dogpound’s sharpness lies in the fact that they play melodic hard rock that shows signs of modern day times, a la King’s X and Sevendust ("Bleed"). Their solid rock sensibilities also help distinguish them from being yet another retro ‘80s band, trying to latch on to the coattails of a movement based mainly on nostalgia and not current achievements. For a hook happy ride through hard rock that gives props to yesterday’s stars but makes waves today, check out the hard rock assault of Dogpound.

Hot Water Music • A Flight and a Crash

Epitaph Records

Hailing from Florida, the four men that make up Hot Water Music share a common goal of kicking ass in the most anthemic of ways. Their latest 14-track release is a testament to the fact that real, organic rock bands still exist in the United States today. Imagine the artiness of At The Drive In interspersed with the fury of former touring comrades Sick Of It All and the melodic meandering of Grade, and you’ve just comprised this ultra talented outfit. Not too heavy and never wasteful, but instead steadfast in their delivery and quite the focused band, Hot Water Music plays with an unmatched intensity and with a searing drive that many bands couldn’t even begin to replicate ("A Clear Line"). If you enjoy bands that kick ass and overpower the listener with musical aptitude, lyrical intelligence and unbridled passion ("Choked And Separated"), Hot Water Music’s latest is a must have disc.

Full Frequency • Momentum

Gonzo (http://members.aol.com/gonzorerds)

California quartet Full Frequency take the electronic rock sounds of NIN and the Gothic overtones of the Sisters Of Mercy and make them their own on their latest 10-track disc. While the general prognosis of this band is that they rely a bit too much on rehashing the sounds of 1989 all over again, at least you can move to it on the dance floor ("Drop Down," "Harder"). Call it disposable, but Full Frequency take the genre and run with it quite nicely, filling the void that their predecessors left behind. Don’t be surprised if you hear a track off of Momentum in a film noir or in the catacombs of the underground Gothic clubs in your area.

Pig Destroyer • Prowler in the Yard

Relapse Records

Disturbing and inhumane, Pig Destroyer’s latest release is a twisted visit into the depraved world of this Virginia grindcore trio. While the 22 tracks on this disc are succinct and concise in length, their musical extremities go far and above the call of duty, adding Pantera-esque guitar groove to the grinding machine of music. Add some sickening artwork and a general sense of nihilistic and grim violence and you’ve got one of the most blood curdling and terrifying releases to date.

Panic 12:52 • 3-Song Sampler

Leatherhood; www.panic1252.com

These guys have come a long way since the last time they’ve checked in, as Illinois own Panic 12:52 come out with vengeance on their latest three-song sampler. Expertly produced and well balanced between balls out rocking and harmonically melodic, this quintet has gotten their act together and seem primed and ready to step up to the plate ("Voices"). Adding a bit of studio trickery to their hard rock assault help to round out their Godsmack meets Motley Crue style quite nicely. Keep your eyes on these guys, as they plan on blowing up very soon.

Headrush • A Longer Distance


Headrush is a New Jersey outfit whose metalcore assault is strengthened by a slamming dual guitar assault, as well as a twin vocal attack that melts hip-hop switches with hardcore beats. While the combination genre is definitely oversaturated with horrible hybrids and unspirited attempts that leave a bad taste in your mouth, Headrush’s enthusiasm and stellar musical capabilities and performance take them out of the copycat bin and catapults them straight to the head of the class. With as much street credibility apparent as headbanging riffs, Headrush successfully merge VOD, Shutdown, Sick Of It All and Linkin Park together to form a heavyweight 11-track disc that has just as much hook as it does hefty rhythms and mosh pit madness. East Coast, take note.

Cairo • Time Of Legends

Magna Carta

Cairo is a progressive rock act whose seven-track outing contains your standard prog rock elements, such as a predominant keyboard and Styx-like vocals. With a definitive influence by such bands as ELP and Kansas, this melodically superfluous trio can jam out with the best of them ("The Prophecy"). Even though it’s a bit heavy handed and totally gratuitous, if you dig progressive rock that showcases the art of the rock jam, Cairo shouldn’t disappoint.

Nokturne • Embracer Of Dark Ages

World War III

From Los Angeles come Nokturne, a phonetically correct yet cookie cutter looking five piece metal outfit whose dark metal pretense would remind you of Cradle Of Filth and the 1000 other dark metal European acts. Sounding as if they recorded their eight-track debut in a wind tunnel, Nokturne churn out your basic gloom and doom laden metal album, with all of the standards and practices firmly in tow. If you’re a worshipper of all that is black and heavy and Satanic and ultimately, ridiculous, pick this up, otherwise, it’s a waste of your time.

Living Tomorrow Today

Asian Man Records

Most compilation CDs serve a marketing purpose of some sort, but this project comes straight from the heart, as all of the proceeds of this 21 band punk compilation go directly to an 11 year old by the name of Ty Cambra who suffers from the dreaded and incurable Lorenzo’s Oil disease. Hot Water Music, Midtown, Alkaline Trio, New Found Glory and Face To Face are among the bands that lend a hand to this worthy cause, and they do so by giving the best gift they could, the gift of music. Find your heart and pick this comp up and do the same.

The Waterboys • A Rock in the Weary Land

Razor and Tie

Ireland’s The Waterboys have a rich history that spans nearly 20 years in the music business. On their latest CD, Mike Scott and company return with 14 tracks of mature rock that manages to be both spiritual and spacious. Perhaps they may be deemed a poor man’s U2, but think more along the lines of Van Morrison meets Live ("The Charlatan’s Lament," "We Are Jonah"). Even though they’ve achieved some commercial success in years past, these road dogs are not rock stars in the least. Rather, they are consummate musicians, and their vivid lyrics compliment their lush musical soundscapes quite well ("It’s All Gone"). If you enjoy intense bands whose purpose goes beyond chicks, drugs and sex, the latest offering from this long running Irish clan should be a welcomed addition to your record collection.

Wellwater Conspiracy • The Scroll and Its Combinations

TVT Records

Wellwater Conspiracy is a supergroup of sorts, as it features Soundgarden/Pearl Jam drummer Matt Cameron and ex-Monster Magnet guitarist John McBain. On their second release, they continue the free forming jam rock with a ’90s grunge tinged style to which they’re accustomed, complete with rollicking rhythms and trippy guitar lines that drip of incense ("Tick Tock 3 O’Clock"). This 11-track gem also contains a surprise guest vocal performance from none other than Eddie Vedder, under the alias Wes C. Addle ("Felicity’s Surprise") and boasts the talents of Kim and Ben from Soundgarden, who do their part by lending their fancy fretwork to a former bandmate’s cause ("Keppy’s Lament," "The Scroll"). Meandering and meaty, with a Who-esque backbeat that gives it such a retro flare, Wellwater Conspiracy shed their commercial rock skin and instead burrow into the underground for a musical rebirth of sorts. Pick this up and get back to the organic.

Spacely Sprocket • Spacely Sprocket


Long Island trio Spacely Sprocket show some promise on their very raw four-song disc. With influences that range from Lenny Kravitz type shuffle ("Enlightenment") to Megadeth thrash and burn ("Dark Storm"), these guys show their versatility and voracity. While their production values and songwriting need a bit of polishing, the edginess and aggression are prominently displayed and are very much welcomed, as Spacely Sprocket prove that there are still bands that aren’t afraid to put their balls to the wall.

Vision Of Disorder • From Bliss to Devastation

TVT Records

Vision Of Disorder spent three years making their latest 13-track disc, and it’s well worth the wait, as this Long Island quintet come back with an unforeseen knack for creating memorable choruses without losing their trademark jagged edged melodic guitar sounds and their innate ability to create musical chaos ("Overrun"). Matured, yet not in the least bit refined, this metal juggernaut draw blood with ultra tight breakdowns and an excellent display of songwriting prowess ("Southbound," "Regurgitate"). And while the boys have added many new dimensions to their aggressive musical charge, it’s still the gut wrenching lows and crushing riffs that make this band such a deity among the metal community ("On The Table," "Without You"). Seasoned and sharpened, VOD is ready once again to bludgeon you in the most enjoyable of ways. A welcomed and stunning comeback.

System of a Down • Toxicity

American Recordings

System Of A Down return with a sophomore effort that will by far and away be the best album of 2001. Anything and everything that you could want in a heavy album is here. Death metal growls, funky bridges, Middle Eastern chants, hell they’ve got it. Superbly bizarre arrangements, catchy choruses, crushing rhythms, stellar guitar work and an epic production (thanks to guru Rick Rubin) help this album be the must have release of the year. See what the buzz is for yourself and invoke the insanity that is this Los Angeles quartet.

Slayer • God Hates Us All

American Recordings

Someone awoke a sleeping giant, as the mighty Slayer have returned leaner, meaner and badder than ever on their latest 13-track offering. God Hates Us All finds the fearsome foursome on a mission to hunt, maim and destroy everything in their path, and the result is pure carnage. The dual assault of Hanneman and King has never sounded crisper or more brutal ("New Faith"), and the erstwhile skin pounding of Paul Bostaph is as solid as ever. And, yes, the vocal yelp of Tom Araya is very much alive and well, although his blood curdling scream days are a bit behind him. However, a lower vocal register suits the band as well as Araya, as Slayer beats the living hell out of you with a monstrous display of aggression and anger that this veteran outfit are only capable of whipping up ("Threshold"). It’s nice to see that some things don’t change, for it seems that as Slayer gets older, they get angrier and more brutal ("Bloodline"). Perhaps a recent resurgence of heavy music has reinvented the innovators of violence, but whatever the reason, keep it coming. A solid outing by arguably the best metal band worldwide.

American Head Charge • The War Of Art

American Recordings

American Head Charge’s debut is a seething display of heavy music that has elements of metal, thrash, alternative and nu metal. This seven-piece outfit from Minnesota merges the electronic fury of Ministry with the subtle brutality of Faith No More ("Never Get Caught"), yet there’s so much more that this band has to offer. Like cascading riffs that lead to grinding choruses ("Self") as well as block rocking beats that have a White Zombie/Marilyn Manson type stomp all over it ("Seamless") and out and out chugging guitars and headbanging rhythms that are sure to invite moshers to perform some pit acrobatics ("All Wrapped Up"). AHC also has a penchant for not only violent music, but for violent lyrical content, of which some is a bit over the top, but fits within the band’s grand scheme of total mayhem. There’s a good bang for your buck, as this disc boasts 16 tracks of guitar driven, sample decorated audio madness whose grip on groove is equally dispersed with their handle of heaviness. An excellent debut that should turn heads and leave bodies lying.

Corrosion Of Conformity • Live Volume

Sanctuary Records

North Carolina’s COC come out with a live disc that really doesn’t do the lords of southern metal justice. Recorded on 4/20 (for obvious reasons) from Harpo’s in Detroit, COC rip through a somewhat inspired set, heavily concentrated on their last release, America's Volume Dealer. Maybe it’s because these songs haven’t endured the seasoning of COC classics like "Albatross" or "Long Whip/ Big America," or maybe it’s the absence of founding drummer Reid Mullins that makes the disc a little rough around the edges, but there’s definitely something missing here. For fans of the band only, but hey, if you dig heavy shit, who doesn’t like these guys?

Manhunt • Revenge Volume One


Female fronted bands are usually not heavy as hell, but Manhunt is driven to change that. Their five-song disc is laden with disjointed riffs and pounding rhythms, as well as some hellacious female screams that definitely indicates immediacy ("CC16"). Besides the brutality of it all, Manhunt also has the knack for dropping it down a notch ("Renfield Syndrome") and getting pensively melodic, a device that makes them stand above the rest of the noisecore pack ("Autonomy"). For a twist on testosterone, check out the utterly refreshing Manhunt.

The Real McKenzies • Loch'd and Loaded

Honest Don's

The Real McKenzies are an authentic punk band that uses traditional Celtic instruments to round out their beer drinking and hell raising 16-track disc. Not unlike The Dropkick Murphy’s, this seven piece’s latest outing is chock full of fist pumping, anthemic numbers and rousing tunes that will surely evoke an Irish dance or two in your living room. This is not your folks’ Celtic music, boys and girls, but what it is in fact is a raucous display of kilted madness that the whole family can enjoy.

Andromeda • Extension of the Wish

Century Media Records

Andromeda is an impressive metal troupe from Sweden whose flawless fretwork ("Chameleon Carnival") and prog rock style ("Crescendo Of Thoughts") are sure to please the guy holed up in his bedroom waiting for the new Dream Theater record. This seven-track epic is crammed with complex metal arrangements and jawdropping guitar work. For those that like to rock out with a technical flare, Andromeda is a must have.

Farm Crew • Return of McBanana


Farm Crew is a three-man rap group whose nine-track disc is laced with phat beats ("Welcome To The Hate Show") and a fine flow of lyrics. While their collective style could be registered as a bit played out, this crew rhymes with conviction ("Dionysus") and provides an entertaining escape from the standard thug life mutterings and rap rock wannabe bullshit. With enough old school flavor and cleverly comical phrases ("Remember That Time"), Farm Crew shows that they’re for real, even though it keeps a smile on your face.

Krisiun • Ageless Venomous

Century Media Records

No folks, don’t adjust your speakers, that’s just Brazilian thrashers Krisiun mauling your system. This metal version of My Three Sons return after an exhaustive touring campaign with 10 tracks of post Apocalyptic soundscapes and pre Sepultura Chaos AD riffs ("Ageless Venomous"). Add to the fray some of the most self gratifying guitar work this side of Steve Vai and vocals that sound like Satan himself, and there seems to be a lot to offer from Krisiun ("Eyes Of Eternal Scourge"), even a really heavy metal instrumental ("Serpents Specters") that make Metallica look like a grunge band. For a solid surge of metal up your ass, tap Krisiun’s latest release.

The Partisans • So Neat

TKO Records

The Partisans sneer their way through their three-song sampler. If channeling Sid Vicious were a crime, these guys would get the book thrown at them, but since it’s only a gauge for respect purposes, these pogo purveyors get away with a slap on the wrist. Despite the obvious rip off, these guys produce some pretty crunchy choruses and an overall street punk vibe that Michael Monroe and D Generation would be proud of ("Classified Info").

Gammera • Smoke and Mirrors

Audio Demolition

Gammera is a really cool band. They are stoner rock from California, man. They rock like Kyuss used to ("Stalefish"). They’re fun to listen to when you’re stoned. Their nine-track CD will get your ass shaking and your bong blazing. Deliberately enough, the underproduction of Smoke and Mirrors only adds to its aura. A bit doomy, a little sludgy and a whole lot of Sabbath, Gammera will belt the hell out of you. Fall under their mighty musical girth and believe.

Puya • Union

MCA Records

Puya is a unique outfit to a certain extent. While their latest 13-track joint brings the noise like Soulfly and Hed PE does, full of ethnic flavor meeting skull shattering aggression, it’s the quartet’s attention to detail that may win you over. Like the amazing percussion that lies beneath the breakneck rhythms and political lyrics ("Socialize"). Almost on the RATM tip, perhaps thanks in part to GGGarth’s hand in the production, Puya’s songs are one part Marley ("No Interference"), one part Puente ("Bridge") and one part Pantera ("Union"). Add points if you don’t mind foreign language singing, and Puya may be the next best Latin American sensation since J Lo’s buttocks. Worth a chance if you’re adventurous.

Sigh • Imaginary Sonicscape

Century Media Records

Japan’s contribution to metal doesn’t end with Loudness, and even though some of you may agree that it should have, the three virtuosos that comprise Sigh will definitely make you change your viewpoint. Their 10-track metal opus comes complete with prog rock keyboards ("Bring Back The Dead"), Carcass-like vocalizations ("Scarlet Dreams") and some flashy fretwork that balances the art of shred with the all-important tasty riff ("Ecstatic Transformation"). Multi talented and faceted, this triple threat’s latest release is as exciting and tantalizing as the metal genre allows. Pick it up and get blown away.

The Business • No Mercy For You

Epitaph Records

The Business is a punk rock institution dating back to the 1980s, and their sixth release (first on Epitaph), shows us why they continue to be a force to reckon with. With the same working class mentality which Agnostic Front and AC/DC employ, this English foursome sings about everyday problems seen on the TV news ("Gangland") and exaggerations from the pubs with their tongue in cheek ("Steal This Record"), much like a group of friends would. And their music continues to provide a biting social commentary, not to mention a power chord led swift kick in the ass (Hate KD") and could probably stand up another 10 years after they’re gone. Bringing it down to the people is the business of The Business, and this 15-track offering does the band and their history justice.

Fydolla Ho • Fydolla Ho


The name itself is pretty funny in a "what are they thinking" kind of way, yet the music inside isn’t as bad as you may think. Fydolla Ho (clever, no?) is a female fronted outfit from California whose hard rocking drive is produced by Paul Stanley! With a Sevendust meets Staind musical backdrop behind the fragile female vocals ("Believe"), this seven-track disc isn’t revolutionary by any means, but it is competent and, if the girl is as hot live as she is in the CD booklet, a new starlet may be born before our eyes ("Oh Yea"). If you like My Ruin, Drain STH and other chicks that rock, Fydolla Ho may be good for you.

Crushstory • A+ Electric


Crushstory is a indie rock outfit whose 12-track release falls in the jangly category of bands whose melody lines and lyrics are dually smart. With a tinge of ‘60s pop sensibilities creeping in and out of the tracks ("Pretty Head," "Jellyfish"), Crushstory’s snappy hooks and usage of horns, piano and Rhodes electric piano give this album a sunny feeling that you’ll have no choice but to feel all over ("All Natural"). With nods to Joe Jackson and Elvis Costello ("...New Rock," "Sick Of Me"), not to mention current faves Pete Yorn and David Gray, Crushstory has got the chops and the heart to go just as far as their influences.

Vynegar • Vynegar

Factory Stress

California electronic metal troupe Vynegar are going to illicit many of the typical comparisons, however this band strikes a tad harder on the techno tip ("Sick") than many of their fellow California angst ridden musicians. On their four-song collection, this outfit takes the blueprints from Rob Zombie and NIN and stacks a little more muscle ("Born A Star") for an added boost of molten metal madness. Vynegar have a got a tight and heavy sound that should turn some heads and get them to where they gotta go. If you dig Slaves On Dope or any electronic metal act, these guys should please your ears.

Thumb • 3

Victory Records

Germany’s rapcore outfit Thumb come back out with a vengeance on their latest release. This 13-track outing contains some of the most heartfelt mixtures of the rap-rock venture since Anthrax and Public Enemy ("Youth"). Perhaps Linkin Park and Papa Roach took notes from this quintet? Definitely, as Thumb’s heavy handed assault is laden with hard-hitting melodies and driving rhythms that the boys on these shores must have noticed. With infectious choruses make Limp look limp and breakdowns that have more scratches than the crazy old lady down the road with 37 cat’s couch, Thumb crank out some of the finest tunes heard all year. Do yourself a solid and pick this disc up and understand the method and the depth of Thumb’s massive grooves.

Squirrels From Hell • The Sound and the Furry

Hellsville (www.hellsville.com)

Garage rock with a street punk vibe is what this longstanding outfit from NY showcase on their latest eight-track collection. The Squirrels >From Hell have got a Ramones-esque imminence ("Summer Boy") and a They Might Be Giants quirk ("I Was Born") about them that help them to stand out amongst the lo-fi pack. With a slight jazz film over their ‘60s flavored rock tunage ("Gold Inside"), SFH may not be the most melodic or intricate band, but they have a penchant for keeping it interesting.

Steel Wolf • Boozer Friendly

Rectal; http://there.is/steelwolf

Steel Wolf bring sophomoric humor and 3 chord stomp to not only side splitting heights, but also to bowel shaking lows ("Alice’s Bearded Clam") on their latest 16-track release. With buzzsaw guitars that scream for the Aquanet ("Naktipieciai") and a sense of humor that Blink 182 might balk at ("Escape Uranus"), Boozer Friendly not only wants nothing but a good time, but it also wants to rock your world as well ("God Bless Ewe"). With nods to bands that stomp with a sense of humor like Scatterbrain and SOD, Steel Wolf can both break your spine and tickle your funny bone. They even take a
foray into instrumental gold with startling success ("Creme De Monsieur Jaillon"). For a joke band whose abilities last longer than the chicanery, check out Steel Wolf.

Zeke • Death Alley

Aces and Eights (www.acesandeights.com)

Zeke is the Northwestern maelstrom whose fifth release pulls no punches and evokes no surprises. Yup, the bad boys of punk have returned with more breakneck punk rock that’s bound to be blamed for some mass murderer’s malintent somewhere down the road ("Mountain Man"). 16 tracks strong, Zeke’s latest is relentless in its aural assault, and while some may decree that this fearsome foursome’s act may be becoming a bit stale, what is undeniable is Zeke’s constant rhythmic drive ("Animal") and flurry of furiousness, which never wanes from successfully beating the living hell out of you.

My Ruin • A Prayer Under Pressure of Violent Anguish

Spitfire Records

My Ruin is an underground metal troupe whose latest 13-track disc picks up where Kittie left off and makes theirs what Kittie left off. With a hard shot to the testicles of cock rock, Tarrie B. and company rip out the heart of rock and roll and stomp on it a bit, like every bad girl does now and again ("Rockstar"). With a rhythm section that emulates and sometimes rivals System Of A Down, My Ruin is not a candy coated girlie band at all. Matter of fact, they’d probably wipe the floor with any of your favorite male bands, with their earth shaking riffages ("Hemorrhage") and anger fueled vocals firmly in tow.

Playing Enemy • Cesarean

Escape Artist

Noisy, jaded and angry. Likes to create chaos through sonic assault. Hard to read through what the singer is conveying, but it’s most likely disturbing. 10 tracks of warped guitar and dislocated lyrical spewings. Adventurous and ambitious. That’s what these guy’s report cards probably read in 3rd grade. Check out the audio residue.

Instant Reaction • A Town Like Yours

Corolla Crew

Long Island has a very rich and deep punk and hardcore scene, believe it or not. Yes, thanks to the shopping mall outlets of America, rebellion comes from within these days, and while Instant Reaction’s latest eight-track disc is not as shocking nor packs the social whomp of The Sex Pistols, the obvious energy and feelings are apparent. With more of a quasi California sound, this quartet gets points for a strong sense of melody and good hooks ("Turn This World," "Punk Rock In G"). With a slight nod to ska ("Why Do Girls Smell So Good") and a healthy dose of bouncy basslines and melodic guitar licks, Instant Reaction should lift your spirits after a listen of their suburban punk rock collection.

Antipathy • Imminent Peril


Tormented and thrashing, this NY metal clan brutalizes through five tracks of intricate metal that displays elements of late era Testament and early Sepultura, not to mention Obituary. Mercilessly deep rooted guitar riffs overcome like a jackhammer on asphalt ("No Escape"), while the relentlessly self loathing vocals spew venomously throughout the five tracks ("Who I Am/Someone Kill Me"). A dash of death, a lot of thrash and a touch of classic metal help Antipathy produce a well-balanced album of bruising proportions.

David Grossman and The Limit • Bars

Stump Records

A split concept album is an ambitious endeavor, yet David Grossman and The Limit pull off the arduous task with blues soaked abandon and a folksy reprise, all under a funny play on homonyms. With a firm grip on the art of songwriting ("Billy Take The Long Way"), and a strong sense of folk, pop and rock, Grossman and company set themselves in both "bar" environments with a refreshingly clever musical twist and vivid storytelling techniques that makes each song breath on its own. Recreating the emotions of inmates and drunks isn’t an easy task, yet these guys take the task and add bravado and a sometimes sardonic ("Government Problem") and sometimes lonely outlook ("Dirty Letter Waltz") to the whole ball of wax. And, the band can turn it up ("Too Late, Too Much Too Many") and knock it down ("Your World") to fit your mood, a noble musical effort that earns this band some well-deserved praise. Well worth a shot.

Next 2 Last • 3 Songs From 2001


Next 2 Last is a NYHC outfit whose three songs contain churning guitars and some spirited screaming vocalizations. Mixing a bit of tough guy pit grit with metalcore rhythms ("Words Of Regret"), Next 2 Last seem ripe to rip some shit when it comes to knuckle up time. Despite their sound being revisited a bit too often in the hardcore circle, Next 2 Last plays with a controlled aggression that they unleash at the right times for maximum mosh pit brutality ("Still Remains").

Biopop • 2-Song Sampler


Biopop is a glammy three-piece Northeastern outfit whose two-song sampler contains high octane bubblegum punk and hook happy choruses. In the vein of the gutter rock and roll of San Francisco with a very flamboyant flair, Biopop plays dress-up well and paid attention to The Cars and Weezer well enough to learn the craft of the catchy 3 minute pop rock tune.

Centinex • Hell Brigade

World War III

From Sweden, it rocked! Centinex is another band in a long line of accomplished metal broods hailing from those Northern reaches whose album will send your neck into a headbanging frenzy ("Towards Devastation," "Neverending Hell"). If you dig guttural vocals, churning guitars, faster than lightning drum beats and a bevy of metal clichés that somehow work wonderfully here, like amazingly dim titles ("Seeds Of Evil," "Apocalyptic Armageddon"), look no further than Centinex’s 12-track descension into all that is heavy ("Emperor Of Death").

Michael Staertow • Oxygen


Michael Staertow’s 11-track disc is a calculated and precise album that hints at many different styles of rock without getting overly friendly with any of them. With a keen sense of groove, Staertow lays the guitars down thick and rich ("Hydrostatic"), yet he also has a penchant for going the three part harmony route, too, a la King’s X ("River Of Sin"). Hitting up the progressive rock and ‘80s metal genres for seasoning, Staertow’s flawless guitar work and stellar production help his songs to sound symphonic, but the rock swagger still shines through ("Honestly"). A solid piece of rock that has a little bit of everything for everyone.

River City Rebels • Playing to Live Living to Play

Victory Records

The River City Rebels are seven men strong, and they’re not in masks, nor ridiculous outfits. Instead, these small town punk rock renegades are decked out in sensible clothes and play their asses off on their latest 14-track outing. Oozing with guts and grit, RCR learned the power of the punk sing along chorus early it seems ("Friday’s Salvation"), and with a ballsy and brassy horn section accentuating the three chord stomp ("Gotta Get It"), it’s quite a chore to not want to get down to their rowdy refrains and bountifully bouncing melodies ("6am," "53rd and 3rd"). For a feel good session of punk with a side order of ska, The River City Rebels stand and deliver.

Leechmilk/Sofa King Killer (split CD)

Tee Pee Records

This may be the crustiest split CD ever. Purveyors of sludgy, doom laden dirges, Ohio’s Sofa King Killer and Georgia’s Leechmilk combine forces to create chaos in your cranium. First up come the southern quartet whose Eyehategod meets Crowbar effigies hardly go unnoticed in terms of sheer volume ("The Garrote"). Pure tonnage is what you’ll find here folks, the kind of stuff that derives from the mixture of death metal, hardcore and classic metal opuses ("Dirtclot"). Next comes Sofa King Killer, and while their delivery is a little more rooted groove and swing, these guys still manage to take it down to the swamp, complete with dual guitar savagery and a majestic stoner rock atmosphere ("Cajun Lady"). With a near Southern rock aura ("Backdoor Thang"), SKK bang out some deliciously downtuned delights. If you’ve got more than one smoking device and black light in your room, this CD is essential.

Electric Frankenstein • Buzz of 1,000 Volts

Victory Records

Looking for a no-frills, all-killer, no-filler rock album in the year 2001? Good luck. However, New Jersey’s own Electric Frankenstein do their part and create a 13-track tilt a whirl ride through rock and roll’s glory days, when the riffs and the attitude behind them were the ingredients for success. Never relenting in their punkish assault and guitar driven melodicism ("Super Sonic Nation"), EF have outdone themselves this time around. Solid enough to satisfy even the most discernible rock fan, EF take a ‘70s rock star approach to their latest CD; make it fast, hard, catchy and above all, LOUD ("Prey For Me"). A welcomed return to sturdy, fist pumping rock and roll.

Sons of Otis • Songs For Worship

The Music Cartel

Otis must’ve been one miserably crusty curmudgeon, because his three son’s latest seven-track release is as slow, deep and hard as one can get without illegally medicating yourself into a stupor. Not too sure what we’re worshipping here, either, but if you’re hailing the leaf, this is the soundtrack to do so by. Spacey, trippy and submerged in sludge ("In From The Storm"), this Canadian trio moves with the quickness of wildlife being caught up in an oil spill ("Losin’ It").  If you enjoy the bowel shaking lows and trance like beats of cosmic stoner rock, Sons Of Otis will be your new lords.

Yattering • Human's Pain

Renegade Records (www.renegaderecords.com)

Yattering is a Polish death metal band who ploughs through 14 tracks of metal mayhem, leaving trails of carnage behind. Heavy on the blast beated drums ("Eyes Can See") and swift guitar licks that turn into punishing head charges ("The Feeling"), Yattering’s work is surprisingly technical for a death metal outfit. Yet underneath all of the technical aspects lies a crushingly heavy assault that should please all those that enjoy the heavier side of metal.

Mike Control • The Introduction

Bang the Drum; www.mikecontrol.com

Mike Control is a straight up hip-hop trio from Brooklyn, NY whose style rivals House Of Pain’s white boy soul. Their seven tracks blaze with head bobbing rhythms and block rocking beats ("Mindbending") and also contain some laid back jams ("Rhyme For Rhyme") suitable for a Sunday afternoon in the park. Mike Control is not a novelty act, folks. Instead, they bring it hard and with flavor ("Mics I Grab"), showing that white boys can rock it ghetto style as well.

The Cutthroats 9 • Anger Management

Reptilian Records

The Cutthroats 9 are an angry clan, and it really comes through on the six tracks that they’ve comprised. With harsh guitar tones and absolutely no time for excess ("Prey"), this NYC outfit slash and burn through Helmet inspired rhythms and create a din that is not only visceral, but is almost necessary to remain a healthy human being ("This"). We’ve all felt this tumult inside at times in our lives, only this power trio decided to make it an audio adventure. If you can’t get enough for the early ‘90s NYC progressive metal, let this former member of Unsane’s new outfit furnish all of your stress release needs ("Vacant"). Stripped down and sonically charged, Anger Management is a fine start for a burgeoning band.

Craving Theo • Craving Theo

Columbia Records

Hard rock has seen a resurgence in the past few years, and bands like Craving Theo have been reaping the benefits. Their eponymous debut disc melds melodies of STP with the majesty of Fuel and the crunch of grunge ("Sky"), a mixture which puts this Northwestern quartet in the quagmires of hard rock’s breakthrough artists, all looking for that one big break. While much of Craving Theo’s material is standard and predictable ("Welcome You"), the guitars have an Ozzy-esque swagger about them ("Hold Me Down"), and the Alice In Chains’ impersonation is probably as close as we’ll get to seeing the actual band get back together ("Alone"). Not essential, but definitely radio friendly and may be able to garnish the teenage MTV contingent with the proper image consultations.

Darkane • Insanity

Century Media Records

Ah, we’ve seen it all before... a stirring piece of classical music starts the disc off unassumingly, only to be followed by blood curdling brutal metal. Enter the intricately extreme world of Sweden’s Darkane, and their latest metallic opus Insanity. While their onslaught is more headstrong and displays more finesse than other bands of their stature ("Emanation Of Fear"), these guys still provide some intense rhythms and jackhammering riffs to please the metalhead within ("The Perverted Beast," "Distress"). If you enjoy the Swedish metal sound that mixes melodicism with bone crushingly heaviness, Darkane’s 12-track takes care of business just the way you need.

Pyramids On Mars • Lines

Pyramid Limited

Pyramid on Mars is as experimental as an album can get. This 14-track disc introduces the term tribalcore, and it doesn’t get any more tribal than this (Sepultura, take note). Using all types of stringed instruments other than electric guitar and implementing all sorts of Middle Eastern and Indian musical styles, this CD is not only an adventure for the performers, but it takes a very open minded listener to tap into what is exactly going on here.

Conqueror Worm • Necrotic Tissue


Conqueror Worm is a horror metal outfit from California who take their name from an Edgar Allan Poe quote and whose dislocated styles mix the grind of Sabbath, the dim wit of punk, and death metal’s growl to make up what sounds like The Melvins if they played your Christmas party totally strung out on barbiturates ("Scythian Pride"). Their five-track disc borders on being jocular a la Spinal Tap, but the scary thing is that this trio is probably deathly serious ("Necrotic Tissue"). You’ve been warned.

Ariel Publicity Sampler

Ariel (www.arielpublicity.com)

NYC’s publicity agency Ariel put together this garden variety compilation of slightly alternative artists whose songs would sound right at home on a automobile commercial or a WB teenage drama. As if we haven’t heard enough Alanis and Dave Matthews on the airwaves, out come 15 different acts, mainly singer songwriters from the East Coast, whose common thread is catering to that ever-important pre-Yuppie college crowd. The only bright spots on the disc are the spaciously seductive "Way Up There" by Devon, Fathead’s frat boy bop on "I’d Rather Be" and Johnny Young’s guitar driven "If I," and even that reeks of Dave Matthews inspired vocal lines. Heaven help us.

Engrave • The Rebirth Remasters

World War III

Engrave’s latest offering has got the metal seal of approval all over it. It contains everything a good underground metal band requires to stay underground and remain true to the altar of heavy metal, such as racing guitar lines, guttural vocals and thrashing drum and bass.  In fact, this is the remastered version of the original, so it’s safe to say that The Rebirth sounds even more metal than the previously released version. The drums have got a real tasty ’80s metal resonance to them and the guitars almost border on NYHC ("Morbid Dreams"). If you can sidestep the obvious cheese, Engrave’s latest may have you banging your head in no time.

Avulsed • Stabwound Orgasm

World War III

2 questions: 1. What the hell does Avulsed mean? and 2. If you saw an album cover of two lesbians intertwined stabbing themselves would you buy this album? Now that all of the formalities are out of the way, "sick" death metal Spaniards Avulsed have come to scream to you and pound your skull into submission. They do so with a barrage of guitar riffs, keyboard overlays and song titles such as "Exorcismo Vaginal" and "Homeless Necrophile". Avulsed will no doubt make you reach for both the Excedrin and the dictionary, and isn’t that what good death metal bands make you do? If you feel yourself getting stupider after a listen of this album, it’s safe to say that this quintet has affected you.

Roundabout • Hindsight is 20/20

AVD Records

Roundabout is based out of "fabulous" Las Vegas, Nevada, and after a listen of their latest five-song disc, you may ask yourself what’s so fabulous about Vegas if all it produces is gamblers, miles of desert and third rate punk rock. Well, Roundabout isn’t about to take that, and they’ll let their 3-chord stomp and insightful lyrics that delve into the pre-adult relationship ("E.M.M.A.") bowl you over into the realm of punk rockers that have a heart and firmly wear it on their sleeve. Roundabout sound like a cross between Face To Face and Fenix TX, and while their punk rock is a bit contrived, it is spirited and they do display a keen sense for sarcasm, a good trait in any musical genre.

Sommerset • Fast Cars Slow Guitars

Phyte Records

Sommerset is a New Zealand punk rock quartet whose roots are firmly planted in the intense, smart department of punk rock, alongside bands such as Hot Water Music and Face To Face. Implementing many of the same devices of the aforementioned outfits, such as intense melodic guitars to hammer their point home ("Cornered," "Same Mistakes"), these guys play with an impassioned fervor akin to bands like The Living End and Sick Of It All.  While the music may seem if as done by numbers in our homeland, it’s no small wonder that these guys are all the rage in New Zealand. For a jolting shot of punk rock that borders in between preachy and pristine, check these guys out.

The Cult • Beyond Good and Evil

Atlantic Records

Providing a blueprint by which many crossover rock bands have followed for over a decade is no easy task, yet The Cult have done just that. Their recent and extremely welcomed return to the world of rock yields 13 tracks laden with the majesty and pomp that you’d expect from Ian Astbury and company. Astbury’s vocals are as always, top notch and enthralling, and are complemented by Billy Duffy’s flashy and fancy fretwork firmly in tow ("Rise," "Shape The Sky"). With a slightly modern tone this time around, without sacrificing that classic Cult stomp ("War," "Breathe"), mega producer Bob Rock has done a fine job capturing the guys at their best.  Add Matt Sorum’s powerful punch on the skins, and what you get is what you expect from The Cult; a ripping return from one of rock’s premiere outfits.

Sloe • Inexact Replica

Sessions (www.sessions.com)

Sloe is a California quartet whose blend of punk rock is deeply battered with emo leanings ("Satellite Transmissions"). Their 11-track disc is laden with dreamily jagged overdriven guitars ("Everything Leader") and deeply layered lyrics, all while keeping the melody lines jumping and the anthemic choruses pumping ("Stalemate"). Very reminiscent of fellow San Jose outfit Far, Sloe pounds out aggressive riffs but manages to keep a glossy coating over each song that maintains the band from becoming one of the faceless punk bands out in the scene ("Shiny New Toy"). If you dig bands like Hum and Thursday, Sloe is the next logical progression.

Anata • Dreams of Death and Dismay

Relapse Records

When was the last time you heard a death metal band described as crisp and pristine? Maybe At The Gates? Well, add Anata to that few and proud list as these Swedish (surprise!) metal maulers haul out 10 tracks of heavy machinery that will leave the hairs on the back of your neck standing on end and your jaw dropped in awe ("Dreamon"). While the vocals are your standard Cookie Monster on crack variety, the music is deliciously orchestrated with the gut wrenching lows and piercing highs that make good death metal such the delicacy these days ("Insurrection"). Pure death metal power is what this Swedish contingent is all about, and if you're a purveyor of headbanging music that's intricate, this will be your new favorite band.

Tomorrow Seems So Hopeless

Eyeball Records

A hardcore tribute to a true NYHC band is what this killer compilation delivers. Negative Approach, one of the most seminal bands of the whole circuit, has spawned this 19-band tribute release that is a pit stomping funfest from end to end. Everyone whose anyone in the NYHC scene is on this disc (too many to mention, but believe me, it's an impressive who's who), and if you're in the market to kick some ass, this is a great selection to do so by.

Sea of Green • Time to Fly

The Music Cartel

Sea Of Green is a Canadian power trio, but before you blurt out Rush, think a lot more stoner and a little less intricate and you'll get a concise picture of what this Great White Northern outfit has got to offer. With their leanings in the Blue Oyster Cult side of things ("Ever After") with a splattering of Pink Floyd (they even cover a kickass version of "Breathe") and a hearty heaping of trippy Sabbath/ sonic Soundgarden interludes ("Come On Down"), Sea Of Green definitively kicks ass. By taking smidgens of every era in rock and melding them into their own sound, SOG have created a rock monster that would've taken the world by storm in 1978 ("Orions Belt"), but is bound to shake the underground's foundation today.

Void Lucy • 2-Song Sampler


Void Lucy is a female fronted aggressive outfit from the NYC area whose 2-song CD shows a lot of promise. With the sounds of nu metal and old school Gothic metal a la Siouxsie and Concrete Blonde teeming through and the attitude of current female rock icons Kittie in tow, Void Lucy proceed to show the world that girls rock too. If you're a sucker for a rock and roll chanteuse, check this project out.

Clumsy • Center of Attention Deficit Disorder

Idol Records

Clumsy comes to us from Michigan, and their brand of middle of the road rock and roll with a tinge of punk rock is in step with college campus rock and commercial radio rockers like Soul Asylum and Tom Petty ("Prayer"). On their 13-track disc, these guys crank out some tasty guitar rock licks ("2 Tone," "Keep In Mind") and whip up some punchy rock numbers fueled with insightful lyrics and driving backbeats ("Dying Small," "Calling You Up"). Clumsy are quite the opposite as their name suggests, as they are calculatingly loose and deliberately clever ("Sick Of It All") and are an all around solid rock and roll listen.

The Cherry Valence • The Cherry Valence


The Cherry Valence is a hard rockin' quintet that employs two drummers for emphasis, slash and burn riffs that fell off of the AC/DC bad boy boogie truck with a touch of metal swagger ("Drunk," "Turn It (On) Up"), and just the right amount of sleaze into their mix. Oh yea, they've also got two lead singers, male and female, and rock like the Stones circa 1972 or vintage MC5 ("Guaranteed," "Bootyshakin'"). A refreshing slice of retro rock is what this fantastic fivesome strives to create, and damn, do they do it convincingly. Perfect for the go-go bar, the roadhouse, or a messy backyard barbecue, The Cherry Valence throw precision out the window and go straight for the balls with a gritty undercurrent that hasn't been seen since Jungle-era Guns And Roses. If you're a starved rock fan, this release will definitely feed the need.

Jarra • Test of Faith

Lion (www.lionmusic.com)

Jarra is a straight up metal outfit whose eight-track disc sounds a bit dated, but does have its redeeming qualities. For starters, the guitar work shreds from start to end, bringing back the days of the guitar hero into the forefront a la Van Halen ("Eternal Love"). A booming rhythm section works here as well ("Pain"), as does the dominant female lead vocal, which gives the band a Jefferson Airplane quality. However, their ‘80s metal formula is a little behind the times and that's where this quartet loses points. But, if you'd like to revisit a time where the guitar wailed and the bottom end shook the foundations ("Two Evils"), this would be the band to bring it home for you.

Minus • Jesus Christ Bobby

Victory Records

Minus is an ambient hardcore band from Bjork's stomping ground whose 11-track journey into sound and noise is unlike anything you've heard. Yes, you can pick out the influences (Godflesh, Snapcase, Refused, Will Haven), but never have you heard them all together like this. Bruisingly savage riffs ("Denver," "Pulse") and screams that can be best described as desperate ("Liquid Courage," "Modern Haircuts") invade your subconscious and forcefully make you listen, like it or not. And beneath all of the cacophony lie some intense melodies and a stalwart sense of musicianship ("Arctic Exhibition"). Imagine Radiohead hooking up with Candiria and out would pop the five members of Minus. If you're looking for music as extreme as Slipknot or as anti-commercial as possible, your search ends at Minus. One of the most compelling releases this year.

Keelhaul • II


Keelhaul is one of those post hardcore acts whose shtick relies on keeping it heavy and intense, yet intricate, right? Wrong. While these Cleveland clobberers do maintain a solid offering of heavily mechanized riffage and display rhythms of the utmost precision ("Unwound"), unlike many of the bands in their genre, you really can't classify them as noise ("New Void"). Matter of fact, they've got some thick ass grooves cooking in the pot to coincide with their intricate din to create a listener friendly racket that even the most finicky avant garde metal fan should dig ("39f"). If you're looking for the happy medium between groove and mayhem, Keelhaul is the answer you're looking for.

Gate 18 • Gate 18


Gate 18 is a rootsy rock and roll outfit hailing from Queens, NY whose powerful female fronted delivery sends this trio to the head of the class ("Away"). With influences that range from country and blues ("The Guy Next Door") to straight up rock and roll ("Zig-Zag-Zoom"), Gate 18's nine-track disc shows a lot of diversity as well as a fine sense of how to write a hook laden number that rocks from end to end ("Better Make Sure"). Gate 18 is kind of a throwback from the days of rock when the song was the focal point and everything else was ancillary ("Keepin' On"). If you yearn for the sounds of Counting Crows, Dylan, CSNY and Janis Joplin mixed together, Gate 18 fits the bill quite nicely.

Clyde • Clyde

Baby Julius

Clyde is a NYC quartet whose hard rock style has garnished the band some well-deserved praise. This 10-track disc is loaded with deep, funky grooves a la RHCP ("Leaving," "As Good As You Hate"), as well some powerhouse drumming and a strong sense of emotion that very few bands convey on disc these days. Clyde's mix of head bobbing beats, sudden stops and dramatic pauses ("Everything") make this outfit one of the finest out there on the scene today. Add some flawless fretwork ("Opening," "Mine") and a singer that's capable of handling high notes as well as rapping, and you've got the makings of a can't miss act. With a Zeppelin-esque swagger and an STP like dynamic ("Running Back"), Clyde has the framework for a sturdy foundation in the rock game. For fans of Incubus and Alien Ant Farm, Clyde is an act you'd sure to dig.

Sugarcult • Start Static

Ultimatum Music

Sugarcult is a new pop punk band whose Warped Tour appearance and Blink 182 guest spot will probably help this ultra catchy quartet gain some popularity and perhaps even notoriety. This lean 11-track disc clocks in at under 40 minutes and not a minute is wasted, as the sugar sweet choruses and sunny melody lines fall right into place next to Blink, Lit, American Hi Fi and the ilk ("Hate Every Beautiful Day"). Guitar driven, good time rock and roll is back ("Bouncing Off The Walls"), and Sugarcult is spearheading the charge. Despite a few Goo Goo Doll sappy moments ("Lost In You"), the debut from Sugarcult is as big of a rush as chugging down a pixie stick.

Rumor Has It • Groovindoobuliss


Rumor Has It is an Indiana quintet whose hard rock roots start at Jackyl and take them across the board, hitting ‘80s cheese metal and some Southern rock along the way ("Indecision Song"). While the lyrical content is pretty lackluster ("I Feel U") and the overall feel seems a bit dated, these guys do have a knack for carving out solid guitar grooves and a steady beat behind it all ("I Am," "All Fall Down"). Rumor Has It isn't a band doing anything radical or special, but they are a sure and steady rock act whose songs speak the universal language of love, loss and rock glory ("Band Bitch"). Yearning for a band that'll both rock you and give you a monster ballad? Then these guys are your pick.

Catspaw • Lost Paws


Catspaw is a NYC female trio whose retro rock isn't from the ‘70s, but the ‘50s! Yup, these girls are in tune with poodle skirts, burger joints and Cadillacs. On their 10-track disc, Catspaw be-bop and sock hop their way through the disc, complete with Buddy Holly styled guitar licks and bluesy rhythms. And while the production value could be beefed up a bit (especially in the vocal department), the overall feel of Catspaw's latest transforms you back into a Happy Days like scene, with their music as the backdrop.

Darkest Hour • So Sedated So Secure

Victory Records

Darkest Hour is a grab you by the throat and choke you until you tap out kind of band. The kind of band that steamrolls over you without warning and hits with the velocity and force as a freight train. This Washington DC quintet takes the metal style of Sweden and adds an American twist, creating eight tracks of metal mayhem along the way ("The Hollow"). Add in a ferocity seen in the hardcore scene to their voracious metal assault ("A Cold Kiss"), and this beautifully brutal band is what is left in the entrails. If you crave that Gothenburg sound and want it spiced up with some good old USA ass kicking stomp, Darkest Hour is here to save you from your fruitless quest and will satisfy that empty feeling inside. Quite possibly one of the finest metal albums thus far in 2001.

Utilize • 4-Song Sampler


Utilize is a Long Island band whose four-track disc shows the band to be a middle of the road rock act whose musical influences lie towards the Creed side of the spectrum ("For You"). Even though the production value makes it sound as if the band recorded in a wind tunnel, the heavy rhythmic feel comes through quite nicely, almost in a hypnotic way. With a tinge of Pink Floyd-ish art rock in them, Utilize's percussive side also helps the band stand out ("In Our Home"). While this album probably isn't indicative of what these guys can do, it gives you a good primer of what to expect if you see these guys live ("Save The Humans").

Tindersticks • Can Our Love...

Beggars Banquet

Tindersticks are a Brit collective whose eight tracks border on folk and trippy ‘60s rock with dashes of Tom Jones-esque flash. Sounds strange? Well, when you see a CD cover of a guy caressing a donkey cheek to cheek, that should give you an indication, no? A lot of composition went into these songs, as they employ a plethora of instruments ("Can Our Love..."), as well as varied styles, both musically and vocally. >From an Al Green ballad sung through Aaron Neville to a Tom Waits style dirge ("No Man In The World"), these guys may be the masters of slow tempo rock. You may need to be on some pretty good drugs to enjoy this disc completely, because it's very reminiscent of a heroin trip gone awry.

Sunny Ledfurd • The White Disk

MCA Records

Sunny Ledfurd is a rap rock outfit whose rap and rock separately kicks ass. Together, however, they make an undeniable force that is part Beastie Boys, part Limp Bizkit and all together the most complete version of the genre since Kid Rock ("So Far Gone"). This foursome from Gastonia, NC kick it southern style much like Outkast and Juvenile, but then the guitars kick in and BOOM, a rock band blasts out your stereo! A 16-track party anthem album is what Sunny Ledfurd delivers, complete with catchy grooves and phrasings to make the girls shake their ass ("Pills", "Pimpin' Ain't Easy") and enough power chorded madness to please the headbanging male contingent ("Another Day"). Yea, the lyrics are b-boy beatdown styled and basically disposable, but hell, it's the party vibe that these guys are going for, and they definitely hit the mark. If you're throwing a mixer for your town and want everyone to get along, this is the CD to throw on.

Crusade • Crusade


Crusade is a five piece punk rock outfit from Brooklyn, NY whose seven-track CD is a reaffirmation that all punk rock hasn't gone commercial. With a rapid fire vocal delivery ("What Fear Won't Let You Forget") and a recognizably melodic din behind an angry backdrop ("Things Aren't The Same"), Crusade take the piss and vinegar style of Sex Pistols ("New Found Hate") and Johnny Thunders and make it their own. Crusade even goes that extra step and goes a bit Gothic, like any good punk does from time to time ("Lying In The Snow"). Mixing a bit of the old school with some more of the old school, Crusade has made a statement that rebukes the current state of punk and turns it on it's ass. If you dig Amen, you'll love Crusade.

Midwest Rules: No Coast Punk

Haunted Town

When we think of punk, of course we think West and East Coast scenes, and then there's England. When we think of the Midwest, we think of livestock, hot blonde girls and beer. So, what's to make of Midwest punk, you ask? Think some heavy, balls out, aggressive music that doesn't primp or pose like some of the coast's finest stand accused of. Also add in a pro wrestling fetish (which is a good thing, btw!), and what we've got is 12 bands comprised of middle class angry young men who bang 21 tracks dripping with blood, sweat and whatever controlled substance they can get their hands on. Honorable mentions go to Bumpn' Uglies ("The Legend Of Mick Foley"), Strict 9 ("Voices") and Inmates ("FHBM"), yet all of the acts on the comp get applause for keeping it real. Seek this one out to see that the Midwest really isn't what you expect it to be.

Darwin's Waiting Room • Orphan

MCA Records

Darwin's Waiting Room are a rap rock outfit whose audio attack relies heavily on the Korn crunch ("In To The Dark") and the Linkin Park half rap, half rock vocal delivery. Their 11-track disc takes the Floridian fivesome through familiar territories that've been tread by such acts as Hed PE ("Another Way"), Limp Bizkit and fellow state mates Nonpoint. But before you condemn these guys for their genre classification, be aware that these guys have got stellar MC skills ("DIYM") and prove to be more than capable in the music department, creating seething melodies and head bobbing riffs that sound just right in the pit ("Spent"). Yet it remains to be seen if they will be able to break the cursed barrier of being labeled and set out on their own with the current state of musical saturation. If they're given a budget to shine above the rest of the pack, Darwin's Waiting Room have the sound and the songs to take this Orphan to the platinum streets of rock success.

Blister Rust • Push


Offbeat and cheeky, Blister Rust's eight-song disc shows the Long Island quartet is as quirky as they are heavy. Loose grooves that hammer your skull like a dentist's drill ("Delivery"), these guys would remind you of Soundgarden if they jammed with Iggy Pop. With a thread of punk rock rebellion in the undertow (especially in the vocal department) and a pseudo metal facade meeting a sleepy Seattle soundscape up front ("Stones"), Blister Rust has got it all covered. If you're a sucker for unconventional music that retains it's credibility by being heavy and clever, then give these guys a listen.

Napalm Death • Enemy of the Music Business

Spitfire Records

It's funny how things come full circle, especially in the metal scene. When metal pioneers Napalm Death first broke, they were the epitome of all that was considered extreme. Now 10 years into their career, Barney and company are still thrashing away with the same brutal fervor ("Constitutional Hell"). However, the tables have turned and Napalm Death now sounds run of the mill, almost like a Fear Factory copy band ("Next On The List"), sans the technical advances. No matter, because anyone whose worth their salt knows the accomplishments of these Brits. As they get older, Napalm Death still remains as tough as a $2 steak, as their new 14-track release comes fully equipped with buzzsaw riffs ("Thanks For Nothing"), breakneck drumming and the finisher, the desperate yowl of Barney Greenwald. If you enjoy battering your head repeatedly to the sounds of doom blare away, Napalm Death should provide your soundtrack of destruction. Still brutal after all these years, raise your bloody fist to the Davy Crockett's of extreme metal.

Wild Nine • Wild Nine


Wild Nine is an electronic rock band that hails from Long Island. Their dance floor friendly melodies are pretty reminiscent of latter day Bush and the lighter side of NIN ("Amuse"). Wild Nine's song structures are pretty well constructed, but they don't seem to be very comfortable in their techno surroundings, almost sounding as if they're forcing the sound into the mix to try and emulate bands like Filter. Nonetheless, these guys are very competent song writers whose heavy hooks after melancholy leanings ("Ugly") are sure to make some waves.

Dead End Kids • Still Dead


Straight up punk rock is the name of Dead End Kids' game, and they are as angry and underproduced as any band that sprung up between 1977 and 1980. Edgy and aggressive ("Popeye"), with a hint of spinning out of control at any given moment, the spirit of punk rock finds these Florida natives and their seven tracks ripe for the rebellion. With a cover of The Sex Pistols "Rock N Roll Swindle" firmly in tow, DEK manages to piss everyone off like their forefathers did 20 years ago.

Templars • The Horns of Hattin

GMM Records

Templars are a traditional oi/punk outfit from NY whose latest release contains anthems and anecdotes of their trials and tribulations throughout their lengthy career. This 10-track disc contains some bouncy numbers bound to get you to pogo ("Video Age"), as well as fist raising fight songs ("Shift The Blame"). This impassioned trio plays with a vibrance that isn't menacing, but straight from the heart, almost as if you can tell that they love what they do. It's not exactly rocket science, but Templars latest release succeeds in getting their message out in a simple, yet catchy way, just the way au and punk intends it.

Time of Need • Seen Through a Shadow


Time Of Need is a pulsating metal trio whose nine-track offering teems with crunchy guitars and almost has a White Zombie rhythmic feel ("Overcome"). This Pennsylvania outfit takes the approach of such heavyweights as Machine Head and Fear Factory ("Realize") and adds a harsher dimension to their metal backlash, thanks in part to razor sharp vocals ("Begin Again") and a bottom end that could crack the Earth wide open. Chunky and unrelenting, Time Of Need is the perfect fit for your metal fix.

Gunfighter • Pro-Electric


Gunfighter is a powerful quartet whose 12-track disc is the perfect mixture of the subtle grooves of Deftones with the power punk flare of Foo Fighters and the quirk of Queens Of The Stone Age ("Blue"). Heavy in all the right places, but never sacrificing the groove underneath, this San Diego by way of Kansas City group make interesting music that contains more twists and turns than a good horror novel and will make even the owner of the most taciturn attention span take notice. Armed with eclectic taste buds and a penchant for odd chords and time signatures ("Snow In June"), Gunfighter is one of those bands whose heaviness isn't as obvious as you might think, but once their deep grooves hit you in the gut ("Dreamsickle"), the verdict is apparent. For an overwhelming outfit that breaks convention, Gunfighter is top notch and is worth seeking after.

Lost Souls Society • Lost Souls Society


Long Island's Lost Souls Society is a work in progress judging by their six-song sampler. With a firm footing in standard '60s rock and roll and a poor production value, it almost sounds like something out of your father's record collection. There's a lot of potential here, though, as they do justice to the chord driven, mid tempo rock tune quite nicely ("Crazy Life"), as well as display some sense of vocal harmony a la Bon Jovi ("Come With Me My Friends"). But, they still need a much better production to be able to keep up with the big boys, as well as some band bolt tightening.

Alan's Wrench • Alan's Wrench


Alan's Wrench is another one of those middle-of-the-road rock outfits that fits nicely amongst the Vertical Horizons and Trains of the rock world. Their seven-track release is pretty much a pop rock outing, as their jangly guitars and finger snappin' melodies ("To See You Again") lead for choral sing-alongs and their pensive ballads are privy to appear on a future K-Tel compilation of Monster Ballads Volume 21 ("Eden"). What salvages Alan's Wrench from the disposable pile is their folksy, Zep side ("Fall Away"), which allows their somewhat bland offering some much-needed vibrance.

This is Bad Taste Volume 4

Bad Taste Records

From the Swedish label Bad Taste comes quite a satisfying 23-track sampler of what this label has to offer. From the melodic hardcore of Within Reach to the stoner boogie of Danko Jones, this hard rocking label brings it in your face and takes no prisoners. Standouts include the Americanized punk of Turtlehead and The Almighty Trigger Happy as well as the spaghetti western style of Langhorns, but there's so much more that this label has to offer. If you've got your ear to the underground, this a compilation you need to check out and soak in all of it's splendor.

Maharahj • Repetition

Now or Never Records

Maharahj's latest album is appropriately decked out in white, perhaps to not only suggest the pure sonic boom that these Canadian cripplers employ, but also to make the listener aware of the white noise that the 36:01 album contains. Gripping and dangerous, Repetition is like VOD on steroids as its 10 tracks pulverize you into submission ("Sleep") with its Slayer-esque guitar runs and tortured vocals, yet holds back at times and lets you conserve your energy for the next brutal onslaught ("Am Insect", "The Devourment Of Intellect"). For those that crave destruction and mayhem in an audio form ("Machines"), Maharahj's brand of metalcore is a wake up call and a surefire attention grabber.

The Hissyfits • Letters From Frank

Top Quality Rock and Roll

NYC darlings The Hissyfits 12-track release has got that girl rock vibe down to a science. With an injection of Joan Jett's sneer and The Go-Go's bubbliness, this female trio plays stripped down punk rock and minimalist rock and roll with the best of them ("Something Wrong 2001"). With a Weezer-esque charm ("Superstar"), catchy background vocals that rival The Runaways and a very garage rock ideal system, The Hissyfits is sure to evoke a pillow fight or two at the next pajama party you throw. If you dig The Donnas, you'll go ape for these gals.

Brazilian Assault

Relapse Records

Any right-minded metalhead knows that Brazil isn't just a place where hot girls that wear thongs reside and The Rock In Rio Festival takes place. It is also the home of quite possibly the most popular foreign metal band, Sepultura. And, being the pioneers that Igor and company are, their bludgeoning style has influenced many of the native Brazilian people as well, spawning this four band split CD aptly titled Brazilian Assault. With respect to The Roots crew, Abhorrence, Mental Horror, Ophiolatry and Nephasth pound out their versions of intense metal with the hope of gaining new ears. The results, although a bit spotty, seem to mimic Brazil's best import quite well, churning out a few more death metal vocals and blast beats than the originals, though. If you'd like to hear what the other side of the world's metal sounds like, this CD is a good chance to do just that.

Pete • Pete

Warner Brothers Records

Pete is a heavy rock quartet whose 10-track debut is a startlingly vivid and candid display of emotionally charged rock. From the tantalizingly thick groove of "Sweet Daze" to the lush, near orchestrative sounds of "Untied," these guys capture the intensity of Deftones with the rock sensibilities of Fuel ("Cold Cocked") to create a sturdy sound that all rock fans should embrace. While the rollicking melodies and excellent drumming stand out on their self titled debut ("All Love Is A Lie"), the total package that Pete has to offer contains solid slabs of rock that should please near everyone that craves intelligence and intensity in their hard rocking. A definite blue chipper here, folks.

Intensity • The Ruins Of Our Future

Bad Taste Records

Intensity is your standard angry foreign hardcore band that implements a lot of crunchy riffs ("Forberedelsen") and rapid fire drumming ("In The Distance") throughout their 16-track offering. Typical screaming, angst ridden hardcore vocals are also employed here and while there's nothing new or exciting to speak of, these guys provide a steady backbeat for a pit beatdown or a supercharged workout session. If you dig tough guy stuff, this will put some new blood stains on your wifebeater for sure.

Megadeth • The World Needs A Hero

Sanctuary Records

Ok, we've all seen the Behind The Music by now and are probably all fed up with Dave Mustaine and crew. What the hell was he thinking the past two albums? Can you say sellout? Well, folks, Megadeth has returned... with a good album! A damn good album, in fact. You know, one that rocks. Ok, so it's not Peace Sells, but hey, who (besides Motorhead and AC/DC), constantly puts out quality stuff? Enough about the past, let's talk about Deth's latest, shall we? 12 tracks fill up their latest, and in all honesty, there's no filler here. All worthwhile cuts, from the mid tempo Randy Rhoads/ Ozzy shuffle of "Disconnect" to the blazing chugga chugga riffings of "Moto Psycho" to the string arranged "Promises", these cuts snarl with Dave-esque sneer and show off new guitarist Al Pitrelli's stellar chops ("Dread And The Fugitive Mind"), something which the last of the Capitol albums severely lacked. And yes, it can be said that Megadeth is still in the shadow of Metallica, but at least now they hone up to it, and even mock it a bit in song ("When") and in concept ("Return To Hangar 18"). Thankfully, Dave is not only clean and sober, but he's located his testicles and it's so nice to have him back in a way that he won't be laughed at. Maybe Dave's days as a hero are long gone, but at least he can hold his head up high and be proud of the work he's done ("Recipe For Hate...Warhorse").

Comin' Correct • In Memory Of

Triple Crown Records

Rick Ta Life is arguably one of the most influential and recognizable figures in the NYHC movement, and this time around, he returns with his side band, Comin' Correct. Their latest album finds Rick at a tough time, with the loss of his father the main theme of In Memory Of. The band does Rick's father proud, as they pound out 11 tracks of impassioned hardcore chock full of tight breakdowns ("Take Me Away") and more group choruses than a Greek epic ("Two Face," "Today We Live"). Add to the positive a rapid fire CD that doesn't waste a second as well as a duet with Lord Ezec from Skarhead that's a surefire barnburner and what you've got here is not only a sturdy hardcore album suitable for beatdowns and pit warfare, but also a heartfelt and moving tribute to a lost loved one.

Foetus • Flow

Thirsty Ear

Jim Thirlwell is a very influential part of music, even though you may not know it. This time around, he returns with the madness he titles Foetus and a new 11-track ride into eclectically. From grinding industrial ("The Need Machine") to loungy jazz ("Cirrhosis Of The Heart") to music that sounds as if it could soundtrack a cartoon ("Victim Or Victor?"), Foetus's music knows no boundaries and isn't afraid to show you is multitude of talents, often all in one song ("Someone Who Cares"). Providing jarring juxtapositions, this true innovator will take your attention span hostage and captivate you with his sometimes lush, sometimes harsh musical soundscapes. If you like Ministry, White Zombie and NIN (who it seems Reznor has one stop shopped on when it comes to influences), and haven't gotten around to getting into Foetus, do so now! All others that would like to take a musical trip through another man's hell should also enlist.

Toadies • Hell Below/Stars Above

Interscope Records

After a lengthy hiatus, the Texas quartet known to the world as either a. that band whose big song's chorus screams "Do Ya Wanna Diiiiiiiie?" or b. Toadies have returned to a whole new musical world. While Kurt's memory still lives (now scarily enough on classic rock stations!), these guys and gal have got a long road to haul to match up even to their prior success. And while Hell Below/Stars Above seeks to pervade the post grunge consciousness, it should be noted that the band underwent a few lineup changes in their absence. The result is as if it were 1996, as Toadies continue right where Rubberneck left off, complete with a jerky heaviness and religious imagery in tow ("Push The Hand," "Hell Below/Stars Above"). Despite the fact that there's no "Possum Kingdom" here, there are some solid slabs of high octane, quirky Texas two steppin' rock ("Heel," "Sweetness") that should absorb the initial shock of their lengthy departure nicely. And if that doesn't get you, check out the hook laden fist pumpers ("Motivational," "Little Sin") and the seductive balladeering ("Dollskin") for the sound to bowl you over. They may be a little rusty, but it's nothing a summer tour can't cure. Long live the ‘90s!

Hood • Time... The Destroyer

Victory Records

Longtime West Coast hardcore vets Hoods hit the scene once again with a new label and 12 aggressive tracks sure to beat you into audio submission. From the death growls that protrude from Ben Garcia's throat to Mike Hood's blistering fretwork ("Broken Never Bent"), Time... The Destroyer showcases why these California kings are the leaders of the left coast's hardcore movement. Battering rhythms and metal injected riffs ("Another Lesson") fuel their fires ("Forest Of Suicides") and make for a bruising good time. For those that think that hardcore only breaths on the East Coast, take a look at the metalcore stylings of Hoods to see how a little bit of California love mixed in with the intensity of Sick Of It All and the brutality of Hatebreed ("Above This World") can make a big difference.

Bill Foley • Trials, Tribulations and Sordid Details

Echo; folesmusic@hotmail.com

Bill Foley is a NYC solo artist whose 13-track disc could easily be played on any college folk rock station. With a tinge of bluegrass and touches of country rock ("Susan, What Were You Thinkin"), Foley has created an easygoing Sunday afternoon feel to his folksy rock stomp ("Going Home"). Good instrumentation flesh out Foley's lyrical musings that have a real down home, stream of consciousness feel. Foley's sense of rock shuffle ("Kite") and hook happy songwriting ("One For You") is bound to keep your fingers poppin' and your toes tappin'. For some jangly rock with a foothold in traditional American music, check out Bill Foley's latest.

Static-X • Machine

Warner Brothers Records

Like a steamroller, techno metal fiends Static-X return crushing everything in their path on their sophomore effort Machine. With new guitarist Tripp Eldsen (formerly of Dope) in tow, these Midwest maulers by way of Los Angeles continue their aggro industrial assault with 12 tracks of programmed mayhem. From the opening scream in "Get To The Gone", Wayne and company show us that there previous release was no fluke, as they display the same Nu Wave Goth meets White Zombie sonic boom which garnished them such praise ("Black And White," "This Is Not"). With the guitars on super stun ("Shit In A Bag") and the bottom end made into a moshable yet danceable mold ("Structural Defect"), Static-X's newly structured machine should be running smoothly for a long time coming.

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