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Album Cover MX - Take Me to Your Leader (Radical Inc)

This CD contains all the elements of an absolute piece of crap. Firstly, it's a concept album with a very dreadful concept. MX is a group of superhero musician and the CD comes complete with an awful comic book. The artwork on the sleeve looks good at first until you realise that it is not HR Geiger's work, as it seems at first, but a cheap rip-off.

The first two tracks back up the original impression: they're atrocious. The sound of a poodle metal band trying to be a bit alternative. 'Hooligan's Holiday' by Motley Crue springs to mind. This is the kind of stuff that puts a CD on the fast track to the dustbin.

A little patience and persistence pays off 'though, when out of nowhere comes the amazing 'Raping the Free World' with its lush strings and a powerful vocal performance that's part Cat Stevens, part Jethro Tull and part Soul Asylum.

Unfortunately, the elation does not last long as two more dreadful pop-metal tracks follow, Motley Crue at their most tacky playing Queensryche style pomp-metal. Then, boom, there's the soft and lush nostalgia of '20.2.4' to surprise you again, almost making you forget the awfulness of the previous trash. However, 'Blackbird' and 'Joule' ruin that, they're so bad they could have been on Alice Cooper's aptly named "Trash".

Then comes 'Political Asylum', which is actually a jewel. Melodic, with more strings and a beautifully clear acoustic guitar and a vocal performance that's Cat Stevens after a night on the tiles (though, he doesn't do that anymore, does he?)

Back to the grind with the attempt at chaotic, punky grunge that is 'Purgatory' - basically a horrible mess. That's followed by the awful pop metal 'Strike' that is not salvaged by the Doors-esque keyboards.

Finally, we have the lightweight, but listenable, 'Never Straight', an acoustic track that's kinda Alice in Chains on Smarties. There's a very weird symmetry on this, only every third track is in any way good. At a third of the album, that's not a very good percentage. It's like the average soundtrack compilation that contains a few gems mixed in with the dross.

On the other hand, there are some very disturbing rumours flying around that pop-metal is going to make a comeback. If that's the case, then these guys are in with a chance of making it big and I'll just go hide for a year or so.

by Donnacha DeLong.