"Mike's Reviews"

by MikeSOS
Sponsored In Part By
Try Me?

Soil • Scars

J Records
Soil is a Chicago based metal troupe whose latest 13 track offering is a lackluster attempt of combining '90s grunge and '80s power metal, with the results being spotty at best.  It’s not through lack of effort, though, as the production is top notch and some of the riffs do display holding power ("Halo," "Unreal").  It’s just that Soil seems to be too derivative at times, almost to a point where the water has been tread so many times by bands that outclass them (Alice In Chains, Sevendust) that it makes their powerful grooves ("The One") and cock rock flavored lyrics ("Breaking Me Down") a bit hard to swallow in the year 2002.  Uninspired and ultimately mediocre, Soil may need some time to replenish their land before they embark in another musical journey. (www.j-records.com)

Quitter • Quitter

Containing members of New England rawk and rollers Roadsaw, Quitter is a trio that plays their rock and roll with a swagger not seen since 1978.  And while their eight tracks of retro rock amply turn back the clock, complete with fuzzed out guitars and good usage of the funky clavi keyboards, there’s nothing here that you can’t get from a Ted Nugent or early Aerosmith album.  Yes, the riffs are meaty ("Black Box," "Fools Gold") and the rhythms hypnotic ("Tear You Down"), but the overall impression of Quitter may leave you a bit dazed and confused, looking for the time machine that the band came in. (www.quittermusic.com)

The Reunion Show • The Motion

Law of Inertia
Can a band out-Weezer Weezer?  Well, the power pop quartet The Reunion Show tries their damnedest on their latest synth flavored six song release.  Taking us back to the days when punk wasn’t a fashion trend, this snappy and smirky quartet which contains members of Step Lively and Edna’s Goldfish take the hooky prowess of Elvis Costello ("New Rock Revolution") and dress it up with some clever lyrical content ("maybe you should have stayed instead of sleeping in his bed" from "Don’t") to compose quite a breath of fresh air to the treadmilled punk scene.  For a nice shot in the arm of poppy punk, Long Island’s The Reunion Show is a guaranteed step in the right direction. (www.thereunionshow.com)

Tottenkorps • Tharnheim

World War III
Chilean metal clan Tottenkorps grind out a monstrous display of metal on their recently released 16 track doom laden collection.  Even though this quartet employ the Cookie Monster vocal style that plagues a lot of the metal in their genre, their stalwart guitar work, which ranges from slow, dirgy movements to chaotic death metal runs, is as solid as it gets ("Totten Korps"), and when it’s backed by a rhythm section that can pound out a blast beat as well as a tight groove ("Our Almighty Lords"), who needs Cookie Monster, anyway?  For a bountiful display of extreme death metal, check out this South American delicacy. (www.ww3music.com)

Fu Manchu • California Crossing

Mammoth Records
Fu Manchu may just be the premier stoner rock band that hails from America, and it’s not just because they are seemingly the last band standing in the scene that has a virtual revolving door policy when it comes to band members.  This time around, their latest 11 track disc has Scott Hill, Brant Bjork, Bob Balch and Brad Davis in tow.  And even though the lineup has been tweaked a bit, the boys enlist the same laconic nature and hard rock sensibilities that made them such a favorite amongst the burnout contingent, complete with creamy guitar lines ("Ampn," "Hang On") and riff rock rhythms that simply cook ("Separate Kingdom").  Couple this with refrains that get their hooks into you and don’t exit your head until the next time you exhale ("California Crossing," "Bultaco"), and Fu Manchu once again stands triumphant and walks tall.  If Sabbath lived in California ("The Wasteoid"), Fu Manchu would be their name.  For a lesson on how to rock, do yourself a favor and pick up Fu Manchu’s latest gem. (www.fu-manchu.com)

Severance • What Lies Ahead

World War III
Ah, the soothing sounds of death metal.  This time, it’s Severance’s turn to rattle your skull and pummel your audio senses beyond reproach, as this long standing metal quintet do quite nicely on their 12 tracks of chaos ("Damned At Birth").  These guys pretty much pass the test when it comes to producing mind numbing, headbanging numbers that sound as if someone’s intestines are being ripped right out of them ("Inferior Superiors").  At least that’s what the vocals sound like, and as for their music, the guitars and bass lock into one conglomerated din as the drummer beats the hell out of the kit like there was no tomorrow ("As I Wait").  And that’s just on the slow jam!  Actually, these guys bring it back to the Florida death metal sound quite nicely, so if you like your extreme metal a bit more on the traditional side, check out Severance’s latest. (www.ww3music.com)

Taking Back Sunday • Tell All Your Friends

Victory Records
Taking Back Sunday hails from Amityville, Long Island, NY and their suburban punk sound could easily be dismissed as yet another Warped Tour one-off or MTV punk boy band cash in, but the fact of the matter is that this band transcends all of that stigma and comes through with 10 tracks of heartfelt material.  While the emo blueprint is apparent, don’t damn this talented quartet for working under familiar guises just because they have a winning formula in their sights.  Besides having engaging titles ("You’re So Last Summer," "Cute Without The E"), Taking Back Sunday manage to drum up some multi-layered musical drama as well, complete with dual lead vocal screams ("The Blue Channel"), tinges of keyboards and pianos for added accentuation ("There’s No I In Team") and a powerful guitar performance that mixes punkish fun and straight laced serenity ("Great Romances Of The 20th Century") a la At The Drive In.  If you dig Glassjaw, Grade or music that has depth and breath and still rocks, Taking Back Sunday’s debut is an album you’ll have pride in telling all of your friends about. (www.victoryrecords.com)

Antiseen • Screamin' Bloody Live

TKO Records
What do you expect from an Antiseen live album?  Well, for starters, expect a lot of beer fueled aggression from the South Carolinian masters of mayhem, coupled by a heaping dose of their classics ("Wifebeater," "I’m A Babyface Killer"), done with Motorhead-esque dynamics and vocals that sound as if shards of glass were dropped in their 12 packs.  And there you have it, folks, all 62 minutes of the glory and the fury that is an Antiseen show.  Throw in a few Ramones covers in for good measure ("Commando," "Today Your Love...") and perhaps some witty dialogue in between the supercharged punk flurries and you could smell the smoke and feel the beer dripping off your shirt as you listen.  How’s that for bringing the experience home?  (www.tkorecords.com)

Antiseen • The Boys From Brutalsville

TKO Records
Antiseen is one of those fun lovin', gun totin', free lovin', wrestling watchin', beer guzzlin' punk bands that would scare old ladies in the supermarket and cause havoc in most social circumstances.  Their 3 chord attack is chock full of ethnocentric tough guy-isms ("Melting Pot") and contains more testosterone than Hulk Hogan's needle and syringe set ("I'm A Babyface Killer," "Sabu").  Short on class but long on attitude, Antiseen isn't a band that's going to save the world, but they'll make you run for cover with their expletive ramblings and simple yet effective musical approach. (www.tkorecords.com)

Sweatpant Boners • Cruisin' With the Masters

Devils Head
If you’re looking for the most crude and crass release thus far this year, look no further than Sweatpant Boners (doesn’t the name say it all?)  Sex with underage girls.  Odes to human waste and bonding over it between father and son.  Calling out the guitar solos vocally.  Cleverly disgusting reworks of Billy Joel and Gloria Gaynor.  Yup, it’s all here.  Sadly, the production values on this CD are so stellar, the numerous songs with infantile subject matter almost become likable, if not downright acceptable.  While there’s significant doubt that songs about having sex in church and peeing with your dad are going to be commercially viable, they’ll by far strike a nerve and may even elicit a smile or a chuckle, if you’re not offended by song titles like "Her Respectable Holes".  (www.devilsheadquarters.com)

Brick Bath • I Won't Live the Lie

Brick Bath is a seasoned metal quartet whose latest album may scream Vulgar-era Pantera at first listen to any good metalhead.  However, Brick Bath not only pays homage to the Cowboys From Hell, but to their hometown sound, The Bay Area Thrash scene, with chugging riffs and scornfully delivered vocalizations that adorn the 12 bone crushing tracks.  No skimping on the metal, here, folks.  These guys run the floor and cover a lot of ground.  It’s as if Testament and Machine Head jammed out on Disturbed’s album ("Sick Of You"), with a smattering of Prong and Sepultura in tow for flavor ("Undone").  Brick Bath is capable of bringing the heavy to the dance; it’s just a question if they can rise above the nu metal pack with a touch of old metal flavor.   (www.brickbath.com)

Will Haven • Carpe Diem

Revelation Records
Will Haven return with a 10 track, angst laden collection of post hardcore gems that are jaded, loud and ultimately dissonant reminders of how life can kick you in the ass.  With an unmatched feeling of despair in the lyrics ("I never grasped a clock until the day he passed away" from "Carpe Diem"), this Sacramento, California quartet’s drive lays not only in their words, but also in the dramatic changes which the songs undergo.  From mechanical drum and bass a la Godflesh to balls out, tuned down hardcore aggression ("Dolph Lundgren"), Will Haven successfully shift gears mid-song with clarity and conviction, almost uniting the ravers, skaters, hardcore kids and stoners into one big old heap of misfits ("Bats").  No wonder why Deftones, Soulfly and Slipknot consider these guys friends.  Will Haven and their brand of downtuned debauchery have the potential to crush small villages ("Alpha Male") and provide interesting twists and turns that’ll feed your head.  (www.willhaven.com)

Astral • Filicetum Lunare

World War III
Astral is an ambient Gothic metal outfit whose mixture of organs from the 15th Century and the screaming of black metal make for a standard combination.  Yet, the use of heavily chorused guitars and tons of reverb help to establish a late ’80s metal thing that kind of works behind a bossa nova beat ("Oblivio").  From there, there’s only some redemption if you’d like to hear what Meatloaf would sound like if he went death metal, opera style and all ("Stigmata Amore") with Dream Theater as his backup band.  Intrigued?  Me neither.  (www.ww3music.com)

New End Original • Thriller

Jade Tree
Ex- Far front man Jonah Mantraga has returned to the limelight with New End Original, and it's a welcomed returned for the emotive lead singer.  The 11 tracks that comprise Thriller pick up the pieces of Far's demise and dust off a few tricks, adding their own twists along the way to complete a barrage of melodic dramatics, both musically and lyrically.  While the overall vibe
is discerningly mellower ("Better Than This"), the music manages to retain an intense edge throughout.  From the sunny day harmonies of "Lukewarm" and the sing along punk fist pumping of "14-41" to the heart wrenching dynamics of "Better Than Ever" to the acoustic beauty of "The Name," this may just be the best stuff a band from California has done in a very long time, perhaps not since the last Far album.  Solid in every way and worth every minute of your time, New End Original is a must have for those who appreciate heartfelt rock music.  (www.jadetree.com)

Rob Zombie • The Sinister Urge

Geffen Records
The modern day master of the macabre returns after a long sabbatical with an 11 track album that isn't exactly what you'd expect, but doesn't disappoint either.  Rob Zombie has been through a lot since the release of Hellbilly Deluxe, and The Sinister Urge seems to be more of a personal release for Zombie than previous efforts.  While the much duplicated techno metal a go-go staple sound Zombie basically created is reclaimed here masterfully ("Feel So Numb," "Dead Girl Superstar"), Zombie also does some mad scientist experimentation in the studio.  Adding a Doors-esque trippiness ("California") and implementing a full scale orchestra behind the demonic operatics ("Bring Her Down") into his already crushing mix give TSU an ultra polished gloss that transcends his Lower East Side roots and catapults him into the upper echelon of the metal landscape.  To top it all off, a guest appearance by Ozzy ("Ironhead") solidifies the album as a triumph, albeit a way too short 35 minute one.  Nonetheless, Rob Zombie's latest album, like everything else he puts his stamp on, stomps with the kind of abandon that holds its own in any nudie bar.  And, Zombie also proves that he not only learned from Ozzy, Alice and Lemmy the right way to rock, but that he can consider himself a true auteur of the game.  (www.robzombie.com)

The Shiners • Bonnie Blue

Planetary Records; www.theshiners.com
The Shiners claim they have the new Southern sound, and this seven piece outfit hailing from Virginia just may be correct, as their 10 track disc laden with Americana whisks you away to a mountain retreat and prepares you for some good old down home picking and grinning, taking a little bit country and a little bit rock and roll and swirling it into a folksy and rootsy mix that will have you doing a two step in no time ("The Bridge"). Twangy and jangly enough to justify a night of moonshine drinking ("Los Gatos Del Fuego") and hanging on the porch with your shotgun perched in your lap, The Shiners succeed in making country cool again.

Bob's Kitchen • Cooking With Julia

Looking for some upbeat punk songs tinged with cleverly placed choruses and that patented Cali punk sound?  Check out Long Island's Bob's Kitchen, the closest thing you'll get to Suburbia this side of a wood paneled Chevy station wagon.  On their seven-track release, these guys release more testosterone than a high school gym class and have a good time doing it ("Fran").  Fast and furious sing alongs and even faster drum beats let Bob's Kitchen hit that NOFX nerve ("Tie My Shoes") and let them revel in the Blink 182 spotlight.  For a righteous shot of cheeky punk, check these folks out.

Diabolical • Synergy

World War III
Diabolical crush your senses with the kind of molten metal that only Swedes can deliver.  Disjointed and going to extremes on their eight tracks of audio destruction, these guys carve out a technically brilliant display of thrash and death metal that would remind you of stuff that Carcass would have done if they were still active ("Drowned In Blood").  Stellar breakdowns and guitar acrobatics are accompanied by blood curdling screams and skull bashing rhythms ("Haven") to make Diabolical's latest release a horned hand homily for those about to rock.  More metal than you'll know what to do with.

Halfway to Gone • High Five

Small Stone; www.halfwaytogone.com
If you're looking for jam rock that will leave welts all over, look no further than the stoner friendly sounds of Michigan's Halfway To Gone.  Their 12 track disc is groove laden, heavy in all the right places and, above all, a kickass, ball busting display of hard rocking, blues tinged madness.  In your face a la Karma To Burn ("The Big W," "Stormy Day"), and just as throbbing as Fu Manchu ("Story Of My Life"), HTG has got not only the smooth grooves, but they can also write a killer hook ("Devil Spit").  This trio is worth the time and complements your Kyuss, Monster Magnet and other stoner rock faves quite well.

Roadsaw • Rawk and Roll

Roadsaw is an American band who has sought refuge in the hard rock scene of Sweden and, in turn, have come out swinging with 12 tracks chock full of nitro burning rock and roll.  Sounding like a heavier, meaner '80s metal troupe (think Hanoi Rocks or LA Guns before their hits), with a jolt of '70s arena rock complete with keyboards thrown in ("Foot"), this quartet stomps with AC/DC-esque abandon ("Bad Ass Rising") sans the flashy fretwork and throws out rhythms more solid than the obligatory holiday fruitcake.  While Roadsaw's full throttle attack isn't going to produce world peace of save the seals, it's definitely worthy of a horned hand thrown into the air and perhaps a few yowls of appreciation ("Disconnected").  For those about to rock, Roadsaw delivers the goods in the most primal of ways. (www.roadsaw.net)

Wumpscut • Wreath of Barbs

Hailing from Germany and sounding mysteriously like Rammstein, Wumpscut's industrial strength industrial music is searing and majestic.  The 11 tracks that comprise Wreath of Barbs are scathing as the title suggests, comparable to KMFDM ("Deliverance").  Atmospheric in some places ("Wreath Of Barbs") and mind blowingly crushing in others ("Troops Under Fire"), this album is the perfect excuse to bust out the PVC outfit hanging in your closet.  If you're looking to dance like they do on Sprockets, this is the music to do it by for certain. (www.metropolis-records.com)

Dark Funeral • Diabolis Interium

Dark Funeral are one of the premiere black metal outfits, and on this Swedish quartet's latest release, we are inclined to see why this long-standing band still has fans beside themselves.  On their latest eight apocalyptic tracks, the drums are incessantly fast and loud and the rhythms are breakneck ("Hail Murder").  There's no time for fancy acoustic interludes or jazzy musical breaks in the Dark Funeral camp; only time to bludgeon, bleed and destroy whatever is in their path ("Diabolis Interium").  With the might of a virtual murder by music on their hands, and blood curdling screams which rival any metal band today, Dark Funeral put the fun back in funeral and give the ardent headbanger something to sing to Satan about after all. (www.necropolisrecords.com)

Incubus • Morning View

Epic Records
Incubus seems to be everyone's rock darlings as of late, and Morning View is a fine example why these California natives are plastered all over rock radio and MTV.  Their latest 13 track release displays some of the lighter sides of the once aggro outfit, but it does so with great musical depth and their usual poignant lyrical insight ("Mexico," "Echo").  In fact, this album really captures the band at their happiest, and who can blame them?  Rising from the nu metal pack with a bullet, thanks not only to lead throat Brandon's dashing looks, but also the band's hybrid sound, they are currently enjoying unfathomable success, and with songs like the spacious "Wish You Were Here" and the driving melodics of "Circles," their success is well warranted.  Even though their popularity is reaching boy band like levels, Incubus still hammers out some of the most adventurous hard rock today ("Nice To Know You," "Blood On The Ground"), mixing Chili Pepper-esque funk with Faith No More's heady wordplay and Deftones-like dynamics ("Have You Ever") to create the critically acclaimed and often (poorly) duplicated staple Incubus sound.  It's rare when a band's life expectancy outlasts their sophomore effort, but Incubus defies the odds and roars back with a lush display of rock and roll, laden with intelligence and a keen musical know-how that should allow Incubus' star to continue to shine bright for many albums after Morning View. (www.enjoyincubus.com)

No Redeeming Social Value • 40 Oz. of Hardcore

Triple Crown
When you think of seminal NYHC outfits, obviously Warzone, AF, Sick Of It All and countless others come to mind.  However, Queens, NY's very own No Redeeming Social Value have carved their niche into the scene as well, as their latest CD chronicles the band's decade long stint as the court jesters of the NYHC community.  Containing classics like "Fabio," "Skinheads Rule," and "Your Boyfriend's A Guido" among countless others, it not only shows the massive output of NRSV, but it has a lot of rare and live stuff that is hard to find.  No fan of hardcore and punk should be without No Redeeming's Old E swigging, party hardy, frat boy antics, if not for their sense of humor, then for the skull crushing punk and hardcore anthems.  Even though NRSV's output is generally lighthearted, what can't be denied is their place in the annals of hardcore's hallowed halls, and 40 Oz. of Hardcore rightfully puts them in the company of hardcore's forefathers. (www.nrsv.com)

Fracas • A New Host of Torment

Calendar of Death
Fracas is a California punk band whose Goth punk leanings are accentuated by the cameo appearance of Davey from AFI.  Besides that, Fracas seems to be another band going through the motions, playing the same kind of punk rock that the Misfits, AFI and countless other outfits have already perfected. There's nothing spectacularly catchy or grandiose here, unless you really like garage punk with a flair for horror. (www.fracaspunks.com)

Slaughter and the Dogs • Beware Of...

Slaughter And The Dogs have been around for a long time, but their latest album, their first in over 20 years, shows the band in fine form.  These guys were on tour with the Sex Pistols in '76, folks, and their still kicking out the jams with a fist in the air and a sneer on the lips ("Saturday Night...," "Hell In New York").  Street punk and blue-collar values coincide with a good old-fashioned rock and roll attitude to give Slaughter And The Dogs a welcomed comeback into a scene that needs a good whipping back into fighting shape.  It's bands like these that give punk rock the balls and the bite back from its recent commercial bloat. (www.tkorecords.com)

Sevendust • Animosity

TVT Records
The hardest working band in hard rock today comes through big time on their third album, as Atlanta's Sevendust provides 13 tracks of the soulful metal styling we've come to expect from this juggernaut quintet.  The twin guitar attack never sounded more brutal ("Crucified"), yet this time around, there's a stronger sense of melodicism and a deeper shade of soul included in their head rattling mix ("Trust," "Shine").  Yes, we still get the liveliest rhythm section in metal today hammering out some of the most enticing beats today ("Praise"), but we also get to see the softer side of Sevendust, and that's where vocalist Lajon shows why they are the most versatile of the nu metal pack ("X-Mas Day," "Angel's Son").  But, they've also made a concerted effort to shred your head with some of the heaviest riffs going today ("Damaged").  Animosity finds this band at the top of their game, mixing the catchiest hooks this side of Creed with a hulking slab of voracious metal that any true metal fan will appreciate. (www.tvtrecords.com)

The Chicken Hawks • Hard Hitting Songs For Hard Hit People

Mix one part Cramps, one part Loretta Lynn and one part '60s psychedelica and out hatches The Chicken Hawks, with their pseudo country, rockabilly swing ("Lime Ricky") and full on rock and roll swagger.  There are 11 tracks here that sound like a truck stop two-step gone awry ("Punch Up"), and that's a good thing.  Warbling rhythms and a downhome backbeat lead the charge ("Shoulda Stayed Home..."), as this Sioux City quartet play their version of ballsy blues with reckless abandon.  Anthemic, raunchy and most of all, debaucherously delicious, The Chicken Hawks put away the pretenses and let the music fuel their fire, a welcomed changed from the watered down rock we've all grown tired of. (www.rafr.com)

The Thought Industry • A Short Wave on a Cold Day

Metal Blade Records
The Thought Industry is one of those really smart bands, you know, the ones whose lyrics cover all the books you read in Cliff Notes form in college, and whose music ranges from vast soundscapes to mind bending interludes.  This Michigan quintet's 16 track release is as artsy as a Jane's Addiction record, but can get as intricate as a Dream Theater track.  These guys use a bevy of instruments to keep your ears on their toes, and they also implement a good deal of progressive rock tactics to keep the rhythms jaded, the choruses slightly recognizable, and ultimately the listener guessing.  If you enjoy The Bogmen and Talking Heads, as well as King Crimson and Pink Floyd, then this adventurous outfit will suit you just fine. (www.thoughtindustry.com)

Novadriver • Void

Small Stone
If you're looking for some of the creamiest distorted rock and roll this side of the sun, look no further than the quartet Novadriver, whose 10 tracks of space aged rock is fueled with wah pedal fever ("Rocket Superstar") and a ferocious, full stacked attack.  While much of this Michigan band's output is cranked to 11, there are some great subtleties in their mix, such as the electric organ in the background, which adds a distinct mystique to Novadriver's throwback vibe and sound.  Imagine Sabbath, Soundgarden and Pink Floyd all jamming in the desert, and the result is this cosmic concoction known as Novadriver.  Get your Charger fueled up and ride around the block cranking this bad boy, and you'll be the talk of the town. (www.smallstone.com)

Pungent Stench • Masters of Moral-Servants of Sin

Nuclear Blast
Austria's Pungent Stench, besides having a very fitting name, are sick and depraved and thankfully, everything that you need from a metal band. Shredding their way not only musically, but lyrically as well, the subject matter this power trio covers is questionable at best, but it's definitely fitting that a band named Pungent Stench has songs such as "Convent Of Sin" and "Mortuary Love Affair."  Breakneck guitars and pounding rhythms will pound the hell out of you, and if that doesn't get you, their disturbing outlooks on life should definitely turn your stomach a bit. (www.pungentstench.net)

Entombed • Morning Star

The Swedish sensation Entombed return, as angry and bitter as ever, with their latest 12 tracks that will decimate your stereo system ("Out Of Heaven").  Armed with jackhammering riffs ("Year One Now"), pummeling rhythms and the coarsest vocals this side of Tom Araya, Entombed reaffirm their position as one of the premiere European metal troupes.  Not afraid to whip up a frenzied thrash attack ("Young Man Nihilst") or ashamed of slowing it down and grinding their way through ("Chief Rebel Angel"), Entombed maintain a constant cohesive feel of brutality on Morning Star that hasn't been seen since Wolverine Blues.  Be ready to feel the wrath of Entombed once again. (www.entombed.net)

Iowaska • Vine of Souls

Alternative Tentacles
Iowaska, containing former members of cult faves Amebix is an oddity among the testosterone driven rock landscape.  Fronted by Amebix's female vocalist Sam, Iowaska's brand of cosmic metal and intergalactic punk may be a hard pill to swallow for traditionalists.  However, those with an attention span longer than the life span of a Limp Bizkit side project may be able to extract some hearty things from this 13 track release.  Things like some of the most acidic guitars this side of Warrior Soul ("Ayahuasca"), as well as an undercurrent of wiccan philosophy running throughout Vine of Souls that makes it an easy sell for all those that crave rebellion in its most pure form.  Add in some headbanging riffs ("Don't Go"), punk angst a plenty ("Change") and a slew of space aged sound effects ("Out Of My Head") and Iowaska truly gives everyone living under the radar something worthwhile to listen to. (PO Box 419092 San Francisco CA 94141)

Thr3 • Happiness in Knowing

Thr3 is a folksy rock outfit from California whose sound can be compared to Edie Brickell and Tantric, among others.  Their seven track release showcases a solid band whose vocal harmonies stand head and shoulders above your normal coffee house fare ("January").  While the music is mainly acoustic, Thr3 manages to not only maintain the dynamics of rock, but also its intensity, thanks to the strength of the dual male/female vocals.  Besides a clunky version of "Amazing Grace" (leave it to the R&B contingent, guys), Thr3, flexing their muscle a la Alanis, show signs of major airwaves manipulation ("Tickery Tock").  If you have a penchant for that adult contemporary sound that has a bit of bite, check out Thr3. (www.thr3.com)

The Briefs • Hit After Hit

The Briefs seem to be caught in some kind of weird 1982 time capsule, as their 13 track disc could have easily fit somewhere in between The Cars, The Knack ("Rotten Love") and The Clash ("New Case").  This nerdy quartet take the edge of Devo and mix it with the geekiness of Weezer to create their punkish poppy audio ("Where Did He Go?").  Fat free and hook laden, this Seattle outfit understands the whole skinny tie movement a little too convincingly to be from the year 2000, but to their credit, they manage to sneak in some pogo style Ramones action for color.  If old school pop punk is your bag, these guys should fill your senses just as well as John Denver did for your folks. (www.thebriefs.com)

Above This World • End of Days

Much like the hip hop scene, the hardcore community is bound by a tight bond that unites all those crazy screaming tattooed people.  Above This World is a prime example of how the West coast scene swings, as members of the left coast's best join forces to comprise a Superfriends of hardcore.  Comprised of members of Powerhouse, Sworn Vengeance and The Hoods, this is the closest thing hardcore has got to We Are The World.  And while the results aren't anything to break the door down over, they do include some fine chugga-chugga riffs, gang vocals that'd make The Harlem Boys choir scared for their lives ("Sold") and an overall picture of a tight knit clan of bald heads and bloody knuckles fighting for the heavy music cause.  If you like these bands, or metalcore in general, End of Days is a nice companion disc to rip shit up to. (www.thorprecords.com)

Backbiter/Elope split CD

Mans Ruin
Retro rock is all the rage on this split CD whose fingerprints all stem from a musical enlightenment that occurred before 1982.  First up are the fired up sounds of Los Angeles trio Backbiter, whose Hammond organ presence and running basslines are very Who-esque ("Nova").  Complete with a rock and roll swagger usually reserved for mod 1960 Brit bands, with a pinch of arena rock bravado ("Smile"), Backbiter swings like it's 1969 all over again.  The Swedish outfit Elope is next, and their laconic rhythms and bluesy overtones make for a crossbreed between Cream, Sabbath and ZZ Top ("Rendez Vous"). Taking a more melancholic approach than Backbiter, Elope tend to touch on the dreamtime side of your mind ("Goodbye"), not unlike Radiohead or some of the trippier Beatles material.  In short, this is a 10 track disc that showcases some of the nicest retro rock until the new Rhino compilation CD series hits the stores. (www.mansruin.com)

Platehead • Not Without My Mind

Platehead is a metal outfit whose cut to the chase delivery and in your face attitude scream for heavy metal vengeance.  On this six song disc, horned hands are sprung throughout, embracing crushing rhythms and employing vocals that aren't pretty, but are effective ("Blackwater Fever").  And while Platehead aren't going to win any awards for technical excellence, the stellar guitar riffs and angry lyrical spewings ("Impure") hold their ground and will bring out the thrasher in you. (www.subcreate.com)

Disgorge • Forensick

Death Vomit
Disgorge is a Mexican death metal outfit that take it to the extreme.  One look at the sickening cover art could tell you that, but once you peruse through the 15 track disc, you can hear the extremity as well.  With vocals that sound like the sounds your bowels make after a Mexican buffet, Disgorge are sure to become the masters of the puke metal contingent.  Offensive and depraved, Disgorge are a bunch of blast beated bastards whose mission seems to be play unintelligibly quick and make song titles up by thumbing through medical journals.  Maybe worth it for the novelty, but doubtful. (disgorge_mex@hotmail.com)

The Generators • Tyranny

The Generators brand of street punk comes to life again, as this 12 track release is full of piss and vinegar ("All Night Long").  Their type of melodic punk with sing along choruses is enough to keep your fist in the air all night long and your vocal chords strained for days on end ("Keep On Running," "Tyranny").  This is what Green Day wished they sounded like, before they wrote songs for mass consumption.  Keeping it simple and bouncy ("Dead At 16"), The Generators blend the best of bands like All, Hanoi Rocks and Face To Face and add their high energy, pure punk edge to it.  If you like punk rock that hasn't been sanitized for MTV, this is the real deal. (www.tkorecords.com)

Candiria • 300 Percent Density

Century Media
Candiria is beyond musical comparison and isn't even in the realm of regular bands.  These Brooklyn boys are arguably the most talented and quite possibly the most eclectic outfit on the circuit today, and their genre hopping within songs continues to puzzle and bedazzle the listener.  On their latest 11 track outing, their progressive metal, free form jazz, NY hardcore roots and hip hop abilities once again take form and shine heads and shoulders above anything else out there.  Yes, they are that damn good.  Even if at times it becomes difficult to comprehend their avant garde assault, one thing remains perfectly clear; Candiria is an untouchable commodity that is leading the new musical revolution.  Ask Rolling Stone, The New York Times or anyone in the NYC area.  Essential for anyone who loves a musical challenge. (www.centurymedia.com)

Nebula • Charged

Sub Pop
Perennial stoner rock superstars Nebula return with their latest 10 track offering, which picks up right where To the Center left off.  This almagamation of Sabbath's bottom end with punk rock's credos and slabs of adrenaline filled rock ("Giant") make Charged an aptly named album. Borrowing dynamics from nearly four decades of rock, Nebula's motive to rock you all night long remains in focus and the band wanes from its enviable mission to kick your ass hard and fast ("Ignition").  Not as brooding as Kyuss, nor as sunny as Fu Manchu, Nebula carve themselves a distinct niche in the stoner rock family tree with the help of super indie producer John Agnello.  Kind of bluesy and plenty heavy ("Shaker"), Nebula's latest is not only the perfect soundtrack for a night at the go-go bar, but it's determined to whisk you away into an altered state.  Fight it and be damned. (www.nebulamusic.com)

Scotland Yard • 24/7

Scotland Yard is known for its crime solving prowess, yet the female fronted power pop quartet from California that shares the moniker has more in common with having fun than fighting crime.  On their spirited 11 track release, their ultra slick production value propels their Blondie meets Cheap Trick version of pop rock to No Doubt meets Bon Jovi heights ("Movin' On").  Sugary sweet melodies with just the right touch of radio friendly refrains should have the masses lapping this one up for a long time ("Real World").  And while their upbeat techno rock could be featured in any given commercial ("American Hero"), it's their hard rock appeal a la Journey and Styx with a Go-Go's twist ("Give It Up") that may write the meal ticket for these sleuths of sound.  If you dug the Josie and The Pussycats flick, you'll be sure to dig on this CD as well. (www.scotlandyard.com)

Son of Sam • Songs From the Earth

Do you miss the Misfits or the glory days of Danzig?  If so, check out this kick ass side project aptly named Son Of Sam.  Featuring current Danzig axe slinger Todd Youth and all around fan Davey Havoc from AFI, Songs From the Earth is a loving tribute to the chaos and power of Danzig's music ("In The Hills").  This 10 track disc mixes the punk ethics of The Misfits with the bluesy swagger of Danzig with the warped perception of Samhain.  And yes, Glenn himself even appears in the shadows of the tracks, with classic howl in tow ("Songs >From The Earth").  Davey does a fine job in paying homage to his hero, and Youth and company have outdone themselves by keeping the attitude of the influences as well as adding a flare of their own ("Satiate").  If you're a fan of Danzig or the darker side of rock in general, this is a must have CD. (7071 Warner Ave, PMB 736, Huntington Beach, CA 92647)

Altamont • Our Darling

Mans Ruin
Side projects seem to be a way for an artist in a successful band to get their ya-ya's out without abandoning their main source of income.  And while some are merely self indulgent exercises in egotism, others seem to promote musical cohesion as well as a musician's well roundedness.  For Dale Crover and Joey Osborne (of the Melvins and Men Of Porn respectively), this project satisfies both needs.  While the 70's preservation society would be proud of their fuzzed outputs ("Saint Of All Killers"), there's a slew of inside jokes and white noise here to put a grin on both their faces ("Swami").  And they manage to stomp a mudhole in you with their bad boy bar boogie ("Pirate Love") and their hard rocking cocksureness ("Young Man's Blues").  A good display from an indie supergroup of sorts. (www.mansruin.com)

Mushroomhead • XX

Eclipse Records
Ok, before we get on the Slipknot comparisons, let's clear a few things up. First and foremost, Mushroomhead, while emulating the look as if it's October 31st year round, had their shtick way before the Midwest maulers picked up an instrument.  And secondly, while both bands play heavily and with a full head of steam, Mushroomhead's attack is rooted more in the Faith No More camp of dramatic keyboards overlaying a bruising beat ("Never Let It Go") rather than the Knot's percussive death metal chaos.  Now that the air is clear, this Cleveland collective's latest 13 track release is a whirlwind of metal guitars ("43"), industrial edged beats ("The New Cult King"), hip hop vocals and death metal styled lyrics which evoke images of NIN, Ministry and Bile.  Danceable metal?  Yup, and while you may not be able to do the Travolta to it, it's damn fine enough to mosh by ("Bwomp").  Imagine the influence of European metal swirled inside a costumed rap metal outfit and out comes the hard to pigeonhole but impressive Mushroomhead.  If you dig Dog Fashion Disco, System Of A Down, Mr. Bungle or any kind of industrial edged metal, you'd probably dig this. (www.mushroomhead.com)

Lacrimas Profundere • Burning: A Wish

Hey kids, are you ready for some gloom and doom?  Well, the six members that comprise the Norwegian outfit Lacrimas Profundere are.  Armed with 10 tracks that would depress a game show host, this Gothic metal band rarely keep the pulse rate up past critical condition ("Without," "Solicitude, Silence") and the vocals make Morrissey sound like The Brady Family choir ("Lastdance").  I think if you're familar with the whole Gothic metal scene of pretty European men writing longingly of lost loves and broken romances, you could skip this one, but if you dare, fight the urge to slit your wrists to this one. (www.napalmrecords.com)

Weezer • Weezer

Geffen Records
Geeks of the world, rejoice, your heroes have returned.  Yup, Weezer, after a six year hiatus, come back surprisingly enough, more popular than they left. Thanks to the countless "emo" props they've received in their absence, they've managed to maintain healthy radio airplay and constant praise from bands of all walks of life.  So, how does that rate their newest release, with all of this new found glory and splendor on their coattails?  Back with Ric Ocasek at the helm, the 10 tracks that comprise the eponymous "green" album are solid and expected; big choruses with that Beach Boy twist that made them all the rage in '94 ("Crab," "Don't Let Go").  Add the best backup vocals since Van Halen to the mix ("Photograph"), along with the poppy bounce that accompanies all that River Cuomo pens, and you've got an instant hit on your collective hands.  Drawbacks?  Well, the album is almost too predictable.  They really didn't go into any direction rather than try and recapture lightning in a jar by mimicking their first release's success. Which is not necessarily a bad thing when you consider the tepid sales of their sophomore slump, Pinkerton.  As the grind of "Hash Pipe" infiltrates your rock radio station, be warned that this album has got more legs than those bugs in your basement and prepare for the onslaught of Weezer, albeit a few years too late. (www.weezer.com)

Mammoth Volume • A Single Book of Songs By Mammoth Volume

The Music Cartel
Sweden is definitely a swinging place if the musical climate is any indication.  Just take a gander at latest export Mammoth Volume's latest 13 track jewel.  The momentum on this CD changes as many times as a runway model from lighter flicking stoner rock dirges ("Vipera Berus," "Noara Dance") to free form jazzy interludes ("What Happened In Antioch?," "Pleroma") with the touch of a skip button.  Musically proficient and technically sound, these guys are the perfect blend of Sabbath like aggression with Tull-esque eccentricity and boast the technical prowess of such musical entities of Yes and King Crimson.  And while they occasionally turn it up to 11 and can crush tall buildings with a single chord progression ("Evening Streeted"), Mammoth Volume would much rather kill you softly than bludgeon your ear drums.  If you like the mathematics of rock and roll, sign up for Mammoth Volumes advanced course and be whisked away into a land where the thinkers, the drinkers, the stoners and the loners all get along. (www.music-cartel.com)

Cadaver Inc • Discipline

Earache Recors
Cadaver Inc may be infamous for their latest MTV newsbite, where a misunderstanding over contents on their website prompted Norwegian police to investigate the quartet.  However, their rapid fire metal assault and blast beated goodness has caused both a stir and a scare in the metal community, and with good reason.  Probably one of the more versatile bands in the genre, Cadaver Inc mixes it up from the depths of black metal ("Killtech") to the grind of American metal a la Slayer ("Murderhead," "Snapperhead").  And while their lyrics are dark and subject matter is bleak, it's not the standard "singing for Satan" metal fare ("Rupture").  Heavy in all the right places and displaying an innate ability to kick your ass in so many ways makes Cadaver Inc an organization which is sure not to go Chapter 11 any time soon.  For the screaming lunatic in us all. (usapr@earache.com)

Stonekracker • Two Birds With One Stone

Hailing from the Lone Star state, Stonekracker takes the vibe of White Zombie, flips it around with a female lead vocal and keeps it dark on their 11 track release ("Blown").  With the depths of Tool in tow ("Shout") and the industrial savvy of bands like Static X and Dope in place ("Wrong"), musically these guys and gal are on the money.  Vocally, the rapping seems cliche and brandishes a bad taste.  However, the death metal screams from the female gullet are enticing to say the least ("Turn," "Mimic").  And while the band is tight and hits a groove solidly, the songs tend to meander and wear their welcome out by being too long, making their impact less forceful. Nonetheless, there's a lot going on in here worthy of praise, especially the near Rage-esque rhythm section, who hold it down masterfully ("Cause To Panic").  Stonekracker may be a producer away from sharing stages with the big boys if they keep the course they're on. (www.stonekracker.com)

Headhunter • And the Sky Turns to Black

World War III
Brazil seems to be a very angry place, as Headhunter aptly displays on their 9 tracks of demonic death metal.  With the roar from the bowels of hell in place ("Falling In Perdition"), Headhunter not only can blaze you with intricate death metal speed, but they also show themselves quite capable of grinding out a late 80’s thrash anthem with the best of them ("From Dream To Nightmare").  Definitely an album to wreak havoc along to, Headhunter are heavy, fast and evil ("Morbid Visions").  Everything you’re looking for in a metal troupe.  (www.ww3music.com)

From Brooklyn With Love

Dying Wish
A bunch of emo punksters giving it up for the 9/11 attacks is how this CD came together by the folks from Brooklyn’s Dying Wish label.  With 22 tracks, you’re getting the bang for your buck, as well as heartfelt sentiment from NY bands that care.  Highlights include the synth pop sweetness of The Reunion Show, the 50’s shuffle of Dirt Bike Annie, the power pop of Copeland, the powerhouse melodies of Finch, and the hardcore dramatics of Taking Back Sunday, but all the bands have redeeming quality after a few punk sheddings.  (www.frombrooklynwithlove.com)

Knuckle Sandwich • NJ

Resurrection AD
Knuckle Sandwich is a punk quartet whose Bon Jovi fetish aside ("Wanted Dead Or Alive"), releases a quality array of Bad Religion-esque anthems with a twist of NOFX’s cheekiness.  Sometimes, their spirited choruses sound like a suped up Matchbox 20 ("It’s Not You, It’s Me"), but they have the correct amount of punk angst and cleverness behind the rest of the four tunes on this release to get away with that ("Doublespeak").  And they do pull out a mean Bon Jovi cover as well, so what’s not to like about a punk act that realizes where their roots come from?  (www.knucklesandwich.com)

Billy Music • Midwest Index

Law Of Intertia
Billy Music are passionate about their music, as the tracks on this South Dakota quartet’s debut varies from dreamy emo ("Another Point Of You") to hard rocking fist pumping tunes a la Foo Fighters ("Empiricist").  The 10 tracks on Midwest Index also display that these guys grew up on a steady diet of a lot of indie college music, judging by their innate ability to jam out on a solo and build up to a verse ("Etude").  And they manage to throw out some interesting riffs and well crafted rock songs a la Paw and Pearl Jam ("Benign") with a distinct hardcore twist.  Prarie-core?  Maybe, if they let the wolves know.  Billy Music’s latest is a lot like the sampler platter at any theme restaurant: tasty nuggets of goodness that hit the spot and offers something for everyone ("Fog Line").  (www.billymusic.com)

Boxcar Satan • Crooked Mile March

Boxcar Satan is a Texas trio whose latest 13 track release finds them crossed in between a honky tonk and a moshpit.  Imagine Clutch if they hailed from Texas, all heavy and jaded, yet being able to holler and hoot like Hank Williams, and Boxcar Satan is what comes out ("See The Donkey Lady").  Dissonant and atonal at times, but on purpose for art’s sake, Boxcar Satan is a rough ride for those that can’t grasp the band’s left of center direction, but if you can sit through the Primus-like oddity ("The First Half"), you’ll find some soulful Tex-Mex guitar work that’d make Stevie Ray proud ("Hellhound Express").  Add some '60s chic, complete with horns and xylophone for texture ("Best Be Gone"), and you get an eclectic outfit capable of unsettling the West for good by throwing things like Middle Eastern melodies in their stomping Texas two step.  Boxcar Satan may challenge your musical sensibilities a bit ("Boxcardo’s Hideaway"), but when they decide to rip out, they do so in grand fashion ("Your Money Or Your Life").  (www.dogfingers.com)

Deteriorot • In Ancient Beliefs

World War III
Deteriorot’s press push aptly states that their sound "perfectly retains that early 90’s sound."  Is that a good thing?  It’s really up to you.  If you happen to dig a lot of garbled guitars with power groove parts that listlessly change, maybe Deteriorot can help you.  And, of course, it’s time to rip off a Slayer riff ("Spiritual Evocation").  What self-respecting metal album doesn’t?  How about one with depth and doesn’t feel like a musical laxative?  Plodding, heavy and pointless, unless you really like your metal to sound as painful as the pit.  (www.ww3music.com)

Enter My Silence • Remotecontrolled Scythe

World War 3
Enter My Silence’s contrast contains the winning sound that seems to be sweeping through the metal scene.  Their nine tracks of chugging guitar melodies are reminiscent of Carcass, yet there’s also a hint of technical masters In Flames as well ("Inhale/Exhale").  Add to their credit using technology to their advantage a la loops and samples over their crispy metallic crunch ("Loss Of The Leading One"), and you’ve got a metal outfit who know the merit of keeping the sounds fresh as much as they know their Van Halen guitar licks ("Split").  For a taste of the new sound of metal, check out Finland’s Enter My Silence and be swept away with the melodics and blown away by the bombastics ("Six.Nothing").  (www.ww3music.com)

Cavity • On the Lam

Doesn’t really register that a band this stoner friendly and feedback heavy hail from Miami, Florida, but they do.  Cavity ditch the sunshine sounds of salsa for the heavier, meaner tones and fuzzed out melodics.  Syrupy guitars and deep tissue breakdowns give these guys an edge that other bands just can’t match.  And all of the glorious feedback you could ask for is all here (#3), for those who care to bask in the electric guitar’s goodness.  Swirling guitar lines that transform into dual solos collide with a bulldozer of a rhythm section to create a musical force that can be construed as a surefire sonic hazard.  If you crave it slow, deep and hard, Cavity has got the remedy for you.  (www.hydrahead.com)

Centro-matic • Distance and Clime

Centro-matic has a new country swing to their alternative rock mix, almost making the folksy impression that Weezer may make if backed by David Byrne ("Fountains Of Fire," "Patiently Standing").  Bluesy with a poppy twist, this Denton, Texas quartet’s quirky rock makes its best impression when they use acoustic guitar dynamics to their advantage ("Tundra (Part Seven)," "Tonight Is Not It"), but also stands strong throughout the 15 fuzzed out harmonies and odd time signature tracks ("Truth Flies Out," "Actuator’s Great").  Strong vocals, lead and background, help the choruses lunge out at your ears, a trait that may set Centro-matic to the top of the indie country rock heap.  (www.idol-records.com)

Sunn • Flight of the Behemoth

Southern Lord
51:29.  That’s the running time of Sunn’s latest journey into the abyss.  And, if you enjoy the sounds of airplane engines, massive feedback and have 51:29 to waste, by all means pick this record up.  Otherwise, don’t bother, unless you’re a stickler for CD artwork, which happens to be first rate in this instance, complete with cherubic depictions of century old battle scenes and an actual pill bottle label from Ozzy Osbourne.  If that’s not rock and roll, what is?  Well, not what Sunn put on the disc, that’s for sure, unless you’re a dolphin and can appreciate the cacophonous noise that a machine’s hum makes.  (www.southernlordrecords.com)

Lopez • Lopez

Lopez is a straight up punk rock outfit that plays unrelentlessly fast and are uncharacteristically angry and jaded, which is a pleasure to listen to when considering what gets passed for punk rock these days.  Reminiscent of the late Snot and Amen when it comes to letting it all hang out, Lopez’s balls to the wall assault is apparent on all 15 tracks.  No filler here, or time for mushy love ballads either, as this California quintet take no shit and spit out high octane, back breaking punk rock whose hard living lyrics ("Alcoholic") supplement the moshpit inspiring music quite nicely.  For a swift kick in the ass a la Black Flag and TSOL with a bit of D Generation mixed in, you’d be foolish not to check these guys out.  This is the kind of unhomogonized punk rock that gives the genre back its credibility (or lack thereof).  (www.homestead.com/lopezsux)

Knut • Unititled

Knut’s punishing progressive hardcore sounds are audible via a new four song EP that proves this Swedish quartet to be as brutal as ever.  Jaded melodies and tortured vocals lead the fracas ("Dissolve") as their Helmet meets Dillinger Escape Plan sounds invade your head and take charge of your cerebral cortex.  Angry, bitter and above all crushing ("You Deserve Me"), if this EP is indicative of the onslaught the new full length will render, shudder to think of the consequences.  (www.hydrahead.com)

Dream Theater • Six Degrees of Inner Turbulence

Elektra Records
Dream Theater is by far the premiere progressive metal band on this Earth.  So, of course, in their usual grandiose form, they have to raise the musical bar in their never ending commitment to musical excellence and release a six song, near 100 minute opus.  What makes Dream Theater such a rabidly followed outfit is not only their supreme musical talent, but also their versatility.  They know the right time to amaze the masses with incredible solos as well as when to hold it all down with churning, chugging riffages.  Dream Theater may scare the casual music fan away with their virtuosity, but the casual music fan probably doesn’t understand that listening to these five men play is akin to watching Jordan play ball.  If you’re looking for something to blow your musical mindset, or if you’re merely looking to be dumbfounded, the new Dream Theater (hell, all of their stuff, for that matter) is just what you need.  (www.dreamtheater.net)

Eternal Elysium • Share

Meteor City
Stoner rock’s notoriety is worldwide, as Japan is firmly represented by a trio known as Eternal Elysium and their latest nine track mission, Share.  Keeping in the spirit of such bands as Deep Purple, Trouble and Monster Magnet, Eternal Elysium’s riffs grind with furious grit ("Schizy") and the rhythms are chunky, complete with a heavy handed backbeat and a hypnotic slow groove, just like founding forefathers such as Blue Cheer and Sabbath showed them ("Love Is All").  Swirling vocals add depth to the tripped out sensation ("Feel The Beat," "Dogma") that these guys showcase.  They even go that extra mile and incorporate a disco beat into their thick mix, making a bonafide buddha booty bonanza in the process ("Movements And Vibes").  Fuzzy, sludgy, and not without a massive space jam to lose your head to ("Waiting For The Sun"), Eternal Elysium have concocted a potent collection of tunes guaranteed to make every time as special as 4:20.  (www.soybean.co.jp/EE)

The Worldwide Tribute to the Real Oi Volume 2

Triple Crown
Roger Miret and Onno Cromag return with a bang, hot on the heels of the success of their first volume of Oi classics performed by some of today’s most world recognizable hardcore and punk acts.  This time around, there may not be the same wealth of well knowns as Volume 1 contained, but the raw energy and sheer force of the music remains intact.  And with entries by such bands as Murphy’s Law, Ignite, Vision, The Bouncing Souls and Onno’s former bandmate Harley Cro Mag as well as Mr. Miret himself fronting outfits that pay homage to the seminal scene that stemmed from England, you not only get a bang for your buck (27 tracks in all!), but also get some seasoned veterans doing their part to bring their influences to the masses.  Add in a handful of excellent underground bands, such as Powerhouse, Second Chance NL and Death Threat who contribute their talents and another smashing success is inevitable.  For those that want to understand where all of the music they love has come from, the second volume perfectly complements the first, and both make for not only a powerful listening experience but for a music history lesson of sorts as well. (www.triplecrownrecords.com)

The Atomic Bitchwax • Spit Blood

Meteor City
Ed Mundell and company return with a holdover release that, like a good candy bar, does the job and tides you over until the big meal.  This seven song selection showcases the dirty guitar and space aged trippiness that you’d expect from a Monster Magnet member’s side project ("Cold Day In Hell"), with more instrumental activity than a Time Life series compilation.  Thick melodies and fat rhythms help The Atomic Bitchwax remain one of the dirtier players in the game today ("Spit Blood").  Jam rock for the stoner in all of us, TAB leaves us tasty morsels of what’s to come from a full length release when the time is right.  (www.meteorcity.com)

Genocide SS • We Are Born of Hate

Relapse Records
Genocide SS take the passion of punk, the dynamics of thrash metal and the violent tendencies of hardcore and come up with 17 tracks of relentlessly angry music.  While the lyrical content is seething with simple messages of hate and despair, the music is just as intense, creating an unsettling listening experience.   Take SOD, Misfits, Hatebreed and Motorhead together and put them into one badass band.  Genocide SS is the name; let the aural beating commence.  (www.relapse.com)

Imagika • And So It Burns

World War III
Imagika is a Bay Area thrash metal outfit whose 13 tracks of double bass drumming ("Atrocity") and Halford-esque vocal shrill fit in the time machine quite nicely.  Rendering memories of Fight, Metal Church and the like, Imagika isn’t bashful about playing unadulterated metal music ("Annihilate").  A heavy handed guitar attack leads the assault ("Hell") while a pounding rhythm section holds it all down.  Imagika isn’t making a major musical breakthrough, but they’ve successfully inserted a standard metal formula that may be a bit dated, yet it really works for this San Francisco quartet.  If you think metal is either dead or has transformed into an MTV fashion thing, no one has told Imagika, and they in turn make Judas Priest and all metalheads around the world proud with riff friendly, falsetto ridden chunks of metallic goodness ("Fade Away").  (www.ww3music.com)

The Scorpion King

Universal Records
In an effort to further cash in on the rock and wrestling connection, the soundtrack to the highly anticipated flick The Scorpion King, featuring The Rock, contains all of the heavy rotated rock bands on your local rock radio station.  Opening with the typically bland Godsmack, you get a good cross section of bands that you’d wish would go away (Creed, Nickelback) and bands you can’t get enough of (System of A Down, Sevendust).  Add to the list a remix from POD, a virtual Papa Roach rewrite from the usually solid Hoobastank, an excellent album cut from Rob Zombie (featuring the illustrious Mr. Osbourne on backups) and the worst cut by far, which appears on seemingly every sampler these days, Coal Chamber’s "Glow," as well as a pull out poster of The Rock and what we’ve got is an unbalanced album that’s a surefire hit in the malls of America.  Hopefully (but doubtful), the movie has more high spots than the lackluster soundtrack.  (www.universalrecords.com)

The Riffs • Dead End Dream

The Riffs have got the punk rock premise down to a science, judging by their 10 track, 30 minute release.  Straightforward rock and roll guitars, drums and bass leave no surprises, nor does the typical punk lyrical content, lamenting over the transition of the scene ("Such A Bore") as well as documenting the hard living and substance abuses of the punk movement ("White Line Kids," "Dead End Dream").  With a Sex Pistols-like swagger and a bounciness to their under-three-minute anthems, The Riffs show the world that they’re a quintet that knows how to shake down the punk scene and produce some catchy tunes that should illicit raised beer mugs and fists across the nations ("Nowhere Left To Go").  (www.tkorecords.com)

Angel Dust • Of Human Bondage

Century Media
Angel Dust is a progressive metal outfit that really knows how to pour on the heavy, unlike many of the aforementioned bands in their genre.  The latest 10 track release from this German quintet is nasty and gritty, encapsulating the prog rock keyboard ("Forever") amongst the Dream Theater-esque guitar riffages ("Inhuman").  Add to the mix a sheer sonic attack that sounds like an angrier version of Deep Purple for the 21st Century, and you’ve got a snarling monster on your hands in the form of Angel Dust.  Imagine Megadeth lined with keyboards ("Unreal Soul") for an idea of what to expect from this outfit that trips the metal fantastic.  (www.centurymedia.com)

High On Fire • Surrounded By Thieves

Relapse Records
High On Fire are a masterful band whose craft of sludgy songwriting and uncanny knack for hammering out a jam from a single riff should have the stoner rock fan in you howling in delight.  This trio has the volume of 20 men, and their blackened mammoth attack is fortified with throaty growls that’d make Lemmy raise his glass ("Hung, Drawn And Quartered") and a plethora of chugging rhythms, volumizing drumming and an overall dense din that shakes you to your soul.  Eight tracks aren’t enough to satisfy the savage beast in you, but that’s unfortunately all you get here, but damn, it’s so worth it.  High On Fire have got the low end covered so well, they’re practically 6 inches away from being dead ("Nemesis").  For fans of doom, thrash and stoner rock, High On Fire provide enough Slayer, Sabbath and St. Vitus like carnage ("Surrounded By Thieves") to make you happy for the entire 40 minutes they rip your face off.  (www.relapse.com)

Next Page
Back to the Winter 2002/03 Index
 Back to the Geoff Wilbur's Renegade Newsletter Homepage