by the Sun
Perfect is the Enemy of the Good
Relapse Records (2003)
so often a band comes along that is a true genre bender. Relapse’s
Burnt by the Sun are such an act. Their sophomore release,
“The Perfect is the Enemy of the Good” is one
of those albums that have mass appeal. Steeped in the hardcore
tradition, but borrowing heavily from metal, punk and hard
rock, this New Jersey quintet sounds is the sonic equivalent
of a twelve round no holds barred fight. This little piece
just doesn’t let up.
do have a few gripes with this album. First, the production
values could be better. Some of the bass lines are completely
blown out, even on a really good sound system. But that is
a minor problem. The major annoyance here is the forty minute
end track. It is basically a continuous beep from a disconnected
phone line or something. It just goes on and on. Why do bands
feel the need to annoy like that? But these are small nitpickings
and are overshadowed by the pure energy here. It’s a
very draining listen. And I mean that in the best possible
way. The first four tracks are unrelentingly brutal, and just
when you think they’re letting up a bit they hit you
with another wave of aggression. “Pentagons and Pentagrams”,
the last track before the annoying forty minutes has some
of the best guitar work on the album, and it is all good.
you like hardcore or newer American metal, like Shadows Fall,
you must listen to these guys. And if you don’t, you
should still give them a try.
Death Cult Armageddon
Nuclear Blast Records (2003)
Cult Armageddon is the hysterical new release from Norway’s
Dimmu Borgir, described in their press release as "the
most prominent and important Melodic Black Metal act around
the globe." Venturing to discover what makes them so
important, I found (1) a hefty investment in corpse/kink/fantasy
imagery; (2) a great packaged look: six black-leather-clad
dudes in Halloween makeup and spiked shin guards that upstage
Godzilla; (3) enough silly, over-hyped PR to stuff a jumbo
codpiece. In their quest for the satanic metal crown, it seems
there is one important detail they’ve mangled: the music.
remotely anti-christ is OK by me. But listening to this hyper-processed,
synthesized soup felt like being spun in a washing machine
with a box of ball bearings while every Star Wars soundtrack
played simultaneously. Some parts are recognizable as good
music, like the magical passages executed by the Prague Symphony
Orchestra. But where is the "black" and where is
the "metal"? This sounds about as satanic as Walt
Disney. With horribly awkward phrasing, a golem voice spits
out the lyrics, which strive for mystical satanic significance
but amount to barely-poetic nonsense. I don’t get it!
Could it be a translation thing? An earnest search for meaning
in this madness led to a website interview with vocalist Shagrath.
He skirted the questions like a politician, repeating his
official position ("we are black metal, we are a satanic
band") while providing no actual answers or insight.
Guess you have to find your own answers. Here’s mine:
you’re scratching your head instead of banging your
head, it’s not Metal.
of ripping Metal bands drift in the sea of obscurity, while
another over-produced, over-rated CD is heavily promoted.
It’s just one more drop in my ever-swelling bucket of
disgust with the music industry. If Death Cult is what sells,
I am surely lost in Necropolis. My confounded congratulations
to Dimmu Borgir for their success. Isn’t it good, Norwegian
Crypt Records (2003)
Warren is back working his Crypt records magic for NYC's Little
Killers after a five year hiatus from releasing any albums
by new bands. The label brought the Lester Bangs' penned phrase
"garage rock" back into the lexicon of new vinyl
lovers over ten years ago when Warren resurrected some of
the rawest bands from rock's golden age with his Back From
the Grave compilations. Crypt is also infamous for releasing
pivotal albums by modern day garage culprits including the
Oblivians, Billy Childish, Blues Explosion!, The Gories, and
The Devil Dogs.
to the game at a time when the term garage rock is the new
"alternative", it's nice to hear a band from a label
that still knows what it takes to rock. The sexually integrated
trio's self-titled debut is crammed full of stripped down
hard driving rhythm n' blues based rock that leaves room for
harmonica, tambourine and maracas to ride along comfortably.
Up front on Fender Telecaster is Andy, whose twangy, untamed
leads and Mike Ness style vocals define the disc, while Kari
and Sara provide backup vocals along with their low-end pummeling.
opening track "Volume" sets the tone for the rest
of the album, but they never lose sight of the groove when
they turn it up to eleven. "Happy", "Butterfingers"
and "How Do You Do It?" will have you shaking out
of control as you destroy your White Stripes CDs. But as much
as Crypt would have you believe that this disc stands up next
to debut releases from the New York Dolls, the Saints, and
the Real Kids, it's really just a welcome addition to the
Crypt records' family tree.
If This Is The Best You Got...We Want Our Money Back
Small Unmarked Bills Records (2003)
from St. Louis, Lowfreq kick out fucking jams with a 10 song
album that has been spinning my CD player for the last couple
days. These guys deliver straight ahead no holds bared rock
n’ roll with a bit of slight metal edge. I emphasize
the majority of bands doing the same thing, Lowfreq mix it
up quite bit with great riffs and rocking hooks. Throw in
some slide guitar and one hell of harmonica solo plus super
quick dead on tunes (not one song on this album clocks over
four minutes) and you've got one hell of a rock n’ roll
record. If that weren't enough, they got Rick Simms, one of
my favorite guitar players who has been in some great bands
as well (Didjits, Gaza
Strippers, Lee Harvey Oswald band, and a short run with the
record sounds great and there’s not a bad track on it.
I'm interested to see these guys live. Rumor has it they will
be making and appearance at the Room 710 on Oct 18th with
the Spiders. I say check it out!
A Class of Our Own
Punk Core Records (2003)
am the golden boy/I will search and destroy,” growls
Bones DeLarge in the opening track of the Brats newest release
on New York’s Punk Core label. A lot can be read into
those two lines – they basically convey the message
of the band as a whole in the most succinct terms possible.
Not content with their assigned lot in life, the Lower Class
Brats seem content, nay delighted, to head-butt any conventional
beliefs and viewpoints into the gutter from which they themselves
have just crawled.
may be approaching middle age, but it still serves the same
purpose it always has: kick ego-bloated mainstream rock squarely
in the balls and cut its hair while it’s down. This
the Lower Class brats do with aplomb and a buzz saw guitar.
And even a hint of conscience. Behind the consumer nihilism
of Barbie Dolls (“Tear – Tear the heads/Tear the
heads off Barbie Dolls”) is a condemnation of this country’s
unrealistic image of women.
relying on the standard punk rock vocal/guitar/bass/drums
format, the Brats have actually managed to produce a record
that, while not necessarily breaking new ground sounds fresh
and in no way generic. In an ocean of faceless 3-chord wonders,
the Lower Class Brats have taken the next step and struggled
onto the beach.
In One Era Out the Other
Glen Blandsten Records (2002)
Movies gives America the answer to pizzazz-less Pulp. Who
was asking for it, though? Don’t get me wrong this CD
is commendable, but when you lack originality, you lack zip.
Lead singer, Timothy James, sounded like he was trying too
hard to sound like Jarvis Cocker, the lead singer of the British
pop band Pulp. The music- slow, mellow, and tender, lacked
catchiness, so it merely came off as dismal and wearisome.
That’s disappointing because these guys are terrific
they get it right, but as far as emotionally I think they
might have a thing or two to learn. This band needs to work
on putting more heart and soul into their work. Musicians
should never try hard to emulate another musicians work. Instead
create something born of inspiration and influence. Learn
from others, but don’t take their style and run with
it. Chance are it will sound so weak compared to the original.
Your own style would have been so much better.
would really like to see this band make more meaningful music.
The one exception, “Autograph,” sounds like the
band enjoyed making this song. James sings the song with a
more upbeat attitude and original sounding voice. Too bad
it was probably the shortest song on the album. They should
strive to put as much energy and emotion into all of their
songs. I am waiting for their next album and hoping they can
Hell And High Water
Small Stone Records (2003)
seems it’s time to make way for yet another southern-tinged
hard rock band. Great. That is not to say that South Carolina
based Throttlerod aren’t proficient at what they do
because they are. If ‘70‘s blues based rock meets
Van Halen on the way to visit old Metallica down at the arena’
is the sound this band is going for then they have nailed
got two problems here though. The first is that in order to
effectively mesh sounds like that together a certain amount
of innovation is required in the structure of the songs in
order to stand out from the recent crop of Deep South spirited
bands that are springing up everywhere. But I hear little
of that and so the material too easily sounds dated. Unfortunately,
that is the danger of that particular genre of rock in general.
There are enough fragments of the sound Throttlerod is reaching
for to be able to discern it, but they haven’t quite
mastered the art here.
other issue lies in the fact that any music influenced by
Lynyrd Skynyrd, and this obviously is, cannot lack for soul
and any heartfelt emotional highs or lows have been lost in
the translation on Hell and High Water. This is a good time
party band but the record belies the potential here. These
boys can play their instruments and the singer hits his mark
but my instincts say that your money is probably better spent
on catching a live performance by Throttlerod.