Distorted reviews - 21/08/02.
Various - Punkzilla: The Compilation (Nitro)
If you like your punk poppy and smart and full of 'ooowwww's and 'aaawwww's then this is the boy for you. A mixer CD from those nice people at Nitro so you can sample the talent they have on offer and decide what to spend your money on. Featuring old favourites like The Offspring, T.S.O.L. and The Damned alongside new signings like Original Sinners this is a pretty good collection as mixer CDs go. The Offspring tracks are from years back (the self titled album) and don't really stand up too well when placed alongside newer material by the likes of Bodyjar and Rufio.
There's a bit of something for everyone here though, but it was really the A.F.I. tracks ('Dream of Waking' and 'The days of the Phoenix' bookend the collection, while 'Wester' makes an appearance halfway through), the Bodyjar and Divit tracks and 'Still', by new signings Rufio that did it for me. The Vandals tracks are typical of their joking, good natured style but Guttermouth's contribution, 'Hit machine', would have been better off left on the chopping room floor.
Superjoint Ritual - Use once and destroy (Metal-is Records)
You could call this moody, but the mood would have to be all anger and frustration, as evidenced by Anselmo's growled threat of "you're fucking dead" on 'Stupid, stupid man'. You could also call this atmospheric, there is an atmosphere in a morgue after a ten-car pileup and suicide bombing, isn't there? You could call this lots of things, but lets be honest and call it Pantera Mark-2. Wait! Can anyone else hear them hammering the nails into nu-metals coffin? Thought so.
A few years ago you would have been laughed at for believing in Phil Anselmo's alleged, plethora of side projects. This was of course at a time when Pantera themselves were hardly releasing anything. 2002 has been a great year for loyal Phil fans though, we've hardly made ourselves presentable again after being aurally raped by the Down album when we get Superjoint Ritual dropped on us. Slugdgey, groove laden, lead heavy riffs and beats resound throughout, especially on 'The Alcholik' and 'It takes no guts'.
Anselmo's voice is rawer than usual, you can almost hear his throat bleeding as he growls his way through standout track 'Ozena'. 'Everyone hates everyone' sounds like Far Beyond Driven-era Pantera being kicked firmly in the teeth. 'All of our lives will get tried' and 'Antifaith' rage around like the bastards they are, kicking up dirt and digging their teeth in anywhere they can get a decent hold. The ferocious intensity builds until everything cumulates in the slow, brooding, freaking, burned-out monster of a title track. This is the sound of Anselmo crawling, dying through a graveyard, while Eyehategod rot in the freshly dug graves. Beware. This is brutal.
The Berzerker - Dissimulate (Earache)
Earache are renowned for putting out extreme metal without compromise, but this is taking brutality to a whole new level. Australia's Berzerker have been pushing the extreme envelope since their inception and with 'Dissimulate' have released a milestone for the genre. Blending complex serrated guitars, samples and powerhouse speed drumming they launch an uncompromising assault on your ears. The result of listening to this? Totally annihilation and an inability to think straight for about half an hour afterwards.
'The principles and practices of embalming' sounds like what the Resident Evil movie will hopefully look like. I know it probably won't be anywhere near as devastating as this display of Death Metal, corpse-grinding action and mind-bending drumming but, well, we can hope, can't we? 'No one wins' is ridiculously loud. This is the sort of sound bands like Cannibal Corpse wish they could achieve. It spins around on a non-stop double bass drum blast beat designed to level cities. Unbelievably it's under two minutes long. 'Last mistake' is deceptively slow on opening before exploding in a twisted verse and driving chorus.
The samples that are used as introductions on most of the fourteen tracks are excellently placed and really set the tone of what's to come. It's rare to have spoken word samples that match up perfectly but come on, "Patiently the vultures wait for the inspection to finish so that they can begin their own" at the start of 'Failure' or "It is dawn. The moment of uneasy slumber when dream becomes confused with reality" before 'Painless'.
If you're a fan of extreme metal at all, get this. It's got to be the fastest, sickest thing you're going to hear this year. Describing it is useless. To even attempt to comprehend what this is like at all you're going to have to listen to it yourself. Imagine something out of a HR Giger painting coming at you in a mortuary. Blood spattered on the walls. Smoke everywhere. Claws clicking on the tiles.
Various - Punk-o-rama 7 (Epitaph)
The seventh title in Epitaph's compilation CD series pulls out all the stops in its bid to be something special and reads like a who's who of the punk genre as it stands at the moment. Featuring such long-standing, respected members of the punk/hardcore community as NOFX, Bad Religion, Agnostic Front and Pennywise alongside the likes of Guttermouth, Hot Water Music and Millencolin, it's all here. This is the stronger of the two punk compilations out this month so, if you're unsure of which one to go for, then pick this up. Epitaph always had the better bands anyway.
They've also more than covered every aspect of the wide variety of styles on their roster as well. The comedy rock of Guttermouth, with a track from their forthcoming "Gusto" album. The Irish-influenced punk of Flogging Molly and Dropkick Murphys. Agnostic Front's 'Love to be hated' is all growls and aggression, sitting easily alongside 'Bob' by Rancid, a band I never really liked but who sound well here. Millencolin's 'Fingers crossed' is perfect in its execution. A great punk rock song. Pure, simple and catchy with a great chorus. Division of Lara Lee, on the other hand, sound like a lively Black Rebel Motorcycle Club. If NOFX's truly honest love for the music that's spread all over 'Olympia, WA' doesn't convince you how diverse and great punk rock is, then go get a soul. Pulley sum it all up when they sing, "take it to the grave with me/ this music still lives on".
Hermano - ...only a suggestion (Tee Pee)
John Garcia is revered as a God by all those people who adore burned out grooves. Why? Because he basically invented stoner rock with Kyuss, before going on to add levels to the genre with Unida and Sol Burn. Here he is again, with another group and legendary producer/session musician Dandy Brown in tow, throwing out his desert sun vocals over eight tracks of infectious, hypnotising riffs. Hermano are like Kyuss at their best.
Opener 'The Bottle' rides along on a massive guitar line that's very reminiscent of Monster Magnet's Powertip period, while 'Alone Jeffe' comes across like Queens Of The Stone Age. It's not hard to hear these other bands in Hermano's sound since Kyuss spearheaded the genre, but like all his other groups, Garcia manages to push ahead of the crowd. The only slip up is the interlude 'Senor Moreno's Introduction' because it really breaks the flow. Without it "...suggestion" probably wouldn't be classed as an album (remember there are only eight songs on here), but that's no excuse to let standards slip. If you're a fan of Garcia then you'll know the score already, just don't expect any style changes. Hermano are nothing new but they should serve to keep stoner fans happy, at least until the Queens release their new album later this year. Enjoy.
Glassjaw - Worship and Tribute (Warner)
They call this emo? That's a tad harsh - its hardly Jimmy Eat World territory. No, this is more like At The Drive In beating the crap out of the Deftones - it's fierce, vicious and terrifyingly focused. It's angry, sharp and red. This is how the Lostprophets think they sound. But that's enough of comparisons for now, Glassjaw deserve much more than that.
The warning shot that is album-opener 'Tip Your Bartender' lets the listener know that he's dealing with a cornered animal here, one that just broke out of its chains. Subsequent tracks, such as 'Mu empire' and 'Pink roses' follow the creature as it tears across the land wreaking havoc with scattershot riffing and strained vocals. The beast lays waste to all around it throughout 'Radio Cambodia' and closer 'Two tabs of mescaline', as the guitars sound ever more urgent and devastating and the drum patterns are bent ever further out of shape.
It's only on the relatively delicate numbers such as 'Must've run all day' and 'Trailer park Jesus' that we see the animal in front of us is human. Catchy choruses and atmospheric sounds remind the beast of its roots and it reigns in its savagery for a while before once again unleashing its fury.
The beauty of 'Worship and tribute' is that it's an album made by people at the limit of their acceptance. If we're prepared to follow the trail of destruction, we're going to be in for some spectacular views along the way. If you're not afraid to see something of the dark side of human nature, then this album could prove a rewarding listen. It's only real fault is that it's not exactly universal - some will find its hardcore elements a little overpowering. Let Glassjaw shape your anger.
Sinch - Sinch (Roadrunner)
I believe that comparisons can be useful for a reviewer. It can be difficult to get across exactly how a piece of music sounds without them and sometimes one group sounds so like another that the similarity becomes their only point of interest. For instance, Pearl Jam and their high profile tribute band, Creed. However, I can't agree with Sinch being compared to Tool. Firstly, it's unfair, and secondly, it's just lazy.
Sinch have a lot more to offer than the regurgitated prog-metal of, say, Miocene. There is colour here, a veritable rainbow of sounds and emotions. Before us they have set the flowing grey introversion of '433 (hypothetical situation)', alongside the faring red paranoia of 'Tabula Rasa'. 'Passive Resistor' is steely and nervous, pounding in a black void. 'Seven' screams to the orange heavens like a bolt of fire. This is an album of scope and depth dealing successfully with a variety of moods from anger to fear.
At times, the band seems to lack direction and the moody low end of the guitars can get a little oppressive. The songs are occasionally too long and sometimes lose their edge towards the end. Both 'The Silent acquiescence of millions' and 'Armslength' sound somewhat superfluous. Although this album could have benefited from more ruthless editing, it's sufficiently inventive and purposeful to deserve attention on its own terms rather than as a second hand Tool. Anyone with doubts should listen to 'Bitmap' to allay their fears. Finally, to put this into perspective, it's better than "Opiate".
Linkin Park - Reanimation (Warner)
The first problem with this is that it is being offered to fans within a timescale when a new album should have been possible. It's creatively lazy and arrogant, regardless of the amount of actual work that went into it. One wonders whether in fact the making of this album was governed by the Almighty Record Company. If the band themselves thought it was a good idea, then one worries over their judgement for when the time comes to record some original work.
To think that after one successful album you have earned the right to put out a piece of manipulative crap like this is insulting, as well as a waste of creative energy, both on the part of the band and of those they roped into contributing to this recycling of already sub-standard material. Clearly Linkin Park are not expecting a long and fruitful career if they are cashing in on their somewhat puzzling success in this manner. Or maybe they are just trying to buy themselves some time? Either way, this is about as low as it gets.
Secondly, this is a most hypocritical release. In recent interviews, the band has bemoaned the state of the music industry in typically uninsightful fashion. This stance does not prevent them from playing the business game far more cynically than most veterans. Clearly our money has not made them rich enough yet. They want more and they just haven't done enough to deserve it. It seems they are relying on the fact that most of their fans are too young to notice they are being ripped off and this is just wrong.
So this is crass, meaningless and insulting. Even if the "reanimations" were of high quality - and most of them are cut and paste hiphop plastic surgery - this would still be the worst album in the world. Buy this and be branded a moronic sheep forever.
Finally, as every review needs some positive points, I will point out that 'KRWLNG', with Aaron Lewis of Staind, actually works as a reinterpretation, as he stamps his trademark inward-looking misery all over it. One in twenty is a failing grade in any examination system.
If you love Linkin Park that much, just mail them a fiver. Believe me you'll be better off in the long run.