Burnt by the SunBurnt by the Sun
The Perfect is the Enemy of the Good
Relapse Records (2003)

Every 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.

I 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.

If 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.

-Roy Doron

Dimmu BorgirDimmu Borgir
Death Cult Armageddon

Nuclear Blast Records (2003)

Death 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.

Anything 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:

If you’re scratching your head instead of banging your head, it’s not Metal.

Hoards 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 dude.

-Beky Hayes

Little Killers Little Killers

Crypt Records (2003)

Tim 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.

Returning 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.

The 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.

-Dave Roybal

Lowfreq Lowfreq
If This Is The Best You Got...We Want Our Money Back

Small Unmarked Bills Records (2003)

Hailing 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 "slightly."

Unlike 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 Supersuckers).

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!

-Slander Bob

Lower Class BratsLower Class Brats
A Class of Our Own

Punk Core Records (2003)

“I 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.

Punk 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.

Despite 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.

-Trevor Wallace

The Movies
In One Era Out the Other

Glen Blandsten Records (2002)

The 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 musicians.

Technically 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.

I 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 grow musically.

-Misty Sweet

Hell And High Water

Small Stone Records (2003)

It 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 it.

I’ve 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.

My 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.

– Tammy Moore


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