Distorted reviews - 28/09/02.
Nerf Herder - American Cheese (Honest Don's Records)
Those who watch Buffy the Vampire Slayer will be familiar with the name Nerf Herder, as it is this bunch of geeks who supply the theme music for the show. (No, I don't watch it, 'er indoors does, so I couldn't possibly tell you what's happening with Buffy's vampire on/off lover Spike or the white witch/turned bitch Willow or Buffy's kleptomaniac little sister Dawn or any of that lotů cough).
Quickly moving on, this is the third album from Nerf Herder, who take their name from a line in "The Empire Strikes Back", and they are still as nerdy as ever. Opener 'Welcome to my world' kicks starts us in fine style, with vocalist/guitarist Perry Gripp informing us that "this old shirt is starting to stink/I don't give a damn what people think/I can take a leak in the kitchen sink/welcome to my world". So he's a student, then.
Musically they come across as first record Weezer, before they began taking themselves too seriously. Each track here is a joy to listen to, from 'High five anxiety' to the ultimate homage to 'Mr Spock' to the comfort of 'Cashmere' to the hilarious glam metal wannabes of 'Defending the faith', all ludicrously catchy and exceptionally good. If, like me, you were disappointed with the last Weezer release and are looking for a band who'll put a smile on your face every time you listen to them, then Nerf Herder are the geeks for you.
Ritual Carnage - The Birth Of Tragedy (Osmose Records)
To continue my rant about thrash metal, it seems that, as classic '80's bands Heathen, Exodus, Nasty Savage and Dark (fuckin') Angel are reforming and recording new material, there are newer bands out there keeping the spirit of thrash alive and, well, and Ritual Carnage are one such band.
With American and Japanese members sharing a love of all things "Frash", it's uncanny, though hardly surprising, just how eighties this album sounds. Where most modern thrash bands sound 21st century metal, no matter where and how they record, believe me when I say you will not believe your ears when you hear 'The birth of tragedy'. Kreator-wannabe's; get over to Japan for your next record. 'Burning eyes of rage', 'Fall of the empire', 'Shroud of secrecy', this is solidly played thrash metal by a band who've ignored the nu-mainstream and have stuck admirably with their guns. And with a rather cool cover of Death's 'Infernal death' thrown in to the mix in memory of the late Chuck Schuldiner, you can't go wrong, can you? This is the album Wargasm never released, the record Atrophy wished they made. (Er, anyone over 25 reading this or am I showing my age here?)
Brinskill Bomb-Beat - Catastraphobia EP (Blacklisted 365 Music)
Irish lunatics, Brinskill Bomb-Beat, have a sound that would let them sit nicely in either Sordid or here in Distorted. They mix trash, metal guitars and harsh vocals perfectly with blippy keyboards and occasionally excellent piano pieces, all topped off by a powerful rhythm section. Their downfall, though, is the poor production. The songs just aren't given the space to explode like they do when the band plays live. 'Catastraphobia' is a good song but it really suffers here because of the recording. The keyboards and guitars lack that edge, that certain ummph that kicks in on a great recording, while the vocals tend to get buried.
Vocalist Plop just isn't given enough room to breath in the claustrophobic surroundings that encase him. 'Evil within' is dancier, while 'Hell' is a haunting number that slides along gently before the chorus really kicks things into overdrive. All in all, it's a good effort, but I just feel they've been badly let down in the production end of things. That's not to say it doesn't have it's moments, 'Hell within' is a song that really deserves to be heard by everyone, but anyone who's seen them live will know they can sound much better. Hopefully, someday, they'll manage to put that experience across on record.
The Dillinger Escape Plan - Irony is a dead scene EP (Epitaph)
This hasn't left my discman since it arrived in the post and that says a lot. The Dillinger Escape Plan have always been known as noisy motherfuckers, but here, thanks to Mike Patton (Faith No More, Tomahawk, Mr Bungle) on guest vocals, they've torn up the rule book, shat on it and posted it to the author with a note attached saying how things have just been taken to a new level of extreme and they're not ever coming back.
The brutally destructive 'Hollywood squares' opens proceedings by spiting and stomping all over your ears. The guitars serrate and burn, while Patton rages over the top. Listen to the bass running from speaker to speaker like a mad man trying to escape an asylum as Patton whispers psychotically in the background. 'Pig Latin' is Faith No More on PCP. The chorus is a crazy mix of rants and sounds, all wrenched from Patton's suffering throat. The drums sound like they could be from a death metal album. The guitar is a buzzsaw, which leads the whole affair into the open for a deep-throated mid-section. Then it goes ape shit again. It's impossible to pin down.
"I'm the best you'll ever have", gloats Patton on 'When good dogs do bad things', the best track here, but also the most unlistenable. However this ungodly union came about is beyond me, but Mike Patton and Dillinger Escape Plan work perfectly together. This is wet dream material for the noise freaks, and then to top it all off there's a cover of the Aphex Twin's 'Come to daddy'.
You need this CD.
Disturbed - Believe (Reprise)
Disturbed sound American. They sound like Staind and Godsmack. That's usually enough to scare most people away, but, if you're still here, then understand this. Disturbed are trying to become Tool. There are moments, especially on tracks like 'Awaken', when the bass throbs tribally as it does on "Lateralus". The drums sometimes display that same quality and, at times, there's almost a touch of Maynard James Keenan in frontman David Drainman's vocals. It happens again on 'Believe', though that's probably more like A Perfect Circle, and at numerous other points throughout the album.
As for the rest of it, it's not terrible but it's not great. It's listenable. I just wouldn't rush out to buy it that's all. 'Liberate' and 'Awaken' are both cast from the same mould that created Disturbed's debut a few years ago. Closing number 'Darkness' is a melancholic piece in which Drainman's vocal style is complemented by skeletal piano, cello and guitar accompaniment. No problems there except Dry Kill Logic did the exact same thing on their album last year. It seems selling two million copies of your debut makes you a little scared to try new things without seeing how it works for everyone else first.
They do manage to stay ahead of the pack of nu-metal kids falling all over themselves to get a to your stereo, but that's hardly an achievement when you consider that anyone with a piercing, a guitar and a goatee has now sold a million records in the states. My advice, go and buy Soil's album instead. It's in the same vein, but it's much better.
Cradle Of Filth - Live Bait For The Dead (Snapper Music)
Okay. I'm going to put my integrity on the line here and say that I like this. STOP SNIGGERING!!!, it's good. I don't understand why people have a problem with Cradle of Filth. Well, maybe I do actually, but let's forget about all of that right now and accept this for what it is, an excellent live performance captured in perfection. From the opening onslaught of the mighty 'Lord Abortion' through into 'Ebony dressed for sunset', 'Dusk and her embrace', 'Her ghost in the fog' and onto album/performance closer 'Queen of winter throned', it never releases its white-knuckle grip on you.
Dani's vocals are perfect, an achievement in itself considering the range of voices he pulls from himself. The drumming is outstanding. It pummels you into submission; your ears (and the neighbours) are left begging you to turn the volume down. The guitars twist and screech at breakneck speed from the outset, while underneath the keyboards paint a haunted picture. This Cradle of Filth at their best. Not just their live best, but their very best.
As a band, they have often been criticised for their poor live performances, but, on the evidence presented here, it's hard to find any such fault. 'Dusk and her embrace' opens like a high-speed train crash, set off by the crystal clear guitar work and harsh screech, complements of Dani Filth of course. Yeah, it's overblown and melodramatic, but that's what makes Cradle great and that's exactly what they do best. Hearing Dani introduce each song in his gruff voice is reason enough to buy this ("This song is entitled 'Arrgh... ratta ratta... UUUURGH'"). Excellent stuff.
'From the cradle to enslave' begins with an eerie, cheesy keyboard line, before the bass rumbles in majestically. Then it all goes crazy for the chorus. Huge crashing chords, overblown drumming, lightening quick riffing. 'Queen of winter throned' is another slab of heavy, coiling Goth metal captured perfectly, but it's the middle section of 'Cruelty brought thee orchids' followed by the immense 'Her ghost in the fog' that steals the show. 'Cruelty... ' sounds better here than it does on the album, Dani even manages to hit every growl and screech note perfect. The driving guitar and keyboard laden mid-section making this the best song Cradle have ever recorded, in any form. 'Her ghost in the fog' wrestles to outdo it, but it just can't. Still, it's so epic and overblown that it's magnificent. There's no other way to put it. Cradle of Filth just have such huge over-powering songs. If you have even a passing interest in this band then get this.