'ZINE REVIEWS

THE FOLLOWING IS A COLLECTION OF SHORT ALBUM REVIEWS THAT I HAVE WRITTEN FOR SUCH PRINT PUBLICATIONS AS YRB (YELLOW RAT BASTARD), CAUSTIC TRUTHS, CITIZINE, CALIFORNIA POP, DIRT CULTURE, NEW YORK WASTE, RANT, WILSHIRE GAZETTE, SNAGGLETOOTH, SPARK AND READ. THEY ARE IN ALPHABETICAL ORDER BY BAND NAME. FEEL FREE TO ENJOY IF YOU HAVE THAT KIND OF FREE TIME!

Band: 30 Years War
Album: Under The Gun EP
Label: Substandard

I'm 30 years old, and I too feel like I've been a war for my entire life. A war against TERRORISM!!! 30 Years War agree with me, playing hardcore punk and screaming. Santa Cruz, CA is their name and being under the gun is their game. All of their songs are under three minutes, whip up pounding and speed with a loud, exciting two-guitar assault and cry out for a better world. This is punk-derived, but the guitarists are pretty talented guys and chunka-chunka like a metal band a lot. And here's the singer: "AAAAAAAAAAAHHHHHHHHHH!"

Band: 40 Below Summer
Album: The Mourning After
Label: Razor & Tie

Nu-metal band 40 Below Summer is back with an album that they insist has "elements of nu-metal, elements of old school metal, elements of hardcore and straight-up rock and folk and even some jazz and funk." And for once, I'll agree. There are some terrific quieter, more suspenseful chorus-laden "clean" guitar lines on here that'll send shivers down a man's spinebone (to his ASS! HEEEHHEE!). Plus, even the loud distorted blasts of guitar generally play a creepy turn of chordness with more in common with Alice In Chains than Korn. There sure are some generic two-chords-and-yelling parts though, and my main man, that's nu-metal. And that's why nu-metal xuckx so bad. But hey - to be fair, they never CLAIMED to not at ALL be nu-metal. They're just (rightly) eager to prove that they're more diverse than your average everyday modern metal radio band. And they are! There's even a power ballad or two on here! Could this be the beginning of the end of the Zionist One-World Government?

Band: 46 Short
Album: Just A Liability
Label: GoKart

Speedy speedy speedy they go! From hardcore's heartland (Los Angeles), these rip-roaring speed demons (46 Short) play hardcore punk rock the way its founders (Bad Brains, Black Flag, Minor Threat) intended. God -- I honestly really like this CD. It's angry. But Catchy! And the singer has kind of a slightly sneering vocal approach, as well as a great screaming youth shout. And he's Angry! Not Wimpy! Nothing about girls! Just anger and disilluion! No ska! NO FUCKING SKA!!!! FUCK YOU AND YOUR FUCKING SKA!!!! THIS MUSIC IS MAKING ME SLAM DANCE!!!! I'M SLAM DANCING ALL OVER YOU WITH MY HARDCORE PUNK ROCK RECORD REVIEW!!!! FUCK YEAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAR.

It's a fuck year. No, hang on! LEAP year. That's what I meant. So if you're sick of assholes with their shittyass asspunk music, get back to where you once belonged with a politically whiny and socially bitchy young band of loud fast chord players named 46 Short.

46 Short? Wait a minute! I just REVIEWED a band named 46 Short! I guess they'll have to change their name.

Band: 1208
Album: Turn Of The Screw
Label: Epitaph

Nobody has ever written me a postcard explaining why, but the "minor chord" evokes feelings of sadness, angst, confusion and pain. It's a very emotional style of playing that has nothing in common with the happy, cheerful sound of big corporation major chords. 1208 know all about minor chords, and they're going to make sure that their guitars' emotions affect your soul's emotions with an emotional form of punk rock that can only be called "emot." This "emot" punk rock band features Greg Ginn's nephew Alex Flynn on lead vocals, as he will be reminded by every 1208 record review he reads for the next ten years. They don't depart terribly from the general Epitaph slicked-up punk rock sound, but then neither do Bad Religion and they sell millions of albums so who's running this show? God? Hardly. Why would he support a band called "Bad Religion"? Think these things through before you read them.

This is 1208's second album, by the way, and they are a three-piece from California. And not to "bust anyone's balls," but as a professional writing guru, I have to call attention to this description in Epitaph's pitch letter: "Pumping out music with an edge and intensity sorely lacking in the genre these days.." What genre are they talking about here? Mm-hmm. And what genre does Epitaph specialize in? Mm-hmm. So then what are they saying about all the other interchangeable shit they release?

Band: A Small Victory
Album: The Pieces We Keep EP
Label: Lobster

The world feels emoey, and A Small Victory is the result. Ringing midtempo punk rock chords of emotion merge with melodic notes of feeling and heartfelt vocals imparting youthful pain like "I'm not certain that I can take on this world without you" and "I remember that new morning when the sun never came up. I remember that look in your eyes" and TOO MUCH ROMANTIC PAIN FOR ONE MAN TO BEAR. If you like to cry, you "can't lose" with A Small "Victory." (do you get my hilarious joke!?!?!?!?) Very solid emo-punk.

Band: A Trunk Full Of Dead Bodies
Album: My Smile, Her Corpse EP
Label: Dressed To Kill

Now THIS is a weird band. Look at the band's name and album title. Then check out the bloody cover art and sickening murder-obsessed lyrics ("I hear your crying through the tape/Blood rolls down your face and your eyes are saying goodbye"). Finally, expectations set, put the CD in the player. IT' S EMO!!!!!!!!! The melodies, the instrumentation, the way the guy sings - they sound like they're playing songs about losing girlfriends and pursuing unrequited love, but it's MURDER music!!!! Admittedly, the singer shrieks insanely a few times (in his less inspired moments), but most of this music is FAR too sensitive-girl-and-nice-guy-sounding for anyone to ever suspect that he's actually singing, "Rope burns callus on my neck and deeper in my wrists, as you hang above the light switch on my wall." These guys are MUCKED!!!! Mucked in the ABB!!!!

Band: A18
Album: foreverafternothing
Label: Victory

As far back as I can remember (high school - before that, it's all a blur), I've gone through these awful, lengthy periods during which I get a headache at the drop of a pen - to the point where I honestly cannot imagine EVER being able to enjoy loud, aggressive music again. These periods generally last a few weeks, then I go back to normal for a few months at which point I return to Headache Town, OW for another few weeks.

Unfortunately, I entered one of those periods just yesterday, so it is REALLY hard for me to listen objectively to A.18. SUBjectively, they sound like a pretty basic modern hardcore band (meaning that they play a lot of midtempo, pounding metal in addition to the really fast "old school" hardcore stuff) with a painful screamer heading up the assault. The Pantera-style screaming - tuneless, one note, gravelly, LOUD, angry. In fact, without the singer, I think there's a good chance these guys would be considered just a chord-heavy hard rock band. Or even motorcycle punk. But the larynx-shredding vocals can't help but make the rest of the band come across as "hardcore" the same way they'd come across as a new wave band if Stan Ridgway was singing for them or a gay pride band if Billy Corgan was singing for them.

Bottom line: If you like angry chord sequences of any speed, A.18 are one of many bands that play them. And their really fast ones kick really good ass (I just wish that there were more fast ones on here). Most importantly, they're from Southern California! That's where YOU live! Not to mention that, according to sources, the message of the band is not to wallow, but to face your problems head on and never give in to obstacles. That's a good message for a band to have. And they do it without even playing happy pop chords and going "Woah-oh-oh!" like a Positive Youth Hardcore Band would do!

Band: A18
Album: Dear Furious
Label: Victory

When I heard these guys''sss''s debut LP a couple years ago, it gave me a huge headache and I sold it on ebay like an asshole. But either my ears grew a brain or their talent grew alarmingly because this is a GREAT album. It's intense, mean, screamingly shout-bloody throated metalcore, true, but the song constructions and noises and chord sequences are really really excellent. Original, blasting, interesting - if I were their teacher at school, I'd give them "18" "A"'s!

(did you get that hilarious play on number-and-letter?)

One thing's for certain - you may find this for sale on eBay, but it sure won't be my copy! I'm putting mine right where it belongs - in the CD cupboard between A Trunk Full Of Dead Bodies and Abruptum.

(It would probably be best if you didn't alert the police to my trunk full of dead bodies.)

Band: Acceptance
Album: Black Lines To Battlefields EP
Label: The Militia Group

Have you ever arrived early to see a delightful motion picture (ex. "Bend It Like Beckham") and found yourself staring at Coke ads disguised as movie trivia games while listening to the latest "modern rock" tracks by sad little boys over-singing poignant little lyrics over interchangeable little guitar lines? Did you ever notice how similar such "alternative" music is to the old FM hits of Survivor and REO Speedwagon? It's the same exact empty throwaway crap - the same manipulative vocal melodies and "rockin'" guitar chords, just with a less strident vocal approach and up-to-date production values. Don't fall for this crap or it's all you'll be getting for the next ten years. Acceptance is surrender.

Band: The Adicts
Album: Songs Of Praise
Label: Fall Out

This is what British punk rock sounded like in 1981 - sometimes fast, sometimes slow, but always melodic and performed with a thick British accent. Just like every mid-`60s garage band on the legendary Nuggets box set (Hombres, Five Americans, Seeds, etc), every early-`80s punk band on the fantastic but only semi-legendary Punk and Disorderly compilation (Adicts, UK Decay, Blitz, etc) recorded one or two amazing songs during their lifetime. However, very, very few of them possessed adequate creativity to fill out a whole album on their own. In other words, I'm not sure why you would need a full CD by The Adicts. Unless you're British and on the dole because of Margaret Fucking Thatcher, the fucking cunt.

Band: Agalloch
Album: The Mantle
Label: The End

Guess where this album belongs? That's right! On your MANTLE! Your mantle of GOOD ALBUMS, that is! This is the second album for this band from Portland, I'm told. They describe it as a grand multi-dimensional opus featuring dark melancholic metal with post-rock and neo-folk elements. I TOTALLY disagree with this description though. To me, it comes across as a majestic diverse composition including gloomy despondent rock in the company of after-metal as well as new-fangled acoustic rudiments. I also find it intriguing as hell the way they (whether they intend to or NOT) conjure up images in my head of living out in the middle of the woods with some somber Viking cult that must prepare to fight its enemies to the death. This band does "solemn" in a way that would appeal to a lot more guys than I think Antimatter would. It's not just that they have male vocalists - it's that the music is more technical, completely guitar-focused and also that some of the songs feature one of those high scream/whispering black metal vocalists. If Antimatter reminds the wife of Portishead, then Agalloch reminds the husband of mid-to-late period Swans mixed with Tiamat and Led Zeppelin III. I like it, in other words. THEY say it conjures up the sounds of Pink Floyd, Godspeed You Black Emperor, Sol Invictus, Ulver, Dissection and Fields of the Nephilim, but half of those band names are probably made up, I mean look at the damn things. No one would name a band Ulver, it sounds like that fuckin thing dangling down the back of your throat.

Which reminds me - do you have to chew on your wife's vulva right there on my respirator?

Band: The Agony Scene
Album: The Agony Scene
Label: Solid State

"The Agony Scene" seems an unlikely choice for this band's name. Don't most people love having a guy shrieking in their ear while death metal music is pumped up so loud that the bass drum gives the listener a migraine headache within the first 45 seconds of the CD? If not, what the fuck is wrong with people? Are they gay and/or have ball cancer?

Band: Aina
Album: Days of Rising Doom: The Metal Opera
Label: Transmission

Although I personally have never quite understand the concept of taking really loud evil tough distorted metal guitars and then burying them under soft old-timey acoustic instruments like pianos, cellos and chorales (a rare medieval instrument made up of the voices of DEAD PEOPLE), but there are those who have always considered metal to be the offspring of classical - and here they are! A multi-celebrity task featuring current and former members of Deep Purple, Helloween, Blackmore's Night, Dream Theater, Black Sabbath and eight hundred billion other heavy metal bands, Aina are dead set on forcing you to believe that power metal should be taken seriously. Especially by nerds, who will enjoy the wonderful tale of Torek, Naschtok, Aina, Talon, Oria, Sorvahr and Lalae Amer - all former U.S. congressmen! It's melodically rich, instrumentally diverse and the vocals (especially the female ones) are note-perfect and stunning. You really have to be into power metal though, so don't buy it expecting sexxxy grindcore by which to make love to your sweet virgin wife.

Band: Alabama Thunderpussy
Album: Fulton Hill
Label: Relapse

Sounding much less like Nashville Pussy than you would naturally expect, Alabama Thunderpussy's only real rednecky quality is the (now departed) vocalist's insanely scraggly non-musical moonshine-brewing child-touching delivery. Musically, the `Pussy play thick heavy chords that alternate between sweet soul swagger, stunning symphonic smarts and seriously slamming shipkickery, with a few Southern rock licks and dual-guitar harmonies sploshed about every now and then again. Song titles include "Lunar Eclipse," "Sociopath Shitlist" and "Three Stars" - which incidentally is what I give the album itself.

Yes, I give the album a lunar eclipse. Sorry if it briefly inconveniences the rest of you!

Band: All Or Nothing H.C.
Album: What Doesn't Kill You.
Label: Rodent Popsicle

.YELLS at you! Just like label owners Toxic Narcotic, All Or Nothing HC specialize in high-speed, mean-spirited, headbanging hardcore punk rock. And just like classic HC legends The Avengers, they have a female singer. However, they wasted their only chance to call themselves The Toxic Avengers, an unforgivable offense under any reign (especially Idi Amin - that guy ATE HIS WIFE!!!). So Alanis Morrisette is marrying Burt Reynolds and All Or Nothing H.C. are using their own band name to tell you what kind of music they play - just like The Jazz Passengers and The Pop Group before them (and the Red Rockers) (and Metal Church).. The singer woman alternates between a low muggsy blurble Sheryl Crowe blues croon and a really awesome (and adorable!) high-pitched scream reminiscent of that woman in Nausea whoever the hell she was. The musicians (two bassists, guitarist and drummer) beat the pissed-off angerness out of their instruments, and Renae the singer is cool enough to include explanations and background for her lyrics, giving them much more heft than you would normally allow punk lyrics to have. For example, "Lead, Follow or Get Out Of Way" was inspired by the graduate courses she took in educational administration, "Erase" is about her biological father, and "Knife To My Neck" is about her own personal 9/11 nightmare - two years later, but every bit as horrific. If you're into these modern kids and their loud distorted fast punker motorcycle rock, All Or Nothing HC have a CD out and as far as I can tell, you don't own it yet. Why is that? Could it be that your sexuality is threatened by their female singer? Face it - you're gay. Just admit it. Nobody's going to make fun of your hilariously small penis. It's perfectly natural to ejaculate before you get your pants off. You can't go on blaming your inadequacies on the women of the world. Nobody's going to laugh when they see these pictures I have of you sticking your finger up your butt.

Band: All Out War
Album: Condemned To Suffer
Label: Victory

As much as I love hardcore punk and metalcore, I don't understand the appeal of brutality without melodicism or complexity. And I find melodicism in DRI and Converge, so it's not like I'm some power pop fan complaining here. Six of these twelve songs start with the EXACT same chord - and don't go much further. They just pound, scream and run through the same HEAVY chords (and occasional notes) over and over. Plus, too much of the disc is devoted to midtempo pounding and bellowing, rather than the fastness our youth so enjoys. Supposedly this is a cross between NYHC and metal, but all I hear is the metal - and it's suspiciously "nu-metally" to me. It's definitely angry if that's what you're looking for, but aren't there already about a billion other bands doing the same exact thing? Didn't Pantera sound just like this about ten years ago? And enough with the damn kick drum! Don't you people have ears???

Band: Allergic To Whores
Album: Life Through Death's Eyes
Label: Rodent Popsicle Records

Caveat emptor! That means "Gew„hrleistungsausschluá!" This CD is only 19 minutes long! But what would you expect from hardcore kids out to make a quick buck? Out to tackle the FM airwaves with their two-minute-long "instant radio classics' with radio-ready lyrics like "The blood runs and stains. Her skull is broken with her heart." Man, this band is FUCKED UP! The music alternates between regular old speedy-ass hardcore and early-Fugazi-style tight-funk-hard-rock with a guy that sounds like Ian MacKaye shouting. But the lyrics are a strange, disconcerting mixture of emotional response with cold-blooded violence. It's hard to tell where the imagery stops and the reality begins. It appears to be a concept album, but what it's about remains unclear. A werewolf? A man who kills his lover for spurning him? Suicide? Love? Hey, someone who understands poetry - what's this about? I like it!

Band: Aluminum Babe
Album: Aluminum Babe EP
Label: Mother West

If, like me, you've ever had sex, you probably agree with me that girls are pretty and have nice voices. That's why Aluminum Babe comes as such a delight in this rock and roll world filled with pain, horror and men. Three members of this band are male, and wear priests' frocks in the album artwork (even in the in-concert photo!), but the singer is a woman with a really cute voice! I mean, REALLY cute! As cute as Dee Dee Ramone's wife who drove him to kill himself! And the music is uptempo fun punk rock with a SMART bubblegum pop sensibility (as opposed to the braindead "melodic"-but-hookless approach of most "pop punk" bands). Plus, five songs is the perfect amount, because they're ALL GREAT! Just like five seconds is the perfect amount of sex - because women hate sex and would rather be out shopping!

Band: Amazombies
Album: Bitches & Stitches
Label: Go-Kart

Motorcycle goth girls playing speedy sloppy reverbed-crunch-guitar, live-drumming-soundin' garage punk. With girls. Nothing but chords, chords, chords. And one guy. This is for folks who love the old '77-'78 style of punk, but with oil stains. The riffs are as standard as they get, and yet again I'm left wondering how it is that so many bands like this get record label contracts and I don't.

(Hint: They develop fan bases through live performance, and nobody likes my music).

Band: Amon Amarth
Album: Versus The World
Label: Metal Blade

Augh! A bunch of scary blonde long-haired guys! From SWEDEN! (Size: 449 964 km2, of which 54% forested, 16% mountainous, 8% agricultural land and 9% water). This is their third album, it seems, and apparently they're into the whole "Viking" thing (interestingly, in that part of the world, a "Viking" is considered to be a strong warrior, and not just. you know. GAY), with uplifting tunes like "Death In Fire," "For The Stabwounds In Our Backs," "Down The Slopes of Death," ".And Soon The World Will Cease To Be" and "Thousand Years of Oppression."

They play the DEATH metal, but in a very stately, mature, sad, cold way - with killer dark riffs and VERY heavy, fuzzed to hell guitars. The vocals are just your basic throwaway hoarse screaming crap, but the music rises above it, whether it be slow, fast or blastbeat grindcore pounding. I consider a lot of metal "hard to get into" or "bad," but one out of every, say, 5 or 6 bands really reaches through and grabs me by the lapels, or, if I'm not wearing lapels, sews on a nice pair of lapels and grabs them, and says, "Hey! We're smarter than the others!" I get that feeling from Amon Amarth. As crushingly heavy as they are, you can tell that evocative melody is of great importance to them. There is, as is quite often the case in this genre, an overreliance on the "dismal" minor keys, but at least they try to do a little more with it than give you chord sequences you've already heard a million times. The moods are more emotional - more sad than threatening. Even while kikkking your As! But it's still a pity that nobody has managed to come up with an innovative vocal style for this type of music.

Band: Anal Beard
Album: Din Noir
Label: Boss Tuneage/West Pier

I've just discovered the most British band in history! Every single song is so full of British cultural references, I don't understand a single joke on it - and I LOVE it!!! It's like TISM for the UK! Song titles include "Millicant and Nesbit Theme Day," "I Feature (Prominently) in Three Blyth Power Videos" and "Befriend a Binner Scheme (I Joined The)." I'm all like "the fuckity???" In comparison, Ray Davies and Mark Smith were born in Alabama! The music itself is hilarious speed pop novelty zaniness with a singer that sounds like John Lydon's friendly nephew at the circus. In fact, I loved it so much while drunk last night, I went to the band's web site, ordered their other full-length CD and sent them an email telling them how much I love them! There's even a semi-Motorhead parody on here called "Eight Of Spades." I LAUGHED AND DRANK AND DRANK SOME MORE!!!

Band: Anata
Album: Under A Stone With No Inscription
Label: Earache

Is it death metal or noisecore? No! You're wrong! It's both! Heavy, brutal and growly as all your favorite bands from Florida (including Miami Sound Machine), but with the mathematical quirky guitar wrenching intelligence of the Coalescing Dillinger Plan. No better bands have been heard in recent years - don't miss out on Anata! The hilarious thing is that one of the songs is called "Sewerages Of The Mind," and I thought it said "Beverages Of The Mind." I was all doped up for lyrics about Banana Coke and Sprite With Urine In It! Either way, this is an excellent, skilled and heavy band.

Band: ...And Oceans
Album: Cypher
Label: Century Media

Finland is a cold place far far away where everybody has fins. They swim around in the cold water and play heavy metal with their flippers. So far they’ve formed two bands.

…And Oceans like to be kooky odd, and what they do on their latest release is give each of their songs three different titles separated by semi-colons (e.g. “Angelina: Chthonian Earth: Her Face Forms Worms”), and combine metallic guitar with seXXXy trance-electro industrial dance synth drum chattering noise. “Cypher” appears to be their fifth album and believe me when I tell you this – the bassist goes by the name “Q” and the guitarist goes by the name “T.” Put ‘em together and what a QT! (cutie). Also, they sing (scream) stuff like “Smell me! I am a slave! Release me! The impure flesh I am!” and “”I love this world and your goddamn sun” and “Smile! It’s all falling apart! Plunge! Into catastrophe! That was today! That remains the same!” It’s a pretty neat CD once you get past the stupid techno bullshit.

Band: Anthrax
Album: Music of Mass Destruction: Live From Chicago
Label: Sanctuary

My wife wants to "live in Chicago," so believe me, I'm closer to this CD than you are. Interestingly to all, I was just listening to Anthrax's latest studio CD We Have Come For You All this morning and thinking to myself, "Man. They really just don't remember how to write a memorable riff, do they?" Apparently such is the case. This live CD captures them live with current singer That Guy From Armored Saint, and some of it is certainly great (Joe Jackson's "Got The Time," "I Am The Law," "Antisocial"), but the newer tunes just trudge and shout along with no direction. Having said that, it comes with a pretty cool DVD. Also, the first album with this new singer guy (Sound Of White Noise) is probably my favorite Anthrax CD of all time, so do try and grab a copy of that one. It's loud catchy grunge metal! But we're talking about this. It's okay. If you're an Anthrax fan, you might appreciate the inside knowledge that the double-disc set of DVD and CD features tracks in this percentage: 5 from We've Come For You All, 2 from Persistence Of Time, 3 from Among The Living, 2 from Sound Of White Noise, 2 from State Of Euphoria, 1 from Stomp 442, 3 from Volume 8: The Threat Is Real and the Public Enemy cover "Bring The Noise." Don't start punching me in the back of the head because they didn't play anything off of Spreading The Disease or Fistful Of Metal. I know you're a huge Neil Turbin fan, but that has nothing to do with me. As far as I'm concerned, that guy is a door-to-door carpet salesman now (even though he supposedly has been in bands called Kuni and DC To Daylight). (Those are just his night jobs. During the day, he's a door-to-door carpet salesman.) And don't you want to hear Mr. Big Voice add his own quirky style to the seven songs that Mr. Hair Metal used to sing? Mr. Hair Metal has a name, incidentally. His name is Joey Belladonna and he's a door-to-door carpet salesman.

Band: AngelStorm
Album: Rise From The Ash
Label: Set-Fire

Who has more in common with Jesus Christ: the shifty short-haired shitheads on Church TV or the long-haired, golden-maned love disciples that make up White Metal combo Angelstorm? Seriously! If Jesus and his father, God, weren't dead, they would LOVE the tight heavy riffs and professional lead vocals that drive this outfit's Pure Light sound. From the opening "Genesis To Revelation" through the ass-kicking "Music Of The Angel" through the unnecessarily parenthetical "Don't Judge A Book (By Its Cover)," Angelstorm prove again and again that you don't have to worship drugs and Satan to create good hard old school metal.

(Although you may have to be some church-going loser to LISTEN to it!)

Band: The Ankles
Album: Kill Themselves
Label: Magadee

I'd literally cry you an actual river if Jersey City, NJ's The Ankles actually DID kill themselves, because they're a gosh darmed good band! They play melodic, chiming Indie Rock, and are one of the few newer bands that honestly remind me of the genre's early-'90s heyday (Superchunk/Pavement/Sebadoh) without sounding like an imitation of any bands that have come before. Their melodies are honestly melodic (rather than noisily shitty like the Archers of Loaf), their guitar technique is somehow both beautiful and piercing,, and best of all, the vocalist can't sing!

Wait, that's not "best of all" at all! Who replaced my cliche' guidebook with this rotting sea sponge?

Band: Anti-Flag
Album: The Terror State
Label: Fat Wreck Chords

Political Johnson! That's what you'll find on this sixth album by Pittsburgh's punk rockers Anti-Flag. They play hard rock and metally riffs every once in a while, but the politics are strict left-wing hardcore anti-war goodness. Looks like George W. Bush is doing such a shitty job, he's becoming a Reagan-type figure for a new generation of disgruntled and disgusted punk rock youth! The very first track accuses him of being a Turncoat, Killer, Liar and Thief, and this attitude continues through such great anger anthems as "When You Don't Control Your Government, People Want To Kill You," "Sold As Freedom," "Mind The G.A.T.T.," "Operation Iraqi Liberation (O.I.L.)" and "You Can Kill The Protester, But You Can't Kill The Protest." A lot of people reminisce about the early days of U.S. hardcore punk, back when we had REAL enemies like Reagan to yell about. Well, look again, youngsters. The current administration is as corrupt or even MORE corrupt than that one in oh so many ways. I'd hate to think anyone would need a hardcore band to point this out to them, but if such is the case, you can't do much better than Anti-Flag. They want to educate you - let them! Better Anti-Flag than fuckin' Bill O'Suckcockly!

Band: Antifreeze
Album: The Search For Something More
Label: Kung Fu

Beautiful sad power pop songs. Although they have spikey hair and are on a "punk rock" label, this isn't punk rock at all -- it's just very pretty, sad songs (midtempo or slightly uptempo) played with distorted guitar chords. It sounds to me like what the Lemonheads would sound like today if Ben Deily had taken them over instead of Evan Dando. Just very heartfelt emotional songs about pain and disillusion, sung by a young person with a pleasant voice who feels no need to imitate Billy Joe Armstrong. This is their fourth album, and had I heard the first three, I would totally be telling you how it compares to them. Wanna hear the hilarious thing? I think they live in Appleton, Wisconsin!!! HAHAHAHAHAHAHAHAH WHAT A BUNCH OF LOSERS!!!!!

Best,
Bill Welch
President
Appleton, WI Chamber Of Commerce

Band: Antimatter
Product: Saviour
Label: The End

The wife heard me put a new CD into the player. How could such a rare occurrence be missed? It's not everyday that the world-unknown music critic Mark Prindle is so intrigued by a new disc that he is willing to remove Billy Joel's KOHUEPT (Live in Leningrad) from the stereo system for a few brief moments. But tonight was no normal night. Tonight I had a CD where the album cover was some sort of naked woman angel figure with a skull head with its back to a cross. And I was determined to hear this woman angel skull thing play some ROCK AND ROLL!!!!!!!!!!

The wife knows more about music that isn't stupid guitar rock than I do, so I will quickly guide you through HER reactions before giving you my own:

"Is this Portishead?"
(5 minutes later) "I like this! It's like Portishead with a groove!"
(5 minutes later) "Man, this is a total Portishead ripoff."
(5 minutes later) "Why do people even bother forming bands like this? Bands that just completely rip off other bands?"

As previously hinted, I don't know a thing about Portishead except for the Jefferson Airplane cover or whatever the hell that thing was they did ten years ago. "Fade Into You" or whatnot. So I'm going to give you my own impression now.

(hunches over, makes fingers into "V for Victory" signs) "I am not a crook!"

Now then, let me tell you what this album sounds like to me. To put it subtly, Saviour is depressing depressed music for depression. But with some really pretty guitar here and there. All tremeloey, vibratoey electric moodmaking and/or pensive, questioning acoustic pickage. Electronic drums and synth mood washes support the SCREAMING AXEWORK, while a sad woman with a straight unpretentious singing voice sings "Whose water drowns the others?" and "You'll be seething going down" and "Careful not to drown" and "Close your eyes when you feel you're going under" - in four different songs. (?)

The songs ARE all about fear of death, sad betrayals and hearts growing colder. And the backdrops remind me of the slower songs on the second Cure album - simple. direct. lots of space in the mix, motifs taking their time. And, at its best, eerily effective. It's really hard to listen to this whole CD in one sitting and NOT get depressed (and I don't mean that in a bad way - I mean that the moods they create WORK). However, taken song for song, I would say that only three of these really grabbed me, shook me, taught me how to go up an escalator without my shoelace getting caught at the top and made me go, "Jeez! Good song!" For your records, these songs are entitled "Holocaust," "God Is Coming," "Angelic" and "Flowers." Those four tracks are the three songs that I GODDAMMIT

If you're a gother, buy the damn thing. It's a new project by Duncan Patterson of Anathema! What are you doing, not owning it??? And buy every Nick Cave album too. I love Nick Cave.

Band: Antimatter
Product: Lights Out
Label: The End

To me, the most interesting thing about this release is that I received it from a zine editor instead of directly from my contact at The End Records. I can't help but conclude that I've been removed from their mailing list! Is it because I implied that their Dionysus album would appeal only to people who "love permed mullets"? Or because I put three "K"s in the name of their band Nightingale to make them "look really racist so they'll get death threats and stuff"? Surely it can't be because I reviewed the LAST Antimatter album with a quote from my wife: "Why do people even bother forming bands like this?" Therefore I must assume that the owners of The End are just too depressed by the sorrowful suicidal trip-hop goth feel of this CD to toss a copy in the mail for me.

As it is, I'm llistening (pronounced "yistening") to a zine's copy and am bored constipated (shitless). Antimatter are filled with sorrow, but an empty, uneventful sorrow that feels more like teenaged self-pity than a universal emptiness. Track two is robust and gorgeously sad, but the rest are so underwritten, they not only add nothing to the world of music -- they actually take songs AWAY from you when you listen to them. See, here's track 6 - oh no! Where did "House Of The Rising Sun" go? It's GONE! (heh heh - a little Antimatter humor for the quantum physicists out there)

Sum: Atmospheric minimalist synths and a Tori Amos woman. Occasional man. Slow. Cliched. Boring. And that's not just my opinion - that's a fact I read in the menu at Arby's.

Did you know "Arby's" was named "Arby's" because "R.B.'s" stands for "Roast Beef"? It WAS! Isn't that clever??? And Domino's Pizza got its name from the chunks of Fats Domino that they bake into the dough!

Band: Antioch Arrow
Album: Gems of Masochism
Label: Three.One.G

This is actually a re-release of a very bizarre goth/punk/noise record originally issued in 1995, but now's the time to enjoy it! Antioch Arrow's music is built upon both male and female vocals, odd galloping/stomping rhythms, loud cymbally drums, distorted bass, crinkly guitar notes, dark piano plunking and a painful squawking organ. It's interesting! Even the mix is quirky, accenting strange parts at different times throughout the songs. I'm all for interesting, although I don't understand why people even bother since, according to the latest Rolling Stone poll, nobody has recorded an album as good as Sgt. Pepper's Lonely Hearts Club Band in the last THIRTY-SIX YEARS.

Band: Ape Has Killed Ape
Album: Acid Reflux
Label: True Classical

If you're looking for clever music, sometimes you have to dig way, way down through the underground until you find some guy in his basement recording stuff on a 4-track. That's where you'll find Matt Stein, the mattstermeind of Los Angeles' Ape Has Killed Ape. He has guitars, a synth, drum machine and theremin, as well as a friend playing bass guitar for him. The songs weave through different noisy, pot-smoking styles and his voice reeks coolness - but like ACTUAL coolness, not detached Beck-style affectation. I 'd call it homemade indie guitar hero psych for the "Now & Later" Generation, which doesn't actually exist because those things will rip your fillings out but I like them.

Artist: Ape Has Killed Ape
Album: Another Fraudulent Hoax EP
Label: Self-released

Home recording giant Matt Stein is back with another diverse collection of marijuana-head classics. His Krautrock synth, his jangly post-hippy guitar, his threatening samples, his blasted low-key distorted sing-speak vocals, his heroic LSD psych-blues leads: they've all returned! I once called Matt Stein the "king" of "under..." ground mu "...sic," and that goes double for the new EP (hot on the heels of his second CD Acid Reflux, a sleeper in any language). The country-western "Down River Meltdown" treads too closely to that Wilco No Depression pisspump for my philosopher's taste, but I understand his desire to capture youthful fancy by pretending to be "one of them," so I'll resist making any unnecessary Beck comparisons.

Especially since Beck, by all indications, has never written a good song in his life.

Band: Arch Enemy
Album: Anthems of Rebellion
Label: Century Media

It cracks me up how these guys are always rebelling. There they go again! Heh heh. Anyway, Arch Enemy plays bleeding bloody death metal with female vocals. In a bizarre twist, the female vocalist doesn't sound at all like Melissa Etheridge, choosing instead to shriek like a male death metal vocalist. On the music side, your fingers would have to be tied together with a piece of string for them not to be tapping out the kickass rhythms that Arch Enemy plays in killer high-speed rockers like "Silent Wars" and "Despicable Heroes." But this album isn't about velocity - it's about dynamics. Midtempo stutter-stutter Sabbath guitars, ambient black metal synths, sorrowful acoustic breaks, Boston-style guitar harmonies (triplets? Iron Maiden?), even the pound of nu-metal can be heard once or twice in these anthems of rebelness. It's so good that how can I but wittily conclude, "With Arch Enemies like this, who needs friends?"

Band: The Arm
Album: The Arm
Label: Last Gasp

Energetic drumming, cheap keyboards, swoopy bass lines, scratchy reverbed guitars, KILLER hooks and a guy shouting - put it all together and you've got a The Arm band! How could you NOT love a band with the good taste to write the lyric, "Good evening! We are not The Fall!"? Maybe they're not, but they're smart enough to create exciting new music in the same sort of vein as that greatest of all British bands (The Fall, not The Beatles). For two specific examples, "We Are Bright Young Men!" is driven by a white-hot guitar lick from angst-pop Hellven, and the melodic white noise organ/guitar wash of "Give Up While You're Young!" is one of the most untraditionally beautiful pieces of recording I've heard this year - and I'm talking fiscal year, not calendar year! I really like this band. If you're into that old late `70s experimental type of punk rock and no wave (The Contortions, Gang of Four, Pere Ubu), you'll welcome The Arm with open arms. For a total of three arms.

Band: Armitage Shanks
Album: Urinal Heap
Label: Damaged Goods

Alleged Billy Childish prot‚g‚s Armitage Shanks play a crude, rusty and possibly inept style of garage punk that somehow sounds unique even as it breaks no new ground whatsoever. The singer sounds like a big half-educated lout, and the band plays scrankle-skrinkle UK-punk '79 guitar chords on this collection of brand-new speedy originals and inspired cover tunes ("Hold On I'm A-Comin'," "Circles (Instant Party)," "Knock On Wood"). Also please note: the album title is a take-off on the name of long-forgotten '70s shit-rockers Uriah Heep. What kind of human being would bother to make fun of Uriah Heep in the year 2004 of our Lord?

Band: Arson
Album: Lacerate The Sky
Label: Resurrection A.D.

Music - H VY! L D! S M T M S V N F ST! TH S NG R SCR MS T M CH TH GH ND T'S R LLY RR T T NG FT R WH L ! B ND S T GHT ND M V S Q CKLY B TW N D RG AND H RDC R . TH S NG R S NDS L K H `S V M T N G LL V R Y R W F TH GH. H Y S NG R! S Y T, D `NT SPR Y T!

Hmm. The doctor said I'd feel a lot better after I cleared out my vowels, but it doesn't seem to have done a thing about the deck of cards stuck up my ass.

Band: Asgaroth
Album: Red Shift
Label: Peaceville

These Metal bands of today! What is it they want? To rock me or shock me? To thrill me or kill me? To dazzle me or

(seven and a half hours later)

can "razzle" be used as a verb? As to my point, Asgaroth are a metallllic band from Barcelona, Spain ("It's great to be back here in Barcelona. Take it, CJ!" "1,2,3,4!" BA-NA-NA-NA-NA- NA-NA-NA-NA-NAH!!! "HEY HO! LET'S GO!" GOD, I love the Jefferson Starship!) who take DEATH metal and add in keyboards without turning everything into gothy VIKING metal. It's still DEATH metal (with some POWER metal in there), but with hints of BLACK metal, yet with some real kickass guitar parts that sound like THRASH metal or SPEED metal, and then out of nowhere they'll start playing a complicated bass/guitar interactive kind of PROG metal, but the keyboards are more like CLASSICAL metal (they play notes, not just washes of boredom). But one thing's for sure - no matter how you slice it, these guys play POWER POP.

Come on, let a hilarious man tell his tale of fibbery. Say! Last night in my dream, I dreamt in my dream that I created a parody metal band that I decided to call "Tutelage Of Sin." For some reason, that name seemed really really funny in the dream. Like we're so evil, our songs will tutor your children in the ways of sin. But enough about my dreams! I know you just want me to get to the part where I nail Ronald Reagan Jr., but it's NOT GONNA HAPPEN!!!!! DO YOU HEAR ME, YOU SON OF A SACK OF BASTARD???? IT'S NOT GONNA --- OH GOD, I'M BUTTFUCKING RONALD R - NO!!!! IT'S NOT GONNA HAPPEN!!!!

To your point, Asgaroth provide a really cool mixture of a bunch of different types of metal, includiNg CINEMATIC metal. In the year 2000 (when all of the computers in the world broke because the clocks weren't programmed right), a Spanish magazine called Hell Awaits conducted a readers' poll in which Asgaroth won Best Band, Best Album and Best Keyboardist. You really should check it out if you're into the kind of black metal that has lots of keyboards in it. These guys put together some awfully well-written horror movie constructions, containing not nearly the amount of clich‚d melodies that many a band of this fine genre have been known to do in their day.

I'M TALKIN' ABOUT YOU, THE J. GEILS BAND!!!!

Band: Asperity
Album: The Final Demand
Label: Arise

Power metal shall live forever! Asperity creates big heavy metal songs to hail Satan to while holding your Viking sword aloft and growing your hair short in front but long in back. I'm still astounded by the fact that this clearly 1980s-era style of songwriting still finds so many champions, but indeed it does. Do the women still have big permed hair? Do the men still have big permed hair? These are questions for wiser sages than meself. Asperity is a Swedish band featuring two former members of Carnal Forge (YUCK! WHAT THE HELL KIND OF SICK BAND NAME IS THAT!?), and this is their debut album. The lyrics involve internal demons and darkness, and the music is very heavily driven by heavy distorted guitar chords (mostly minor keys like Iron Maiden, but HEAVIER like Black Sabbath) and the occasional keyboard. The singer could have been either in or on Survivor, but they would have thrown him out for kicking too much ass. Asperity 4ever!

Band: Atmosphere
Album: Seven's Travels
Label: Rhymesayers/Epitaph

Jesus Christ! "Trying To Find A Balance" is a rap song built on top of an old SPOOKY TOOTH song!!! And not even a slightly-well-known Spooky Tooth song either, but the title track to 1974's The Mirror, now all but disowned by the band. I, of course, did the right thing and sent Spooky Tooth an email making sure they knew about this complete ripoff of their great, long forgotten track. Hopefully they'll get trillions of dollars from Epitaph records for it, because I've just about had it with people reciting poems over great old stolen riffs and being hailed as urban geniuses. As for the rest of the CD, there are no other Spooky Tooth samples as far as I can tell. He probably stole every other riff from a white rock band though. It's too bad there's no lyrics sheet included - that would save you the time of having to listen to the whole goddamned ripoff CD. Open letter to rap artists: WRITE YOUR OWN FUCKING MUSIC.

Band: Atreyu
Album: The Curse
Label: Victory

This great band has one singer who belches all his words out in puddles full of retard drool, and another singer who sings like those sweet boys in `N Sync. They developed this fabulous approach through years of Linkin Park idolatry. They're from Orange County, which is why they're so awesome. Orange Country, I call it. Orange COUNTRY. Because it's so great, it's like a whole country. I don't live there, but you people do (or you live semi-close, or something), so you know what I'm talking about.

But Atreyu are really awesome and they demolish the barriers between rock, melodic hardcore and metal. Sometimes the singer and screamer guy do their bullshit at the same time and it's awesome how untalented the screamer guy sounds. They recorded the CD in GGGarth's "killer studio" (it's filled with a cyanide gas) and the music is about 400 billion times better than the vocals. When I call a band "great," I don't bullshit and fuck around. The instrument players sound like they've been listening to as much Slint as Korn - their interplay is intelligent and well-written in quite a variety of styles (metalcore, math metal, funk metal, post-rock). They may need to rethink their vocal approach though, unless the singer's really cute and helps sell records, in which case give him a solo deal so he can gargle phlegm over some session musicians' horsecock music instead of ruining an otherwise awesome band.

That was an assholish thing to do, singling out one weak link like that. Especially since his buffoonish moron screams might appeal to stupid people. See, that was another asshole comment. I'm going to be a moral human being now finally and say this: I hope he develops another vocal style, because I don't think he does justice to himself or the band by yelling in what basically amounts to a "hoarse little kid trying to imitate a screaming Muppet" voice. If it's any consolation, I can't sing or scream worth a shit either. I sound like a nervous wiener-washer with my nose stuffed with foam rubber. I'm even worse than this fuckin' guy!

Band: Audio Karate
Album: Lady Melody
Label: Kung Fu

Most successful pop-punk bands are too busy starting their own clothing lines or getting regrettable tattoos to actually focus on making good music. But when Audio Karate's 2002 album Space Camp was labeled generic sounding, it had only one way to go...up. So, they dipped into the records of their older brothers, the Pixies, and quietly reinvented their sound for this sweet Lady Melody. The songs are well-crafted and a unique take on what melodic punk has been defined as in the past decade, and the passion in the vocals is undeniably infectious. Still, this roughness fits well with the overall feel of "Melody," a fine album that shows what can happen when the unpolished grit of youth is augmented with actual talent. On Lady Melody, their second album, this California quartet careens through 11 satisfyingly dynamic tunes, each containing a handsome melody and a rhythmic attack more varied than you'd expect. But Lady Melody's mercurial mix of emo bluster and '90s indie-rock guitars (think Treepeople, Dinosaur Jr. or Superchunk), even at its most mundane ("Gypsyqueen" and "Hey Maria") is still more energetic, passionate and interesting than the music of many of the band's SoCal punk rock peers. They mix angular melodies and scratchy, thrifty vocals on rockers like "Party at the Lexington Queen" and "Ms. Foreign Friendly," hitting a creative high on mid-tempo "Catch and Release" and putting themselves more in line with exploratory rock bands like Sparta and Hot Hot Heat. Similarly, there's more than the typical three-chord "I lost my love" bullshit most bands of this genre fall back on. Actually, harmonic may be a better description of Justo Gonzalez's bass playing: His ability to hold down roots with clacky straight-eighth pick work shows punk-rock training, but he really shines when he colors tunes like the title track with numerous chord tones, highlighting the band's musicality. The new record, "Lady Melody" (due June 1), won't stir up too many comparisons to Good Charlotte or even Bad Religion. "Lady" is so different from "Space" that Camacho complained some writers have completely missed the inspiration for the new stuff: "One guy compared us to the Strokes," he said. "I have two Strokes albums. We sound nothing like them." Initially, the biggest turn-off about this disc is the vocal approach. Maybe I've been too spoiled by listening to pop-punk lately, but the rough vocal style is a little grating at first, especially when he's screeching out some of the notes on the edges of his range. Wow. I loved `Space Camp' but I love `Lady Melody' more. This isn't just a follow-up to a great record; it's everything and more. Infact, I'd go as far as saying this is the best record I've heard all year. I labeled these Californians the revelation of 2002 with their debut full-length "Space Camp" on Kung Fu, and although it looks like they haven't convinced the rest of the world of their magnificance yet, I'd really be surprised if "Lady Melody" wouldn't be that final push to get them there. As bland "follow-the-formula" rock dominates MTV and the airwaves, it's good to see that some musicians still spend time writing quality, original and very creative tunes. The guitars are fabulous on this album, combining intricate picking with the perfect amount of bar chords taking care of the rhythm sections. Lady Melody was produced by none other than Bill Stevenson (ALL/Descendents), who definitely brought out a real rock sound from Audio Karate and you'll be sure to notice a deeper, much angrier tone to this album. Their first record, to tell the truth, didn't really impress me that much. It was too cheesy and too similar to The Ataris. Lady Melody is not the map of a house in need of restauration or remodeling but the blueprint of an innovative, renewing, re-vitalising and revolutionary architectural design by 4 people who clearly know what they are doing. But it does take time for you to enjoy it. My first listened, I hated; as with my second try too. But I gave it one more and voila, I fell in love. Think of Jawbreaker jamming with The Lawrence Arms. Sopivan rosoinen „„nimaailma yhdistettyn„ fiilisrikkaaseen esitykseen toimii hyvin, ja saa kokonaisuuden kuulostamaan harkitun spontaanille. Eine gute Weiterentwicklung haben AK jedenfalls vollzogen. Auch wenn mich pers”nlich dieses Album nicht so umhaut wie der Vorg„nger, ,lady melody" geh”rt vor zweifellos zu den interessanten Punkrock Ver”ffentlichungen dieser Tage. Die Latino-Punks aus Kalifornien haben schnell gewonnen, ihre Mischung aus den Vandals und Rancid gef„llt. Stakato-Gitarren, feine Melodien, ein treibendes Schlagzeug, die Songs kommen wie aus einem Guss, eine Note fasst in die andere. Der bisher eher etwas unspektakul„re sound von AUDIO KARATE hat sich in den letzten zwei jahren ein gutes stck weiterentwickelt und das ergebnis findet in "lady melody" seinen vorl„ufigen h”hepunkt.

Best,
Jayson Blair

Band: Bad Acid Trip
Label: Lynch The Weirdo
Label: Serjical Strike

These nonstop jokers will give you the most hilarious time of your life with uproarious humor gags like "Fascist Fuckwad," "When You Go Madd" and "Beware Of The Little People With Terrible Visions." The singer does zany fake-low-voice Rev. Norb-style antics and the band combines early Mr. Bungle-style circus music with thrash, grindcore and goofy noveltiness. Basically, they do a great job of trying to convince you that they're sophomoric idiots while simultaneously presenting some incredibly challenging instrumental moments. Bad Acid Trip is like a Carnival of Sickness. In fact, if I'd ever used LSD before and had a bad trip, I might describe it as being just like the band Carnival of Sickness. Way to go, Carnival of Sickness with your album Let's Lynch The Landlord!

And vice-versa!

Band: Bantam
Album: Bantam
Label: Heavy Nose

The lead singer/guitarist for NYC's very own Bantam is Gina from the Lunachicks, if you can believe THAT (don't - it's a LIE probably like everything else is a LIE - thank you Charles Manson for showing me what reality really is! Best, Dennis Wilson). But more importantly, the guy who plays bass on three of the songs is GEORGE PORFIRIS! Formerly of the HEROINE SHEIKS! Until he QUIT! Never forget what Godd said to his discifools (IS THERE A HARDCORE BAND CALLED "THE DISCIFOOLS" YET? LIKE DISCIPLES? BUT "DISCI-FOOLS"? IF NOT, FORM ONE. YOU! YEAH, I'M TALKIN' TO YOU! THE ONE WITH THE SHIRT AND PANTS!).

Bantam have a good crunchy motorcycle fuzz guitar sound, which they merge with several well- known genres (punk, garage, early grunge, dark pop/rock, mope rock, Black Sabbathy metal and FM-ready alternative, to name just one of these possible genres) to create a diverse, noisy but melodic, fun yet angst-ridden, manly yet woman-led album that has a song on it called "The Car." Awww FUCK YEAH, "THE CAR"!!!! NOW WE'RE TALKING ACADEMY AWARD-WINNING MOVIES FROM THE 1970S!!!! LOOK OUT, JAMES BROLIN!!!! HERE COMES "THE CAR"!!!!! WHAT EVIL DRIVES "THE CAR"? I DON'T KNOW!!!! BUT TIE UP YOUR DAUGHTERS AND LOCK UP YOUR STORAGE LOCKER, BECAUSE HERE COMES "THE CAR"!!!! BEEEEEP!!! BEE-BEE-BEEEEEP! BEE-BEE-BEEEEP!!!!

Band: Bathory
Album: Nordland I
Label: Black Mark

Bathory is the long-running Nordic metal project of a man named Quorthon. I was all excited about its release because I have this old Bathory compilation called Jubileum Volume III that just RIPS with all this fast, evil, dirty-Venom-guitar-sounding death metal with titles like "Satan My Master," "Crosstitution" and "Valhalla BackingVocals Multitrack Sample." But I guess peoples' tastes change over the course of two decades, because this CD is much slower, much more cleanly produced (guitars are still distorted and heavy - just not as creepily reverbed and antagonistic) and much, much more GOTH than the old stuff. The vocals in particular are like an overflowing toilet of humorless guys with dark slicked back hair dressed in all black and trying to sound morbid. But I've done some research and discovered that he's actually been doing this classically- inspired, dour Norwegian stuff for quite some time, and that the stuff I'd heard before was just his REALLY early stuff. So suffice it to say that I prefer his early stuff, but if you like any of his past several albums, you're bound to like this one. Slow songs with heavy guitars and synths playing Very Serious WARLIKE metal riffs (dark fantasy Dungeons & Dragons stuff). You'll "wig out" to a twisted scraggle tune every once in a while ("Great Hall Awaits A Fallen Brother" has a killer garage death guitar tone until Bob Opera Vocals comes in and turns it into a scary show tune), but - HEY! That parenthetical phrase said it best! These all sound like "scary" show tunes. In a Gothic off-Broadway musical about a Vampire haunting the hills of Sweden and sucking blood out of all the blonde girls with huge 5dood.

(Oh god, please don't hold your monitor up to a mirror - oh god, I am SO DEAD.")

It's a more "mature" form of metal than I personally tend to gravitate towards, with what sounds like a lot of work put into arrangements and dynamics and whatnot. So if classical goth metal is your "bag," consider Bathory your "vomit"!

Wait, that didn't come out the way I meant it. Can somebody fix the English language for me please?

Band: Battles
Album: EP C
Label: Monitor

John Stanier of Helmet, The Mark of Cain and Tomahawk is BACK! Ian Williams of Don Caballero is BACK! Tyondai Braxton is BLACK! Put `em all together and you've got BATTLES! Specifically, you've got a post-rock collection of instrumental gamelan guitar playing, electronic noises and drumbeats joining together to evoke feelings of darkness, soft and light. Song titles include "TRAS2," "IPT-2" and "B+T," leaving the listener questioning his own SANITY! Fans of Helmet and The Mark of Cain might be disappointed by the lack of heaviness, but fans of Godspeed You Black Emperor, Tortoise and what-have-you will have a field day - and I don't mean that album Field Day by Dag Nasty!

Ah, go fuck yourself.

Band: Bayside
Album: Sirens and Condolences
Label: Victory

It's unbelievable that there's so much confusion over the definition of "emo." There's like five hundred billion bands out there that sound like they're about to cry over a girl every second of their lives. Those are "grindcore" bands. Bands like Bayside, on the other hand, play "emo," which (whether punky or poppy - in Bayside's case poppy) involves sadness, desperation, gentle guitar lines, melodic sober vocals and lyrics like "I'll finally understand why time can wash away love like it was made of sand and it's wonderful, the pain that comes with regret."

And that's the main thing about Bayside really - the singer just cries and cries, threatening suicide over and over again without ever following through. Jerks like this need to realize that (a) there are more than one woman in the world, (b) they're blessed as FUCK to be rich white people free of disease (assuming they are) and (c) life's going to kill them soon enough so they'd might as well try to have fun while it's actually an option.

They're awfully good melodicists but Christ, don't any bands form for the pussy anymore? The PUSSY PUSSY PUSSY????

Wait, slow down. What do you mean I'm not Ted Nugent?

Band: Beakers
Album: Four Steps Toward A Cultural Revolution
Label: K

Do you ever get all mad and start yelling, "PERE UBU SUCKED AFTER THEIR FIRST ALBUM!!!"? Well, if you're like me, you generally don't think far enough in advance to yell things, but the Beakers heard your prayer in 1980 and recorded an art-bashing funk wave album that sounds EXACTLY like early Pere Ubu, right down to the exact same scratchy guitar tone and quivery fat man voice! If that's not all, you'll also enjoy the James Chance-style anarchic sax wailings of Jim Anderson, singer and saxophonist. If you think a band that steals their entire schtick from Pere Ubu and the New York No Wave Scene can't possibly be good, you'd be Dead Wrong! The Beakers flirt with disaster, but find success through winning dub bass lines and an excellent crisp drum sound reminiscent of early Fall. And that's not the ONLY connection to The Fall -- apparently the guitarist for the Beakers is none other than Mark E. Smith!!! However, I bet you a dollar it's not the REAL Mark E. Smith, but just some charlatan trying to cash in on The Fall's worldwide success and trick you into thinking MES was ever lucid enough to play an actual instrument. At any rate, this band broke up in 1981.

Band: Beatsteaks
Album: Living Targets
Label: Epitaph

German power-pop-rock-punk on Epitaph. Germany must be a lot like America, because there is nothing at all about this music that sounds like it couldn't have come out of Orange County or Boston, Massachusetts (home of the assfucking ministers!). The chord sequences are basic, the singing is just there, the songs hover around midtempo with just a couple of attempts at slightly speedier emotional Descendents-type punk. But they get lost somewhere on the path to interestingness. Only a few of these songs excite me at all. "Disconnected" has a neat bass line, if you're going to keep poking me in the eye with that nail until I give you an example. The rest of it just drags, with all the high-punk energy of that band that did "Whoa - come on let your light shine" or however that song goes. Corrosive Bland? Aggressive Flower? AH! Collective Soul. That's who I meant. But they're better than this boring crap band. GO BACK TO GERMANY WHERE YOU CAME FROM!

Okay, I'm told that they never actually left Germany. So. maybe they should think about LEAVING GERMANY WHERE THEY CAME FROM! SEEING THE WORLD! PICKING UP SOME NEW INFLUENCES SO ALL THEIR SONGS AREN'T CRAPPY UNEVENTFUL DOUCHEBAGS FILLED WITH A FRESH SEMEN/VAGINAL LUBRICANT MIXTURE!

Say! I've just thought of a fantastic new tag line for a Massengill commercial!

Band: Benny
Album: Finnish Road Junction
Label: Boss Tuneage

How seriously do you expect me to take a punk rock band that does a cover of "Down Under"? If you guessed "not very seriously," you're WRONG! ASS-wrong!!! Like most Americans (not that guy from the Swans), I love to laugh, so the British poppity punk/hardcore glee of Benny is tasty good to my ears. They don't come across as the most innovative band of all time, but if suburban melodic punk and fast angry (but silly) hardcore is (sneakin ' sally) up your alley, don't let this one skip by! How would you survive without "Shit Yer Pants" or "Karl's Dad's Shed"?

Simple! You could simply shit your pants in Karl's dad's shed (assuming you know somebody named Karl whose dad has a shed).

Band: Bestial Mockery
Album: Evoke The Desecrator
Label: Osmose Productions

"Chainsaw Demons Return." "Flash From A Razor." "Necromantic Ritual Desecration (Of A Sacrosanct Angel." "Death Upon The Holy Skies." Shockingly, it's not gospel at all, but DEATH METAL! The singer is a goblin with a throat filled with battery acid and the band speeds up and slows down like a busted rollercoaster scattering bodies all over the parking lot. Blastbeats! What would a really slow blastbeat sound like? Somebody record me a whole album of them and mail it to: Hell. "NECRO FUCKING SLUT! SHE'S A FUCKING WHORE!" That's a Bestial Mockery lyric, just FYI. Very cool evil band on a French label. Oops! Sorry - make that a "Freedom" label.

Band: Beyond Surface
Album: Destination's End
Label: Noise

Debut album by a German metal band. Lots of very pretty guitar playing - acoustic moments, arpeggois, dual harmonies -- harken back to fonder days of yore. A whole lotta minor chord action going down too, as if the band is sad and things are upsetting them. Very prevalent pianos and keyboards, some modern-day production tricks - these guys cannot be pigeonholed! Maybe it's more hard rock than metal, I suppose. They've certainly got greater range than your traditional heavy metal band might have. Some ballad-type songs here and there. Some creative riffage too - good tunes galore! Perhaps a little overserious (German vocalists ALWAYS sound overserious though), but if you're yearning for some melodic hard rock with metallic blasts of fuzz, consider going "Beyond Surface" and reaching your "Destination's End"!

This review is so enjoyably poorly written, I'm going to leave it completely as is. Isn't it amazing how it sounds like I've never heard music before in my life?

That's because I HAVEN'T! I'm completely BLIND!

What's that you say?

So wait -- THAT'S what music is? What the hell is NUDITY then!?

So you're telling me I've been masturbating to a GWAR album all these years!??!!?

That's okay, I guess. Does my wife know?

GAH!!! I'M MARRIED TO BILLY JOEL'S TURNSTILES!??!

Band: Beyond The Embrace
Album: Against The Elements
Label: Metal Blade

Beyond the Embrace is a Massachusetts band with THREE guitarists that plays mostly what I guess is called old-timey Iron Maideny "power metal" (although I prefer to call it NWOBHROTFLMAO) , with fast mean thrashin' speed metal tossed in every once in a while to get the kids on their happy dancing feet. Although the drummer tries to keep things moving by changing rhythm, speed and style several times in each song, the riffs are unfortunately pretty tiresome, relying way too heavily on minor keys, unoriginal chord sequences and twin lead guitar harmonies that scream "Hey, Iron Maiden!" over and over again. There are definitely bits and pieces of genius on here, but it only all comes together in one track - the seven- minute instrumental "The Riddle Of Steel" (btw, have you heard the riddle of steel? Oh it's a killer! Listen at this:

Q. What did the Steel say to the Auto Worker?
A. Don't touch me or I'll call a "Copper"! HEEEEEEEEEEEEEEEEEEEEEEEEE!!!! Oh heck. Sorry I peed on your neck there.)

that closes the album. This songbrings together the awesome thrash, acoustic pickin'/strummin', power metal chordness and classical piano, presenting the band in their most positive light. Which is to say, without the singer, who alternates between a sick rasp and a singing style that appears to be based nearly entirely on that of Mr. James Hetfield of Metallica fame.

Band: Big D & The Kids Table
Album: The Ginsy Mill EP
Label: Fork In Hand/Stomp/Household Name Records

I love to brag about hating ska, but I'm starting to think that I don't hate it as much as I thought I did. I don't mean the Specials and Madness and faux-ska bands like that; I'm talking about the LEGIT stuff, like No Doubt. But here I am listening to the "punk-ska" of Big D & The Kids Table from Boston and kind of not hating it at all! Granted, there are probably a lot of folks in Massachusetts who argue the merits of such a band (I call them the "Mass. Debaters"), but for this lonely non-Jewish NYC boy, the bouncy horns, variedly toned guitars (from beatifully clean strumming to ugly tinny scriggling to heavy thrashin') and good solid humor of love are the BEST kind of ska possible, especially considering how stupid you have to dress if you want to be a ska fan. Here's my "ska guy," a new character I've been working on for the past six months: "Hey! Look at my narrow-brimmed porkpie hat, short pants, long socks, checkerboard patterns and skinny tie! Last week I was a Nazi skinhead!" That's all I've come up with so far, but then that little "jik-jik-jik" guitar style is all that the entire ska genre has come up with so far, so who's the real enemy here?

That's right! Osama Von Beethoven!

The Ginsy Mill EP is the absolute EQUAL of the entire Beatles catalog.

Band: Big Iron
Album: Falling Down
Label: Neoblast

Somewhere there's a land where people don't want to listen to detuned heavy metal chords with a guy alternately singing, rapping and screaming over it. In this land, it's said that you can find melodies containing actual notes, and lyrics concerned with more than teen-level self-pity like "The truth is killing me," "Torn up in an overrated mind fuck," "It's hard to sleep at night with so much wasted life" and "all of this made up shit adds up to a life." But you know what? FUCK that world! Big Iron ROXXX and you can really IDENTIFY with their lyrics! Plus Todd the bassist is HOT!

Did you get that "Mass. Debaters" joke I made in the first paragraph? That was AWESOME!!!

Band: Billy Butcher
Album: Penny Dreadful
Label: Outlaw

Australian-looking possibly-Canadian Pete Parker is a ROCKER! His rock and roll is filled with rolling, rocking and roll. Hard rock and roll. Bendy blues solos, primitive Chuck Berry riffs and a goofy normal guy singing lead (that being Pete Parker, who looks a lot like that bald guy in Midnight Oil, plays like early AC/DC and Angel City, yet apparently recorded this album in Vancouver. He's a Southern man with one foot in the country blues and another in a puddle of ink that is splashing all over his body, leaving strange patterns in its wake. If you haven't heard Peter Parker's pickled pecker pickled peppers, you haven't heard Billy Butcher (because that's his band). And if you haven't heard Billy Butcher, you've never been DRUNK!

Band: Blackouts
Album: History In Reverse
Label: K

In their ongoing project to dig up old Seattle bands that sounded like other, more successful bands, K Records has reissued an old early '80s sack of tunes by the Blackouts (or "Joy Division With A Saxophone"). Their cold wave, atmosphreicic badtime riffs will drive you to suicide and back, especially the memorable bass lines, churning drum attacks and Joy Division imitation. They were GOOD though! And the singer guy didn't sound like Joy Divison so much; too pussy to sing low and commit self-murder like Ian Curtis, he instead wigged out all over town with falsettos, herk-jerks, flapjacks and hot doggery all his own. But musically, the dark angry bitter bass-heavy doom-laden drone-rock is totally Unknown Pleasures or Substance or whatever album you like by those jerks. If you think you know Seattle like the back of your hand, you're WRONG buddy! I don't see Mark Arm playing in THIS band!!! I don't see Kurt Cobain's headless gore-drenched torso singing in THIS band!!! I don't see Layne Staley's bloated corpse rotting in THIS band!!

Addendum (4 weeks later): What the hell? No wonder the damn rhythm section is so good -- it's Paul Barker and William Rieflin! Soon to be from Ministry! Christ, I really need to look these bands up before running my bigass mouth about them.

Band: The Blacktop Cadence
Album: Chemistry For Changing Times
Label: No Idea

THE WORST GODDAMNED DRUM TONE I'VE EVER HEARD IN MY LIFE. The snare is playing a particular NOTE, for crying out loud. How do you manage to make your drum play a NOTE? I wish I could tell you which note it is, but I'm tone-dumb. All you need to know is that when the guitars play in a different key than the note of the snare drum (which is most of the time), the songs sound completely out of tune. Also, the music is unforgivably draggy. I think they're trying to do a more jangly take on Fugazi/Slint post-punk, but the songs are so poorly arranged and slowly-paced, it comes across more like Fuglousy/.Shit toast-bunk! "Toast" didn't work. I like the viola, but this is heroin music as far as I'm concerned. Which might be why they have "blacktop" in the band name (Tar = Heroin). Also, this CD was recorded several years ago and the band doesn't exist.

Band: The Blank Tapes
Album: Country Western Honky Tonk Saloon Blues
Label: Enipucrop

It took me far too long to realize that the label name is "Porcupine" backwards. The Blank Tapes sound like the Kinks playing acoustic country-western music. The guy actually sounds like Ray Davies! "Drunkaholic" actually sounds like a ripoff of "Sunny Afternoon"! Otherwise, they don't really sound like the Kinks at all. But man, when your voice sounds like Ray Davies', you can't really help sounding like the Kinks! Even a grindcore band would sound like the Kinks if their singer sounded like this. There's a slow, lazy, alcoholic, goodtime, relaxed vibe to this music which would fit in nicely at a college party in Arizona or some other hot, dry place where you feel the desert on your back and the wind of death in your soul.

FUCK!!! THE SINGER JUST SAID THE WORD "ARIZONA"!!!!! I AM THE GOD OF MUSIC REVIEW!!!! AND I BRING YOU --- MUSIC REVIEW!!!! (*The World of Mark Prindle begins playing fast crazy freakout music while I fling music reviews all over the stage*)

Artist: Amy Blaschke
Album: Amy Blaschke
Label: Luckyhorse Industries

Man alive, does this young woman write and sing some beautiful little guitar songs. Her voice reminds me of somebody, but I can't put my finger on who. Tanya Donnelly? Kim Deal? Wilford Brimley? Whomever it is, that person probably doesn't write songs that are anywhere near this nice, homey, memorable, cute, special, dramatic and mmm... what's that word you use when you like something, it rhymes with "hood," I think. Ah yes! "Pood". She's from Seattle (homo of "grugne" music) and she's bringing a fresh new confessional voice to my strumming dark vocal delivery.

Artist: Blaze
Album: Blood & Belief
Label: SPV

If you've been following the career of Iron Maiden anywhere nearly as closely as the Taliban commanded you to, you'd know that for a couple of years in the mid-90s, Bruce DICKinson was off flying passenger airliners and recording solo albums nobody bought. During this period, the classic Iron Maiden ("Up The Irons!" you might have shouted at the time, or earlier) band became a complete parody of itself, reusing pathetic old riffs while a huge-voiced Vegas Tom Jones guy sang equally stupid lyrics he didn't write on top. And that singer was none other than Mr. Blaze Bayley of Wolfsbane fame (Glenn Danzig produced their album! Wicked!).

Much to my absolute delight as a human being, Blood & Belief (Blaze's fourth solo CD) is much heavier, catchier and "with the times" than the godawful Iron Maiden albums he appeared on (Virtual XI and The X-Factor - DON'T BUY THEM! YOU'LL DIE OF SHITTINESS!), plus his voice is pretty much a normal, thick, melodic singing thing rather than the operatic pile of Atlantic City crap he forced Steve Harris's enormous fan base to sit through nearly a decade earlier. In fact, I'd darn near call this a good record as these things go! It's extremely honest and upsetting lyrically too, as Blaze recounts his last two years of alcohol problems and intense depression in such stunning verbal recollections as "Tearing Myself To Pieces," "Regret" and "Life And Death." Plus, best of all, he totally has a full beard!!!

Band: Bleeding Through
Product: This Is Live, This Is Murderous DVD
Label: Kung Fu

By "Bleeding Through," I didn't know they meant my EARS! OW! You can just forget what you think you know about Kung Fu Records and its sunny youth speed-fun pop punk agenda, because Bleeding Through is a loud, vicious, angry, screaming death metal band of noise, anger, tattoos and body piercings. I even almost got a headache during the bonus pre- and post-show backstage footage -- just because they LOOKED like they were about to scream at me! The singer was dressed like a skeleton with a mohawk, for Pete's sake. Don't they realize that everybody on Earth is over the age of 40 now? We're old! Stop yelling at us!

But for you youngsters out there, this is a live show by Orange County's very own beloved modern hardcore death blast Bleeding Through band. Filmed lovingly, played viciously and inclusive of 11 delightful melodies the likes of "Love Lost In A Hail Of Gunfire," "Revenge I Seek," "Our Enemies," "Sweet Vampirous," "Number Seven With A Bullet," "Turns Cold To The Touch" and Sting's popular "Murder By Numbers," this is one rocking ass good time designed to bring a cancerous tumor to the brain of Ataris fans the worldround.

I'm serious. It gave me a fucking headache and now I can't listen to the new Ministry CD. FUCKING JERKS!

Band: The Blood Divine
Album: Rise Pantheon Dreams
Label: Peaceville

Depressing dark black goth metal that moves really slowly and insists that life is painful and that music should reflect such. Sad string-section-like synthesizers are spread all over the heavy guitars (and moments of acoustic sorrow) and the vocalist, to be quite honest, sounds a lot like the guy in Gwar (an equally sad, sorrowful goth band whose songs include "The Sex-O-Cutioner" and "Black And Huge").

I'm wondering if this band used to be less gothy or something because there are two "unreleased" tracks on here that kick real-life metal AAS without the dramatic pretensions and gothic keyboards that make my razorblade want to rub itself against somebody's wrist just to put it (my razorblade) out of its Missouri.

But the "released" stuff - yeesh. I guess if you're really into the whole Type O Negative scene, this would be good for you. Actually I guess a LOT of people are into the whole depression goth Wicca Satanism scene, so The Blood Divine is bound to have a good sized fan base of interchangeable black-lipsticked teenage girls somewhere, perhaps in jolly Old Englande from whence they came. Or in the alternative frat at your local state University.

If I sound bitter and old, it's only because you're idealistic and young. Some day when you're MY age (add ten years to your own age and that's my age), you'll feel the same way I do.

And I'll still be ten years ahead of you in cynicism. HA! You'll NEVER catch up, and you'll forever be stuck thinking the "OLD THING" is cool! Come on, "The Strokes"? Don't you mean "The Old-And-Washed-Ups"?

Band: Blood Duster
Album: Blood Duster
Label: Season Of Mist

After watching George W. Bush's hilarious comedy search for weapons of mass destruction under his couch in one of the finest "edgy" comedy skits of the day, I thought I'd seen everything. Well, Blood Duster are here to show me that I Don't Know Jack is a boring computer game for losers.

They're also here to show me that I Don't Know Nothing. Do you understand what Blood Duster is/are doing? They're an Australian Southern Rock Grindcore band. Now first of all, I grew up in the American South and I'm telling you -- Australia was generally nowhere to be seen. Maybe they lie about it now and claim to be from the South, but there were no marsupials where I grew up. And you know what a marsupial is? That's right: A kangaroo. And that's ALL it is. A veritable synonym for kangaroo, some might say. So what are Blood Duster (who, incidentally, have umlauts over the first o in blood and the u in duster, but I don't think you can make umlauts in WordPad, which is surprising because it is by far the most advanced word processing software on the market today).

My point is simple, and is as follows: Blood Duster play a zesty combo-nation of greasy oil-covered Southern Rock hard '70s lickage and the brutal blastbeats/lovable "Jim Henson's Muppets" vocal growls of gore-grind-death-crust-core. Supposedly their earlier records are full to busting with album titles like Cunt and Fisting The Dead, so this wussily self-titled effort is presumably a sellout bid for alternative radio success, what with 1 of the 26 songs being over three minutes long (3:01, to be precise) and most of the songs featuring inoffensive pop monikers like "For Those About To Fuck," "Cock Junkie," "Achin For An 'A' Cup," "Dahmer The Embalmer," "Drink Fight Fuck," "She's A Junkie" and "Let's Fuck."

So if you like some personality in your gorecore, mayhaps it's time to Dust you some Blood!

Band: Bloodjunkies
Album: Maladies
Label: Evil One

Conjuring the late spirit of Gun Club founder and proprieter Jeffrey Lee Pierce, Los Angeles' Bloodjunkies combine folksy rockabilly guitaring with stretching-low James Hetfield-Eats-Gordon-Lightfoot vocals and death rock lyrics for a rousting piece of rootsy folk goth hard rock. Three members of this sextet are also in another band, but I can't remember what in Damnation they're called. HAHAHAH!!! JOKES ALL AROUND!!!! PASS THE BARREL OF CANDY SOAPS!!!! Song titles: "The Man Who Ate Himself," "Getting Evil," "This Cursed Place," "Deer Rifle" and thirteen others. If you like dark frontier imagery, are somewhat fond of sophisticated melody and find a sound not quite of this world at least passable, Bloodjunkies might be the best thing you've ever seen!

Band: Bloodlet
Album: Three Humid Nights In The Cypress Trees
Label: Victory

Isn't it pleasant when you accidentally run across a new band that kicks your (I'M GONNA NEED TO CENSOR THIS PORTION OF THE REVIEW, AS I FEEL ITS CONTENTS ARE INAPPROPRIATE FOR A FAMILY AUDIENCE. THANK YOU - THE EDITOR) so hard that you feel your (SLANG TERMS FOR BODY PARTS HAVE NOTHING TO DO WITH MUSIC AND SHOULD BE TREATED AS THE FILTH THAT THEY ARE. THANK YOU - THE EDITOR) crawl up under your (EVEN IF YOU USE THE MEDICAL TERM, IT IS STILL DIRTY AND STILL SHOULD BE KEPT AWAY FROM IMPRESSIONABLE YOUNG PEOPLE, WHO MAY BE INFLUENCED TO RAPE AND TAKE DRUGS. THANK YOU - THE EDITOR) and pop out the top of your head? That's what happened with (THE NAME OF THIS BAND IS TOO VIOLENT TO INCLUDE IN THE TEXT OF THIS REVIEW. THANK YOU - THE EDITOR). The second I listened to 45 minutes (in one second) of their latest CD, I was so excited, I had to go onto half.com and (THIS PUBLICATION DOES NOT CONDONE THE SALE OR PURCHASE OF USED COMPACT DISCS, AS IT IS KILLING THE MUSIC INDUSTRY. THANK YOU - THE EDITOR) one of their earlier CDs. And that one kicked (DRUGS AND BEGAN ATTENDING CHURCH. THAT'S HOW THE SENTENCE WENT. THANK YOU - THE EDITOR). They play that crazy wild show-offy intricate mathematical screaming metal hardcore that always makes me hold my thumb up in the air (I MAY BE A LITTLE LATE, BUT I'D APPRECIATE IT IF YOU DIDN'T USE THE WORD "HARDCORE." THANK YOU - THE EDITOR) and thank the Lord (CHRISTIAN. THANK YOU - THE EDITOR) for rock and roll. If you're into really heavy guitars playing wicked evil dissonant smart riffs while a guy screams at the top of his lungs at you, (I'LL REPOSSESS YOUR HOUSE. THANK YOU - THE AUDITOR).

Man, I'm listening to this again right now - the guitars are so FILTHY! Loose haywire electrical cords snapping and twitching around, but on top of a huge mound of dirt and mud. And a backwoods Caveman expressing the emotions of the Wild with his one-note shrieks of agony. Just like The GBeatles! GOD, I LOVE the GBeatles!!!! Somebody go buy me a copy of GRubber Soul!!!

HEY!!! WHAT THE HELL IS THIS SHIT???? DID I SAY GLET IT BE???? I DON'T GODDAMNED THINK SO, DICK!!!!

THANK YOU - THE TIRED "RUNNING" JOKE

Band: Blurt
Album: The Best of - Volume 1 - The Fish Needs A Bike
Label: Salamander

If The Fall put an ad in the paper reading "We want to form a band that sounds like a cross between Fugazi and the Birthday Party," and James Chance & the Contortions were the only ones who answered, the result would make you blurt out, "WOW! What a brainy, wiry, saxophone bleatingly, avant-gardey, funky, post-punky, noisy, rackety bunch of genius music these fellows have wrought!" Hence, the name Blurt; I don't know. That wasn't a very good segue. Blurt was (is?) a great band though! The vocalist sounds like a greaser in a white t-shirt raping your sister at knifepoint, but the band (at its best) outbrilliants even the finest of early Pere Ubu material.

Band: Bombshell Rocks
Album: From Here And On
Label: Epitaph/Burning Heart

In one of the grossest marketing moves I've witnessed today, Epitaph has placed a sticker on the front of this CD reading, "If you like Rancid, you'll like Bombshell Rocks!" Well sir, I loathe Rancid, but I'm pretty fond of Sweden's own Bombshell Rocks! Sure, the cover is a black and white photo coated in red ink like a Rancid album, but the music inside is far more diverse than in my head I imagine a Rancid album to be. Plus, most of it isn't even punk rock, especially of the retro-Clash variety. This is power pop for the most part. I mean, there are a few moments of moody rock and ska-influenced dark wave, but most of it is a bunch of tattooed bootboys performing emotionally resonant Cheap Trick-style power pop! You might call them Sweden's greatest export since ABBA -- heroin!!!!

And believe me, if you like pure uncut Swedish heroin, you'll LOVE Bombshell Rocks. Even when the hooks are simplistic and old, they're so darned joyous, it's not nearly as upsetting as listening to that guy in Rancid doing his British rasp crap for 45 minutes. The singer in this band is named Marten Cedergran, for Chrissake - and HE sounds more American than that Rancid guy! He also has a very pretty voice, not being afraid to rear back and sing like a Joey Ramone when the punk shout doesn't seem appropriate (as in basic yet soaring pop-punk anthems like the title track).

I'm not the biggest fan in the world of pop-punk, so believe me when I tell you that these guys are not content to be another MxPx or NoFX or X-Ray Spex or Malcolm X or XXX movie stars -- they do POP, they do PUNK, but they separate them so they can hone in on the strengths of each genre. The pop doesn't move so fast that they can't layer ringing guitar sounds on top for heavenlier beauty. And the punk isn't so bouncy and sissyish that it doesn't kick the asses of those that desire a kick to the groin.

Yes it is. What the hell am I talking about? Maybe I just WISH I could find an album like that.

Artist: Books On Tape
Album: Sings The Blues
Label: Greyday Productions

Books On Tape is one of those bands that's really just one guy, but he's so ashamed of his family name that he chooses to hide behind a fake band name like "Sentridoh" or "The Dave Matthews Band." But Mr. Todd Drootin is different from all those other liars who are letting down their parents -- he creates his songs on a sampler! Todd (or "Books," as he prefers to be called in front of people) slams together bunches of unrelated noises, beats, notes and voices, and creates whole new rhythmic melodies from the mess of gunk. His music fits into the electronica genre, but it's not boring dance stuff; you can even enjoy it if you have two left feet! (as long as you also have at least one right foot) The sound constructions are interesting (jazz instrument notes, industrial scrapes, new wave plink-plonks) and he always creates an actual melody, even if there are no vocals on top by one of today's many professional singers. File Books On Tape next to Meat Beat Manifesto in your collection. Even though I didn't. My copy is between the Bonzo Dog Band and the Boredoms. But that's only because it sounds like an exact cross between the Bonzo Dog Band and the Boredoms.

Band: Born From Pain
Album: Sands of Time
Label: Gangstyle

That'd be one note the vocalist is shouting. Every single word shouted in the exact same note. Sounds angry, but not convincing. Try shouting at the top of your lungs at somebody without changing the timbre or volume of your voice - it sounds like you're reciting from a script, doesn't it? Yes it does. When you're really angry, your voice goes up and down a lot. It also does that when you're singing. So this guy is neither angry nor singing - he's just shouting at the top of his lungs. Guess that's a modern old-school hardcore thing (?). By modern, I mean extremely heavy and metallic, but by old-school I mean that the music is a bunch of fast chords like in the olden days of DRI and Agnostic Front (as opposed to the OTHER kind of modern hardcore, which features five billion rhythm changes - Dillinger Escape Plan, etc). I'm not doubting that the band was, in fact, born from pain (as they claim in "Stainless," "I'm a man that walks all alone in this godforsaken world"). But the chord sequences are exactly what you'd expect from this type of music, and have likely been used hundreds of times by similar bands. Still - it's fast, loud and powerful. They're probably a great live band, but it's hard to capture that "in the pit" insane lunacy hardcore sound when you're listening to a CD at home on your computer with your little puppy dog playing with a squeaky sock at your feet. Oi!

Band: Branca Ensemble
Product: Symphony Nos. 8 & 10 - Live At The Kitchen
Label: Music Video Distributors/Atavistic

If you're a Sonic Youth fan who's never heard Glenn Branca, today's the day you change your pants. Branca prancatically invented all that alternate tuning guitar wash stuff, except he does it in symphonic form -- written out in crazy sheet music for big strangely turned guitar orchestras to blow out the jams of droning violin-like volumes of noise spray, dissonance and about 50 intertwined chords and note clusters all happening together at once. The results are alternately hypnotic, creepy, noisy, annoying, beautiful, boring, challenging and exciting as all daylights can be (when turned on at once).

This particular DVD features 70 minutes of music - two symphonies (each with two parts) performed in 1995 by seven guitarists, a bassist/guitarist, a bassist/keyboardist and a drummer. The first movement begins a bit slowly, with just a bunch of "Now I'm going UP the neck, now I'm going DOWN the neck" predictability, but after that, things get REALLY weird. So weird in fact that I'm a little bit bothered by the fact that there is no commentary track for this disc. What was Branca trying to do with these works? How did he develop and accomplish the frightening chord interplay, especially in the final movement, "The Horror"? What do the players think about what they're playing? Do they get it? What does it mean to them? Unfortunately, none is to be found. The music's still great and it's interesting to see what kind of people Glenn got to play for him (bald aging drummer, obnoxious arrogant-looking female bassist/keyboardist, seven guitarists who concentrate heavily on the sheet music instead of showing off), but I left the experience feeling as dumb as when I went in. I'm impressed by what Glenn does, but I don't understand what he's doing! I mean, we're talking about a guy who, according to the press release here, "mapped the first 128 intervals of the harmonic scale." I don't even know what that means!!!! Is he saying that the band only weighs 128 pounds? Because that's what I'm going to assume he means, and that's why I'm going to report them to the FBI as heroin traffickers.

If you're a smartypant, would you mind buying this CD and telling me what this music is supposed to be doing, compositionally speaking? Because I don't hear any catchy choruses or middle eights. Hell, there aren't even any shining blues-influenced axe solos! What's a modern classical composition without some wicked Clapton-esque jammin'?

Band: Bright Eyes
Album: Lifted Or The Story Is In The Soil Keep Your Ear To The Ground
Label: Saddle Creek

Bright Eyes is a band led by a 22-year-old Nebraska boy named Connor Oberst who sings with PASSION and SPIT and EMOTION so much so that you'd just wanna throw him out of really fast car if his songs weren't so darn well-written, meticulously arranged and repeteatedly listenatable. He writes these simple emotional folksy melodies of fear, anxiety and pain and then has a sixteentet pile corncobs full of guitars, pianos, keyboards, strings, horns, banjos, dobros, mandolins, pedal steels, sound effects, glockenspiels, bells, vibraphones, dulcimers, clarinets, trumpets and flutes on top, for a final effect of a talented over-emoting little boy chosen by fate to lead the World's Final Orchestra Of Destiny as the Earth sinks into the ocean at the end of time.

The ocean of HELL!!!!! Where WE'LL ALL BUUUURRRRRNNNN!!!!!!

Sorry about that - just trying out to be the singer for Bev Bevan's Venom Part II.

Last time I was 22, my songs weren't this good, but then to be fair, I didn't even know 16 other people existed, let alone that they all knew how to play different instruments.

Band: Broadzilla
Album: Lady Luck
Label: Diamond Star

Detroit's all-female trio Broadzilla play the same sort of tough-girl metal that Lita Ford and Joan Jett did back in their day, but with louder, rawer, more Motorhead-sounding guitars. Some of the tunes have punky energy too. Apparently these guys are really popular and have won awards and things. Some of the riffs kick pretty well; others are straight out of the '80s. And one of the songs seems to be anti-marijuana! Can you believe that? Here I am trying to smoke a marijuana seed and Mrs. Society is out there telling me that God makes mistakes! Try pulling that shit at Altamont! I' ll have Meredith Hunter SHOOT ya!

Band: Dave Brockie Experience
Album: Songs For The Wrong
Label: Metal Blade

For some reason, Metal Blade stopped sending me promo CDs. Why did they do so? I'm a nice fellow! With pants and everything! Oh well. Conjecture just makes a con of Ject and Ure (your) (self) (my nickname is "Ject"), so I'll move on to tighter issues and facial tissues.

Let's get something straight right now -- as far as I know, I like Gwar. I have all their albums and I enjoy most of them on the rare occasion when they enter my CD Jar. There's just something so bombastic, larger than life and stupid about them -- ridiculous costumes, violent overall concept, offensive lyrics, and music that is quite often pretty catchy! But one thing they can never do is remove their costumes or acknowledge that the concept is a joke -- otherwise, all they'd have left would be disgusting juvenile lyrics recited in a gross smarmy voice atop nice enough but fairly predictable punk-metal. And that's exactly what the Dave Brockie Experience IS -- three members of Gwar without their costumes, performing horrifically unfunny novelty songs.

"Slowpoke" is about a guy who makes love too slowly. "Should The Ugly Girl Blow Me?" goes no further than its title. "Hard For A 'Tard" is every bit as witty as you'd expect a song about having sex with a retarded girl to be. "March Of The Faggot Soldiers"? "Shatilla"? And you're never gonna believe this -- the song "I Wanna Be A Squirrel" makes a double-entendre out of the word "nuts"! HAHAHAH!!!! HHH!H!!!! AHHAH~!!!!!

In their promotional material, DBX makes a big deal out of wanting to "suck as badly as possible" and have Brockie "make an ass out of himself" and be "the silliest experience in music today." And all this is true. They do suck, he does make an ass out of himself and the band is silly. But that's not GOOD. In theory, it may sound like fun, but in practice, the CD is just a depressing waste of time with all the humor of Caddyshack II. It's almost enough to make me never want to hear Gwar again!

Artist: Bronwyn
Album: Through The Fog, Through The Pines
Label: Greyday Productions

Two women - NO WAITING!!! HEHEHEHEHEHH!!! HAAAAA! HT (*asterisks*)

Having survived the racist, sexist '60s, I am poised to define Bronwyn as a talented, moody Portland band that uses dry, cold guitar textures to play sad intertwining notes and the occasional '80s college radio jangle chord. Two women share lead vocals - so there's NO WAITING!!!!!!!! (on vocals). It's not pop music, nor is it goth. It's like if two people came to your house with guitars and began picking away at songs of various tempo that all make you a little sad or anxious, but in an impressed "hey, nice guitar interplay!" way. Then it's like some guy with a cello comes over and plays on a few songs. Then it's like a crazed ice cream man keeps driving up and down your street blaring a moog, piano, accordion and language master, instead of the usual "Doodily-dooty-dooty-doo -- dooty-dooty-Doo-Doo!" song that Korn and Staind are striving to emulate in their high-energy shit rock. Put it all together and WHAM!!!!! HOLY FUCKIN PISSDICKASS!!!!! WHAM IS ON TV!!!!!! GOD, I FUCKIN LOVE ANDREW RIDGELY!!!!!! I BET YOU ANYTHING HE'S NOT GAY!!!!!

I apologize for that. Put it all together and WHAM!!!! You've got what the world in its private moments calls a good CD!!!!!

Band: Brothers of Conquest
Product: All The Colors of Darkness
Label: Go-Kart

When that guy Adam Neal from that band Nash Pussyville and apparently that other band The Hookers (Fans of the Robin William Film) decided to form a new band that sounds a lot like his other bands, he did it with Pissass!!!!

I don't come from your country, and where I come from, we get our "S"s and "Z"s mixed up. For example, I love that band S.S. Top. See? You see what I mean? No way could I have made that mistake on purpose. Where has your childlike trust in human nature gone?

This is total Southern motorcycle death punk like Antiseen (AND I THOUGHT SO BEFORE I SAW THAT ON THEIR PROMO SHEET, ASSHOLE), with riffs and a vocal approach that sound to all my worldly possessions like the first Danzig album, starring Glenn Danzig (AND I THOUGHT SO BEFORE I SAW IT ON THEIR PROMO SHEET, BUTTASS)! Not just the heavy guitars, Black Sabbath ripoff riffs and swingin' drumbeats, but this singer guy - who has chosen to go by the name "The Rock N' Roll Outlaw" in reference to his successful career in white collar crime while at the helm of a Fortune 50 company from 1985-1992 in an alternate history that never even came close to happening - sounds almost identical to Glenn Danzig at his most gravelly, rednecky, yelly and irritating (and LEAST musical). But even with the fairly basic riffs, the sleazy filthy swampy mudpile piledrivin' professional dirtbag Hell's Angel grit in the guitar tones and attack help the album as a whole e-mackarel RIP YOUR ASS A NEW NECKBALL!

The promo sheet also says they sound like Manowar, but I don't hear that at all. So if you're a Manowar fan, STAY AT HOME! (forever, if possible - they suck!!!)

The first time I listened to this disc, I hated the singer's raw bearded voice so much, I wanted to take the disc out and wash its hole out with soup and water. But times have changed since November 11th, 2001 and I guess I've realized that it's more important to enjoy life than to find fault with everything and criticize those who are working hard to pursue their individual artistic vision. And it's this epiphany that finally opened my heart to sending letter after letter to the White House requesting live fisting on television.

Band: Burning Image
Album: 1983-1987
Label: Alternative Tentacles

In the liner notes, famous punk rock man Jello Biafra states that he was "floored" the first time he heard this Bakersfield band in 1984. So buy this CD and "Get Floored!"

In addition, Burning Image played what at the time was called "Death Rock": a dark tangle of minor-key surf-spyish guitar licks with cavernous echo, vampire leanings and gothic keyboards tinkling above the murk. I'd put TSOL's legendary (and deservedly so) Dance With Me LP in the same category, along with maybe that first Christian Death album. But who cares what I think? Jello Biafra likes it!!!

Yes, THAT Jello Biafra!!!! From "Jello Biafra & Mojo Nixon"!!!

Band: Callenish Circle
Album: Flesh_Power_Dominion
Label: Metal Blade

The third album for the presumably Dutch Callenish Circle. More hoarse shrieked screaming vocals - innovatively enough! This is thrash - FAST thrash like a Slayer might play, with cool note-concentrated (as opposed to chord-filled) riffs to bang your wife to. WIFE??!?!?! NO, HEAD!!!!!

GIVE ME HEAD, WIFE!!!!

But enough lewd innuendo. If you thought it was neat back when Metallica played fast but you don't care if the singer guy just retches his words out in packets of phlegm, you just might try parking your car in Callenish Circle. I think this might be called "drop fingers" or "fingerdrops" or "downstrokes" or something. Where he takes his finger deal and runs it up and down the neck tapping on particular notes while the bass lays down the key in the background. There's a name for it, and believe me, if Callenish Circle's guitarists don't know what it is - somebody should tell them! Because they do it so much! It's not all fast, but the best parts are and there are a lot of best parts.

The singer is not a best part.

Band: Cans
Album: Beyond The Gates
Label: Noise

The word "Cans" conjures up all kinds of erotic imagery, but as it turns out it's just some guy's name. Specifically, Hammerfall's vocalist Joacim Cans. This is his first solo album and believe you me, it's really heavy Euro-Metal with vocal and melodic stylings from the mid-80s. The operatic warble, the fantastical lyrics like "Silent cries/The spirit dies at the hands of the innocent" and "You'll hear the silent cries" (those lyrical snippets are from two different songs, you understand) the big broad strokes of guitar/keyboard minor chords and note progressions -- straight outta yesteryear and cruisin' on out to a new tomorrow! So get off your "cans," grab a few "cans" of beer and buy this new CD by Joacim Camm!

Band: Capture The Flag
Album: Start From Scratch
Label: Go-Kart

Start From Scratch MY ASS, maybe! Ha! hahah1! FUC IDKEY!

Now that you've fuced idkey, we can progress. Capture the Flag is an EMOtional power punk rock trio from the clean streets of dEMOtroit whose singer keeps almost crying all over the microphone with his despair. The guitars are scraggly and fruzzy, slightly chorused (i think?) but too quick to give up dark, interesting chord sequences (like the verse of "Eye To Eye") in favor of status quo power pop generica (like the chorus of "Eye To Eye"). Same old Dag Nasty obsession? Possibly. Not at all a bad band, just not giving me anything I haven't heard before. Especially the intro to "The Enemy Hand," which I heard by Blue Oyster Cult 20 years ago. Plus most of their songs are in the same key, which gets really tiresome after a while. If you have one of those fancy new compact disc decks, you can see what I'm talking about if you just quickly switch back and forth between the beginnings of track 1, 3, 5, 6, 7 and 11. Do it enough times and you've written a brand new song in their favorite key! And you know what key that is?

FUC IDKEY!!!

Band: Carcass
Album: Choice Cuts
Label: Earache

Carcrash is BACK! And this time, it's PERSONNEL!

Actually they're not back at all. They broke up years ago. But this greatest hits compilation sure is back! Featuring two or three tracks from every single Carpass release, from their creepy 1988 grindcore debut Reek Of Putrefaction to the thick palatable 1996 midtempo metal finale Swansong, these loud blasts of screaming death power are ass-geared to jerk your needle fifty-five axles to the fluffergrab noobe stc.d. Then, as if that's not enough to win over the hearts of people who like gross song titles like "Genital Grinder," "Maggot Colony," "Swarming Vulgar Mass of Infected Virulency" and "Keep On Rotting In The Free World," they pile on eight more fancy-pants PEEL sessions at the end! Dude, these jerks invented "gore" metal, it's said! For some reason this compilation was originally supposed to come out in 1999, but the band canned it. Not sure why. But now it's here! If you're itching to hear one of the most popular and asp-kicking meTTTal bands of all time, you probably don't need every goddamned album they put out, so buy the compilation! Don't forget - July is just around the corner!

Band: Cari Clara
Album: Miniature American Model Society
Label: Tiberius

I have an almost insane feeling that this band has heard Radiohead before. I can't prove such a notion, but between the soft electronic pinging sonar noises, the slow as a turtle rhythms, the ringing sensitive future-sorrow echoey guitar and the calm, collected Bono-esque vocals, I swear something reminds me of Radiohead. Maybe it's the Bono-esque vocals? Whatever the case, the members of Cari Clara make beautiful, heartbreaking music together. If they would just differentiate their electronic tones and guitar processors the slightest bit, they'd probably be able to create a non-Radiohead-sounding classic all their own.

Band: Cass
Album: Spundae Presents Cass
Label: Mute

Spundae is a delightful club at which people enjoy a dance or so, perhaps down Chicago way, and Cass is a globetrotting DJ who spins the record players in Australia ("Put another song on the barby!" they shout!), Mexico ("Hola! Como esta el turntable?" they query!), Europe ("Cheerio mate! `Ow's that then? `Ello ello ello! Oi! Wot's dis? A dancey pub?" they lime!) and right home in the greatest country in America, the U.S.

Now understand that I'm neither hip nor gay, so I can't really tell you exactly what "turntableism" might involve, but best I can gather he kinda plays two records at once or makes one fade into the next or somesuch. It all sounds the same to me PERSONALLY, but I don't think it's meant to be LISTENED to, per se. It's a DANCE double-CD, and as such, it is DANCEY as all getouttahere! If you've got a Yahtzee party going and nobody seems to be getting in the "groove" (sex), just pull out Spundae Presents Cass and some ketamine, and your guests will be naked and committing the sin of adultery in no time!

If you actually understand this kind of music, you should probably know that this is meant to be a "helter-skelter ride through deep, progressive and tech-edged house, breakbeat and techno." And according to Cass himself (short for "Macaroni Casserole," at least in a little world I made up in my closet), disc one "is one that you could make love to or have babies to. The second occupies darker, harder territories, one that's good to listen to before you go clubbing to get yourself up." He mixes up tracks by artists with hilarious names like Bushwacka!, Plastikman, Gus Gus and Hairy Butter, and if you're not dancing within like two minutes of the first song, you'd best call your mechanic for an ass tune-up. As a rock fan, I'm not exactly the target audience for this kind of music and thus can't tell you honestly how it stacks up against the competition; still, one thing's for sure - Cass Hass Class, Sass and A Bad Case of Gas!

Look, it's not my fault "Cass" rhymes with "Gas." Just be glad his name isn't Louchewag.

Band: Caustic Christ
Album: Can't Relate
Label: Havoc

Yet another in the long line of bands whose names were specifically designed to get them written up in Caustic Truths (others include Brutal Truth, Caustic Resin and The Caustic Dave Matthews Truth Band), Caustic Christ play angry high-speed old school hardcore of the "This Is Boston, Not L.A." variety. Super energy, catchy riffs and funny pissed off lyrics like "Baseball caps with matching jerseys/Rage Against the Machine and Dropkick Murphys" (from "Frat Boy"). They even do a Flipper cover! This is a great hardcore band for folks who like their high-speed chord sequences free of slow metallic "mosh" parts. Rah for Pittsburgh's finest!

Band: The Cells
Product: We Can Replace You
Label: Orange Recordings

Say, you're an alcoholic - why is it that every time I drink a bunch of tasty margaritas, I wake up in the middle of the night with a huge headache? I'm serious - it's pissing me off. I only get drunk like once a week and I'm always sure to drink oodles of water as I drink the tangy frozen margaritas, yet I still inevitably wake up four hours into my sleepytime with a splitting headache that won't go away for ANOTHER four hours. Please send suggestions to mprindle@nyc.rr.com. Because my head is humming and it won't go, in case you don't know.

Now then - let's talk about The Cells, since the British press are most likely going to notice their name and make them part of the new "garage rock" trend populated by such "garage rock" bands as The Vines (who don't play garage rock), The Strokes (who don't play garage rock) and The Hives (whom I've never heard). Being not at all a garage rock band, The Cells would fit perfectly into this desperate hype marketing scheme of bullshit!

What they do play is pop-grunge of the Everclear/Nevermind variety. Most of the songs are straightforward midtempo distorted-sheen-heavy-clean chord sequences with nice little vocal melodies on top. Singer/guitarist Cory Hance has an awful habit of straying from a pleasant, normal Mike Mills-type voice to an annoying clogged-nose whine, but the band is really big on vocal harmonies, so that keeps your ears a-happy and your feet a-tappy. Speaking of feet being a-tappy, I need to relate an extremely distressing and sad anecdote that is absolutely true. My brother went to Florida a couple of months ago to meet his girlfriend's parents. While there, he met a 17- or 18-year-old kid that was something like her father's son from a different marriage or something like that. You know, a family member of some sort. My brother said he was a big athletic-looking guy, seemed a little quiet, shy. My brother left Florida and called his girlfriend down there a week later to say hello - only to receive THIS disturbing news. A few nights earlier, that kid had woken up in his bed realizing that he couldn't move his legs. He screamed for his family, they took him to several hospitals before one would finally give him an MRI, and they were informed that he had experienced basically something like an aneurysm of the spine. Something blood-clot-related in his SPINE. And that he will most likely never walk again. Just out of NOWHERE, with no warning and through NO action or mistake of his own, his life literally changed overnight. He is now one of the physically handicapped. And not even 20 yet. Life is a strange thing - a very bizarre, pointless combination of positives and negatives. Just like this album!!!!

I personally always end up comparing this kind of band to Cheap Trick, whose first four albums are masterpieces of the loud rock guitar/catchy pop style combination. And The Cells, though probably better than a lot of other current bands of this genre, don't display the sort of consistent pop songwriting brilliance that would make this release a must-listen-over-and-over. Too many of the riffs are decades old and boring (especially "What You Did" - more like "What You RIPPED OFF FROM ABOUT A MILLION OTHER BANDS" if you ask me!!!!! I guess that would be too long to write on the back of the CD case though.), and their general song presentation is of the mediocre verse/amazingly catchy chorus variety. This DOES allow for several moments of excitement per song, but ultimately leaves me feeling like I'm listening to two different bands - (A - THE FIRST BAND) the master pop chefs that came up with the sad, lost refrain of "Stupid Guy," the wonderful Weezer-ish (sort of, I mean) slower pop melody of "Awkward," and the gorgeous spine-tingling vocal harmonies in "All Be Happy" and "Say Hello" and (B - THE SECOND BAND) a group of young guys who haven't heard enough music to realize when they're playing chord sequences that have already been used in hundreds of songs. But you don't hear me complaining about "Fluff" featuring the same exact verse riff as The Guess Who's "Hand Me Down World"! I love that song! Granted, I have no clue what the Cells guy is actually saying because every time the song comes on, I immediately start singing "Anybody here - seen the fuzzy-wuzzy lovin' cup explo-sio-u-u-n - I THINK WE MISSED IT!" GOD, I fuckin' LOVE The Guess Who! Go buy the Share The Land album right now, you pricks!!!!!

Huh? No no, I was talking to a cactus. Apparently my wife wants to write a review, so here she is:

So, I heard that Mark was writing a review of the cells, so I wanted to add my own thoughts about them. I truly detest these persistently repetitive and evil bastards. They are a band of pure evil, located on my right ring finger. Sure they're made delusional by viral infection, but that's no excuse for them to grow and grow into a giant WART. Thankfully, I've seen a professional who has excised and frozen the cells in question, so - with luck - their career has effectively ended. Over and out.

Band: Che Chapter 27
Album: Profit Prophet
Label: G7 Welcoming Committee

I know you'll never believe me based on the band name, but Che Chapter 27 is a POLITICAL band - from Canada, led by the socially concerned but completely tone-deaf female wailer Meegan Maultsaid. The music is filled with very heavy metallic guitars playing midtempo and simple but great little three-chord explosions of Helmet-like heavenly heavily jung-jung-jung lowdown dirty boogie woogie metal. And Meegan does a good job of combining her political beliefs with true human emotions -- even if you're not Mr. Bob Socialist Political Guy by trade, surely you can support such statements as "Do you call this freedom/Climbing outta the bottle?/How can you fight back seeing double?/I wanna see what I'm swinging at." Other bitter angry tales of woe include "Kill The Ones Who Question," "A Thousand Points Of Light," "The Choicelessness Parade" and "United States Of Generica." I'm not saying that Meegan doesn't have some good points to make regarding our civilization and history built upon conveniently forgotten violence, cruelty and murder. I'm just saying she should maybe practice singing in key - or at least ask the producer not to mix her voice five billion times louder than the music as he or she (is Blair a man's name or a woman's? THE ANSWER IS ONE WHICH WE WILL NEVER FATHOM.) has on this, their debut CD.

Band: Chinchilla
Album: The Last Millennium
Label: Metal Blade

If you thought a chinchilla was a little furry hamster kind of animal thing, THING AGAIN! They're actually a German "melodic power metal" band that just released their fourth album, entitled The Last Starfighter Of The Millennium. HEY! THEY DO A THIN LIZZY COVER! The music is rough and reverbed and dirty and mean, but then the damned singer comes in and sounds like Ronnie James Dio with his high womanly operatic self-taking-too-seriously voice and makes it feel like we're stuck in 1981. And we're not!!!! We long ago progressed to 1988, and that's where we'll stay, thanks to George W. Bush!

Man. They even play that fruity Dream Evil- style sissyass mid'80s keyboard in some of this. What the heck? How do they get away with playing this kind of music and not being laughed all the way to the bank? Are there seriously still Bruce Dickinson fans out there somewhere? Sadly, they'd be a pretty cool, energetic rough/tough fun metal throwback of dirt if not for the squeaky clean singer guy. I'll stick with a hamster, thanks! (*shoves hamster up ass*)

Artist: Noam Chomsky
Title: The New War on Terrorism: Fact and Fiction
Label: The G7 Welcoming Committee

If you don't know Noam, he's a bigtime leftist author and orator. I personally had never heard any of his work until this one, so for some reason I was expecting an exciting, fun, yellow journalism-style "spoken wordist" like Jello Biafra (who likes Noam a lot and has released several of his CDs). So imagine my Generation X letdown by this boring old man with the squeaky, crackly, flat voice droning on and on and on about all of these boring FACTS. Believe me, this guy was no Adolf Hitler!

Let's try that again. See, I like to think of myself as "interested in news," but as it turns out, I think I'm only interested in INTERESTING news. Or at least news presented in an INTERESTING manner. And believe me, I realize this is pathetic. Hell, quite frankly, I'd probably be interested in reading all of the information Noam shares on this release if it were packaged in a Hustler between a bunch of hardcore pornography and gross jokes. But instead it's presented in a raspy, squeaking monotone that doesn't just quickly make me tune out -- it actively IRRITATES me. And again, this is completely my own fault, but I'm a very aurally focused person and I can't get past the fact that Noam has a very annoying voice! He sounds like he's fighting laryngitis the entire time (maybe he is for all I know) and he never seems to have any passion or even much interest in what he's saying. Maybe he's smart as hell; certainly many people like the guy. But I'll never know unless I read one of his books because he's about as pleasant to listen to as Harry Carey, who's not only dead but also unpleasant to listen to! SKREW this, DRIVER!

I'm proud to be responsible for you from this point on associating Noam Chomsky with SKREWDRIVER in your mind.

Ah yes! The actual CONTENT! Noam discusses attacks on the US, why they hate us, US-run terrorism, etc etc As a NYC dweller who experienced the horror of 9/11 first-hand, perhaps I'm too close to the subject to get much out of such a cold dissertation on the topic. I always hated storytime in elementary school too. I just don't follow along very well; my mind wanders. You should have seen me on this conference call at work today. I doodled ridiculous pictures in my notebook for a full hour and a half, then pretended I knew what was going on.

Strangely, I discovered that I DID know what was going on. It was all pretty obvious. Which, quite frankly, might be ANOTHER reason that this CD does nothing for me. But that would be giving myself too much credit; my sense of self-worth is far too low for anything like that. Hell, I feel guilty walking into a book store with a book in my hand. Know why? I feel guilty for making the book store's employees worry about whether I brought the book in or stole it from them. How do I know that they do? I don't. They probably don't give a shit. But I feel guilty nonetheless. And that's why I'm now seeing a behavioral therapist.

And that's my opinion of the new Noam Chomsky CD. I feel guilty writing this review, because the record label was kind enough to send it to me free of charge in exchange for a review. But honesty is important too. And I honestly can't sit through this damned thing. Say! How's your brain doing? I've shared with you - now you share with ME! Especially if you're a NUTJOB!!!!!!

Band: Christian Death
Album: Lover Of Sin
Label: Candlelight

Dude-ass! I've totally had the wrong idea about this band for like totally wickedass bone-wig forblinkityblankever, Mahagoney Belchfaxer!

Look, it's no fun to be old and out of touch with current slang. You young people will understand one day. And then you'll pay. You'll ALL pay.

See, I thought Christian Death belonged to Rozz Williams, but that's UNTRUE! He left the band in 1984 and it has been the property of Mr. Valor Kind ever since! I can't tell you thing one about what Mr. Valor Kind has done in the last 19 years (although I can tell you that Rozz unfortunately committed suicide in 1998), but I LIKE Lover Of Sin! (original title: 10 Excuses For A Suicide). It's got personality - it's a neat, unpredictable mix of EXTREMELY heavy speed metal, grindcore, goth (or "death rock," as I think they called it back in Rozz's day), Black Flag-style punk/metal and symphonic synth music, with female ing and screaming Britishly and gravellily on top.

It's the personality that really makes it an album worth sitting near on a crowded blimp. There are a relatively large number of bands doing this sort of music now - the sorta gothy heavy metal thing. But not like this. This band is too rooted in the old-timey "songs should actually have interesting riffs and production" aesthetic to be lumped in with all the Viking bands and their spooky cold Horsemen of Odin vibrations. Happy song titles include "You Should Have Died," "Darkness Walks With Me," "Where The Dead Sleep" and "Lamb To The Slaughter." If you like Christians and death, you'll LOVE Christian Death!!!! (especially since Maitri isn't wearing a shirt in the band photo! If I weren't totally gay up the dick-filled ass, I'd call her a "hotty with boobsalot"!)

It is okay for me to make incredibly sexist comments if I pretend I'm gay first, right? Great! I'm gay - LOOK AT THE TITS ON THAT NUN!!! HEY MOTHER UP-THE- REARIOR - IF YOU SEE MY DICK, GRAB IT/AND I'LL DICK YOU IN YOUR HABIT!!!! I'm still gay.

Band: Christiansen
Album: Stylish Nihilists
Label: Revelation

Christiansen is four guys pretending their last name is Christiansen, all lined up together against a wall on the CD cover. It's a really stupid idea to pretend you all have the last name and to line up together against a wall on your CD cover. Whoever thought up this dumb idea is stupid and will never be successful in the record business. One other thing they do is write great rock songs. A few shitty ones too - OOO LA LA! But the good ones feature inventive guitaring, passionate young male vocalizing and tough riffs combining the noisiness of the `80s rock underground with the radio-ready hooks of `70s hard rock. The lyrics, on the other hand, are splintered and really really hard to figure out. Example: "We all die alone. You're such a little girl. Hey you're going to die. The other chess players, leave me in the opium dnes. `His plays just aren't the same since that girl met him.' The whispers in the nautilus of my ears, my epitaph arranged is stated here." Was there a famous chess player who got addicted to opium? I hope so. Otherwise blah blah blah something.

Artist: Ward Churchill
Title: In A Pig's Eye: Reflections on the Police State, Repression and Native America
Label: The G7 Welcoming Committee

Ward Churchill is a Native American author, American Indian spoken word artist, Indian co-director of the American Indian Movement of Colorado, redskin National Spokesperson for the Leonard Peltier Defense Committee and a tribal "whoo-whoo-whoo!" associate professor of American Indian Studies and Communications at the University of Colorado, Boulder. Remember that sign at the beginning of Mork and Mindy that said "Welcome to Boulder"? That's the same place! Robin Williams has a lot to say on this double-CD about the repression, genocide and resistance of Native Americans over the last 500 years. Apparently American Indians are nearly 97.5% wiped out due to colonialism and cruelty. And by "97.5," I don't mean your local smooth jazz station either! Ha ahhahhaah! HAHAAH!!!

Ward talks a lot about Cointelpro, then gives the tongue-tackle to some group of white scumbag liars called the Pinkertons that preceded the FBI and from there on, it's an angry, bitter rant against all such injusticals. The story of the Native American genocide is an incredibly depressing one that needs to be told and heard and understood, but I don't know enough about the Leonard Peltier case to know whether Ward's tale is biased or truthful. Either way, it's of course important to hear an intelligent Native American's take on the whole thing. If you're at all interested in the point of view of a people who were quite literally nearly obliterated from the country by white colonialism, you should give Ward a shot. Although perhaps "shot" isn't the best term to use for a CD about Leonard Peltier. So let me just say that if you happen across a Native American stranger tonight, buy him a drink. Indians love - no wait. That wouldn't be appropr

If an Indian is cold, do the right thing and offer him a blanket. Christ no, that's just

Be generous to all people. Why be stingy? Life's no fun on the sting-o-side, so be generous and introduce an American Indian to your gen-o-side! Yes, that's - no DAMMIT!

I love tribes. Period. Can I go now? I have some extra Braves tickets I need to scalp.

Native Americans: They've brought color to our lexicon!

Band: Ciril
Album: Hysteria Driven
Label: Know

Looked at the artwork, thought, "Jesus, these guys really want to be Rudimentary Peni." Stuck in the CD, heard the singer alternating between creepy spoken voices and insane screaming while the band played strange but simplistic midtempo guitar chord sequences, thought, "Christ, these guys REALLY want to be Rudimentary Peni!" Finally unfolded the information sheet, read "This release falls in line with the darker side of Peni" and "File under: Rudimentary Peni, TSOL, Christian Death, etc." Sigh. Why? Why why why why why would you form a band just to imitate another band???? WHY!?!?!?!? I'm sure that if presented with this argument, at least one of the band members would reply, "Well, we're not JUST LIKE Rudimentary Peni. There are lots of differences, including x, y, z.." Then why not PLAY UP THE DIFFERENCES!?!?!?!? If nothing else, PLEASE cool it with the faux-Blinko artwork and rickety lyric handwriting - that's just setting yourself up for cries of "Lame!" which is all you're getting from me right now regardless of the fact that several of these songs are really, really fucking good.

Band: Clutch
Album: Live at the Googolplex
Label: MegaForce

I used to think I liked Clutch quite a bit. Like many of us, I enjoyed the heavy funky metal flecked with bits of humor that can be found on classic LPs like THE ELEPHANT RIDERS and THAT OTHER ONE WITH THAT ONE SONG ON IT WHERE THE BASS GOES "DOO DOO DOO." But then I received this live thing in the mail and was bored silly by all the stupid macho "funky white fellow" rapping, bottomless guitar chord thrapping and empty riff repetition. There simply seemed to be no point to this release, as the overly high-end recording makes it clear that without the heavy pounding bass presence, the band pretty much blows. But then I sold the CD on ebay for $14.50 and now I'm a huge fan again! Keep on releasing CDs, Clutch -- and keep on sending them to ME!

Band: Cockandball Torture
Album: Egoleech
Label: Morbid

Gilles Duceppe tells me that Germany's Cockandball Torture used to be a 90-mile-an-hour grindcore band, but there's nothing above a light jog to be found on EgoLeech. The vocalist may sound like he's choking on gallons of his own mucus, but the musicians behind him refuse to move their hands up and down quickly. The result is a disarmingly midtempo combination of heavy chord sequences and vomit gargling. It's impossible to make out the lyrics, but with titles like "Close Your Eyes And Bear It," "Blindfold/Bare/Submissive," "Six Holes Cut" and "One Inch Left," I'm fairly certain it's a rock musical about a guy getting his pants hemmed.

Band: The Code
Album: Rhetoric Of Reason EP
Label: Jump Start

The Code play heavy, slickly-produced punk/ska with NYHC/Oi!-style group shout backup vocals for the working man. Vocalist "Marc Defiant" doesn't sing a single note, but most of his words defiantly take a bizarre downward swoop, as if each word is a little child hopping out of his mouth onto a playground slide and whizzing down in joy to the ground below. Rhetoric Of Reason contains only four songs, one of which is an Operation Ivy cover; the originals include such groundbreaking hardcore dialogue as "And now I raise my voice.in defiance!" and "We're born to conform, to consume, just to die!" Still, they're easily the best punk rock band in Pennsylvania.

Band: ColdFusion
Album: Demo EP
Label: None

Pretty nu-metally, with a singer who sounds about 11. Nothing too innovative. But they live in Phoenix, Arizona, all the way to Tacoma. Philadelphia, Atlanta and so forth.

Band: Colossal
Album: Brave The Elements EP
Label: Asian Man

Hey! They can actually play their guitars! Notes! Arpeggios! Interweaving interplay! And they're from Elgin, IL! Yes, that's right - THAT Elgin, IL!!! The Fox River? Lord's Park Family Aquatic Center? Gonorrhea outbreaks? The Hemmens Cultural Center? ELGIN!!! The songs are indie rockity with gentle notes astrum and a loud drummer aloud, decently listenable for those who enjoy young rock. But why Brave the Elements when you can Brave the Velamints? Velamints - the smooth mint! Mellow yet rich. Sensual yet practical. With satisfying chocolate mint, refreshing peppermint and new vanilla mint, Velamints are the smooth mint. Make a move to the smooth side.

Band: Colour Trip
Album: Kill My Super Ego
Label: Arctic

VERY heavy chord chunkity-chunk chunkin', sometimes slow, sometimes kinda fast. And the bald singer screams EVERY SINGLE WORD ON THE CD in the same exact high-pitched ear-blistering note, creating this really disgusting image in my head of the sides of his throat being pulled upwards and upwards by the force of his rage, until the entire throat pops out of his mouth and unravels inside out in a long red stream dangling down to the floor. If this hasn't happened to him yet, it WILL. And I will BE THERE when it does.

This is their fourth album and they're so mad, they refuse to play single notes. Nothing but heavy chords chords chords - like Pantera! Not the most dynamic music in the universe, but if you're looking for rage, Colour Trip will "colour" your "trip"! And "kill" your ("my") "super ahhhhhhhhhhhhhhhh pblaaaaaa (fart noise).

Band: Comeback Kid
Album: Turn It Around
Label: Facedown

Dude, now I'm totally gonna have that fucking Steely Dan song stuck in my head all day. "Come back, kid - turn it around! Watch the wheel go back again, and come back, kid - turn it arou-ou-ound!" This Winnipeg band plays hardcore punk with melodic, emotionally resonant guitar lines that make you FEEL, man - you don't just hear them, you FEEL the torture and inadequacy of language to express our loves, fears and unrequited desires. Granted, you hear all of this in the exact same shouted high note because the singer can't sing, but don't the guitars sing enough for all of this? Listen to them! Listen to them sing! Don't you hear them on the page? This is a "Scratch-And- Hear" review! Go ahead! Try it out! Try it again! Harder!!! Hold it up against somebody's head and pound it with your fist until it works!!! HARDER!!!

Band: Construcdead
Album: Violadead
Label: Black Lodge

This is a band. I can't get over how bandlike they are. They play aggressive Pantera-style pound pound pound metal with Linkin Park vocals mixed with death metal mixed with black metal keyboards. Their song titles thrash you with "Bricks," "Cancer," "New Skin" and a "Pinhook" and for a reason: They are angry and filled with SCREAMING! If you love being screamed at for 45 minutes, you'll love the Army. And Construcdead. I can't listen to it without getting in the mood for a headache. What is up with these vocalists who just scream? And what's up with the producers who mix them 8000000 times louder than the music. Come on people, use your fuckin' brain. Nobody wants to hear this fuckin' jerk screaming like a moron at the top of his lungs. Except Linkin Park fans who feel they've outgrown their "boy band" phase. A bit more creativity in the vocal department next time, stewardess.

Band: The Control
Album: Glasseye
Label: Go-kart

Hardcore punk is BACK! Not that mopey bald-headed metallic stuff from NYC, but classic high-speed energetic exciting 4/4 yelling and playing great chord sequences! Bang your head, mosh around, cry, scream -- this was what my teenage years were all about. Minor Threat, DRI, Seven Seconds -- The Control have that classic fast, catchy, angry, adrenaline-pumping, furious, wonderful sound, with a singer that sounds as pissed off and insane as that dude that was in Last Rites. Thank you again Go-kart, for keeping music like this ALIVE AND KICKING!

(*is presented with a cease and desist order from Jim Kerr's attorneys*)

Band: Converge
Album: You Fail Me
Label: Epitaph

Converge is not a feel-good hit of the summer. They are a great metalcore screamo (?) band with several classic albums under their belt (Petitioning The Empty Sky, Jane Doe, Caring And Killing, When Forever Comes Crashing), but their discography is noticably lacking in party-hearty beach anthems. Throat-ripping screams? Check. Smashing your face in with an iron boot? Czech. Brute Bostonian force and quieter death ruminations of Hell? Chech. What's even neater too about this new release is that it's half packed with actual HIGH-SPEED hardcore monsters in and surrounding the usual collection of sickening, musically challenging, oddly time-signatured, cool-as-SHIT expressions of decay, heartache, failure and oppression -- Converge's very forte! Listen to those fucked-up bendy vomit notes in "Death King"! Bask in the inverted stomach-churning "blues" of "In Her Blood"! Drop your pants and wiggle your penis in front of the mailman! That's Converge in two words or less: "Mailman Dick-Wiggling."

Band: Cougars
Album: Nice, Nice CD
Label: Go-Kart

Usually when you bring a horn section into punk-influenced rock music, you get ska. But not today! The Cougars play upset angertones of violent emo grrrrr, but with HORNS on top of them! Strange effect, odd idea, and one I'm proud to have heard for myself! It's a little unnerving to hear Fugazi-style angst with a high school marching band playing along, but then this is the 90's: The "Beck" era, where everybody merges everything into a musical stew and the only true heroes are dead firemen. What's your favorite Cougars song title? Is it "Close To Fast, Loud & Big"? "Mustard Is Pissed"? "Slow Pants Changer"? "A Friend To Dogs"? Or is it "Kelly Has Sweater Breasts"?

And more importantly, what the hell is a "Sweater Breast"? AND DON'T TELL ME "A BOOB MADE OF YARN" - I'M DONE LISTENING TO YOU!!!!

Band: Council Of The Fallen
Album: Deciphering The Soul
Label: Season Of Mist

As a former North Carolina resident, I feel that nobody is more qualified to speak about a South Carolina death metal band than myself, even though as far as I know I haven't spent more than about ten minutes in South Carolina. This is an excellent death metal outfit, bringing some dual guitar harmonies and wonderfully interesting evil-hooks to the usual mix of low growly vocals, high-speed stucka-stucka-stucka guitar grinding (with a few moments of gentle acoustic melancholy, baby), blastbeats ahoy and a whole whorld of Whell! (hell) I think I've finally heard enough death metal bands to know which of them are clever and which aren't. These guys do some neat stuff! They've got their thinking shirts on. Check out the middle of "Resurgence" with the doodly-doodlies and the dualing harmoniCCCCs. Would Obituary do that? Hell no! And what about the bit at the end where it sounds like the guy is playing a double-kick-drum with the microphone? Would Death do that? Hell no! Because the main songwriter died of CANCER!

There was nothing charming about that "joke."

Band: Country Teasers
Album: Secret Weapon Revealed At Last
Label: In The Red

Is there some reason that the spine and back of this CD package insist that the title is "Full Moon Empty Sportsbag"? Or is it just another piece of nonsense weird kookoobirdness for which this noisy Scottish garage/trash/blues band is known? What about song titles like "Young Mums Up For Sex," "Man V Cock," "Life Is A Rehearsal" and "Boycott The Studio"? What about the actual music, which is cruddily recorded and covered in filth (in a GREAT WAY!!!), with either acoustic country strumming or electrifying guitar notes slicing through the muck of non-drum-sounding percussion (is the guy just beating on boxes and throwing his change around?) while a scraggly, drunken and entirely nonmusical voice blurts and slurs lyrics like "That body looks like you/He's your brother/Please stop fucking each other!" I think it's political actually, but I like taking things out of context so they're more offensive. For example, my favorite important historical document is the U.S. (cons) TIT!!!! (ution). If The Fall weren't quite as amazing as they are, but were still good and lots of fun, they'd be the Country Teasers. Otherwise, they'd be Grand Funk Railroad.

Band: Crashcart
Album: Sleepers Awake
Label: Slowgun

Torment, trust, frustration, disquiet, overcooked vocals, dingdongy guitar tones, despondency, adoration, dismissal - Crashcart knows them and knows them well. Imagine your favorite expressive college band with Foreigner's Lou Gramm at the mic. Doesn't that sound GREAT!?!?!?

Band: The Crown
Album: Possessed 13
Label: Metal Blade

Swedish death metal heroes The Crown are back -- and so is Johan Lindstrand! After leaving the band and missing the infamous Crowned In Terror CD, he realized that he made a mistake giving up The Crown and now he's back in the vocalist seat where he belongs, screaming and wheezing about how sick of the lies he is. I know that most of you are worried about what's going to happen to Tomas Lindberg, but you need to just FORGET him. He's gone, and it's as if he never existed. Don't weep for Tomas! He made his bed, now he's gotta lie in it.

As for The Crown, they never stopped tearing ass out of your neck, and 13 years into their career is no time to start! Their riffs pound but stick in your head, their anger comes in many different speeds, and they're dead set on leaving you with that sinking feeling that Megadeth were simply never very good. The instrumental "Dream Bloody Hell" is even as beautifully tragic a high-pitched guitar nightmare/fantasy as those neat guitar chimes in Nazareth's cover of "Love Hurts"! Plus, a fancy American version comes with an extra disc of demos and rarities. Listen to them kicking ass on "Are You Morbid?"! POUND POUND POUND POUND POUND POUND POUND POUND. I weigh eight pounds! Unfortunately I'm 5'11. POUND POUND POUND POUND POUND POUND POUND POUND Thank you for the eight units of British currency! But my favorite Bit-O-Honey Mart only takes euros. FUCK!

Band: The Cruxshadows
Album: Wishfire
Label: Dancing Ferret Discs

This CD was created entirely on a Macintosh. Yet somehow it plays fine on my PC. I struggled with this idea for about 45 minutes before accepting the fact that producer "Rogue" is even more of a genius than he was depicted in the recent biopic "Moulin Rogue." Getting past this amazing feat of nature, we find dark goth dance/pop music combining violin, guitars, Pet Shop Boys-style "soulless Brit" vocals and synths aplenty. Reminds me of early Ministry (REALLY early Ministry), umm. god, who else sounded like this. It's very mid-80s-sounding for goth girls who like to go to dark vampire clubs and partake in (DUDE! I JUST TOTALLY REALIZED THAT "PARTAKE" IS JUST "TAKE PART" WITH THE WORDS BACKWARDS!!! THAT IS SO FUCKED UP! I better take a nap)

(20 Years Later)

Oh no! I fell asleep in the woods one day, lived 20 years of my life that way! My nagging wife took all my coin, all my friends I'd never join!

(Heh heh, the kids love my Devotions humor). Completing my thought, "partake in sweaty dancing and underage dancing." The mastermind "Rogue" has big ol' crazy stickin' up hair all nuts like Kajagoogoo, the keyboardist Chris Brantley has a hair style similar to mine (normal) but with more lavender and less uhh. is there a color called "bald spot"? Then the other two band members are WOMEN!!!!! Rachel McDonnell and Stacey Campbell. Incidentally, the violin sounds really nice, but I don't hear ANY guitar on this album. I mean, everybody knows that there is no bigger feminist and champion of women's rights than me, Mark Prindle, but who did she have to BLOW to get in this band? I guess it doesn't matter if she doesn't play the guitar, as long as she PUTS OUT! She sure does a great job wrapping her hands around that long, thick guitar neck, doesn't she? That's because of all her practice on COCKS!

Oh wait no - that's not a feminist. What's the word that describes the way I -

Ah yes! A pedophile. That's what I meant.

Band: Cryptopsy
Album: None So Live
Label: Century Media

Way back in 1996, a really long time ago before most of us were born, Canadian grindcore/death metal band Cryptopsy released an album called None So Vile, which is kind of a classic among fans of extreme metal. I've never been able to get into it myself, but I know people who worship the thing. So this play on words is a live CD featuring a new low-voiced growler with the interesting pseudonym "Martin Lecroix" in place of original singer Lord Worm who went by his real name and felt no need to hide behind nom de plumes. I really think you'd have to be a pre-existing fan of the band to get into this. Grindcore is already EXTREMELY challenging music (the ever-changing riffs would be hard enough to keep up with even WITHOUT the painful, incessant drilling of the drums), and to add the production limitations of live performance to that might be too much for non-Cryptopsy fans to bear. That's not to say that the live sound is BAD at all; it's just that the volume of the admittedly expertly-pounded drums often exceeds that of the guitars. Especially during "Drum Solo," when you can't hear the guitars at all!

But if you're already a fan, you should check it out to see if you like the new singer. And I use the term "singer" so loosely, I might as well have used the term "George W. Bush."

George W. Bush sings for Mental Horror.

CAUSES it too!

Band: Daiquiri
Album: Box Office Poison
Label: Kharbe

If Sparks had entered the 80s by getting really into Japanese spaz-electro-noise-rock instead of the Human League, they'd sound identical to Daiquiri. The vocalist wails, shouts and falsettos like the illegitimate bastard child of Russell Mael and Mike Patton after Mike Patton has had a sex change and turned into a woman so that he can give birth, and the music mixes high buzzy swirly ridiculous synth noises with fast bouncy-fun beats and distorted Big Metal guitars. The result sounds like a carnival of LSD users driving their bus 500 miles an hour through a desert road that's completely engulfed in flame. Which is weird because they're from Canada.

Band: Dark Day Dawning
Album: Nothing That I Wouldn't Give
Label: Resurrection A.D.

As we look back through history, it's hard to ignore all the great bands that came from Philadelphia, PA, from the Beatles and the Rolling Stones of the Philly Invasion up through the Philly Soul sounds of Big Star and Prince right on into the 90s with Nirvana, Mudhoney and all the other bands from the Philadelphia "Grunge" scene. But Dark Day Dawning part from tradition to present a NEW Philadelphia sound - one "informed by" (as a music critic might say) such modern-day hardcore/death metal/confusing/jazz/grind/prog/math/punk bands as Converge, Coalesce, Botch, the Dillinger Escape Plan and Bloodlet. But with something DIFFERENT - that DIFFERENT thing being that the Dark Day Dawnings strangely and unexpectedly throw "MELODIC" guitar parts with actual "SINGING" between all the ear-shredding screams and mathematically proficient yet pulverizing drum/guitar/bass explosions. It's a subtle yet important differentiating factor among this crowd of noisy crowd-pleasing crowdbands, and helps to keep the album from sounding samey. Just when you think you're tired of having some Philly Cheese Steak-eating asshole screaming shit up your assear, suddenly somebody starts singing a sad song and a tear develops in your asseye, rolling down your asscheek and into your assmouth.

Oh Christ! I'm sorry! I totally didn't realize I was speaking in Finnish there. When you translate what I wrote, it says "in your EYE, rolling down your CHEEK and into your MOUTH." You should take lessons though because supposedly the Finnish are planning a big invasion.

Band: Darkest Hour
Album: Hidden Hands Of A Sadist Nation
Label: Victory

Pounding and screaming. Pounding and screaming. No happiness anywhere. An extremely depressing and brain-aching form of metal, but fast! Death metal, I suppose it is. WIth lyrics about society's ills. Punishing! Appropriate band name. If you're young and "all about depression," this CD is the perfect soundtrack for a night alone crying about how nobody will ever love you because you're fat and greasy.

Mmmmm, I could go for a fat, greasy teenaged boy right about now. Make mine a long-hair with extra acne, Waiter!

Band: Daughters!
Album: Canada Songs
Label: Robotic Empire

Would you like to hear an interesting thing about music? Good! I'd be happy to tell you this thing. Here it is: No matter how unique something sounds to you, chances are good that it's already been done before. And unfortunately, your enjoyment of all future hearings of similar material (even if recorded prior to the first one you heard) will be less than that first heard by you. For example, I heard Helios Creed years before I heard Hawkwind. Consequently, I like the originators of drug-space-acid-rock yet LOVE their successor Mr. Creed. Other folks will tell you similar tales, I'd wager - I'm sure there are folks who love NOFX while only LIKING Bad Religion. Or who love the Hives while only LIKING the New Bomb Turks. Love Rancid, LIKE The Clash, etc. It all comes down to what YOU PERSONALLY hear first. This is why some folks, new to the world of spazcore or metalcore or whatever in the hell it's called (Math Metal? Grind?), might find Daughters to be an unbelievable blast of fresh insane air, with their ludicrously high-speed beats, unfollowable guitar scratchings, throat-shredding vocal shrieks, tiny songs and funny long titles ("I Slept With The Daughters And All I Got Was This Lousy Song Written About Me," "Nurse, Would You Please Prep The Patient For Sexual Doctor," "I Don't Give A Shit About Wood, I'm Not A Chemist"). But as for me, I've already heard (and already love) The Locust and Arab On Radar - two bands that do absolutely the same EXACT thing. Mind you, I've never heard "As The Sun Sets," an old band whose members are now in Daughters. And for all I know, "As The Sun Sets" invented this kind of music. Or maybe Pig Destroyer or Discordance Axis (two other bands I've never heard) did so. But even if that turns out to be true, there's only room in a person's heart for one or two of these bands - because they're all fairly unlistenable, quite frankly!!!! My heart is full of The Locust and Arab On Radar. And Converge, Botch and Coalesce. But you? Perhaps yours might have room for Daughters?

Band: Dawn Of Relic
Album: Lovecraftian Dark
Label: Season Of Mist

Blackity metal for you - Really fast guitar chord thwakking and grudging with a moody string-esque synthesizer way in the background cleaning up the sound a bit. And here's the crazy part (get ready for the crazy part) Here it comes - it's crazy! They have both a female singer with a beautiful goth effiminate voice AND a hoarse wailing skeleton retching death agonies of the four horsemen of Odin! I don't know if they're dating. One thing I do know though is that the CD is somehow separated into three "chapters," and the songs have hilarious comedy titles like "It Dragged Her To Dark...," "Bowels Of Murder," and "The Wail Of The Tartarean Wells." Ha ha! Wells don't wail! They're inanimate objects!

Oh but wait -- what if somebody FELL into the well!?!? Or was PUSHED!? Oh jesus, maybe these songs aren't jokes AFTER all! Is that why all the music is really dark, heavy and mean-sounding? I thought it was just whimsical satire! Look, to be honest with you, this is a good little CD; you have to like black metal that slows down a lot though. This isn't early Mayhem we're talking about! Times have matured and so have our death rockers. Dawn Of Relic play dark gothic anthems of soullessness for teenagers who dress in all black with white makeup on their faces and a flower in their lapel. Playing with a hula-hoop.

A DEATH hula-hoop.

Band: Dead Soul Tribe
Album: A Murder Of Crows
Label: Insideout

Don't be fooled by the name "Devon Graves"!!! It's really Buddy Lackey!!! That's right!!! THAT Buddy Lackey!!! From Psychotic Waltz!!!! (?) This is apparently the second CD for this hard rock/heavy metal band, to whom melody is more important than ass kickery. Pianos and acoustic guitars are just as likely to drive the songs as Distorted Fuzz - one song even has a flute! - and the overall feeling is kind of a mix of Led Zeppelin's darker material mixed with `80s Black Sabbath and Deep Purple, with a bit of Tooly prog metal tossed in for smartness. And it's worth noting that the first time I heard "Some Things You Can't Return," I got chills during the chorus. Granted, I was drunk so far off my ass, I had to borrow Margaret Thatcher's ass for the trip home. But even in the cold light of full awareness, it's still a great song. He sounds like Rob Halford! How could it NOT be great? I demand a reason! GO!

Band: The Deathray Davies
Album: The Day Of The Ray
Label: Idol

This is the third album for Dallas, TX's Deathray Davies (GET IT???? DO YOU GET IT???? deathRAY DAVIES?????? Death RAY DAVIES?????? DO YOU GET IT????!?!?!?! I think it's a Chuck Schuldiner reference), a six-piece guitar-heavy "power poop" band that has one member credited with nothing but "shakers." If I were in the band and that guy got a full percentage of band royalties, I'd kick his shaker ass. I'm not getting much out of this one. There's an organ and some Cheap Trick ripoffs (the intro to "Persuasive Is Your Name" is in fact a ripoff of an intro that was already ripped off by The Ramones!) and tired old E-A- D-style guitar riffs and nothing remotely Kinkish unless you're talking about the mediocre crap those guys put out in the `80s. I'm SO sick of riffs like "The Aztec God" - you CAN'T tell me you haven't heard that lame riff by a hundred thousand other bands that never went anywhere. Not to mention all the "vocal hooks" with a whole bunch of notes but no actual "hook" that you'll remember even seconds after the song ends. Playing la-de-da pop music and writing timeless melodies are two different things - these guys do one but not the other. Maybe they should consider changing their names to The Generic Carmens? NO THANKS to the Deathray Davies. Bad name, bad album.

Band: Deathwitch
Album: Violence Blasphemy Sodomy
Label: Earache

"Blood Sucking Fuck"? "Necrosodomizer"? "Bitchfinder"? "Coffin Fornicator"? "Fuck Off And Die"? Why are Deathwitch so angry at me? Why are they throwing blastbeats in my ear and playing high-speed classic-era Slayer-style evil note-riffs at my wife and children? Because they KICK ASS - that's why!!! They are about pure violence and metallic grindcore malevolence. Some of the riffs really swing though! Don't tell them I said so though. They'd call me "Worthless Scum" and "Abhorrent Sadistic Tormentor," and my feelings would be hurt. I'm very sensitive when it comes to my own feelings.

Band: Debase
Album: Unleashed
Label: Noise/Sanctuary

Sweden's Debase play funky hard heavy metal riffs that kinda swerve back and forth between bombastic '80s thrash, the heavier side of '90s grunge and detuned '00s nu-metal, with rigid thick chords and a singer so macho, his chest hair literally pokes out of the little holes in your speaker when you're listening. Some of the riffs ("Elected" and "Inordinate Desire," for example) were born to make headbanging, emotional releasing dreams come true. Others aren't quite as memorable, I suppose, but any fan of heavy metal that swings should check 'em out with unconditional love and a tattoo of some sort ("Metal Heads" like tattoos and are more likely to invite you into their Satanic cults if you have one.).

Band: Decapitated
Album: The Negation
Label: Earache

Do death metal singers walk around town screaming in that ridiculous voice? At the bank and what-have-you? Regardless of their name, Decapitated DO have heads and they are ANGRY heads. The band's pounding death metal simmers in double-kick-drum heartbeat aberrations, chugging distorted chord sequences of treachery and blastbeat shenanigans. They spend lots of time in the midtempo range, but their riffs are smart and keep the mind busy.

Band: Deep Enough To Die
Album: My City Of Ruin
Label: Dressed To Kill

If you were to line up every vocalist of the `00s who rely almost entirely on screaming at the top of their lungs, not only would metalcore be an entirely instrumental genre but Deep Enough To Die would be a much better emo band. As it is, they have one pleasantly sad guy wailing heartfelt sentiments like "I set myself on fire today because I heard that love was warm," and another guy screaming like an asshole at the milkman outside. I'm all like, "Shut up," but he's all like on a CD and shit, and not actually in my apartment. Musically, they play midtempo minor-key aggressive emo metal thingy.

Band: Defiled
Album: Divination
Label: Season Of Mist

They may have destroyed Pearl Harbor with their giant Godzilla monster, but Tokyo's Defiled have returned to apologize to George W. Bush with a Japan-style undersized penis full of F*******-up riffs, speedy angular, botched-up weirdass death metal and vocal imitations of one of the longest-lived and most beloved of Jim Henson's Muppets. If you're at all like me in every way, you're sick of boring death metal. Sick and TIRED of it! (But not so tired that you'd say anything bad about it and risk losing advertisers). But this is the TRUTH -- not a lie, half-truth or even fib, but the truth -- just as the Boredoms assault novelty music, Ex-Girl smashes whatever they do and other Japanese people do their carzy - let me try a new sentence. DEFILED ARE A GREAT, GREAT DEATH METAL BAND. They've got the power and brutality of anybody, but they throw in tons of crazy, demented riffs like some kind of heavy metal Mr. Bungle or somesuch nonsense. All the creativity of metalcore, but in metallic form! If that's not the aural equivalent of a tasty glazed donut filled with vanilla ice cream, then I'm not completely naked in front of my computer right now.

And you can watch me for only $4.95 a minute! Just point your browser to www.surprisinglyunattractivenakedman.com.

Band: Dementor
Album: God Defamer
Label: Osmose Productions

RECORDING OF THE NEW DEMENTOR ALBUM IS FINISHED! The new DEMENTOR album entitled GOD DEFAMER has been already recorded. The recording was done at famous German studio STAGE ONE under the supervision of Andy Classen who had produced many great bands, e.g. Krisiun, Dew Scented, Graveworm, Disbelief, Occult etc. The work went really smoothly and the result is absolutely satisfactory for the members of the band. Hopefully it will also satisfy all the fans of extreme death metal music. GOD DEFAMER will contain nine songs of the fastest, most blasphemous and aggressive sort of death metal. The record will be out on OSMOSE PRODUCTIONS. Date of its unleashing will be known later. "This is the best album we have ever recorded. I know every band says this after they record the new stuff. Anyway we will patiently wait for your reactions hoping you find this a top of our discography."
KEEP THE BLASPHEMY!

That's my opinion anyway. And you can trust me! After all, I own nearly EVERY Boston album! I don't have Corporate America yet, but I'm saving up to ask for it for my birthday in July or August.

Band: Descendents
Album: `Merican EP
Label: Fat Wreck Chords

Many bands have tried to recreate the Descendents' mixture of cheery fun and impassioned pop punk, but too few realize that there's more to it than playing tonic-subdominant-dominant and singing about a girl. The Descendents LIVE this bubblegum punk stuff and have done so off and on since 1978. Their strength lies in truly INTERESTING (though at times really awfully quite offensive and sexist) lyrics and in realizing that a song has to have an actual "hook." If there's no hook in the music, it's there in the vocal melody. They're good at the whole "songwriting" thing, even though they only do it like every eight years or so.

This EP is more of what you'd expect from the Descendents, and that's good! Though it's essentially a teaser for their upcoming Cool To Be You LP, it features two or three great songs that will not be available on the full-length - reason enough to pull out your wallet and download this EP from some file-sharing network somewhere.

And then put your wallet back in your pants; you're not fooling anyone, BURGLAR OF MUSIC.

Band: Destruction
Album: Metal Discharge
Label: Nuclear Blast

Yeah, I remember the last time I had a metal discharge -- my ass was bleeding for a week! But about the music -- Destruction are a legendary German thrash band dating from the mid-80s, when their parents finally allowed them to date. HA HA! HA AH HAH! I'm playing games with the English language! Going places you've never gone! Check this out -- When I heard this, I laughed all the way to the bank. Well - which bank? And what was I laughing about? HA HAHAHAHAH!!!

Best,
George "Hilarious" Carlin

But about the album. Metal Discharge is old-school THRASH!!!! Kickin' your ASH!!!! If you like old-school THRASH (!!!!), look no further! If you like your music to ignore all musical developments made in the genre since 1988, stop right here!!!! If you like your mullet and have no intention of taking that Exodus patch off of your blue jean jacket, your wish has been granted!!!!! Slayer turned nu-metal, Metallica went soft then dumb and Megadeth broke his arm or something, but Destruction is still out there riding high on thrash riffs and cheap women!!!!! GLARE at the "Savage Symphony Of Terror"! GLEAM at "The Ravenous Beast"! GAZE at the "Desecrators Of The New Age"! GAWK at the "Mortal Remains"! GABARDINE-WEAR at the "Fear Of The Moment"! (Telling you what your heart meant - the fear of the moment shown in your eyyyyyyes!)

I never meant to be so bad to you! One thing I said that I would never do! A look from you and I would fall from grace! And that would wipe the smile right from my face!

Do you remember when we used to dance? An incidence arose from circumstance! You can't come through yourself with something yeah! A safklg;aj

Remember that great thrash band Asia? Those fuckin guys fuckin tore. NOW!!! SURE AS THE SUUUUUUUUUUN WILL CROSS THE SKY - THIS LIE IS OOOOOOOOOO-VAAAAAAAAAAH!!!!

Band: Dew-Scented
Album: Impact
Label: Nuclear Blast

I was on this web site called The Metal Gospel and a girl named Cheryl (or a man with the unfortunate name of "Cheryl") said, "German Death Thrashers DEW SCENTED return with a smashing hammerblow to the senses with their 5th full length album "Impact". An impact is certainly what this recording will make on anyone who dares endanger their speakers with the intense rage and explosive riffs ! With breakneck speed and insane precision these guys slice through 11 tracks of non stop aggression that'll have you out of breath from the headbanging. I love the scowling and pissed off vocals of Leif Jensen, who's style reminds me a bit of the guy from DESULTORY, just as anguished but faster while the razor sharp riffing and fantastic drumming only serves to strengthen a recording that is fucking intense ! The guitar melodies here remind in some parts of the kind BOLT THROWER offer. Anyone who likes their music super charged and energized will want to pick up this excellent follow up to last years 'Inwards'."

And I read this and thought, you know? She's right! You're not going to FIND a more kickass metal CD being sold by me on eBay right now!

Band: Dies Irae
Album: The Sin War
Label: Metal Blade

More longhairs. What is it with longhairs and metal? I NEED TO KNOW! Why aren't longhairs ever into adult contemporary? What, is George Benson not "kickass" enough for longhairs? Does Rod Stewart not "rip" hard enough for longhairs? Well, that's the longhairs' loss because those two artists, along with Jackson Browne, represent the highest peak of creativity to which any triumvirate of musical forces has ever ascended. But enough about REAL music; let's talk about the Dead Irates, a band possibly from Poland who go by the hilarious "Snow White & The 7 Dwarves"-like names Mauser, Novy, Hiro and Doc. This is their second album and Wow! Talk about your highly efficient, ferociously technical and extremely energetic death metal!

And I'll talk about Dies Irae. (OOO! ZING DING SWEET POONTING!). The singer does the low- pitched roar growl devil thing and the band does the fast, heavy, angry thing. I actually really like some of the stuff they play (it's repetitive enough to stick in a man's brain), but the fucking VOCALS are mixed so fucking HIGH in the fucking MIX, it's a fucking MIRACLE I'm able to fucking HEAR any fucking THING at fucking ALL (fucking .I'm also still not sure that the "blastbeat" has any place in a musical genre aside from "novelty." But if death metal bands want to keep using them every once in a while, hey! Who am I to complain? Top 40 host Casey Kasem? No! If I WAS, certainly I could complain, but I'm not so I'm in no position to complain the way I would be if I were Casey Kasem, who has every right to complain about the overuse of blastbeats in the death metal genre unlike myself, who does not. So let's call them yet another smart aggressive metal band hindered by a vocalist with no new ideas.

Band: Dimmu Borgir
Album: Death Cult Armageddon
Label: Nuclear Blast

A lot of people think they have to have long straight hair to be in a black metal band, but it's simply not the case. There is plenty of room in the subculture for shaved-headed guys with facial hair. So don't get down on yourself if you're genetically predisposed to early hair loss. It's okay! It's not your fault and you're no less attractive for it if you shave your head and grow facial hair.

Dimmu Borgir are a symphonic black metal band from Sweden who don't sound terribly different from other leading symphonic black metal bands like Emperor and Cradle Of Filth. The drums blast fast, the guitars triddle-triddle up and triddle-triddle down and big ol' orchestrated overblown scariness wafts over the entire arrangement like a death shroud over a guy eating a taco. In this case, the orchestration was recorded with the Prague Philharmonic Orchestra, who I guess all worship the Nordic pagan gods or some crap.

In the photograph, the band is wearing upside-down crosses and pants with spikes all over them. And their lyrics include such platitudes as "Time is here to walk the final abyss march/Bound to the force of the last holocaust/Pour free the gifts of grace/And slaughter the entire human race." You know, I'm all for bringing about the end of Christianity, but do we have to replace it with this asinine violence-for-the-sake-of-violence bullshit? I don't know how serious this band is in particular, but the black metal scene in general is dominated by poorly-reared little babies who would love to be dictators because they don't possess the compassion or intelligence to be true leaders.

Not that any of our leaders here in the U.S. do either, you understand, but at least they're not so BLATANT about annihilating entire groups of civilians.

No no, I mean AMERICAN civilians.

Band: Dionysus
Album: Sign Of Truth
Label: The End Records

Dionysus is a Swedish/German band featuring members of Sinergy and Nation, whom I remember you telling me are your favorite bands, so you'll probably like Dionysus too. Especially since you're always talking about how much you love power metal with neo- classical synthesizer touches and really high Dio-style operatic male vocals. It's all you ever talk about! Here, this is you - "I really like bands of moderntimes that play in the style of Iron Maiden and other NWOBHM bands of yesteryear." See? That's a cassette tape recording I made of you a while back. Well, believe me, mister! Believe me! THIS is the band for you, because you like this stuff. A LOT.

Just LOOK at you! You LOVE permed mullets!!!!

Band: Disillusion
Album: Back To Times Of Splendor
Label: Metal Blade

The Germans are a good people, built from clay and leaves. This latest German band combines death, black, thrash and progressive metal into a big unhappy minor-key glacier of tightly-woven dark unhappy gothic anger. With two arm-breakingly long songs (the 14-and-a-half minute title track and 17-minute "The Sleep of Restless Hours") and four of a more American length, Disillusion presents a debut album of technical grandeur and big ol' serious German vocals -- in the midrange! How often do you get to hear heavy metal vocals that are neither helium-high nor grindy-growl-low? The answer to that question is never. That's why you're such an asshole if you don't buy this. Also, it tells a story. I'd love to tell you about the story, but as they say on the Metal Blade web site:

"'Back To Times Of Splendor' is DISILLUSION's first full-length album. It is the soundtrack to this story.

"It's not necessary to explain the story - it's there to grasp by just listening to the album."

I couldn't agree more!

Artist: Peter DiStefano
Album: Gratitude
Label: Sanctuary

Back when the world was new and Guns 'N' Roses were climbing the charts with hits like "I Hate Black People" and "Women = Rape Holes," one band had the strength and talent to challenge the prevailing trend and turn the underground overground with their enticing mix of hard rock, funk metal and psychedelic drugs. That band was Jane's Addiction. Peter DiStefano wasn't in Jane's Addiction.

Now here we are in 2004 and former Porno For Pyros guitarist Peter DiStefano is back with what I think might be his second solo album. And boy, is it poised to turn the underground overground and change the face of our youth culture!

Oh hell, I'm sorry - I meant to put a question mark there. The answer is no, it isn't. It's pretty enjoyable though. Sweet guitar-driven pop rock with lovely smooth harmony vocals, a sort of laidback bubblegum grunge approach with a couple of trips up electronic/industrial/funk and country-western-tinged folk rock way. My WinAmp insists that he's an unknown artist, but that won't last long, believe me. Once somebody inputs the information into CDDB, that should take care of that problem. I tell you what, man. If you dug the laidback ethereal pop feel of "We'll Make Great Pets" (Porno For Pyros' big hit video single), you'll probably be into this similarly pot-smoking Relaxation Farm. And don't be turned off by the way that recurring guitar part in the first song sounds exactly like EMF's "Unbelievable." Just sing along and fantasize about masturbating while looking at a picture of that guy in EMF.

Band: Divine Rapture
Album: The Burning Passion
Label: Listenable

When Napalm Death and their little friends in the metal world created "grindcore" back in the `80s, the emphasis was on shock, intensity, brutality and noise. Although the fact that you can only shock somebody once before they get bored with your nonsense would suggest a short lifespan for the subgenre, it has persisted to this day through the rape-and- murder visions of countless interchangeable belching nellies. As such, it's truly and honestly a breath of fresh apples to run across a band that brings actual memorable RIFFS to the blastbeat drums and evil low growly vocals of Grindcore clich‚. Divine Rapture is such a band, and I wish them tremendous success, even if I don't quite understand their mission to "stir the subconscious and challenge the listener to obtain a reflective, deeper understanding of self and self in environment."

Band: Division of Laura Lee
Album: Das Not Compute
Label: Burning Heart

I thought this Swedish bunch of men was supposed to be one of those "garage" bands like the Strokity White Hive-vines! Why then do they sound like early Radiohead? Did they change to impress me? That was quite nice. They certainly try to sound "important" and "deep" on here by burying their ass-simple (and butt-midtempo) melodies under tons of interesting effects, electronic noises and weird fuzz. The production itself is a wonder - even if you consider it overblown and unenergetic (which it is), the sounds themselves just keep bubbling up and burbling over, and it sounds KOOL! It's possible that I would love these guys had I never heard Radiohead, but looking at this incredibly Radioheady CD packaging and listening to the extremely "sad," "self-important" and emotionally obvious chord changes, they just give off this waft of "sucking all the fun out of rock music." This is unfortunate, because this is not at ALL a bad album, and in fact I can imagine a lot of radio listeners going wild over it, because sad sounds are addicting and as I said, they clearly put a TON of time into making the mix as thick with possibility and unexpected washes of disparate flecks as possible. But how do the actual songs go? I have no idea.

Band: Dokken
Album: Hell To Pay
Label: Sanctuary

Metal veteran Don Dokken is back with another new line-up, this one featuring guitarist John Levin from Warlock and bassist Barry Sparks from The Ted Nugent Free Your Mind Acid Trip Brotherhood. Don's face may have grown a few more distinguishing lines over the years, but his love for straightforward '80s hard rock has remained unfazed by the passage of years and drinkage of beers (as Don states in his thank you's, "If I've missed anybody Sorry, I was drunk when I wrote this."). You really must have a soft spot for '80s lite metal to enjoy this, especially as tracks like "I Surrender" and "Care For You" are as Survivory as they are Dioy, but if you've been a Dokken fan for years, you'll probably still be one after hearing this. Unless you get all scared by the way he reaches his hands out towards you on the back cover. That's pretty scary, especially if his hands actually popped out through the jewel case and started smacking you in the face. I'm not insinuating that Don Dokken would do that, but if there's a little evil spirit trapped between the back cover and the jewel case, who knows WHAT might happen?

Band: Dollybraid
Album: Dollybraid EP
Label: Doily

Back in the mid-`90s, there existed for all to see a band called Van Halen and a third featuring Nuno Bettancourt entitled Extreme. Nobody in their wild right minds could have thought the two fit together, and unfortunately their one chance to find out resulted in the most heinous Van Halen release of all time, which, considering the previous singer was Sammy Hagar, is saying something quite indeed.

But regardless of Gary Cherone's inability to not rasp hoarsely at the top of his lungs all over Eddie's fluid string licking, it was never adequately proven that the astonishing fretwork of Mr. Van Halen couldn't be merged with the gentle balladry and high-energy funk metal of Extreme. And Dollybraid is (or WAS) here to prove it. Because they've DONE it (or did it). The songwriting is radio-friendly, listener-pleasing goodtime danceable drinkable party ear candy, but with Mark Sims' magical eight-fingered hands blasting firebomb solos and fuzzy metallic riffery all over the top.

Unfortnately, this is only a three-song demo (well, FOUR, but one is just a longer version of a previous track) and the mix is a bit too dry and demoey to give `em the full THRUST that their sound needs. And they're gone now so never mind, I suppose. Forget I said anything!

Band: Dominium
Album: Psycho Path Fever
Label: Metal Mind

Low serious-guy goth vocals over heavy distorted chunkity guitar and gloomy bass. I wish I could tell you more, but the audio portion of the CD won't play in my computer, leaving me only one video to judge them by. It might be some anti-file-sharing device built in, I don't know. Shame though, because all 5,000 of my friends have totally been asking for copies of my "Dominium" CD. I have the lyrics booklet though, so at very least, please allow me to share with you the lyric "I was born because my father didn't want to spank the monkey that day."

Band: Down To Earth Approach
Album: Another Intervention
Label: Vagrant

I have only positive things to say about Down To Earth's loud, high-pitched guitar approach, stuffed-nose guy next door vocals and loud cymbal-crashy drums. By picking up where Superchunk left off when Superchunk went all quiet and girly, Down To Earth Approach is ready to introduce a whole new college student generation to the wonders of a beautifully composed and messily performed pop rock song. They've also got a tubularass guitar approach, utilizing very fast and ringing pick-pick-picking for an effect similar to a distorted organ. All in all, Down To Earth Approach are one of the best no-name bands I've heard this year!

Band: Dragonforce
Album: Valley Of The Damned
Label: Noise

Big bombastic power metal with FAST AS SHIT DRUMMING!!! High operatic large-hair-sized vocals, heavy minor-key chords of the Judas Maiden persuasion -- and some speed metal drummer backing them up, tearing the town down with his adrenaline-pumping "doop-chick" variations. Originally called Dragonheart, this London-based band is an equal opportunity employer made up of young men from such farflung mystical lands as Hong Kong, South Africa, France, Ukraine and England. And I say they're equal opportunity because they're all retarded and GAY!!!

I'm just kidding about that "retarded and gay" thing. Just trying to make light of two horrible, fatal diseases that you can catch by drinking after somebody. In short, metal metal metal dual guitar hooks technical progressive guitar solos catchy strong outstanding metal!

Band: Dragonforce
Album: Sonic Firestorm
Label: Noise

On this follow-up to Valley Of The Damned, you will find: Large oversized NWOBM metal with SPEEDY AS TURD PERCUSSION!!! Heliumy opera-esque big-haired singing, pounding minor-key chords of the Iron Priest variety -- and some thrash skinsman in the background, ripping the county apart with his dopamine-inciting "boom-puh" diversity. Once entitled Dragonheart, this London-based group is an equal opportunity employer comprised of fellows from such far-off magical worlds as Hong Kong, South Africa, France, Ukraine and England. And I call them equal opportunity because they're all mentally disabled and LESBIAN!!!

I'm just joshing about that "mentally disabled and lesbian" thing. Just trying to poke fun at two horrific, lethal illnesses that you can catch if somebody breathes at you. In summation, metal metal metal dual guitar hooks technical progressive guitar solos catchy strong outstanding metal!

Band: The Dragons
Album: Kamikaze Rock N Roll
Label: Gearhead

Although not recorded by actual dragons, this remixed, remastered and bonus-trackful CD reissue is the epitome of garage punk fun, complete with uptempo rhythms, slashing riffs both joyous and threatening, and a hoarse Spanish/Mexican/Puerto Rican singer who sounds even more Jersey than early Bruce (Springersteen). Bringing the straightforward hard rock kickassery of Johnny Thunders' Heartbreakers into the new millennium with such erudite mantras as "Whoa Yeah," "C'Mon" and "I Say Go," San Diego's Dragons are gonna tear your little whirlpool apart. ENERGY HO!

I apologize for calling you an "Energy Ho." You're doing a fine job, Mr. Vice President.

Band: Drawn And Quartered
Album: Extermination Revelry
Label: Moribund

Death metal can be a tough pill for any young person to swallow, as pills go. Blastbeats hurt the ear canal, the riffs are often less catchy than a baseball glove made of water and the vocals are just a guy growling and wheezing like a throat cancer patient. But Drawn and Quartered is nice enough to throw some traditional melodies in there for you! It's true - between the thrashing deathpound of hate, you find things like the sickeningly FUNKY "Kill For My Master," the classic punk rock chord sequence (buried under the blastbeats, but still there!) of "Worshippers Of Total Death" and - to REALLY fuck your head up -- the quite literally POPPY death metal song "Abyss Behind My Gaze." Death metal needs more bands like this - ones that are willing to toss in some different oddball elements to separate them from the pack of soundalike groups with song titles like "Necrophile Decapitator" and "Sodomized And Butchered."

Oops! No hang on, those songs are on this album.

Band: Dreamaker
Album: Human Device
Label: Arise

Dreamaker (or "One who makes drea") is essentially Dark Moor without that bassist fuckhead. GOD, I hated that guy! But don't think that just because you've memorized every Dark Moor album (even The Hall Of Olden Dreams, if you can believe THAT!) doesn't mean that Dreamaker has no new ideas for you to take home to the wife (of your neighbor, lying bare and adulterous in your bed of sin). Dreamaker leaves those crusty old symphonic arrangements, sovereign choirs and canonical influences behind to give you straight-on-up power metal built upon guitars, keyboards and Jorge Saez's ALWAYS ass-kicking rhythm legs. Ms. Elisa C. Martin still has a lovely voice that brings a grain of human essence and emotion to what otherwise might come across as bitter, angry, death-smacking male metal. In short, if you're a fan of `80s-style minor-key chord constructions played with chugga-chugga-chugga train drums, jigga-jigga-jigga jackhammer heavy guitars and tinky-tinky-tinky wispy keyboards, there's no reason to mourn the loss of Dark Moor because Dreamaker is right where you want it to be: FISTFUCKING YOUR EARS WITH GREAT MUSIC.

Band: Drowning Pool
Album: Desensitized
Label: Wind-Up

Some bands are destroyed when their lead singer decides to die (Sublime, Joy Division). Others pull together as a unit and come back to record the greatest music of their lives (AC/DC, The Doors in an alternate universe where Other Voices doesn't suck a complete pile of horse garbage). After Drowning Pool lead singer Dave Williams drowned in a pool a couple of years ago (or whatever the hell he did - look it up, ASSHOLE), many people hoped and prayed the band would respect his honor and retire the greatest rock and roll band in history. But no way. If you're born to rock, you KEEP rockin'. That's what Drowning Pool believes, and they'll be churning out the nu-metal `till it comes back in style. Heavy chords and raspy screaming - sometimes emotional, other times just really angrily mad. Detuned guitars, some double-tracked sung moments, lots of chord changes you can see coming from 40,000 miles away - all designed to help you FORGET! FORGET! FORGET! (That's a lyric from the song "Forget"). If you loved `em before, you'll still love `em. Your asp will be rokt.

Band: The Dukes of Hillsborough & Altaira
Album: Sometimes You Eat The Bar, Sometimes The Bar Eats You
Label: A.D.D.

Two great punk action bands, one great punk action short CD! Florida's Dukes play anger-slapping high-speed motorcycle punk with intelligent post-punk lead guitarwork and a crazyass Southern screamer who likely has facial hair and I bet ink somewhere on the outside of his body (epidermis). Turning a full 780 degrees, California's Altaira is just as loud but more emotional; they're certainly not "emo" for little kids, but the singer seems more like a human being than the cartoonish violence of The Dukes would allow. Still, the Dukes are good old boys, never meaning no harm - fighting the system like a noomadda dayrobby hoo.

Band: Each Passing Moment
Album: Let Her Sleep No More EP
Label: Forsaken

When metalcore blood-scratching diaphragm screams and Slayer-style death metal riffs met each other in Greenville, NC one fine day in a flower garden, they instantly knew that they should get together to record a brief record album. The lyrics are full of revenge fantasies ("Someone will be buried alive!"), the sorrow of losing a loved one ("Frustrated, forgiving, Why can't you keep living!?"), self-pity galore ("These wounds will never heal! These scars will never fade!") and a couple of Luddite anti-technology rants (visit us at www.eachpassingmoment.com!). If you heart classic midtempo Slayer, but enjoy blood pouring out of your ears as well, buy!

Band: The Earaches
Album: Fist Fights, Hot Love
Label: Steel Cage

Garage rockers with an eye for a great rock and roll riff. Like early New Bomb Turks, with less of a punk rock influence. So actually more like the bands featured on all those "Pebbles" compilations of rare '60s singles. Good tunes, fuzzy distortion, basement drum sound, excitable singer and free beer! (Beer sold separately)

Band: Edguy
Album: Hellfire Club
Label: Nuclear Blast

"Lavatory Love Machine." Including such lyrics as "And when she asks me what I'd like to eat/I realize the domina feels the same/And I reply: What about your pie?" and "Now if I gotta die/I'll have been stiff and smiling till the crash" and "No broken wings to stop me stream/Honey do you like the way I cream?"

See, I wouldn't point these out if it was a Gwar album or Poison or something, but every single other song on this album is DEADLY SERIOUS 80's-style POWER THRASH. Very heavy chuggling guitars and a high-pitched singer - quite reminiscent of early Motley Crue, actually. Anthemic poppy power choruses and tougher verses. Iron Maiden-style vocals a bit, but with a slight German accent. The tempos can be midtempo or fast, just as life can be good or bad. You would probably put this in your "melodic power metal" bin, though the guitar tone is much harsher and uglier than you're likely to hear in most types of music that are generally thought of as "melodic." Imagine GG Allin's guitarist playing "melodic power metal" and you'll start laughing.

Band: E-Force
Album: Evil Forces
Label: Season Of Mist

Remember back in spring 2001 when Eric Forrest got his ASS thrown out of Voivod??? Remember that? We all gathered together and threw him out on his ASS!?!?!?! Well, he didn't just wither away and die like we all hoped he would; instead he grew stronger and more powerful, eventually spawning a new band of his own! And that band was the Bee Gees. You know, the first time I heard "Night Fever," I thought, "How could a former heavy metal gu

Hang on! I just received an important phone call from the Canadian Prime Minister of Canada! The band is E-Force. And the band KIX ASS!!! Eric shows the same twisted riff penchant as his former Voivodders (who threw him out on his ASS and replaced him with that guy from METALLICA!!!!), and the guys just pound and tear away at your flesh with these evil heavy psychotic metal riffs from Insane-And-Filled-With-BileLand. Speed mealt? Thrash Mealt? Power mealt? Death mealt? Prog meatl? All of the above and no fools are spared! If you're a Voivod fan and don't have this CD in your collection, you'd might as well stick your finger up your ass and walk around town showing it to everybody. Because that's we all think of you anyway, until you buy it. And that's what I'm telling everybody you do. Even though I have no goddamned idea who you are. I know you're there behind the computer screen.... watching me.

Band: Ektomorf
Album: Destroy
Label: Nuclear Blast

I think these dudes are from Denmark or some shit. One thing's for certain: the vocalist is a firm believer in "just scream really fuckin' loud" and the guitarists believe that detuning is the spirit of today's metal sounds. This isn't underrating or left-wing proselytizing; I speak of music the way I speak of women. And Ektomorf is a sleek, sexy pile of gams. Which is to say that they've probably been listening to late-period Sepultura and enjoying its heavy powerful blasts of chunky chord noise with a slightly industrial tightness feel and clackity-clunkity world music rhythms. Sometimes they play fast as shit; other times they slam it at you slower than fuckity fuck-fuck. There are some terrific tunes on here - check out "Only God" - fast, evil, mangled and HEAVY! Christ, this is heavy! I'm sure glad my brother isn't in this band because then I couldn't go around singing, "He Ain't Heavy (He's My Brother)."

Band: Electric Frankenstein
Album: We Will Bury You!
Label: TKO

I don't know Electric Frankenstein from Battery-Operated Count Chocula but I know half of these songs even before opening my eyes. How possible? You're telling LIES, Mark Prindle (is totally what you're thinking). But that's not true. See, this is a double-CD of every cover tune that Electric Frankenstein has ever recorded! And sure, nobody but a weirdo has ever heard of no-popularity bands like "BeBop Deluxe" ("BeBop WHO?" HA HA! HA HA! "BeBop WHO?" HA HAHAH!) and "The Rubinoos" ("The RubiWHATS?" AHAHHEAHHAHA!), but anyone who doesn't know "Wild In The Streets, High Voltage, Sex & Dying In High Society, Your Emotions, 1977, Plastique, Aces High, The Chain, Sick As A Dog, We Are The Road Crew, Wish You Were Here, Tattoo Vampire, Frankenstein, Bad Reputation, Cocaine Blues, Queen Wasp, Coolest Little Monster" by Circle Jerks AC/DC X Dead Kennedys Clash DRI Iron Maiden Fleetwood Mac Aerosmith Motorhead Pink Floyd Blue Oyster Cult New York Dolls Joan Jett Johnny Cash Misfits Zacherly can EAT A PEACH! Even better, Electric Frankenstein (or "E.F.", G.) not only try to imitate the original singers when possible (the singer does a great Steven Tyler, at any rate) but also rework what they feel needs to be reworked to make the songs fresher ("Wish You Were Here" has drums! "Your Emotions" is played more slowly! "Plastique" is played completely WRONG!). I love this double-CD - if you're a fan of rock and roll and a cover tune with spirit and volume, let We Will Bury You! marry you! That's my opinion. How come there aren't any Ramones covers though? That's pretty fucked up, isn't it?

Band: Eleventeen
Album: Intheair
Label: Sessions

Hey wait a second! There's not a number called "Eleventeen"! Who are these guys trying to kid? Ha ha! I guess they didn't go to school! Ha ha! They play VERY radio- ready emo jangle post-punk chimey/crankle guitars, piano, pleasant vox. Some of the guitar interplay is just beautiful. Nice voice the singer has too. He sounds like "one of US!" while still having the range to hit actual notes and sing actual melodies and things that "most of US!" can't do very well. I wish them luck! Good luck, Eleventeen! I wish you luck!

Band: El Centro
Album: Prohibido
Label: Finger Records

You Orange County people sure have a lot of bands playing that "Orange County" punk rock music. The poppy punk stuff that sounds like Agent Orange and the Vandals. Not that El Centro sound like a "ripoff' of those bands. They just play melodic uptempo distorted guitar chord music with a socially distorted man singing over them. Some of the songs are instant sugartone pop punk classics you want to hear again and again; others are similar but lack that certain something (anything). But that's the risk you run when you play a form of music this simplistic in a market as oversaturated as O.C. Are El Centro as good as their peers? For the most part, yeah! There are some great songs on here! But will El Centro be able to break though the noise and increase mindshare among the all-important 18-25 male demographic? Only tomorrow will tell us that tale. I'll give you an update on our next shareholder's call.

Band: Elyasin
Label: Grave9

Kyrie Elyasin down the road that I must travel! Kyrie Elyasin through the darkness of the nigh-igh-igh-ight! Ahh, who doesn't love Mr. Mister? NOBODY doesn't, that's why! Elyasin would just be another fast bunch of punk-metal guys straight outta the `80s if not for their whiny crybaby vocalist - as a result of him and he alone, they are now dab smack in the middle of today's popular youth "Emo" movement! Good riffs, good energy, good anger and anguish. It's awfully short though, so if some Arab tries to charge you $400 for it, don't make the same mistake I did.

Band: Emperor
Album: Scattered Ashes: A Decade Of Emperial Wrath
Label: Candlelight

Emperor are one of the oldest and most beloved of Norway's bubblegum black metal bands who, along with fellow teen idols Mayhem and Burzum, got all the Norwegian kids rollerskating in Viking gear and gathering together to watch churches burn through their Zany Zapers flashing light glasses in the early nineties. In their earliest days, Emperor played the same thing Mayhem and Burzum did in their early days -- evil slices of distorted guitar arpeggiations played at breakneck speed against blastbeats (drums played at maximum speed - "THUBBATHUBBATHUBBATHUBBA") with an evil shreiking croaking vocalist in pain. As time passed by, however, like sand through an hourglass, they slowed it down, added in scary orchestras, violins and synths and things and became what I'm told is called VIKING METAL, an ultraserious lifestyle choice akin to goth kids but for REAL. They don't just wear black on the outside because that's how they feel on the inside - they wear it because it's harder to see the bloodstains all over it. EEEEEEVIL! One original member of the band even killed a GAY PERSON, I think! When was the last time James Hetfield killed a gay person?

I mean besides impaling them to death on his gargantuan peterdick.

Emperor is broken up now. This double-CD Greatest FM Radio Hits, Rarities and Unreleased Tracks compilation shows all of today's young Black American youth what they missed: a smart extreme and violent band that's just as adept at creating frightening industrial-drenched modern mope-metal as they are at tearing holes in teenagers' skin with their jagged botulist riffage. Look at my song titles here: "Curse You All Men!" "The Tongue Of Fire" "Ye Entrancemperium." "I've Got A Brand New Pair Of Roller Skates (You've Got A Brand New Key)." "A Fine Day To Die." Emperor were never Fakirs - this is the real shizzit!

And by "shizzit," I of course mean "fuckin moronic piece of slang used exclusively by the stupidest people in the world."

Band: Enslaved
Album: Below The Lights
Label: The End

I love the idea of black metal merging orchestral sounds, traditional instruments and what-have-you into an angry vicious metallic distorted stew. But too often, I find myself simply BORED by the overserious determination with which bands like Emperor pile slick cheesy keyboards or stoic violins atop the ear-piercing grindcore that launched the genre. But this new Enslaved CD is frigging fantastic! Everything merges together so well, and sounds SO real and vivid and multidimensional and SMART! To go straight from angry pounding into haunting acoustic arrangements with soaring classic rock solos, then into strange, semi-industrial video game thumping with low sung goth vocals, then into a beautiful FLUTE melody and back to thrash and on and on. More than once, I fancied myself thinking, "Is this the Led Zeppelin of black metal?" Now I'll give you that I haven't heard every black metal band in the world and there might be plenty of dandies with which I'm unfamiliar, but for now, having heard what I've heard (maybe 25-30 black metal bands total - but the bigger names), I'm inclined to think these guys actually ARE really good at it and I'm not just ill informed. What's the time? It's time to get ILL informed!

Band: Ensoph
Album: Opus Dementiae - Per Speculum Et In Aenigmate
Label: Cruz Del Sur

10 tracks of pure unorthodox gothic metal avant-gardisme that celebrates a perfect mixture of powerful electro-industrial elements, sick and disturbed orchestrations, unconventional extreme metal and a huge range of vocal deliriums as you have never hear before.

Or so they CLAIM. What I hear is distorted NIN-style German vox, loud metal guitars, sound effects, a flute (!), electronics, a sickly wailing voice, big goth orchestral synths, occasional female vox ("vox" is slang for "vocals," by the way - as in "Dear stewardess, I'll have some bagels and vox"), quiet dark parts, melodic sad parts with actual singing and a cool speed-manipulated piano at the beginning of track five.

See that? Our descriptions couldn't be more different! It's like we're talking about three completely different bands! It just goes to show you - never believe anything at all.

Band: Error
Album: Error EP
Label: Epitaph

What a strange confluence of worlds we now find ourselves experiencing! Error is - GET THIS - two brothers merging loud guitars with techno music, topped by the Dillinger Escape Plan's Gregg Puciato singing lyrics written by Bad Religion's Brett Gurewitz. As great as those bands are, Error sounds nothing at all like either one, rather resembling the industrial-angst-metal amalgam Nine Inch Nails (not shocking since one of the brothers once worked with Trent Reznor). Some of the electronics sound pretty neat, and Gurewitz is enjoying his role as `nihilistic' songwriter (one track is from the point of view of Jack The Ripper, another includes only two lines, one of which is "Let's just fuck our brains out my love"), so if you're "all about" S&M in the cyber age, Error is the band for you! And Error is the EP for you! And Error is the - do they have a song called "Error"? If they did, I could say, "And Error is the song for you!" I don't think they do though.

Band: The Escape Engine
Album: Celebrity Role Model
Label: Fidelity

Excuse me while I hop in my escape engine to get the hell away from this shitty band! Clear Channel just loves self-pitying alternative guitar rock like this, so don't blame me if your children grow up emotionally retarded.

Band: Evergrey
Album: The Inner Circle
Label: InsideOut

I believe this to be the fifth full-length CD for Swedish prog-metallers Evergrey. Their sound is built upon loud chugging guitars, plinky pianos, power metal leads, fake-synth strings, and a strong low-medium voice that alternates with a lighter foreign accent voice. There are some quieter acoustic classical moments too, and even some dark religious samples at times! Although it's as overdramatic and stuck-in-the-minor-keys as most prog metal, it never sounds out-of-date like a lot of bands of that genre because the vocals and heavy-as-shins guitar choogle are both "of the '00s." The same cannot be said for the four guys in the band who still have Van Dyke goatees. What is this, "Dress Up Like W.E.B. Dubois Day"? HA! I bet it IS!

Band: Everyday Victory
Album: Oceans And Airplanes
Label: Rise

Everyday Victory is emo-tastic, on the Indie Rockish side (as opposed to the punk side) with rich, broad strokes of notes, tones and passionate depth of sound. This is a terrific record for young lovers; it's got a romantic feel to it, as well as about a billion songs about profound relationships falling apart. Trust me - put this on and you'll be getting a kiss! Don't blame me if it's from the dorm janitor or something.

Band: Ewigkeit
Album: Radio Ixtlan
Label: Earache

Yikes! This guy's out of bounds with his crazy long hair and multiple musical interests! One "Mr. Fog," a German man world-famous for his black metal band The Meads of Asphodel and collaboration with KLF's Jimmy Cauty entitled Blacksmoke, has created one fun smorgasbord of Meat Beat Manifesto-style radio transmissions, Ministry-esque techno-metal, Slayer-style riffs, big '70s space-rock guitar soloing and choogling "Children Of The Sun" rhythms. A fantastic hybrid of all your favorite music -- together in one package! And one of the songs is called "Strange Volk"!!! A reference to Paul Revere & The Raiders' Phillip Volk perhaps???!!?

No.

Band: Exit Condition
Album: 1988-1994
Label: Boss Tuneage

There were so many awesome high-speed hardcore punk bands floating around in the mid-80s, you'd have to spend a bajillion dollars (or "Euros") to buy the perfect collection. And now it's time to pull out your hundred dollars for ANOTHER entry! Britain's Exit Condition sound like early Husker Du, early Replacements, early Soul Asylum, early - oh hell, is Minneapolis in Britain? Let me check that. My point is that these guys played KILLER American-sounding hardcore, and need to be revisited and respected NOW! If you thought all the best hardcore came out pre-'86, you've got several things to learn, sir.

Band: Extol
Album: Synergy
Label: Century Media

This band is so frigging great. I'd never heard of them before this CD came to me in the mail, and now I'm just like, "CHRIST! THIS BAND IS SO FRIGGING GREAT!" Their riffs are smart, fast, challenging and exciting as hell. Apparently they've been around for a decade, toiling away in Norwegia, but with a new worldwide deal with Century Media, hopefully their awesome off-time signatures, screaming excitement, original wildass spazcore-esque guitar riffs and occasional unexpected acoustic melancholy will make as big an impact on the rest of the world as - well, actually I don't know if they've ever had an impact anywhere. Geography has never been any good at me. But still, Extol's THIRD full-length release combines thrash, progressive, jazz, hardcore, metalcore, math metal and downright melodic genius into one super, SUPER CD that I'm more than proud to recommend to you, the reader. What great riffs! Note runs out of left-field! Like Voivod, but faster and even more warped! And that band is "Excel"! Don't forget the band name - it's "Exodus" and their song "Open Season" kicks ass!

Band: The Fags
Product: The Fags EP
Label: Idol

I can't believe that this late in the course of human history, a happy heavy guitar-powered Detroit pop trio that provides a dandy balance between Cheap Trick rockingness and Matthew Sweet sissiness (or vice-versa) would go out of their way to choose a name so offensive, so DISGUSTING, so childish and so literally DANGEROUS as to render themselves 100% unplayable on most of the FM hit radio stations that would otherwise be happy to promote their 70s-retro simplicity and head- bopping obvious hookiness. But choose so they did. And until America finally comes to terms with the fact that young people will always be interested in smoking cigarettes, no matter how tough our anti-smoking policies and propaganda, I'm afraid The Fags will be forever snubbed out in the ashtray of obscurity.

But if you like Cheap Trick and don't get irritated by ages-old chord sequences as long as they're assisted by a guy with a (matthew) sweet, slightly Zander-esque voice and a lead guitarist who loves high anthemic chiming power chords - you'll be sucking The Fags' dicks in no time.

Band: Fake Moss
Album: It's You Against The City Tonight
Label: Ultrachrome

For your finest 2004 Americana rock, turn no further than Sweden, which I'm told is just east of New York State. Sweden's Fake Moss combine the tough jangle of REM's finest work(song) with the lost melancholy of Thin White Rope and the death western twang of The Gun Club (especially in the vocals - Erik Johnssonis a regular Swedish Jeffrey Lee Pierce!). It's just like all the critics are saying: "Det h„r „r bra grejer hoppas f† mer musik av FAKE MOSS!" I couldn't agree more. In fact, let me add to that, "FAKE MOSS har koppo karcin av drila musik ga pafadar sta!" And you can take THAT to the bank and translate it! I like these guys - they have a giant future ahead of them if they play their cards correctly. Rarely do you hear "alternative" music with BALLS (nuts) these days -- Fake Moss know how to write a melodic guitar line, but they remember the meaning of the word "ROCK" too. Fake? More like REAL!

Band: Fall Of The Leafe
Album: Volvere
Label: Rage Of Achilles

It is the first time where falls in the hands my somebody of album Finnish Fall Of The Leafe, that I simply knew as name but had the curiosity to hear after somewhere I had read older that their sound is similar with that of Amorphis. For the history, the Volvere is the fourth completed work. Their music they are not final simple as the Amorphis but have elements and from other groups but also from different properties more general. It is a disc from those that do not come out daily in the market and with this do not mean that they are very experimental and consequently difficult in the hearing but the elements that they compose are doomy and synth-driven in such a way that they are enough original. If it should we characterize the music of Fall Of The Leafe we would say that they are Gothic Rock/Metal with a lot of atmospheric elements but also with Hard rock features. As progenitors, the Amorphis they have honorary their in this disc but they are not only these after the sound reminds also their Artrosis, their Sentenced even their Him in points. All the pieces are constituted by rhythmical guitars, previously aggressive and previously fast, intense playing, very good drums (from side of production) and enough keys that most times function as carpet. What maybe personally me spoiled in the disc they are phonetic because I believe that he is a lot of angst and they need improvement. Kjcarjstjka's solos they are heard always at the appropriate time and add still a atmospheric element in the all work. Sure do not deserve 11 pieces but most from them are beautiful. Finally, the Volvera is not disk that I will pleasantly hear all the days of week but as total it is enough good. The production is exceptional.

Band: Falsehood
Album: Life's Evil Twin EP
Label: Loud + Clear 2002

Oh! How far we've come since the early '80s when metal and punk were as different as a petal and bunk (two QUITE different things, I'm sure you'd agree!). Back then, metal guys had long hair, wore codpieces and wailed like female opera stars, and punk guys had shaved heads and shouted "Oi!" before learning to sing like that Bad Religion guy, whose name I know quite well, but I prefer the way the sentence reads with "that Bad Religion guy" at the end of it, or what would have been the end of it had I not gone on to explain my dictional reasoning. But I guess you would know about "dick"-tional reasoning, wouldn't you? (You're gay or a girl)

Point being that this disc is comprised of four well-produced, perfectly executed and completely humorless heavy metal tracks (NWOBHM/speed) with an emo punk guy singing over them. I couldn't tell you if there's a market for emo-metal or not. If so, they're gonna love the hell out of Falsehood! Very professional sounding band. And that's no "Falseeeeevvvvvvvvvvvvvv

Hey, I just thought of something hilarious! What do you call a businessman who one day dresses up in a black leather jacket and runs up to people with a knife yelling, "Gimme all ya money heeeere!"?

A "false hood"!!!! HAHHAHAHAHAHAA!!! FUCK YEAH!!!! I CAN'T WAIT TO TELL BOB HOPE THIS "RIB-TICKLER" WHEN I GO OVER TO FEED HIM HIS MUSH TODAY!

Band: Farmer Boys
Album: The Other Side
Label: Nuclear Blast

Like most of us, the Farmer Boys love the slick big-label sound, easy-to-follow heavy metal riffs, emotional lyrics, synthesizer embellishment and melodic pop vocals of Linkin Park. But unlike most of us, who stay at home having sex all day instead of learning how to play a musical instrument, the Farmer Boys have found a way to IMPROVE on the sound of that best of all possible bands, the "L.P." Being from Germany, their final solution was almost second nature: eliminate all unpure influences! Thus, Linkin Park's famed (and dull) rapping has gone the way of the passenger jet, leaving behind nothing but superior angst-metal for 13-year-olds of all psyches.

Band: Fatal Flying Guilloteens
Album: Get Knifed
Label: Estrus

UGLY! The Fatal Flying Guilloteens play UGLY guitar rock! But GODO! (good, but spelled wrong) Trebly scratchy bent notes playing death-blues-surf-noise, distorted bass, cymbal-heavy drums and a singer who pronounces every word in the English language as if it rhymes with "Nyaaah!" Example: "Like Fire" comes out "Laaahk Faaayaaaah!" If you can deal with this obnoxious snotty bastard for the whole CD, then mister you're a better record executive than I. I'da made 'em dump 'em and get a guy with a cool angry Converge/Neurosis scream to fit the angry screaming music. Great band with lots of attitude and Steel Pole Bathtubby noise-guitar-dirt action with the tone knob turned all the way to "scratchy wires." And the song constructions are interesting, built around wild flailing pickity notes played so RAW and REAL, they'd make Joe Satriani go into conniptions. "STOP IT!" he'd yell. "I CAN TELL YOU HAVE FINGERS!" I like guitar playing like this. Where you can tell the guy's about to mess up any second, yet he's doing it ANYWAY -- not sticking to easy-to-play chords, but branching out into weird minor-key arpeggios that wrack his brain as much as his fingers. And the riffs? Weird! Untraditional! Noisy! And you can hear every note in every chord!

Good band! You should hear them some time!

Band: FCS North
Album: Vocabulary
Label: Luckyhorse Industries

FCS North (pronounced "Focus North," so why didn't they just spell it "Focus North") is an instrumental quartet from the Pacifc Northwest (or, as I would call it if I worked for the Chamber of Commerce, "the Specific NorthBEST!") that plays an acoustic drum kit, roland electronic drum kit, percssion, Roland Juno, Fender Rhodes, Nord Lead 3, bass guitar, keyboards, Akai sampler, turntables, effects and Akai MPC. Surprisingly, although this is the identical instrumentation preferred by Bachman Turner Overdrive, FCS North has chosen to take it in a different direction: that of electronic post-rock modern phat beats of darkness and cold isolation. Cold water flowing over you in the night, electronic pulses merging hospital atmosphere with nightclub smoky drunk latenightness. In all the rum rooms and juke joints all over the world. The eyes and dreams of tender young fawns stretching out into the world on their own for the first time. Eager to taste the corruption of modern life.

This music leads me to create bad beat poetry! Look at me, I'm Balki, that hilarious immigrant on Perfect Strangers that somehow didn't come across as unbelievably racist way back in the dusty mid-80s of Head of the Class fame. If you have a heart of darkness and you want your apocalypse now, look no further than a loaded pistol and FCS North's Vocabulary. It's a limited vocabulary -- what with it being instrumental and what have you -- but if it COULD speak, it would have a tattoo and a clove cigarette.

Band: Feverdream
Album: Future Directions
Label: Coalition

Feverdream are a Dutch indie rock trio that utilize skrankly scratchy guitar tones, dead cold bass, razor-tight midtempo drums and a detached, unsmiling production sound with lots of space in the mix (and in the songs as well). The songs are mostly tense, unhappy and minor chord-laden, along the lines of early Gang of Four (but less adventurous) or Shellac (but more traditionally melodic). This is their third CD and apparently - at least, according to the lyrics of the title track - "This one is better than the second one/This one is better than the first one/This one is probably the best." Ha! Good old post-wavers and their self-conscious ironicingnessly. Great album for you college crowd with your fancy books.

Band: Fields Of Gaffney
Album: Nature Walk
Label: Animal Friends Muzak

Lou Barlow fans, followers and nursemaids perhaps remember Mr. Eric Gaffney as the second-half of the original Sebadoh -- the young man who wrote a dozen jangly, shaky, catchy double-vocalled soundalikes on Sebadoh III before going out of his possibly-acid-drenched mind and writing a bunch of absolutely GENIUS fractured jazz/rock/pop/avant/weird songs for the band's one true masterpiece, Bubble And Scrape..... and then completely dropping off the face of the planet.

Okay, he didn't LITERALLY drop off the face of the planet like every explorer prior to Christopher Columbus did. He actually just left Sebadoh and thus wasn't as high-profile a musician anymore. But there are one or two Gaffney solo records out there if you look for them. Anyway, now he's BACK!!!!! And that ain't no WACK, JACK!!!!! His new band stars former Alice Donuter Richard Marshall and the world-famous Pillows bassist Jessica Cowley on the low-mo-strings, and their songs are quite good indeed! Eric has unfortunately recovered from the temporary insanity that resulted in his mindblowing Bubble And Scrape material, but this new pile of jangly, shaky catchy double-vocalled "lo-fi" "indie rock" guitar originals and cover tunes show a man who has been honing his craft to a shiny diamond of perfection over the past decade. Not anywhere near as monochomatic as his half of the celebrated Sebadoh III, Nature Walk jerks the listener back and forth between '60s garage stomp, heartfelt Jankly balladry and Byrds-style psych-folk without a moment of boredom or poor quality. I like Eric Gaffney -- he's one of the most interesting and sardonic independent songwriters on the planet and I'm glad he's back in the world of music where he belongs. For more info, visit www.angelfire.com/indie/ericgaffney.

Band: Fifth Hour Hero
Album: Scattered Sentences
Label: No Idea

So this whole "emo" thing seems like it might just be another word for what we used to call "indie rock." Or at least for that segment of indie rock that centers more on emotions than on good times and jokes. Fifth Hour Hero fits the title. The guitars sound like old Superchunk - high-pitched, frantic, anxiety-ridden, lonely distorted chord strumming - and more often than not they've got some "problem" on their minds. There appear to be two singers in the band - a lovely-voiced lass and a guy who kinda overdoes his "punk" attack, sounding like he's got the mic set up too high and he's stretching up to reach it. Somebody lower the guy's mic - I feel sorry for him. I feel sorry for all midgets. Their lives must be horrible. Walking around all small and shit. Fuck!

Band: Fireball Ministry
Album: The Second Great Awakening
Label: Nuclear Blast

What was called "Black Sabbath" in the `70s and "grunge" in the `90s is now called "stoner metal," and Fireball Ministry are right on in there, kings of the game. The singer sounds more like Ozzy than anybody else in the world, the heavy bendy-note funky chord sequences are perfectly fashioned for marijuana headbanging, macho lyrics about "The Sinner," "He Who Kills" and "Maidens of Venus" will pound your chest for you, and best of all -- they're multi-sexual! Two men, two women and this big rectangular black person with a bunch of tiny orifices!

Oh, THAT'S what an amp looks like?

Band: Fleshcrawl
Album: Made Of Flesh
Label: Metal Blade

Gruesome grind vocals, an awesome screaming vacuum cleaner guitar tone and guitar notes that are picked about fifty times in succession before moving on to the next note are the trademarks of some other country's Fleshcrawl, a collection of men with names like Sven, Bastian and Tobias who are clearly from somewhere outside of the United States but I'm not sure where. Germany perhaps? Regardless, they differentiate themselves from many death metal bands of today by actually writing memorable rock riffs that you can then hum to yourself later on in the day, perhaps while shooting some hoops or horse. This is their seventh album, and they're not slowing down even a teeny iota! Whether you're "Forged In Blood," "Damned In Fire" or "Beneath A Dying Sun," believe you me, these HoTTT trax will take you "Into The Depths Of No Return" to enjoy a "Scourge Of The Bleeding Haunted"!!!

In retrospect, that doesn't sound very fun at all.

Band: Fleshgrind
Album: Murder Without End
Label: Olympic Recordings

If there's nothing in this world that you despise more than music, Fleshgrind is right up your alltoooooojiiiiiiy, cat! I'll warn you that if you're not careful, you might run across a catchy pop riff buried deep down in the track "Perversion of Innocence," but aside from that, it's nothing but blastbeats, heavy trudgey death chord crushing and a decaying blob of filth growling out lyrics about fathers raping daughters, priests raping choirboys, johns murdering prostitutes and all kinds of other horrible sickening subject matter. There are probably subtle differences between all the grindcore bands in the world, but I am unfortunately not yet sufficiently sophisticated to pick up on them. It all just sounds like a bunch of "thubba-thubba-thubba-AAAAAHHHHH!" to me.

No hang on, that's just those kids outside shooting free throws into barrels of scalding battery acid.

Band: The Flip-Tops
Product: All Worked Up
Label: Rip Off

There are many things about music that people like to celebrate in their homes with streamers and tasty chocolate balloons. One is ingenuity: when a band creates a new sound that excites you into convulsions (for me, that would be The Ramones, The Cows, Flaming Lips' Zaireeka and many other agents of death). Another might be "catchy melodicism" - Beatles, old REM, the first five Byrds albums. A third might be "technical proficiency" - guys that can play their instruments superwell like YES, Steve Vai, Joe Satriani, Les Claypool. But no matter how many ways you try to entrap music into "objective" definitions of good and bad (as I've seen many a young person on a message board attempt), there is only ONE factor that really matters: one's own individual preferences. I LIKE THINGS FAST.

The Flip Tops aren't breaking any new ground. Their songs are catchy, but that's mainly because they aren't really the most creative three-chord punkers of all time. And although they MIGHT be technically proficient, it's impossible to tell by the way they thrash out mid- to fast- to superfast fuzzy punk rock Old School style (I'm talking about like The Saints, Heartbreakers and Dead Boys -- not Steely Dan, who are never going back to my Old School). What they DO have is fantastic energy, a hyperkooky singer with new wave sunglasses and a rough scraggly/squeaky adolescent punk voice somewhat similar to David Johansen from the New York Dolls, some great if uninnovative barre-chord sequences both angry and exuberant, a wicked alive drum sound like that on the first New Bomb Turks album (BY THE WAY, THE HIVES SOUND JUST LIKE THE FIRST NEW BOMB TURKS ALBUM DESTROY-OH-BOY!!! EXCEPT SLOWER AND LESS INTERESTING) and a guitar tone DAMN close to that displayed by the late great Johnny Ramone (R.I.P. - God Rest Your Soul, Johnny!) on It's Alive (If you don't know what that tone is - BUY IT'S ALIVE. If it's not in your collection yet, it needs to be! Say! Did I mention that I now own SIXTEEN Ramones tribute albums? A full TWO of them are covers of It's Alive by two different bands!).

Sometimes I look to the sky and thank my lucky huge balls of fire hurtling through space that the Inventors of Diction were kind enough to bestow the gift of the parenthese unto me. Without it, I'd NEVER be able to finish a frick-frackin' sentence!

Bottom line: If you like it fast, infectious and sweaty, die of AIDS. No wait that's not

Bottom line: If you like it fast, infectious and sweaty, don't delay! Buy All Worked Up, Gay! (and die of GODDAMMIT

WAIT! SLOW DOWN YOUR PANTIES! THIS VERY SAME RECORD LABEL ALSO RECENTLY RELEASED ANOTHER CD!!!! SLOW DOWN YOUR PANTIES!!!! SLOW `EM DOWN!!!!

Band: Flowers In The Attic
Album: Flowers In The Attic EP
Label: Reptilian

Eleven minutes of sheer metalspazcore excitement. They speed up, they slow down, the female vocalist screams so harshly you'll think she's a man (a DEAD man, as a matter of fact - come back to life to yell at you!), everything is turned up too loud and biggest of all -- they're from Baltimore, MD! Yes, Earl Weaver himself would be proud to share his small town with the boys and lady of Flowers In The Attic. Each song is a cool, all over the place collection of arpeggiated sorrow, insane high-speed pummelling, sluggish kill-metal and neato punkish chord sequences. There are a lot of bands playing this kind of music these days (Botch, for example. Although they broke up already, so they're probably not a particularly good example of "a band playing this kind of music these days"), but only the smart ones do it well. Flowers In The Attic is a smart band. In fact, I'd go so far as to say that they're every bit as smart as Aerosmith's Toys In The Attic and Paul McCartney's Flowers In The Dustbin put together and coated in Steven Hawking's sperm. But you have to like your music aggressive, abrasive and a complete ripoff at 11 minutes long. Otherwise, save your dollars.

Oh! And the whales!!! Christ, I can't believe I almost forgot the motherfucking whales!!! Save those lardass pricks too!

Band: Found Dead Hanging
Album: Found Dead Hanging EP
Label: Blackmarket

I LOVE today's youth music! The crazy guitar noises made God-knows-how, the zillions of exciting breaks, the brutal guitar/vocal attacks, the unpredictable time signatures, the gold ink and hard-to-read lyrics splotched all over the artistic booklet, the long, sarcastic song titles (like "With The Lack Of Faith In The World And The Recent Fluctuations In Gas Prices, It Wouldn't Surprise Me If Hell Ran On Propane" and "Taking Stock Portfolio Advice From Martha Stewart") -- I don't know if you call it "math metal" or "metalcore" or what-the-hell, but I love it, and Found Dead Hanging do it very well! Heavy as iron, smart as a professor of anger, intense, tight, shifty, busy -- but NEVER headachey somehow! And that's saying a lot because I'm a pretty headachey guy.

One big new thing with these guys that I don't think I've noticed with the other bands I've heard in this genre (Converge, Coalesce, Dillinger Escape Plan, others) is that the guitarist demonstrates Van Halen-style dexterity, tossing in cock-rock metal guitar noises and false harmonics out of nowhere sometimes, as if to show that he COULD make a living playing in cover bands if he wanted, but has decided to follow his muse and do something a bit more challenging.

I wish there were more than six songs on here, but lord willing these guys will come back with a lot more in a year or two. Yay for Found Dead Hanging!

No no, I mean the BAND "Found Dead Hanging."

No no -- Robbie Robertson's fine. Listen to what I'm saying.

Band: Fragments Of Unbecoming
Album: Skywards - A Sylphe's Ascension
Label: Metal Blade

What do you get when you cross a Mortified guitarist and two people with Venereal Disease?

Operation Desert Storm hero "Genital Wartskopf"!

Heh heh heh. Yes, we've had some laughs in our day (though not recently), but I have to be honest and tell you that the true answer is Fragments Of Unbecoming. Sascha Ehrich from a presumably death metal band called Mortified grabbed himself drummer Ingo Maier and guitarist Stefan Weimar from a band unpleasantly labeled "Venereal Disease" to create the sexiest new Swedish death metal band in America's friend to the south, Sweden.

Brutal yet dynamic and melodic, this death metal record has a radio add date of February 7, 2003. FUCKITY DUCK FUCK!!! It's already the 13th! You mean today's pop radio programmers have been playing torrid rockers like "Up From The Blackest Of Soil (Ascension Theme)," "The Seventh Sunray Enlights My Pathway," "Entangled Whispers In The Depth" and "On A Scar's Edge To Infinity" nonstop for nearly a week while I've been sitting here developing a cure for AIDS? FUCK!!! I could have been ROCKING this whole time!

In answer to your question, their guitars are loud and heavy with some beautiful dual-melody moments, the tempos range from midtempo pounding to punk rock doop-chick to blastbeats and the singer sounds as if he's been smoking too many tobacco cigarettes. He's as hoarse as the wind! Perhaps he should purchase one of those buzzy electric things you hold to your throat - what do you call those things? Ah yes. An "Electric Dildo."

Band: Freya
Album: As The Last Light Drains
Label: Victory

Alright, which one of you kids came up with the nu-metal gimmick wherein the standard angry screaming guy's vocals are counteracted by a little wussy-voiced guy doing overdramatic "singing" parts that all sound exactly the same? I haven't been in this "nu-metal" game long enough to know the geniuses behind its every erotic nook and cranny, so I wasn't introduced to it until Linkin Park crapped it all over me. But there's this little voice nagging at me, perhaps an elf or animated mushroom with cute little eyes and a mouth, telling me that there's no way Linkin Park was responsible for any innovation of any sort. So I'll leave it to the Gods to research the topic, and I'll leave Freya to people who like heavy boring music that tries to have its metal and pop it too (if I may rework a cliche into a statement that makes no sense at all).

Band: Frost
Album: Raise Your Fist To Metal
Label: Noise/Sanctuary

Jack Frost, in addition to nipping at your goddamned nose all the time, has been in such hot metal acts as Seven Witches, Metalium, Speeed, The Bronx Casket Co. and Savatage. Not just that, but he has more friends in the business than anybody (especially Richie Blackmore, a legendary prick that nobody can stand), and a whole slew of them appear alongside him on this solo record. Here you'll find the POWER and CHOPS behind such legendary SHREDDERS as Armored Saint, Britny "Spears" Fox, Waysted, W.A.S.P., Fates Warning, Harem Scarem, Annihilator, Overkill, Overlord, Lordkill, Killlord, Symphony X, Azian, Warrior, Axel Rudi Pell, Impellittari, Doro and Life After Death. If I know you, you're SHREDDIN' right now just thinking about all those POWERFUL CHOPS on the same record! Well, hold your horses because I haven't even described the music yet. This is HARD '80s-style ROCK METAL! The guitars are cranked up to 8 for a tough Ratt/early Motley Crue attack, the drums are energetic and pounding, and the vocals are smooth and flawless. I have to warn you though - "Fight Fire With Fire" is not a Metallica cover and "Nippin At Your Ear" is in fact the same dumb joke I made at the beginning of this review.

Band: Fun Lovin' Criminals
Album: Welcome To Poppy's
Label: Sanctuary

Apparently hailing from an alternate universe where rappers write and perform their own music, the Fun Lovin' Criminals are back with another danceable, melodic, hard-hitting bunch of alternative/rock/rap anthems to "get jibby with." Whether "doping" the happy octave bass jumps of "What Had Happened?," Elton Johnning the piano pop of "Living On The Streets" or "player-hata'ing" and "rocking" with loud distorted guitars of "Baby," the Fun Lovin' Criminals totally "ching-ching" and their music is FAT! And presumably WAC! (if that means something positive) Let this be a lesson to all you other rappers out there - learn to play an instrument because you're boring.

I'M LOOKIN' AT YOU, COLIN POWELL!!!

Band: Furious IV
Album: ...Is That You?
Label: Naked Jain

The name USED to make sense, you understand. But one guy quit, so I guess the microphone stand or that kicky thing that hits the drum is now the furious fourth. And it's ANGRY! FURIOUS!!!! Unlike the music, which is REALLY HAPPY or REALLY SAD, but never terribly angry. Fast? Yeah! It's old-timey American punk rock, with all the thrills and limitations that go along with it: thrills being the energetic slam-dancey fuzzy thrashing through the spirit of love and youth, limitations being the number of pre-existing punk songs featuring the exact same chord sequences. If you're young and not too familiar with punk rock, bands like this are a good melodic entrypoint that you'll probably like a whole lot. If you're old, cynical and smelly, you've likely already heard a lot of other bands doing a similar thing. Either way, there's not a bad song on here!

Band: Gallery of Mites
Album: Bugs on the Bluefish
Label: MeteorCity

I'm not going to chide the record label, but certainly they should realize how closely their company name resembles the word "MedioCrity." But how MedioCre is a band with five lead guitarists and two bassists? Well, it's hard to tell since from all indications, no more than four people play on this CD at the same time. It's good music, sure. "Punchy" guitar rock with "punchy" little Ramones barre chord riffs funnelled through various drum patterns and tempos. And sure there appears to be a lead guitarist solo wanking away in the background during every single second of the LP. But I'd SWEAR there weren't more than two guitars on here - there's not enough calamity to be five guitarists! Were they all out in the hall playing hopscotch? If so, who won? Did he cheat? Well, why did he win then? Bullshit. You just didn't try hard enough! The sun got in your eyes, my ass. You SUCK!!!!!!!

Best, Mark Prindle's Dad

Gallery of Mites are a simple-Ramones-chords mid- to fast-tempo smooth good time with guitar solos -- featuring FIVE members of Monster Magnet (? HOW MANY GODDAMNED PEOPLE ARE IN MONSTER MAGNET???) and five others from bands that I've never heard of. They call themselves a mixture of Union Carbide Productions (never heard em!), The Stooges (DEFINITELY - THAT'S what these riffs are - Stooges! Ramones!) and a touch of early Brian Jones-era Stones (all the guitar solos, maybe?). But who is Union Carbide Productions? This is going to haunt me all evening! Just like trying to remember that hit single that Mick Jagger had on She's The Boss. I remember it SUCKED, but I can't remember the name of it! I guess I could look it up online.

Okay, I found it - it's called "(I Can't Get No) Brown Sugar."

Band: Gambling Aces
Album: No Regrets
Label: Smelvis

The Gambling Aces play so fast, I can't keep up with my typing! Theirhardcore punkrae rock is ASTE! Tey've got ENGERYGY! WHOA!!! Fast, catchy, shout/sung vocals, cute one-finger guitar solos (talent!), simple but great chord progression, wonderfully misspelled song titles like "Heart On My Sleve" and the whole adrenaline-drenched heart palpitation is over and done with in less time than it takes to shout, "YEEEEAH!" (and then recite an entire telephone book). Punk's gotta stay mean, fun and unpolished. And Gambling Aces are here to ensure that that's exactly what happens. That's why they keep beating the shit out of Blink-182 in the public mall!

Band: Gatsby's American Dream
Album: Ribbons & Sugar
Label: Rocketstar

I'm not sure I would go around bragging about recording a concept album "loosely based on George Orwell's 'Animal Farm,'" what with an awfully popular band having done the exact same thing pretty well about 25 years ago. Still, it should be pointed out that this five-piece Seattle band for the most part does away with the animal metaphors, focusing instead on the sacrifice of humanity for the sake of industry and wealth. The music isn't bad at all - loud guitars merging decent interplay and oddly chosen chords in sort of a toned-down, friendlier take on metalcore - but the singer's pretty awful, trying to do some emotional thing but coming across as blustery, slightly off-key and WAY too loud in the mix. Plus, between the band's name and the album's inspiration, one gets the feeling that they're doing most of their songwriting in a 10th grade English class. When they should be PAYING ATTENTION TO THE LECTURE!!!! HOW CAN YOU HAVE ANY PUDDING IF YOU DON'T EAT YOUR MEAT?!?

Band: Give Up The Ghost
Album: We're Down Til We're Undergorund
Label: Equal Vision

Hardcore punk is the greatest form of music in the universe. It's remarkably speedy, angry, loud and to-the-point. No pussyfooting around. Instant catharsis from beginning to end, with only the drummer getting tired (and singer losing his voice). Give Up The Ghost is Boston hardcore - melodic, fast, screamy singer, high-pitched ringing guitars, love, hate, attitude, need for release. It has some slow parts, the FUCKS, but even those are heartbreaking in their hardcore-esuqe NEED for PURPOSE and REASON for BEING. This band used to be called American Nighmare, by the way, until I said, "Hey, Jurks! Change your name to Give Up The Ghost!" Because they understand the importance of California Pop magazine, they politely agreed. Hey, I just realized that one of their song titles is a Rod Stewart reference!!!! Man, this CD is way bogged down in midtempo emo punk rock. Too bad. It's really good, but the high-speed parts are so much more cathartic. Catharsis is important in life, and anybody who tells you differently is missing the whole point of being alive.

Band: Glassjaw
Album: Worship And Tribute
Label: Warner Bros. Records

Glassjaw is a perfect example of a good band RUINED by a godawful singer. The band is heavy, loud, tight and noisy, with lots of weird ugly chords and creepy high-pitched echoey guitar parts intermingling in their vaguely "nu-metally" musical orange juice - like a more interesting Linkin Park! But the singer is this talentless clown trying to do the Mike Patton soulful crooner/screamer thing without actually hitting any notes. And -- typical of major league productions - the vocals are mixed about eight hundred times louder than the music. So it actually takes EFFORT to tell whether the music is good (it often is!) because the singer just SUCKS SO FUCKING BAD ALL THE TIME (he just does this same croon/yell/croon/yell thing over and over again without ever actually coming up with a distinct vocal MELODY in any of the songs).

If you go back in time and make a list of the Top 20 worst people who ever lived, this singer would be number three, right behind Adolf Hitler and Moses (most people only know the good things he did - but did you know that Moses parted the Red Sea just so he could build a Walmart in the middle?)

Band: God Dethroned
Album: Into The Lungs of Hell
Label: Metal Blade

The sixth album for this nifty Dutch band is a complete 360-degree switcheroo from their 2001 dance-pop/hip-hop hit Ancient Ones, from whence their only Billboard chart success, "Indernal Sights Of A Bloody Dawn," did originate in a special play world I made out of Legos, where everyday is fantasy and magical dreams CAN come true!

Now they're a death/black metal band thrashing and churning, getting the Dutch Oven burning. Musically, they appear slightly more tuneful than many death metal bands, but not to the orchestral degree you might know from several newer black metal outfits. AND NO I DON'T MEAN LIVING COLOUR! HAHAHHA1HHhahhahh 1h1h1!!! (negros)

No but give my heart release - the metal riffs sound like they could be on a Helmet album but with Slayer's drummer. Paul Bostaph OR Dave Lombardo. Either one. The drums alternate mostly between midtempo thubba-dubba-thubba-dubba and fast boom-chick-boom-chick with the grindcore blastbeats thankfully not dominating (though not precisely absent either). If you're looking for a way to dip your toe into the death metal pool without burning your footy in the flaming hellfire of early Burzum, God Dethroned are a pretty good way to go. Aside from the technically complicated, trigger-happy drums and whispering wisp of a shrieker behind the Michael Rophone, this could be Black Sabbath almost a little. Or at least a newer band that grew up listening to Black Sabbath.

Yeah, Kelly Osbourne! That's PRECISELY who I meant!

As for the lyrics, they tackle serious sociopolitical issues like war, Hell, Big Brother, religion, animal mistreatment, getting a pebble in your shoe while taking your steady to the sock hop, manifest destiny and death. But what do the Dutch know about any of those topics anyway? How much pain and fear is there in the NeverNeverLands anyway?

An angry reader just stuck his arm threw my fifth story window and explained that I've misunderstood something for quite some time. Once I get the whole story for you, I'll send you a personalized letter of explanation, written in dehydrated urine and visible only after a good solid licking.

And located on my penis.

Band: Goldfinger
Title: Live At The House Of Blues DVD
Label: Kung Fu

Is this Kung Fu's best DVD yet? Could be... It got 4 "K"s in Kerrang!. Personally, I'm not terribly familiar with Goldfinger. Supposedly they're a ska-punk band, but as far as I can tell, they play little kids' music. I sat through a full half of this disc, the whole time wondering when the "ska" and "punk" would begin. It all just sounds like really slow little happy songs to sing to babies. Chord sequences that have been around since the dawn of the guitar, inoffensive la-de-da vocal stylings, medium-to-slow tempos except during a few NOFX-style moments -- Is this what counts for "ska-punk" to college Greeks these days? If so, stick me in a time machine and type in "The Salad Days of Hardcore Legends No Doubt."

Band: Gone Done Wrong
Title: Neither Here Nor There
Label: Greyday Productions

Gone Done Wrong is an indie/alt-country five-piece from Los Angeles. Featuring former members of Still Life, Blue Monday and Shroom Union (guaranteeing sales of at least 25 million), the member of GDW (God Damned Woman) have moved away from their punk and folk rock roots to create a truly gentle album, featuring a stylistic blend of indie rock (music created by Indonesian artists with traditional Indonesian instruments, e.g. Superchunk) and modern country sounds and instruments, including Garth Brooks' hat. This band has reportedly been awing audiences up, down, and up the California coast for a year or so. This is their debut CD, showcasing their versatile sound and unique range. You will hear guitar, pedal steel, piano, banjo, guitar, harmonica and even a flute on track 3 performed by popular month Raugust. They look and sound like nice people, and anyone who actually likes that Wilco SHIT should get their ASSES off their HEADS and hear popular Japanese dish Gon Don Wron.

Band: The Goods
Product: Saving Sanity
Label: Theologian

I'd like to explain something for those bastards among you who think I've sold out to the company man by giving positive reviews to so many new bands you've never heard of. You're probably out there thinking, "He's just getting free crap in the mail and giving it all good reviews so he can get MORE free crap!" But that's not true. Honestly it's NOT. It works like this - if a record company sends me a CD for review, and it's not one that I feel should get more than a 5 out of 10, I simply don't review it. I don't feel it's fair to reward record label generosity with hateful bastardy reviews. HOWEVER - if the CD is a 6 to 10-grade release, I think it's worth telling people about! Especially since it's usually a brand new band, so you youngsters can tell everyone that "Mark Prindle got me into so-and-so band back before they did "Smells Like Teen Spirit." Hypothetically, I mean. Rhetorically. You know, just absolutely.

In my ears, The Goods are a 6 band. But there's a fairly simple reason why they're not a 7 or 8 band - - the singer and the band don't fit together AT ALL. And maybe that's why they've chosen to work in a band together - to create an exciting new sound that could change the world, you know, like Oasis did. But it's SO hard to get past the obvious singer/band disconnect, especially when most people would probably like one or the other, but not both. And I'm not going to tell you why they don't go together. So long!

The man with the bag of rats says I'm not finished with my review yet. Here's the deal: The Goods play rough, raw electric distorted music, usually mid- to- uptempo and with the guitar in the midrange (not too heavy, not too piercing). Not just barre chords either - the guitarist has quick competent fingers and a cool "I love playing the guitar - listen to my fuzzy melodies!" attitude that I can relate to, having been like that once myself before I got old and started hating everything. The overall result is loose, interesting and fast punky rock with a few abysmal forays into my most hated of all musics - reggae. But those songs appear to have written by fellows no longer in the band, so breathe free, young sapling! Breathe free like the world intends!

Now then about the singer. She sounds like Melissa Etheridge! You don't get a full-bodied confident Southern-tinged WOMAN to sing underproduced punk/indie music! Did the Descendents hire Bonnie Raitt? NO! No they DIDN'T! Did the Replacements throw out Paul Westerberg and replace him with the Indigo Girls? NO! No they DIDN'T!

How about the Lemonheads? Back when they were punky in their pre- major label days, did they ring up Sheryl Crow and invite her to rehearsal? NO!

Cosmic Psychos and Janis Joplin? NO! Why would she stay alive an extra 20 years and move to Australia just to sing for the Cosmic Psychos? That wouldn't make any sense at all! GROW UP!!! Jesus Krist!

Hi, I'm that guy in Green Day. If you see that woman who sings for 4 Non-Blondes, would you tell her I want her to sing for my band?

SEE???? THAT NEVER HAPPENED, DID IT!??!?!??! THERE'S A REALLY GOOD FUCKIN REASON FOR IT TOO!!!! Billie Armstrong is incapable of operating a telephone correctly.

You think I'm kidding???? Go watch the "When I Come Around" video and watch what he does during the line "So go do what you like." THEN YOU CAN COME BACK AND TELL ME HE KNOWS HOW TO USE A GODDAMNED TELEPHUCKINGPHONE!!!!

Band: The Goons
Album: Nation In Distress
Label: Reptilian

Washington, DC is home to many things: the Lincoln Memorial, the Washington Monument, the most evil human beings in America and a punkerty rocker band called The Goons! They've been around for a full decade, and herein release their third full-length CD for your enjoyment. The singer sounds like a sexually and racially ambiguous young thing with a slight Jello Biafra warble, the two guitarists are fuzzed out in big tight shining metal-punk anger and the speed varies from headbanging midtempo to slam dancing speedy. The lyrics attack conformity, the depressing doldrums of everyday corporate life and our government's actions post-9/11. It's good to see that our president is so fucking atrocious, he has inspired a whole new generation of punk rockers to scream about him to teenagers. Go Go Goons!

And say hi to Cyndi Lauper for me!

Band: Gorerotted
Album: Only Tools And Corpses
Label: Metal Blade

It's hard to keep up with all the different subgenres of heavy metal, but I think this would be considered "goregrind," if I didn't just make up that word. The "music" is just light-speed pounding drums with basic metal guitar lines buried way way in the background, the vocals alternate between a British human being screaming in rage and Cookie Monster running around looking for cookies, and the lyrics are so sickening, you'll be all like "Ew." Song titles: "Masticated By The Spasticated," "Can't Fit Her Limbs In The Fridge," "Zombie Graveyard Rape Bonanza," "Hacked In The Back Dumped In A Sack" and other great hits! I have seen the future of rock and roll - and Gorerotted was fucking it in the arse with a piece of broken glarse!

Artist: Grandpaboy
Album: Dead Man Shake
Label: Fat Possum/Epitaph

In the 1980s, Paul Westerberg was the songwriting God Genius behind a popular independent band called The Replacements. In the 1990s, he embarked on a solo career that sadly revealed his songwriting ideas to have run a bit dry. (Hey - it HAPPENS. Look at Pete Townshend. Then look at that naked 4-year-old on his computer!) To rejuvenate his senses in the `00s, Paul decided to issue a messy blues/garage rock throwaway CD under the pseudonym Grandpaboy. Ironically (though not entirely unexpectedly), that CD was by far the most entertaining solo record he'd ever done. So this year, he decided to follow it up with Dead Man Shake. Not as initially refreshing as the first GPB album, these scraggly, simplistic blues grooves and Chuck Berry-style rock choppers seem a little thin, underwritten and empty - particularly because it's impossible to ever listen to a new Westerberg CD without subconsciously comparing it to the Replacements. But give it a few chances and you'll probably let yourself fall into the drunken goodtime fun and joy that it provides. So let's chalk it up as another completely half-assed success for Mr. Grandpa Boy! (which I don't believe is actually Paul's given name, though I could look in my World Book Encyclopedia if you're having trouble getting that sleeping pill to open).

The Great Deceiver
Album: Terra Incognito
Label: Peaceville

What do you get when you combine hip-hop beats, a gargling monster, heavy guitars, a gentle melodic singer and a Linkin Park-style gentle verse/raging chorus dichotomy? Well, I don't know what YOU get, but I decided to try this experiment for myself and the result sounded uncannily like a gargling monster eating up all my musical equipment. Turns out that The Great Deceiver doesn't use an ACTUAL gargling monster, but simply a human being who screams like one. Otherwise, my comparison is apt and my scientific method sound. The Great Deceiver sound like Linkin Park would sound if they replaced their boy-band influence with a black metal influence. In other words, they've got the angst, the minor key arpeggios, the emotional lyrics, the danceable beets and the high-volume choruses, but instead of pansy "la-de-da" verses by a wimpy-voiced little goof, they've got a hoarse screaming force of violent antipathy. This definitely gives them more street cred as far as the Metal World goes, but it's also undoubtedly going to keep them from replacing Chester Bennington on modern radio and girls' walls.

If you know what I mean by "girls' walls."

(I mean the walls in girls' bedrooms, where they hang Linkin Park posters)

If you know what I mean by " - oh. I guess I just told you what I meant. FUCK!

Band: Green Carnation
Album: A Blessing In Disguise
Label: Season Of Mist

Why are so many musicians so filled with sorrow? They gather together in rows of sadness and play sorrowful minor chords, sing in a midrange voice and embellish their metallic chords with soft wisps of dusty piano and synths that wish they were violins. How can one smile when one is so busy being filled with torment by the very minstrels sent to soothe one's aching spirit? Especially when they name their songs "Crushed To Death," "The Boy In The Attic" and "Rain"! Why not "Poked With A Fluffy Pillow," "The Happy Doggy In The Window" and "A Sunshiney Day Of Smiles"?

I'll tell you why. DRUGS.

Also, these guys play heavy, progressive melodic rock. That just happens to be REALLY REALLY depressing and filled with barrels of tears. The guy totally sings like that guy in Psychedelic Furs though, which is pretty cool. Strong, tight production and guitar tones are other topnotch elements to tickle your tummy. So what the tarnation? Buy some Green Carnation!

Band: Greenfly
Album: Hidden Pleasures of a Nonexistent Reality
Label: Morbid

There's an old saying in Tennessee-I know it's in Texas, probably in Tennessee-that says, fool me once, shame on-shame on you. Fool me-you can't get fooled again. That's why I was a bit skeptical when I heard that a Spanish death metal band called Greenfly were anxious to share their vision with the world. "What if they sound just like Enrique Iglesias?," I understandably worried. Luckily, nothing could be further from my tooth. These guys play layer funny angry Spanish death metal growls aside kickass thrash/speed metal to create some of the coolest metal tunes this side of anywhere. And for once in the world of eXXXtreme metal, the vocals aren't mixed a billion times louder than the music! When I tell you to buy this CD, you must understand that I'm asking you as a fellow American, not a Spanish-loving race traitor.

AUGH!!!! WHAT DO YOU MEAN, YOU'RE CANADIAN?!?!??! (*VEHEMENTLY SCRUBS EYES TO GET THE VOMIT OUT*)

Band: Gregor Samsa
Product: Gregor Samsa EP
Label: Iodine

I was all excited when I received this disc in the mail because I thought it meant that roaches had finally learned to master the special recording equipment that I designed for them in the early `90s. Unfortunately it turned out just to be another group of human beings. I mean, the one guy certainly LOOKS like a roach (yeesh! Acne City!), but why draw straws when the Apocalypse is nigh.

The Gregor Samsas are a four-man one-woman band from Richmond, VA who supplement their guitar/bass/drums setup with prominent Rhodes keyboards and bowed electric bass (according to the bio on their label's site). Supposedly they're part of the "Million Burning Mountains Collective," which dear god I HOPE is a joke of some sort. (It must be - youth are far too smart to take self-importance THAT seriously). That is the biographical information I have "gleaned." I will now express my opinion of the art contained herein.

NNNNNGH! (ploop!)

There. Now let me describe the music for you. The EP features three songs, all of which are very slow, somber and dramatic. Warm cocooning tones caress the icy chill of the sorrowful melodies. Guitar and keyboard notes echo and repeat, intertwining into a wash of sonic depression as male/female vocals tell tales of . umm. The uhh. corruption and redemption of man's relationship to himself and the universe around him. (?) Look, I understand that the songwriters themselves might argue that the songs had nothing at all to do with this topic, but sometimes the muse purposely blinds the artist to protect him from being burned by the painful clarity of his post-apocalyptic vision.

The third song seems a little more resigned and/or hopeful than the first two but they're still just out to make you fall into their trap of feeling like the world is massive, dead and hopeless. I'm told that this is a whole "movement" now, with bands like Godspeed You Black Emperor and others infusing their music with classically influnced sounds and themes, orchestral-style builds, attacks and fades and DEAR GOD HOW FUCKING LONG IS TIME WARNER CABLE GOING TO KEEP ME ON HOLD??? I'M ABOUT FUCKING READY TO KILL SOMEBODY!!!!

I don't see Gregor Samsa ever becoming a major player in the world of rock and roll but then I said the same thing about Grisly Fiction and look where they are now. Is it possible to go to ANY major event these days without having to sit through a C'mon Bean Juice laser show?

Band: Grey AM
Album: Breathe On Your Own Time EP
Label: One Day Savior

Oof. If even your RECORD LABEL says "Sure it's a sound that's been done before.," it might be time to go back to the drawing board. It's amazing how many people use drawing boards these days. There's been a complete renaissance, with companies like Orchard Drawing Boards and Dick Blick Art Materials seeing tremendous sales growth in spite of the U.S. government completely making shit up about everything and ruining the entire world. Grey AM's record label compares them to Superchunk, Jawbox and Sunny Day Real Estate, and I guess I wouldn't argue with that assessment. It's high- pitched Indie guitar rock, sorta emoey. Decent. GREAT ALBUM!!!! Pretty good anyway. No complaints from me. Other than what you've already read anyway.

Band: The Grindolls
Album: Hate Love And Greed
Label: KOB/Mad Butcher

Hailing from a family entitled "The Prindles," I feel closer to "The Grindolls" than they would probably consider sanitary. They needn't worry about sharing my needles though; my wife may be half-German, but the Grindolls are WHOLE-German! As such, the insubordinately American Replacements/Heartbreakers/Dead Boys drunk punk approach they show in such high-energy pogo songs as "El Asso," "Monster Bitches" and "Two Fingers" comes as a comforting surprise for those of us who believe that all non-Americans are vampires. Blood-sucking killers or not (probably so, since all non-Americans are), The Grindolls have created the friendliest `70s American punk album since - heck, since at least the `70s, maybe earlier!

This is the friendliest American punk album since 1968!

Band: Grip Inc.
Album: Incorporated
Label: SPV

This is the third CD for Slayer drummer Dave Lombardo's other band Grip Inc. I haven't heard their second one, but their first is just a big monolithic block of heavy nu-metal chunka chords so I'm pleased to report that this one is much more diverse. From speed death thrashin' to cello sobriety, from industrial metal to Spanish acoustic mariachi, Incorporated not only has it all, but is planning an IPO for later this year. Ask for their silent period by name!

Also, track one RULES!!!!! And track six is FAST AS HELL!!!!! But those were just endnotes. I wouldn't put them in the actual REVIEW, of course (I'd hate to sound like a FAN of music).

Band: Guff
Album: The Guff Is A Disaster EP
Label: Go-Kart Records

Pop-punk from Athens, GA! Out of respect for my friend Artie at Go-Kart Records, I'm not going to say anything else about this.... CD.

But let me stress again: Pop-punk from Athens, GA! REM came from Athens and played some GREAT MUSIC!

(Artie -- Feel free to pull the quote "GREAT MUSIC!" from this review and use it on any Guff promotion materials you might be working on.)

Band: Guff
Album: Engine Trouble
Label: Go-Kart

Guff is back with more great speedy pop-punk songs about girls! Fast but romantic, goofy and fun for teenagers of all ages (13-19)! Who said punk rock couldn't be sensitive and special for girls? Who said that? Find that person and HANG them from the nearest car! I'm bouncing around really fast like Bad Religion is playing, but these guys are singing about girls! Have you ever seen a girl? They're pretty!

Band: Guttermouth
Album: The Show Must Go Off!
Label: Kung Fu

In one of the stranger marketing moves I've seen today, Kung Fu is issuing this live show as both a "DVD + bonus CD" package and (a month later) a "CD + bonus DVD" package. All four discs contain the exact same music, I'm led to understand, so the only thing I can think of is that the "CD + bonus DVD" package is intended to lure those young punker fans who would never dream of entering the DVD aisle at their local musical store. But enough about packaging! This isn't P-O-P Times!

P-O-P Times rejected this article as too Jewish.

Guttermouth is a speedy Orange County Epitaph-style punk rock band led by a real dumbfuck who thinks he's funny but isn't at all. He bounces around the stage like a moron, wears ironic thrift store clothes, "sports" (that's a verb, I'm told) a Strokes haircut and yet is clearly about 40 years old, judging from all the wrinkles and laugh lines on his face. Where he finds the self-confidence to make fun of people in the crowd while looking like an old businessman having a midlife crisis is beyond me. ME!!!!

The music is pretty solid speedy punk rock, with some nice unexpected breaks into slower straightforward hard rock. Lyrically, they have some quirky ideas going on - "Can I Borrow Some Ambition?," "Mr. Barbeque," "Bruce Lee Vs. The KISS Army," etc. - and this is perfect for kids who like NOFX and that kind of thing. The singer is at least...interesting to look at, if a bit depressing. The rest of the band is more visually appealing, especially this guy in a hockey jersey who kinda looks like a girl until you start making love with him.

Band: Halfway To Gone
Album: Halfway To Gone
Label: Small Stone

Get out the beer and mustaches! Halfway To Gone is a high-falooting Southern-tangled Shitstorm of Stoner Metal yeehaw Shotgun Blamblam swamp boogie punk thrash sludge twang of cowboy hat! Includes "King Of Mean," "Mr. Nasty Time," "Couldn't Even Find A Fight" and a cover of Deep Purple's "Black Night." Tobacco likely available upon request.

Band: Hanzel Und Gretyl
Album: Uber Alles
Label: Metropolis

Boom Shackalacka! Boom Shackalacka! Boom Shackalacka! This industrial duo sings in Germany language and plays heavy distorted guitars over modern-day electronic sounds and danceable industrial beets. If you want your ass a-shakin' and your home full of Nazi imagery, Hanzel Und Gretyl are here with a hot new sci-fi fantasy epic about saving the Earth by waging war against forbidden lands or some videogame silliness. Song titles include "Third Reich From The Sun," "Let The Planets Burn" and "Verbotenland" (THAT TRANSLATES TO FORBIDDEN.... SOMETHING). This is some nifty heavy pounding industrial metal for dance gothy people who are into leather and S & M.

Oh I'm sorry, S & M stands for "sadism" and "masochism." So if you're "sad" or wearing "Ma's sochs (socks)," Hanzel Und Gretyl are the fake Germans for ew!

Band: Hard Skin
Album: Same Meat Different Gravy
Label: TKO

You know what? I love this album. There's not a creative chord sequence to be found, and every vocal is just a solo or group shout, but what a FUN Skinhead record! Handclaps, anthemic bubblegum pop hooks galore, and some of the most hilarious lyrics I've ever heard in this kind of music. See, Hard Skin is by all accounts VERY VERY serious about the whole Skinhead Punk movement tradition thingy, and are apparently quite intent on beating the shit out of anybody who doesn't live to drink down the pub, shag birds and beat up non-skinheads. But they're also witty as hell! Here, let me share some lyrics with you:

"Millwall Mark was a skinhead lad/It was the best years he ever had/And now he's dressed like a Nancy Boy/Fuck off"

"48 cans on the rider every night/Neckin' every one of them - feeling alright/Puking down me front again - future ain't bright"

"We get loaded every night/And all you cunts are soft as shite"

"See a fucking skinhead/In the fucking shop/Tell him by his boots/Tell him by his crop/See a fucking lady/In the fucking nude/Tell her by her tits/Tell her by her pubes"

"Find a fuckin student and steal their booze/Kick their fucking teeth in and shit in their shoes/Oh./Thank you./Wanker"

"You work like a pig/To earn your keep/I'm on the dole/Get paid to sleep"

"Loud proud and skinhead/We're still true/Power passion aggression/Fuck you"

"You work a shit job, that needs to be said/You walk the street with a tit on your head.... Copper Copper Copper - Cunt! Cunt! Cunt!"

See? I LOVE this fucking band of three guys that would bash my skull in as soon as look at me!

(POST-SCRIPT) Hey, I just looked this band up on the Internet and apparently they're a JOKE band! They aren't going to kick my ass at all, the pricks! Fuck you, you funnymen with your catchy album!

Band: Heavenly
Album: Dust To Dust
Label: Noise

A French power metal album about vampires? I LOVE French power metal albums about vampires!

Band: Hearse
Album: Armageddon, Mon Amour
Label: Candlelight

I had such a hard time trying to figure out what this sounded like the first time I put it in. Granted, I was drunk off my neighbor's ASS, but even now that I'm sober, I can't quite figure out what they're going for. The riffs are sort of like basic hard rock riffs, but played with very heavy, bassy distortion for that "heavy metal" feel. Though there are a few high-speed thrash moments, the music is generally made up of midtempo chord sequences with a lead guitarist playing some lasty ticks on top and the occasional keyboard embellishment. But the vocals are total Black Metal gruff hoarse evil wheeziness! Maybe they're trying to revive the world of Black Sabbath for the modern-day man-child? Hey! This song has a classical acoustic guitar! It's like I've entered a Renaissance Fair!

Oh. The song has ended, along with all my fantasies of one day returning to the wondrous world of a bunch of losers dressed like assholes. Did I ever tell you about the time I went to the Renaissance Fair in Atlanta, and one of the "actors" noticed my Dead Kennedys shirt? "Ah, Jello Biafra!" he spoke in his fake Olde English accent. "He is a fine minstrel!" I chuckled at the mere thought of such an enjoyable anachronism, but he just KEPT DOING it. Quoting song titles, singing, just being a real pile of irritating manure. I would have given him a fat lip in the eye, but I weighed about 40 pounds. The motto of my story is: In theory, I killed him and he was taken away in a "Hearse." This album tells that story.

Band: Heinous Bienfang
Album: Makin' It Nice For The People
Label: Bullsitter/Moodswing

I enjoy bands that at least TRY to do something different. Any rock band that can make me listen to their entire CD with me STILL not being exactly sure what subgenre they play must be quite a good band indeed! Let's see - the singer has a gruff Tom-Waits-but-grown-up-down-south-on-a-farm-with-a-long-red-beard-huge-fat-s tomach-wearing-a-cowboy-hat-and-overalls-and-chewing-on-a- Oops! I apologize! I accidentally had my penis resting on the hyphen key. But a smelly key can't stop rock and roll (unless Eddie Cochran's was smelly but even then I'd say the engine and tires were more to blame), and Heinous Bienfang continue to blast out the bouncy southern-tinged hard rock, dark cabaret horn rock, avant-garde organ drone, wind-drenched cold sorrow, bouncy college indie rock, acoustic folk melody, didgeridoo grunge, overmodulated synth robot spoken word, piano melancholia, Germs ripoff punk rock, minor-key torch tunes, muted trumpet metal jazz and redneck goodtime hoot'n'hollering. A-HA! No WONDER I can't figure out what genre they are! They're refusing to be pigeon-holed! They're refusing to let somebody grab a bird and make holes in their bodies by shoving the sharp beak against them!

Band: The Hidden Hand
Album: Divine Propaganda
Label: MeteorCity

Wino fans, rejoice!!!! The stoner rock God heavy fuzz Sabbathy leader of St. Vitus, The Obsessed and Spirit Caravan is back with a terrific new slow-fuzzy-pothead hard rock metal band called The Hidden Hand - but this time, it's PERSONAL! Actually, it's political. Apparently Wino speaks of "The underground patriots movement" and states that "this band is definitely a political thing." Political or not, it definitely harkens back to a wonderful time (the early `70s) when riffs were heavy but memorable, rather than just two or three detuned chords and a guy screaming at the top of his lungs. Fans of early Black Sabbath, Bloodrock, Grand Funk, Blue Oyster Cult and the Melvins are strongly urged to check it out. Even Ian MacKaye loves Wino!!! Personally, wine just makes me tired and irritable, but when you change that "e" to an "o," suddenly you're kicking my ass! Such is the wonder of our friend in the alphabet, Mr. Language.

Band: Hellbillys
Album: Blood Trilogy Vol. II
Label: Split Seven

From the name, I was afraid these guys would be another one of those "guys with greasy hair and sideburns playing 'Turbo-Charged, High-Octane, Funny Car, No-Holds-Barred, Straight To Hell ROCK AND ROLL!!!!!!'" bands, but the good lord Jesus was on my side that day and all results were positive (except AIDS). The Hellbillys are in fact a very dark, noxious, jagged and rhythmically inventive hardcore band. The closest comparison I can think of would be Fearless Iranians From Hell; it's got that same sort of negative, closed-off, uninfluenced by the rest of the punk world feel to it. And it's NOT rockabilly!

Nor is it located in Hell!

Band: The Hollow Points
Album: Annihilation EP
Label: Dirtnap

Seattle's The Hollow Points missed out on the best in life, back when every single band in their town sounded like Eddie Vedder. But punk rock will always have its day in a post-youth AAAmerica, even when played with a heavy metal guitar tone. Their songwriting seems to be influenced by Bad Religion and Agent Orange as well as your basic pop-punk outfits. The singer has sort of a raspy voice probably from yelling too much, and the song "See Ya In Hell" is sadly not a cover of that awesome Grip Reaper song. Lyrical content addresses such hollow points as hopeless suicide ("The Hemingway Solution"), the deteriorating effects of alcohol abuse ("Annihilation"), the deteriorating effects of drug abuse ("See You In Hell, My Friends" by Grim Reaper), our nogoodnick government ("Bereaved") and the deteriorating effects of the Dead Kennedys' awesome 1982 song "Riot" ("Bullet Holes In City Walls").

This music is the direct effect of every influence and idea that has penetrated the lives of these three young people from birth through 2003. Depending on your background and influences, you may like these five songs or you may not. I get the feeling that I would have loved it back in the days when every new hardcore band was a wonderful surprise and bounty (including Adrenaline OD, who were never any good at ALL!). Even as it is, with so many punk rock songs already circling my brain from decades past, it sounds pretty good. At least they sound tough and angry, which is more than I can say for 90% of the prissy little happy punk bands on Kung Fu (unless Joe Escalante reads this, in which case - dude, Antifreeze KICKS ASS!).

(And they TEAR!!!)

Artist: Rick Holmstrom
Album: Hydraulic Groove
Label: Tone-Cool/Artemis

Honky chile, if'n you got the blozzzze, sometimes you gots to listen to some guy pinching high wiggly notes on his death-axe. If you've never actually had the blues but you smoke so much weed you can hardly move, Rick Holmstrom, who never did artwork for the Ramones, is just the man for your daisychain. He's WHITE, so you don't have to worry about him breaking into your house and stealing all your money for heroin like a Jewish person would. And he backs up his Stevie Ray Vaugwanking with today's hippest electro-drum-and-bass groovy modern technology boogiedown homeslice - it's OFF THE CHARTS! It is both CHILLIN' and PIMPIN'! And it might be just the album that could finally bring the rednecks and the club kids together in a spirit of harmony to share chewing tobacco and crystal meth while dressing up as women so they don't get thrown out of their posh NYC "females-only" apartment. OH GOD I JUST HAD THE BEST IDEA FOR A SITCOM.

Bottom (lucy) Ling: If you thought ZZ Top's Rhythmeen was as good as music gets -- Hydraulic Groove will show you you're BLIND BLIND BLIND! ALL DAY LONG! CAPATALIST SUCK! CAPATALIST SUCK! CAPATALIST SUUUUUUUUUUUUUUUUCK!

Band: Horse The Band
Album: R. Borlax
Label: Pluto

Spazcore! Insanely fast drums, guitar with weird distorted warble, hilariously out-of-place Van Halen-style keyboard, loud metal guitar riffs, song titles like "The Immense Defecation of the Buntaluffigus" and of course a guy screaming at the top of his lungs. Creative! Sick! Loud! Good! Sorta like the Faith No More heavy metal/cheesy keyboard convergence except this time it's METALKORPS! With a really cheesy "over-serious" keyboard tone wafting throughout the violent guitar spasmatics and high-volume anger shouts. Horse The Band? More like Hoarse The Singer!

Band: Hot Hot Heat
Album: Make Up The Breakdown
Label: Sire

Here's my David Spade: "Yeah I liked this singer the first time.... when he was called A YOUNG ROBERT SMITH." Okay here's my Kevin Nealon: "I think this band has a lot of talent (Duran Duran) and a unique new sound (mid 80s). Okay here's my Jon Lovitz: "Uhhh this is the greatest record I've ever heard! Yeah! And you know who really liked it? My wife... Morgan Fairchild! Yeah, that's the ticket!" Okay here's my Rob Schneider: "Hot Hot Heatareen-o! Makin' albums! Hot Hot Heateee! Ho-o-o-ot!" Okay here's my Adam Sandler: "(in ridiculous overblown singing voice) Put on this new CD! (in child's voice) by Hot Hot Heat-ee!" Okay here's my Danitra Vance:

Haa hhah!!! Danitra Vance is so funny, I can't even make fun of her!!! She's too funny!!! EVeryt

Okay the point is these guys play music that sounds like it's from the mid-80s. Dancey, groovey, gutar-driven, funky, well-composed and performed. But the singer TOTALLY sounds like a one-note imitation of early, energetic, non-mopey Robert Smith. I have nothing more to say to you.

Band: I Farm
Album: I Farm Is Lying To Be Popular
Label: Gokart

I still can't figure out where the hell Gokart finds the money to release so many CDs by so many unknown punk bands, but I gotta give them lots of credit for hunting down some of the coolest old-school-style hardcore bands now in existence -- I Farm included! These guys play top-speed HC with cool angry riffs and some of the most insightful lyrics I've EVER heard from a hardcore band. Let me toss out some of these so you can see what I'm talking about:

On the subject of social relations: "Secret talks behind the backs of each other. And no one stops unless we're caught.... Other people are Hell/Learn to laugh or sit and cry." Do you agree? I do - people are assholes - including ME. So many of us are monstrous that it's easy to just instantly hate EVERYBODY.

On the subject of relationships: "We got lost, I don't know how. I just know I'm fucking up. We got lost, I don't know how. I just know you're giving up." That's EXACTLY it. Things turn to shit, you start fighting all the time and you can't figure out WHY!!! Or how to STOP IT!!!!

On the subject of bullshit sincerity: "You went to any restaurant you wanted; Because it was your birthday. You ordered anything you wanted; Because it was your birthday.... We did all we could and then some; Because it was your birthday. That's how you make us feel when it is your birthday." Pretending you give a shit. Going all out to make somebody feel good when you know you don't give a rat's ass about them the rest of the year. Why? Because you'd feel guilty if you DIDN'T do it.

On pop culture's effect on us: "Last night I did something weird. I watched a tape of myself watching Temptation Island II. Full of pop-pyschology and pop-philosophy and even some pop-physics in there too.... Why did you dumb down the dumb? Why did you lower the bar? Does it matter?"

On not letting respect make you lazy: "The hardest things to do are what you can and should. When you get respect you should wear it well. It's a badge of courage; Try not to turn it into bullshit. Everything gets fucked and then you have to deal with it. The hardest things to do? Not talking yourself out of the things you can and should do.... Brief moments of glory causing inabilities within ourselves to take command, make sense and not manipulate." Man. See, this is SMART. It takes insight to see this in people - I definitely see it in myself, but would never admit it. It's so easy to talk a big game, get a reputation and then find a reason NOT to risk the reputation by acting when your action is needed.

I like this band! Keep up the good work, The Farmers!

Band: Immolation
Album: Unholy Cult
Label: Century Media/Olympic Recordings

This is the fifth album for the New York death metal band Immolation. A lot of these riffs and chord collections are very creepy, which is what you'd hope for from a death metal outfit, death being a somewhat eerie concept and what-have-you. The guitars are heavy, which is nice because you don't want a death metal band that plays with clean, chorusy guitars like Tom Petty used in his hit single "Free Fallin'." Don't get me wrong - it's a great song. But that guitar tone would NEVER have worked for a death metal band like Immolation. It's just too clean and folksy. Death metal needs very heavy, bassy distortion, like REAL death has, when you die and go to Hell. Hell is full of death metal and kicks some solid ass.

All joking aside (because Hell is a joke - go covet your neighbor's ass; nobody's watching! Trust me - I've been coveting your wife up the ass for MONTHS!), the blastbeats are mixed a little too loud on here, occasionally making the GREAT, odd, sickening riffs a bit difficult to hear. And the vocalist must have read a book called "What Every Death Metal Vocalist Sounds Like," because his low evil growl is about as unique as the Strokes, Vines, Hives and White Stripes. But I give the band a lot of credit for taking the time to come up with truly disturbing chord sequences instead of relying on cheap tired old metal clich‚s or working with Glen Ballard and Desmond Child to churn out more of those awful deathpop ballads that all the old metal bands are SELLING OUT and DOING. For MONEY instead of for the KIDS like ALL music should be.

Band: Immortal Souls
Album: Ice Upon The Night
Label: Facedown

People always try to trash Icicle Works' hit single "Whisper to a Scream," but Norwegian black metal bands love that song and follow it to a tee vocal-approach-wise. So what's up with these Finnish guys giving it a go? As every North American well knows, Finland is a smiling man walking through a fairy land of candy canes compared to the pagan-ridden Hell Horse of Norway, but apparently Thee Immortal Souls don't feel the same, because they're here to show you exactly how cold, calculating, loud, fast and whisper/screamy the Finnish population can be when taunted.

WHAT THE HELL JUST HAPPENED? Now some Eddie Vedder jerk is singing! Where'd the black metal guy go??? Ah! There he is. I guess it took a second for his werewolf pill to kick in. My point is of course that if you're a fan of melodic metal with hints of Blackness, Deathness and Thrashocity, you would really get a major kick out of Immortal Souls. I mean - the one dude sings like he's on Star Search and the other guy pours steaming lava down his throat and curses you to Eternal Flamery! Not to mention they have a song called "Suicidalive."

Actually, I guess I did mention it. It's so hard to negate something by bluntly stating it. But if you don't state it, how will the world know that you are negating anything at all? Such are the political and socio-economic issues that touch the lives of our young people today.

Band: In Due Time
Album: Back To Basics
Label: In Due Time

FLHC!!! Florida's In Due Time plays heavy, chunka-chunka-chunka chord-driven metal with a guy screaming angrily at the top of his strong, muscular lungs. The result is standard NYHC,but you CAN'T play NYHC if you don't live in NY! That's like playing Indie Rock but not living in India! So chalk it up to record distributors. These short-haired young men have heard Sick Of It All and the Cro-Mags and are ready to report it all back to you in stirring originals like "Death Before Dishonor" and "Bring The Pain." Heavy, angry and Floridian!!!

AUGH! WAIT A SECOND! THIS IS A BUNCH OF RELIGIOUS SHIT! THIS IS A CHRISTIAN FLNYHC BAND!!! Strange. Try it out, but true! Christians aren't supposed to be this heavy and loud! What, is Satan blasting Britney Spears now?

Just got confirmation from Hell.

Band: In Extremo
Album: Sunder ohne Zugel
Label: Metal Blade

Learning disabilities are a serious problem. Many children are unable to read or write correctly not because they're STUPID, but because their brain processes information DIFFERENTLY. So we shouldn't point at them and call them stupid assholes when they write songs with titles like "Nature Nous Semont (sic)," "Merseburger Zauberspruche II (sic)" and "Der Rattenfanger (sic)." This particular group of special children has created their OWN handmade instruments, including various bagpipes, a long horn deal, a harp (not a mouth harp like Robert Plant and other bluesmen play) and a 1.5-meter-wide framedrum covered with an entire horsehide and called "The Horse (sic)." Their goal is to combine the medieval, metal, traditional, current, electronic, contemporary, forgotten, unrestrained, self-confident and other adjectives, but they're a medieval band, see, having started out playing medieval fairs before bringing heavy modern metal into the mix. So they end up sounding like those losers that go to role-playing get-togethers and throw baggies of flour at each other while shouting, "Lightning Bolt! Lightning Bolt! Lightning Bolt!" You know these people, right? They speak in Olde Englishe accents, dress up like it's olden times and run around in the woods beating each other with big stuffed bats? I went with a friend once and won myself no fans by choosing what I felt was an appropriate medieval name - "King Cocaine Penis." I don't know that I've ever seen a bigger bunch of losers in my life, and, as a winner, I enjoy belittling them both in print and verbally. As for the band, they're German and they present historical songs and passi on stories, myths and history. This is their third album, and the title translates to "Unbridled Sunder." I'm not sure what "In Extremo" translates to, but I'm hoping it's "To the Extreme!" and refers to a skateboarder. I'm not too keen on this band, as much as I enjoy the idea behind it. The riffs themselves are pretty uneventful - almost nu- metally simplistic - and the singer, though I give him credit for not following the herd of belchers and opera stars, has kind of an unpleasant, humorless edge to his voice, like a Teutonic Leonard Cohen. And they try too hard to modernize the sound - you get like a 20-second medieval intro to each song, then the boring chord pounding comes in and you'd might as well be listening to Pantera.

Or, in fact, just Pants, if you like listening to pants.

Band: Inhuman
Album: The New Nightmare
Label: A-F

Inhuman play classic NYHC in the tradition of the Cro-Mags, Agnostic Front and Sick Of It All. Very heavy and fast, but with lots of slower parts for moshing around in a circle in your living room or car or wherever you're playing the CD, though do be careful if moshing around in a circle in your car because, although not technically illegal, it's still probably unsafe, especially on the interstate or in a NASCAR tournament. Their lyrics are as depressing as the album title would suggest, giving us sunshine sparkly sundaes like "I can't be with you/Only in my dreams/You'll never know how much/You're killing me" and "There's been no great reward/You give your all/They watch you fall/My heart is growing colder/This core is getting soft" and "By myself in my room/I'm staring at the walls/The lights are fading/How much more will I fall?" Elsewhere, the singer portrays Satan and a couple of serial killers, but only TWICE (thank God) does he fall into the NYHC clich‚ of creating a youth uprising of united youth fighting together united and strong. And for that, I declare this album A New Wonderful Happy Dream!

Band: The Insaints
Album: Sins Of Saints
Label: Disaster

The Insaints were a band of by-the-numbers rock/punk musicians and singers, but MAN THE SEX!!! MY GOD, BOOBS GALORE!!! Led by SEX WORKER and SEX ARTIST of SEX Marian Anderson, the woman with the longest neck in the Universe, the Insaints would wow San Francisco elite wide and far in the early '90s with their onstage SEX ACTS , NUDITY, URINATION, FIST-FORNICATING, DOMINATRICES and SEXXX!!!! MY GOD, THE SEX!!! In this CD booklet alone, you'll find photrographic representations of nearly ELEVEN bare female breasts! JESUS CHRIST!!! There's even a BARE TREASURE CHEST on the disc itself!!! PUD!!! Even the song titles are EROCITALLY charged!! "Whore"! "Oooooh!" "Deadly Kiss"! "Good Girl, Bad Girl"!!! "Last Fast Ride" (on a penis)!!!! "Giant" (penis)!!! "1969" (69!!!)!!!! It would be even better if she could sing or the band wrote any good songs, but jesus man, the TITS! Can you believe she died of a drug overdose with KNOCKERS like that!? If I weren't a Presbyterian minister, I'd dig up the bitch's corpse just to BUST A NUT over this SLIT's JUGGS!!! Instead, I'll just look at the photos in this CD booklet and JERK OFF into MY OWN MOUTH!!!!!!

Band: Insision
Album: Revealed And Worshipped
Label: Earache/Wicked World

What the hell kind of spelling is that? Christ people, use a dictionary! What, are we speaking 'ebonics' now? Wait, let me AXE you a question, "INSISION." Christ! Fuck you!

Swedish death metal band Insision has no time for pop elements or melodic vocals -- there is time only for sub-guttural death throes, heavier-than-a-large-home guitar smash-bash-jiggity-jiggity-jiggity and song titles like "We Did Not Come To Heal," "The Foul Smell Of Humans," "In The Gallows" and "Grotesque Plague Mass." Foul-smelling, festering, revulsion, sick, barbaric, cripple, rabid, onslaugh, grim, ensnared, starving, rusty barbed-wire, rotted, severly dishevelled = these are words the record company is using to PROMOTE this disc! Every single one of those terms appears in the disc's info sheet for press. Can you imagine what they'd say if they HATED it?

Well? Can you?

Band: Internecine
Album: The Book of Lambs
Label: Hammerheart

As you well know if you read Entertainment Weekly or any of the top radio trades, Internecine is the solo project of Hate Eternal's Jared Anderson. But if you come into this CD expecting to hear some Hate Eternal-style amelodic, ultra-fast death metal/grindcore, you're going to be sorely disappointed! Jared has used this opportunity to showcase his softer side, writing gentle ballads dedicated to all the ladies in his life. "For Thee I Bleed" - see, he's willing to give of his very life fluid to win the love of a fair maiden at the coffee shop. "Encrypting The Vehemence" - He's making a little code of love language for the sweet lil' cheerleader in the front row. "Calling Of The Hordes" - He's callin' all the fly girlies out for a booty call! If r'n'b and rap-pop is your thing, you're going to love the violently anti-Christian extreme grindcore/death metal album The Book Of Lambs.

This CD is one long kick in the teeth of your ears - nonstop head-reeling blastbeats from beginning to end, low evil growl vocals, screwy time signatures and amazingly fast guitar playing (tearing away back and forth and back and forth at the strings like black metal fellows were wont to do in olden-times) all set to really strange, sickening harmonic convergences (5ths? 6ths? Sorry, Mark Prindle is to Music Theory as Music Theory is to People Who Aren't Fags.). Not to mention lyrics like "Your faith is to the one who's soul I'll vomit/Ignorant and feeble obliviation." What ever happened to NICE songs? Like "All religions make me wanna throw up/All religions make me sick/All religions make me wanna throw up/All religions make me wanna BLEAH!"?

Internecine is not background music. You have to listen very closely to catch the riffs. It's worth it though, as some of them are downright SLAYER strangled! "The Elder Gods" and "For Thee I Bleed" in particular have REALLY awesome riffs repeated plenty of times for you to get into them and enjoy the songs in which they appear. And that's important, repetition is. Unless you're into made-up-on-the-spot amateurish bullshit like every jazz song ever performed.

Band: Into Eternity
Album: Dead Or Dreaming
Label: Century Media

I had been awake for more than 24 hours when I first listened to Into Eternity’s Dead Or Dreaming. Oh, I had heard it before playing in the background in the office a few times, but on this one particularly sleepless morning, I finally listened, and what I heard ASTOUNDED me.

Thus begins the press release that accompanied this CD as it arrived at my special home with the spiral staircase. This person who wrote it – Loana dP Valencia – is a supernice guy, judging from my few minor dealings with him, but I have to admit that something about the CD keeps me from enjoying it as much as he does. But I know exactly what it is -- it’s the vocals. The music itself is great modern metal – EXTREMELY heavy, complicated at times, simple at others, right up there with any other straight metal band of today. But the guy – excuse me, GUYS (they have two lead singers) at the mic sound like they’re in Night Ranger or Styx or something. They have this corny pompous high SIIIIIIING!-style delivery that just screams “Enjoy my large permed hair if you pleeeeeeeeease!” (which is odd considering that neither of them have large hair – but that’s how they FUCK ya these days).

I HOPE there’s a market for this. Because musically, they sound as great as almost any new metal band I’ve heard – mixing heavy anger with actual *melody* in a really solid manner. But ew those vocals. There’s a reason I don’t like ‘80s thrash very much – the Anthrax singer? Yick! Skid Row? Bleorg! Overkill? More like OverSHIT! Into Eternity? Sad to say, but they’re destined to go Into the Eternity of my Poopbowl if they don’t watch their singer. I’d love to say, “It’s a welcome change from the screaming and growling of most new metal!” but it isn’t. They should have got Jan Berry to sing it. He could have sung about how he was cruising in his Stingray late one night and an XKE pulled up to the right.

Band: Iron Savior
Album: Battering Ram
Label: Sanctuary

If it feels like you're listening to a Judas Priest album, that's because Iron Savior plays the chugga-chugga-chunka-chunka mid- to uptempo heavy headbanging kickass NWOBM metal that makes you stand up and raise your fist up high!!!! Also, like a video game franchise or collection of sci-fi sequels, Iron Savior tells a little story in their lyrics -- each of their albums follows the mighty adventures of the 'Iron Savior,' a mystical vessel sent out in space by the inhabitants of the lost continent of Atlantis. Apparently, on this album, the story revolves around an ancient race of robots from the Andromeda nebula. Which is a shame because that's almost exactly what the new Jordan Knight album is about (except on his album they're gay). Apparently a lot of youngsters are into this "underground power metal" that (as my friend Christian pointed out to me) sounds suspiciously exactly like "major label top-selling power metal" from 20 years ago. That demographic should go apeboobs over such a fine heavy metal extravagance as Iron "Maiden" Savior's Battery-Operated Ramses Condom.

Comedian: Eddie Izzard
Product: Circle DVD
Label: Anti

This funny-as-the-day-is-long comedian comes from England with a crazy accent and dresses up in women's clothing for no apparent reason. His jokes are hilarious tangent-filled stream-of-consciousness rants about Christianity, the arrogance of the U.S. and the history of the world. Track titles like "Popeman" (which repositions the leader of the Catholic Church as a Marvel Comics-like superhero), "Monkeys And Guns," "The Awesome Universe" and "Mad European Cows" should give you at least a slight sense of Eddie's world outlook. He's much more down-to-earth and funnymanny than the fashion magazine transvestite photos on the DVD case would have you believe - and in my opinion, he is the greatest living comedian besides Neil Hamburger, David Cross and some other people.

Band: Jag Panzer
Album: Decade Of The Nail-Spiked Bat
Label: Century Media

This release features newly re-recorded versions of Jag Panzer's first 3 out-of-print releases: Ample Destruction, Dissident Alliance and Death Row. Straight ahead power metal-influenced rock. Sounds like Judas Priest and Iron Maiden, sort of. A dream come true for all Jag Panzer fans. Everybody else can fuck off and listen to their "good" music that isn't "corny" and "hilariously anachronistic." Up The Panzers!

Band: The Jazz June
Album: Better Off Without Air
Label: Initial Records

As far as I can tell, this is the fifth CD for The Jazz June (although the All-Music Guide says that their first four albums all came out on July 24, 2000, so who knows). They are a dark guitar-centered indie rock band of the sort that was in every university city in every college town in every nursery yard in America a full decade ago. Somber guitar trudge, amateurish guy that works at Kinko's vocals, mature mid-to-slow tempos, some great fully-developed melodies mixed with a lot of by-the-numbers Red Red Meat wannabe bluesy attacks of nonfluid white person guitar playing and even some post-rock instrumentals! If you're unfamiliar with the term "post-rock," throw a huge chunk of gravel at the neighborhood bully. As they cart the fat prick bastard away, try to sneak a peek at the bloody hunk of skull where the gravel scraped his skin away on impact. That's what he looks like "post-rock." The Jazz June would like to thank Can, Wire, Superchunk, J. Mascis and a band called the Snufaluphagii. I'd like to thank the guitarist for eventually ending the five-million-year solo in "The Submarine Song." If you like indie rock bands with loud guitars that they use to actually try to play songs instead of just chord patterns, The Jazz June might be so far up your alley, you wouldn't be able to run them over in your car without smashing into the wall behind them.

George W. Bush sucks.

Band: Jersey
Album: Generation Genocide
Label: Virgin

I have to admit I'm a little confused at the idea of a band called "Jersey" that's not actually from New Jersey, but the singer guy wrote two songs for his late mother and dedicated the CD to her, so clearly they have a conscience and likely didn't choose their moniker in order to upset any of the fine people in America's Armpit. Canada's Jersey plays loud-guitared power pop with raspy punky vocals, likely geared towards young people who haven't heard much music. Ha! I've been WITTY! No, but seriously, most of these riffs are energetic but not necessarily the most creative things you're ever going to hear. Nice strong production though.

Artist: Mike Jourgensen
Album: Late At Night
Label: D.U.

When you're already world-famous for one talent, it's oft-times difficult to suddenly hop into a different one. See Bruce Willis for one example. Or that time Michael Jordan played baseball. And although Mike Jourgensen is not a household name by any means, his pseudonymous past activities have established him as a master of avant-garde humor. So how should the world react when he suddenly, at LONG last, presents himself as an indie rocker? Will we tell him to stick with what he knows, or should we open our hearts and minds and say, "Okay, MONTy Hall, I'll take what's behind Door Number Two!"?

Well, unless you've been smoking POT, you're gonna want to check out Mike's beautiful rock actION. Featuring an emotional loud-but-melodic approach reminiscent of such fine mid-80s SST bands as Dinosaur Jr. and Husker Du, Late At Night presents ten masterfully crafted (and craftfully mastered) guitar-driven explorations of romantic loss, confusion and regret. Aside from one flute, Mike plays every instrument on here, including guitar, bass, drums, organ (is that a CASio?), piano, mellotron and loops - and I'll be hog-jiggered if he isn't a natural talent at all of them! It could be argued that his melancholy chord structures and wah-drenched solos are a bit too J Mascisy, but the Jourgman's got the advantage of having an honestly pleasant and pretty voice to listen to (a huge improvement over J's excruciating warble). So put down that botTLE of liquid pcp and pick up the latest in distorted sorrow - direct to you from www.noisetent.com!

Band: Khold
Album: Morke Gravers Kammer
Label: Candlelight

Finally a new-fangled Norwegian black metal band that remembers how much the genre kicked ass before the Vikings brought their faggotyass keyboards into it! If you remember those heady days of the early 90s when we'd all gather into Lil' Billy's Corvair and cruise on down to Malibu for a hot rockin' evening with Burzum, Mayhem or Bathory, Khold will bring back all those fine, fine memories. The Miller Lite Keggers, the one-night stands with sorority babes, the frightening two-tone skeletons rasping evil words in some impenetrable castaway language. And the guitars! Oh! Like a rotting infestation of maggots has found some musical equipment in a long-forgotten dungeon and is beating out a dead, frightening collection of sick, strange chord sequences. I'm not easily swayed by music - for example, I hate everything - but I love this CD. It's REALLY fucking cool - the most straightforward kickass black metal album I've heard in ages.

Band: Kicked In The Head
Album: Salita EP
Label: Resurrection AD

A five-song EP by the loud rocking Boston punk/metal band KICKED IN THE HEAD. Also has a couple of videos. The guitars are distorted and loud, and the singer shouts and sings in harmony with some other guy who I hope is in the band and not just some guy at the CD pressing plant who got overzealous and laid some hot vox on top as it went through the pressy thing. Specifically, the hard boogie rocker "Delilah" is equal parts Molly Hatchet and Helmet, but the rest is more in the Jawbox/Jawbreaker/Jaws 3D tradition of having manly gruff guys shout and scream and bash their instruments really hard while playing what are essentially happy little pop-punk songs. Five songs aren't enough to tell whether they're as good as it feels to be kicked in the head with a pillow shoe, but it's time enough to hear some harmonized shouters, chunky guitars and drums hit so hard, you can almost smell the blisters.

Artist: Kid606
Album: Who Still Kill Sound?
Label: Meow

I don't understand the craft of DJing, mixmastering and matchturning the tablescratches, but Kid606, a 24-year-old Venezuelan from San Diego, sure does make some delbootylicious funkity grizooves, bo-yeech! His songs are full of literally crazy electronic noises that are locked up inside an insane asylum, bass bumpin' speed beats to rock out to, sampled shouts in various languages and fantastic track titles like "Cex Remix I Forgot To Finish," "Pregnant Cheerleader Theme Song," "Robitussion Motherfucker" and "Ass Scratch Beaver." There is absolutely no party, including Independent, that this CD can't start, and even people like me who can't dance can enjoy sitting around the old homestead and smiling at its jovial, ridiculous antics. Chances are good that this CD is somehow related to Kid606's last album, Kill Sound Before Sound Kills You, but I haven't heard that one. Does it use samples from "Blame Canada" too?

One warning to parents: his guest star "Sue Cie" uses the profanity word "pussy" about 60 times. If your children ask you what it means, tell them that it's a moist canal in female mammals extending from the labia minora to the uterus. Then show them a medical textbook and tell them if they don't have a PhD by the time they're 12, you're giving them up for adoption.

Band: Kill Allen Wrench
Album: Full Metal Messiah
Label: Devil Vision Motion Picture Company

Don't get me wrong; I love morons as much as the next guy. But somehow I just can't get a laugh out of a fat dork who puts devil horns on his head, covers himself in fake blood and shouts stupid boring "offensive" lyrics in a voice that sounds just like Tom Arnold. "White Trash Trailer Man," "Strippers Are Sluts," "Spotlight On The Pussy". whatever, man. He wants to be El Duce, but his songs will never be anywhere near as funny, gross, incoherent and sexist as those of that (dead) guy. El Duce, btw, was the leader of the Mentors, a disgusting overweight Seattle band who based their entire career on stoned hard rock songs about screwing. But there was at least something CHARMING in how WRONG and boozed up the Mentors sounded. Allen Wrench just sounds like a squeaky clean wannabe.

I'm not saying he couldn't BEAT THE LIVING SHIT OUT OF ME. I'm sure he could! I'm just saying that there's nothing about his music that is appealing. The songs are boring midtempo punk/metal riffs that pale in comparison to the similar style of mid-period Meatmen, the lyrics don't provide a single smile or chuckle and perhaps most tellingly, by FAR the most entertaining part of the album is the bonus track, which features Allen playing a prank on a religious talk radio host (at least I hope it's real - because it's FUNNY!), conducting goofy interviews and yelling wacky stuff to his audiences. So maybe in person he IS funny. Perhaps it's just his persona that's tiresome. Either way, SKIP this one.

Side note: El Duce accused Allen Wrench of murdering Kurt Cobain for a $50,000 payoff from Courtney Love. It's also been rumored that Allen Wrench killed El Duce to shut him up about the Cobain thing - which is certainly believable. Why would El Duce have chosen to SLEEP on a railroad track? He may have been a buffoon, but he wasn't braindead. I wouldn't be surprised to find out that he passed out while drinking and was DRAGGED to the tracks by a certain somebody..

Artist: King Diamond
Album: The Puppet Master
Label: Metal Blade

This ain't your father's Satan worshipping! Former Mercyful Fate frontman and clown-faced Lucifer champion King Diamond brings his elastic voice back for another power metal opera of death, suffering and loss. He lays out his latest plot in the foreword: "You cannot make puppets out of dead people's bodies and then bring them to life for real. Even if you could, DON'T TRY!!!" I for one agree with Mr. Diamond, and - WAIT A SECOND! DO YOU THINK HE'S RELATED TO NEIL DIAMOND??? AW MAN, THAT WOULD - AW, I WOULD - AW HOLY - AW - PORCUPINE PIE!

If you're good with `80s style metal (keyboards and guitars working together to create alternately threatening and bombastic musical backdrops), King Diamond has quite a sick tale to tell.

Band: King Prawn
Album: Got The Thirst
Label: Abstract

Ska, punk, dub, reggae, rap, horns and the world's coolest bass tone! Granted, it's just your basic "dub" tone like on Public Image Ltd's Second Edition, but it's just such a great tone. It sounds like hearbeat pulses playing musical notes! Good old heartbeat pulse musical notes - keepin' it REAL in the HOOD! Until there's a drive-by shooting and choruses of melodic blood gush out all over the street, thanks to President Polk and his war on drugs. Curse you, President Polk!

But King Prawn doesn't have to worry about our petty domestic troubles, because they're from England, Britain in the United Kingdom, where they're free to sing about how much they want to "smoke some shit." This is their fourth album since 1995 and is supposedly similar to Goldfinger, Mighty Mighty Bosstones, Reel Big Fish and Let's Go Bowling. If you're a "ska-head," you might like their crazy wackass diverse take on it. If you don't like ska though, stay the HELL AWAY, my GOD!!!!!! "Smoke Some Shit"!? That's just STUPID! And shut those fucking HORNS UP!!! And that lippity-twippity SINGER!!!

But if you like ska, this is the best CD of all time!

Band: Kittens For Christian
Album: Privilege Of Your Company
Label: Serjical Strike

A trio led by a Cuban and a Scot who met in Los Angeles as kids and formed a band in '91 (poor Scotty is going through life with the unfortunate name "Neil Young"! Surely you have a middle name, kind Scotty?), Kittens For Christian have a chiming, hectic sound driven by really fast guitar note repetition (similar to Greg Ginn's most recent projects) placed into the context of otherwise normally-composed post-punk style songwriting. They conjure up lots of great tones and noises from their basic instruments, and have a real knack for moodmaking, especially the moods of angst, trepidation and hopelessness. The singer sometimes wails high like a young Robert Smith of Britain's The Cures Band, but not to the detriment of anything. I give this band a big thumbs up and hope that their first album and EP will be every bit as good as this, their second album, due out in September on a label run by some guy in System Of A Down. I've never heard that band! Are they the future of rock and roll?

Band: KMFDM
Album: WWIII Tour 2003
Label: Sanctuary

Female-led German industrial goth metal stale warts Kein Mitleid Fr Die Mehrheit (No Pity For The Majority) may have just released a 2002 live album last year, but one tour later, EVERYTHING is different! For example, NINE of these fourteen songs are just live versions of tracks from last year's WWIII CD. If you liked WWIII, you'll LOVE hearing the same exact songs again! Luckily, the release is also available as a DVD, which I've read is pretty great. So buy the DVD instead, and then later, purchase the soundtrack!

Look, I never claimed to be a very intelligent consumer.

Band: Knockout
Product: Searching For Solid Ground
Label: Fearless

Chicago band making pop-punk for young teenagers. "La- de-da" melodic with really heavy guitars and happy notes all day from here to whee! Usually fast too, with whizzy lead guitar note riff intros quickly giving way to your basic old pop-punk melodies you've heard tons before. The vocal harmonies are pretty, but the singer needs to find a new style and IMMEDIATELY (i.n.s.). He does that young high whiny "nyaah!" thing that Billie Joe Armstrong introduced to the world before it was perfected by that really really great band MXPX that's GOD are they really great, same with NOFX I mean WOW! Those guys - DAMN! Holy. jeez, if you. WOW! I mean, FUCK! If you're looking for some KICKASS rock and roll, DAMn man! WOW! MXPX!!! "Chick Magnet"!!!! They invented punk rock!

Knockout are okay but a little repetitive in the "happy melodies" department. Plus you know my feelings about the nasally whiny guy. I'll check with David Lee Roth to see if he'd be interested in replacing him.

(next morning)

Okay, Dave says he's in as long as he can bring some midgets.

Band: Krisiun
Album: Works Of Carnage
Label: Century Media

Talk about your crazy days! I woke up this morning and accidentally switched my "To Do" list with this CD's lyric sheet. I had just finished drinking the venom of crucifixion and exalting the reign of fallacy when I realized that I didn't really know the correct way to glorify the chapter of doomsday covenant. Then I spent like half an hour trying to figure out where I left the phone number for the enslaved crucified lord of voodoo karmanic blood spilt upon the abyssal flock. Finally, I just said fuck it and went to Hardee's. But this CD kicks ass! It's death metal with this insanely talented speedball diddly-doo guitarist and a drummer who sounds like he has six or seven arms!!! For all I know, he recited some evil curse that GAVE him six or seven arms!!! Because that's what Satan worshippers DO!!!

Band: Labrat
Album: Ruining It For Everyone
Label: Century Media

Even though I've never met them, I am 500% sure (out of 100%) that Labrat would be the first to agree with me that there's really not much difference between "metalcore" and "death metal." Both subgenres are extremely heavy and viciously angry, and songs in both genre tend to change riffs and time-signatures about four billion times per song. Up until now, the main difference between them has been the vocal aspect. Metalcore generally features angry screaming hardcore singers and death metal is populated by low growly evil guys. I'm sure there are lyrical differences too, come to think of it. But you can't understand the words anyway. So just assume that it's metalcore if the song titles are kinda funny (like "Diary Of A Piss Drinker," "Father, Son and Holy Goat" and "Clint Eastwood Is Very Hard, Innit" on here), because death metal bands tend to shy away from irony and humor in their approach. Especially the vocalists, who growl really low and "evilly" into a distortion pedal in a serious way that could never make everybody laugh at how fucking retarded they sound.

But what's so confusing about Labrat for all of us here in the Phil Donahue audience is that they have two vocalists -- a hardcore one and a metal one! Two worlds have merged as one! And the music is as interesting and intense as the day is good. They're from London and this is their second full-length album. It hits harder than a spiked head to the bat! Normality is now a thing of the past, and no one is safe from their wreath! The word "excrement" doesn't even come clobes!

Band: Landing
Album: Sphere
Label: K

When Smoky Robinson sang "Happy Landing" oh so many years ago, little could he have known how prophetic his sexy words of Motown bliss would be upon K Records' release of Landing's Sphere LP. Just one brief earhole of these gentle, slightly melancholy wisps of echoey guitar notes, wind keys and quiet female vocals will have you meditating in your pajamas and dreaming sweet dreams of asleepness. Even the song titles are pulse rate-deflating: "Into Silence," "Fluency of Colors," "Feel, And The Seas Fill," "Solstice," "Where The Leaves...," "Filament," "Sphere," "Gravitational I," "Gravitational III." All these hits and MORE!

Specifically, one more. "Gravitational II."

Artist: Daniel Lanois
Album: Shine
Label: Anti, Inc.

I think this is the fourth album for famed record producer Daniel Lanois, but it's the first I've heard so let me stress my pleasant surprise at what a beautiful songwriter he is! Those same ethereal echoey sounds he brought out of U2 are present here, though in a more melancholy and diverse presentation. Soft damp synth ambience or country-western? Reggae or alternative balladry? All of the above! All four of them! And so much more! So GODDAMNED MUCH MORE!!!! I'll FUCK YOU UP THE ASS WITH HOW GODDAMNED MUCH MORE THERE IS!!!!!!

Also, Bono sings on this one song.

Artist: John Larsen
Album: Kismet
Label: Greyday Productions

Acoustic guitar, he's singing through a megaphone-sounding effect. Like Radiohead might do. He kinda sings like the Radiohead guy too, and sometimes he plays an echoey electric guitar like Radiohead. Or the Flaming Lips. Hey, there's a sample! Man, "The Fleshing Flail From Heaven" has some beautiful guitar harmonics in it. Drums! There's an old-timey crazyass organ thing! Breakish beats in this one. All recorded on an 8-track! Slow songs. Deliberately paced relaxedly. OH NO! I HIT A FAST ONE THAT RUINS MY THESIS STATEMENT! But why the Strokes-like (or Foetus-like) distortion on the voice? Just muddies up the sound. Godd gave you that voice, son. Let it breathe fire free and alive in the Palace of the Land! Today's alternative youth enjoy music like this, and will thus enjoy this. One man's vision of non-rocking "rock" college music. HAY! A PIANO!!!!!!

That was a piece I call "HAY! A PIANO!!!!! (Surrogate Still Life in Flesh)." For additional non-linear poetry, please visit www.fags.com.

Band: Last Mission
Album: Last Mission EP
Label: Self-Released

It's not too difficult to understand why so many bands sound like each other. These guys go so far as to admit it in their band bio - "They needed a bassist who shared their same musical ideas and had the talent to back it up." If you specifically hunt out people who like the same exact bands you like, your band is going to suck cock. If you have any interest at all in bringing a NEW sound to the world, you have to bring together people who are into different types of music. Then there is a give-and-take of ideas, compromise and genre-crossing until you end up with an innovative new album that blows audience's minds even if it probably doesn't completely satisfy any single member of the band.. Examples: early Kaleidoscope, Faith No More, Yes, Polvo, the Thinking Fellers Union Local 282. As for Last Mission specifically, what's the point of taking the time to review them when their own bio admits, "Their songs bear a likeness to those of Face to Face, Alkaline Trio, and Bad Religion." Wow. They must be so proud.

Band: The Lawrence Arms
Album: The Greatest Story Ever Told
Label: Fat Wreck Chords

Melodic punk music is easy to do poorly - just play the same old three- or four-chord sequences that everyone's been doing since the Ramones. But it's difficult to do iWELL - to pull off the trick of merging a beautiful vocal melody with fuzzy harmonious tones and a collection of strangely yearning, effective chords and notes. At their best, the Descendents created the most amazing pop-punk imaginable ("Jean Is Dead," "Hope," "Bikeage"), and oodles of noodles (and bands, in addition to noodles) have tried to reach their bar since. The Lawrence Arms darn near succeed! If none of the songs are quite as tear-jerking as the classic Descendents lyric, "Now you're gone - and I'm a-loooo- ooone!," the Arms are at least a lot more CONSISTENT than the Descendents at creating an emotional mood (not that "All-O-Gistics" isn't moving. BOWEL-moving, that is!!! HAHHAHA!!! Scat-a-tat-tat, whee!!!!). One of the singers sounds a little too raspy sometimes, but I sent him a box of Clorets, so he should sound a lot better next time around. Oh no!!! I accidentally sent ClorOX!!! May the Good Lord DAMN this feisty English language and its quirks!!!!

Band: The Lazy Cowgirls
Album: I'm Goin' Out And Get Hurt Tonight
Label: Reservation Records

The Lazy Cowgirls have been around forever. When a fish hopped onto shore and made the decision to evolve into an ape and then a man, all in its own lifetime, he formed the Lazy Cowgirls and they've been playing revved-up American rock and roll with a punkish lilt ever since. Think "America" and the Lazy Cowgirls appear in your head. Oh! They're all guys, by the way. But they play with all the glory of the history of rock and roll - Elvis, Stones, Ramones, Springsteen, Replacements - all stuck together on a guitar case with a cigarette and alcoholic beverage. Two of the four members are super-bald, just like an American Institution should be. This latest blast of shiners has things to say and it's SAYING it! Even if it occasionally needs a gentle acoustic guitar to SAY it! Lazy Cowgirls? More like CRAZY NOW-BALDIES if you ask me!

Band: Leaving Rouge
Album: White Houses EP
Label: Greyday Productions

The Detroit-based Leaving Rouge combo play sad rainy guitar indie music to make everybody cry together. By combining a beautiful bell-like guitar tone with a Warren Zevon-style piano (in that it features a bunch of keys and sounds like a piano), along with a rhythm section drunk on Cherry Wine, the Leaving Rouge have created the most tear-breaking heart-harming EP of the year, outside of a dog.

You see, INSIDE a dog, it's full of intestines.

So if it's sunny out and you hate that, listen to Leaving Rouge and get ready for an emotional "Greyday"!

Well, what the? What are the odds of that? It turns out that the record company who released this record is named "Greyday"!!!! It's like my brain is on some higher wavelength where it remembers things I typed in nearly minutes earlier!

Band: Left Alone
Album: Streets Of Wilmington
Label: Smelvis

Fronted by punk entrepreneur Elvis Cortez, owner of Smelvis Records (label and store) - and more importantly, CITIZINE fan! - Left Alone is a great British-style punk/ska band from the riot-torn streets of Wilmington, CA. Their punk songs are fast and catchy as Hell, and the ska ones are driven by cool double-sax attacks and Klaus Flouride-style bloompy-bloompy bass playing. I personally am not the biggest ska fan in the universe, so I was pretty surprised by the relatively high enjoyment level of dark tracks like "Marie." But it's the high-speed old-school-hardcore punk songs that push this one over the top, to my ears anyway. "Your The Reason" is killing the English major in me, but the DRI thrash attack riff is well worth the horrid grammatical error. And others? Oh, don't get me STARTED on others! The mix is raw and real (not slicked-up radio punk), and the energy level is as high as that of a man who has accidentally eaten an entire jar of amphetamine tablets thinking they were Sprees.

Fuck you, they were colorful. (*builds a car out of drool; runs the mile in 4.2 seconds*)

Band: Legacy
Album: Legacy
Label: Chavis

There's evidently still a market for 80s-style metal, though we here in the big city of (ENTER CITY NAME HERE) may not hear it on the radio anymore. Former Lizzy Borden bassist Marten Andersson is hoping to reach this old school audience with the Dio/80s Deep Purple/late-80s Alice Cooper sounds of Legacy. There is absolutely no doubt that these guys are highly skilled musicians, so if you miss that sort of Motley Cruey/Yngwei Malmsteen-style hard rock/guitar superamazing guitarist thing with sorta Lou Grammy vocals, Legacy does it tastefully and quite well. Even the bassist plays like five million miles an hour! And those strings are HEAVY! Have you ever felt them??? CHRIST!!! It's like trying to play a guitar with four ELEPHANTS standing on it!!!

Band: Let's Crash
Product: Stand Up And Relax
Label: Big Beef

The Let's Crashes were born in Ohio, Dayton way back in '97 and have been recording this album ever since. The band features four men who play the type of college town indie guitar rock that I LOVED back when I was at University in the early `90s. U.C., I went to school in Chapel Hill, NC back when the town was run by Superchunk, The Russian Mafia and Polvo, two of which are bands. If you've never heard Superbunk or Polvo, you won't understand this, but I'm going to say it anyway: Let's Crash sound smarter than Superchunk but not as smart as Polvo. If you've never heard those bands, I'll restate the sentence, but with a few words slightly altered: Let's Crash sound smarter than A BAND THAT PLAYS CATCHY DOUBLE- GUITAR ROCK WITH GREAT NOTES-AND-CHORDS MELODIES THAT RANGE FROM INCREDIBLY EMOTIONAL TO JUST HAPPY, but not as smart as A BAND THAT PLAYS MINDBOGGLINGLY INNOVATIVE DOUBLE-GUITAR ROCK, WITH ONE GUITARIST PLAYING RELATIVELY STRAIGHTFORWARD ROCK WHILE THE OTHER PLAYS THROUGH A LOW FUZZED OUT EFFECT PEDAL AND SWERVES THE SONGS INTO UNEXPECTED DIRECTIONS WITH HIS COUNTER-INTUITIVE INTERPLAY. And the singer sounds like the guy from Tar.

As everybody in the world knows Tar from Meet The Tar through Sgt. Pepper's Lonely Hearts Tar and band finale Abbey Road (That's Made Out Of Tar), I will not rewrite that sentence in any way, shape or form.

Except this one: The singer sounds like A GUY WHO SHOUTS IN A TEMPERED MANNER LIKE A WELL-EDUCATED CONSTRUCTION WORKER.

As great as songs like "Cold Bitch," "Feel It Give" and the first half of "Radar Forest" are, they sound twenty times better if you sit between the speakers and listen to the way the guy in the right speaker screws around with every song. Unless my stereo is plugged up wrong. What I mean is that ONE of the guitars is playing the riff and could exist on its own. The other - in the best songs, anyway - is playing a part to accent the riff: a part that could NOT exist on its own. Not without annoying the janitor anyway.

Unfortunately, the CD completely falls apart at the end, concluding with three generic dipshit Pavement ripoffs with nothing interesting going on at all. Which reminds me - you know this Wilco album Yankee Hotel Thingy that is making all the critics' top 10 lists this year? I bought it and it's Crooked Rain Crooked Rain with violins. Is that really all it takes to make a critics' list these days? I personally came out of my third listen actively LOATHING the CD and wishing it would die and go to Hell. I just can't figure out how a person who has heard more than 100 albums in their life could find anything worth latching onto on that CD. There's just NOTHING NEW THERE! Wilco? More like WilBLO, if you aske, Brenda!

Which, judging from the violent screaming fight we had on New Year's Eve that ended with me slapping her repeatedly in the face while she screamed that she didn't want to be married to me anymore, is likely to be my wife's name again soon!

Band: Leviathan
Album: Leviathan EP
Label: Judas Cradle Productions

It's tempting to write Leviathan off as a hardcore band based on nothing more than the photo on the back cover of shaven-headed vocalist Shane Tierney screaming into the mic like a young Henry Rollins. But they're NOT a hardcore band. They're not even really a punk band, even though some of the music is pretty uptempo. First of all, regardless of his upsettingly misleading photo, Shane doesn't scream at all - he sings in an unremarkable voice that wishes it were deeper, throwing in lots of "yeah"s and end-of-line note drops as if he has attached James Hetfield's brain to Henry Rollins' mouth and shoved the contraption into a big hole in his face. Secondly of all, the band sort of plays slow Sabbathy type metal with some funk and classic rock elements, but the guitar is mixed way behind the bass, which is mixed way behind the drums. So essentially it sounds like drums and Shane Tierney.

Band: Lewinski
Product: Only When I'm Punk EP
Label: Naked Jain Records

I was honestly just going to say, "Hey, they're an old school-style punk/ska band from England who certainly show promise in a few parts - especially the multi-part, desperate hard rock song ""Karma Sutra." However, most of their chord sequences are old and tired, so they should work a bit more on developing their own unique riffs." But then a person close to the band said, "Go ahead and write what you're feelin'. We can take it." That certainly sounds like a challenge! And as you well know, I'm not one to turn down a challenge (unless it involves sports, intellect or not using cuss words).

I was walking home from work a couple of weeks ago when I suddenly encountered a horrible, sickening odor wafting down the sidewalk. It was kind of like a cross between a well-used Jiffy Jonny with no flusher ,and a finger after it's been used to scrape stuff off the back of a vagabond's tongue. It seemed to get stronger and stronger the closer I got to my apartment building, and dead birds were scattered all over the cars. I stopped to pull the oxygen mask out of my briefcase, strapped it on and walked into my building prepared to find my neighbors mutilated beyond recognition in a pile in the downstairs foyer, perhaps with their entrails scattered over the light fixtures and down the hall like holiday streamers.

Turns out it was just this CD.

As I removed it from my mailbox - an easy task as its acidic gaseous emanations had melted the door clear off - I thought to myself, "Rancid!" But I was a little off. It actually sounds more like a watered-down version of the already-horrendous "old school" talentless shit band Rancid. It reminded me of something I learned recently - did you know that pumpernickel bread was given that name because "nickel" meant "devil" and "pumper" meant "flatulence"? Apparently the bread was considered so hard to digest that even the Devil himself would be unable to avoid getting a strong case of the toots. As such, perhaps a more appropriate name for this CD would be Only When I'm Pumpernickle. At least their band name is appropriate because they certainly do suck cock!

Track one begins with a short guitar intro. Me: "Hey! It's a cover of that old "Straight Jacket" song from Punk And Disorderly!" Track one goes into the verse . Me: "Show me show me show me how you do that trick! The one that makes me scream she said! The one that makes me laugh she said! And threw her arms across my head!" Title? "Just A Joke." Well, we'll see if that defense works when Green Day sues you for stealing their vocal inflection.

Track two begins. SKA! Dark ska. Upset ska. Chorus stops ska and becomes normal midtempo punk. Me: "Hey! It's the five hundred trillionth punk song I've heard whose chorus is a ripoff of "Pachelbel's Canon!" For some reason, most punk rock bands seem completely incapable of realizing that the reason this chord sequence they "made up" sounds so lovey-dovey is because it's from a WORLD-FAMOUS ROMANCE SONG WRITTEN CENTURIES AGO, you fucking retard fashion victims. Hey! I've got this wild radical idea! Let's grow a MOHAWK! Wow! That is radical! My DAD had one when he was a teenager too!

Track three begins: Me: "Yes! I LOVE Agent Orange!" Then the guitar goes away, leaving behind 3 bass notes and a singer shoving the mic up his ass and pooping all over it. Chorus is great though, and should be as it's most likely stolen from Agent Orange! The title is "Her Life Story." Presumably, at some point in her life she attended an Agent Orange concert.

The next song, "Karma Sutra," as I mentioned earlier, is actually a really good hard rock song. My guess is they stole it off somebody else's record and pretended that they did it themselves. Punks are wild and unkempt like that! You can't cage them into your suit-and-tie world, Mr. Businessman! No future indeed!

Track five is a crazy, unbelievable, zany idea - they do, get this, oh my GOD are you going to laugh - they do a boring midtempo "punk" version of "You Were Always On My Mind"!!!! HAHAHAHAHA! It's a wild, uncontrollable idea never even imagined by the likes of Limp Bizkit or Me First and the Gimme Gimmes! The best thing is - they took one of the worst songs of all time and cemented it as THE worst song of all time! Step aside, "American Pie"! Make way, "Hotel California"! No room for you either, "Piano Man"!

Track six - the final bowel-cleansing. "Hangover," it's called. I knew it sounded familiar, but I couldn't quite place it until my wife started singing the CORRECT lyrics - "Everybody wants to live like they wanna live! Everybody wants to love like they wanna love! Everybody wants to be - closer to FREEEEEEEE!" All you kids on the "dole queue" take note: Party of Five is HARDCORE. And will overthrow the government with its heart-warming tales of cancer, alcoholism and abusive relationships. Oi!

But yeah, to be perfectly honest, all I was really gonna say is that "Kama Sutra" is great, but many of the other chord sequences seem really familiar. And that, though this debut EP isn't a `must-own,' I wouldn't be surprised if they came up with a bunch of really killer punk tunes next time around.

Now pardon me while I get the mop and clean up all the DOGSHIT that shot out of my stereo speakers all over the room while this CD was playing.

Band: Libido Grande
Album: Wrecked EP
Label: Failed Experiment

These guys have a great slashing guitar tone, and alternate between high-speed melodic Dag Nasty-style punk rock and mid-to-up-tempo "emo" of the modern-day sadness and pain variety. The singer has a very nice clean neat voice for this kind of music, and the band plays with a really great sense of urgency that never wears thin. Not that it would have time to wear thin, since the damn thing only has six songs on it. LAZYASSES! Frank Zappa would have released eight double-albums in the time it too you to put this out! And yes, several of those double-albums would have been nothing but guitar solos and unlistenable synclavier bullshit, but the matter we're discussing is one of quantity.

Band: Life Is Bonkers
Album: Full Moon Nation EP
Label: WAD

Write six happy bouncy synth melodies like They Might Be Giants in their silliest moments, put them all on top of incongrously fast punk rock beats, get some loud guitars blasting in when least expected and cover the whole mess with bitter, sarcastic vocals spouting equally sarcastic, sardonic lyrics.

No no, I'm ASKING you to DO this! And when you're done, send it to ME so I can have another CD is enormously entertaining as Tom Petty's Full Moon Nation by Life Is Bonkers! Love it, don't hate it! Guy's got a crazy mohawk and glasses! Bug him for a copy, this "Genetic James," at www.lifeisbonkers.com. Do it! Don't be such an ASSUCK!

Do ASSUCK suck? I always see their CDs in used bins and wonder what their parents think about them naming their band "ASSUCK."

Probably the same thing my mother thinks every time she runs across the word "penis" in my reviews! Which is, of course, "Boy, am I proud of my son. He writes for a bunch of fanzines nobody's ever heard of."

Band: Light Pupil Dilate
Album: Cascades
Label: Self-Released

I'm from Atlanta, and so are Light Pupil Dilate. As a result, they are good. Their music is very loud and uncompromising in an almost (but not quite) metalcore way, yet filled with the existential pain riffs and weeping emo vocals of today's finest r'n'b and smooth jazz artists. Their music doesn't succeed a hundred billion percent of the time, but they're at least trying to come up with music that you've never heard before. And that's the kind of music that often seems a little offputting at first, but grows on you as your brain opens itself up to unfamiliar aural ideas.

So basically, they either kick ass or totally blow shit out my ass - I won't know until I' ve heard the CD another six or seven times. Give me a call in 2039 and I'll let you know how far along I am.

Band: Limbonic Art
Album: Death Worship
Label: Candlelight

While we're chewing the fat and talking turkey about extreme metal, what are your thoughts on Limbonic Art? No no no - I mean the BAND! They have a new CD out on Philadelphia's Candlelight records called The Ultimate Death Worship, they're from Norway and they've been around for nearly a DECADE, which means that Britney Spears was not a toddler, not yet a teen when she first started enjoying their output. If you like aggressive guitars, dual-vocal shrieks, imaginative and complex arrangements, experimentation with technology and symphonic black metal with keyboards and blastbeats tearing through the house like a candy cane injected with the genetic code of a human being, look no further than your nearest dealer of fine Norwegian dairy products.

Band: The Little Killers
Album: The Little Killers
Label: Crypt

If Root Beer was a genre, The Little Killers would be the Kings of Root Beer! Because their rock and roll goes "Chug-a-Lug-a-Chug-a-Lug-a etc.!" The guitars, bass and drums lock into a chuggling distorted heavy fuzzy garage punk rock groove in every song, with a '60s scum rocker man voice spitting, drooling, dribbling and allowing saliva to drip down his shirt such headbouncing originals as "Butterfingers," "Spider" and "Choppin' Block." You'll feel like you're listening to a big ornery collision between the Ramones, the Dead Boys and the Standells who all thought that the announcer guy said their band name (when in fact he said "Genesis Featuring Phil Collins" - that's what's so funny about it!!!). Another great thing about The Little Killers (which may or may not be a reference to "la petite mort" - the orgasm as "the little death" - because who else would give you the little death besides a little killer? Luckily for us Men in the audience, 2/3rds of this band is comprised of people with ovaries!!!!

No that's not the right word. What are those things that girls have when they -- ah yes! Genital warts. So rock on down to your local cafe and bring the Rock and Roll!

Artist: LKN
Album: In The Leap Year
Label: Greyday Productions

Critically acclaimed multi-instrumentalist/singer/composer Lauren K. Newman (or "N, LK" for short) has been wowing the college kids of Pensacola and Hattiesburg for years now, driving them to declare her things like "heart wrenching.... whimsical.... poignant... gamut.... intelligent... to.... shocking.... smart..... people" and "One of the....performers I have ever seen." It's impossible to describe her sound without using words, so I'll try a few. "Moody," yet not "Blue." "Loud Albini-style drums," yet "not produced by Steve Albini." Poignant, sad, full of interesting instrumental interplay, clinky-plinky tones, post-rock guitar noodlings, post-man delivering mail, piano work without Elton John, oddball guitarical stylings, fiddle-fraddles and kidoodles the likes of which would drive most female artists (Jewel, Alanis Morrisette and that one other one whose name I keep forgetting) to distraction. She's as interested in weirdo guitar noises as a MAN would be! But she's also got that P.J. Harvey (Ah! That was the third one.) obsession with darkness and dismal pain of sadness. Live, LKN is a blurry, roaring passionate display of disgusting veins, if the photo of her lying on the floor with her guitar is any indication. I shouldn't just books by their covers though -- we all know what happened when I read the reissue of Mein Kampf with the teddy bear on the cover! My absolute joy is to give a great wallopping eight thumbs up for Ms. Lauren K. Newman, a young singer/performer with audio smarts, dexterous fingers and an ear for the new. This ain't your father's Britney Spears! Britney Spears this ain't! One thing is for sure - if you thought you were gettin' Britney Spears, you ain't! This ain't Britney Spears!

I'm serious. You bought the wrong album.

Band: Bob Log III
Album: Log Bomb
Label: Fat Possum/Epitaph

This guy is FUN!!! So apparently he's a one-man band from Tucson, AZ who wears a motorcycle helmet on stage so you can't see what he looks like. Then he plays a. well, as he announces in the song "One Man Band Boom": "Let me introduce the band to ya! On cymbal - Left Foot! Over here on the bass drum, we got Right Foot! SHUT UP! Then my Left Hand does all this fine work, Right Hand does the pickin'. My Mouth Hole does most of the talkin' and you're lookin' at My Finger. Don't talk to My Finger - My Finger is an ASSHOLE!"

What else. OH! Then he asks women in the audience to come up and sit on each knee and put their boob in his scotch, as he details in the track "Boob Scotch" and references in his thank you list, where he offers "Thanks and a Boob Scotch!" to a whole heck of a lot of friends and business partners. His whole schtick is drunken but positive - very good vibes - and his guitar playing is excellent! The man has been practicing his swampy blues slidin'! I imagine seeing him live would be more entertaining than listening to a full 13 tracks of John Spencer-like longing for an earlier, simpler musical era, but considering the limited frontiers of his chosen musical style, you'd be amazed by how well he'll hold your attention with his funny (though muffled - by the motorcycle helmet, presumably) vocalizing, foot-drum smashing and bottleneck attacking.

Album also includes "Make You Say Wow!," "Wag Your Tail Like A Dog In Back Of A Truck," "Drunk Stripper," "F*hole Parade" and "Put That There."

Band: Los Fastidios
Album: Siempre Contra
Label: KOB/Mad Butcher

Is it rude to describe an Italian punk rock band as "sounding like `Weird Al' Yankovic doing a parody of what an Italian punk rock band might sound like?" If so, I won't say that about Los Fastidios. Instead, I'll just say that these guys play uptempo `70s Dead Boys-style up-your-ass punk rock, but with Italian song titles that translate hilariously to such phrases as "You Will Not Be Never Single" and "Loyal Footbridge." The rhythm guitar chuggles, the lead guitar soars and the drummer keeps the energy flowing. But why on Earth are the band's name and album title both Spanish? (The Annoyances - Always Against). What is this, Esperanto Day or some shit?

Some mother fucking shit?

Band: Lousy
Album: The Babylon District
Label: Knock Out

Oi! It's Oi! Music! Midtempo punk rock with a gruff working class man going "Ruh-ruh-ruh!" over it while working at his working class job! They' re not as lousy as their name "Lousy" would make you think (they're actually called that because the entire band is literally smothered in pubic lice), but they're not doing anything that a bunch of other bands haven't done better in days of yore.

Band: The Lovelies
Album: White Leather
Label: Force MP

DUDE! I'M a "Force MP"!!! My initials!!! They're "M.P.!" And I consider myself a "Force' to be reckoned with. Oh, I am SO sending them a "cease and desist."

But hark! What's that beautiful noise washing scantily out of my Boston-brand computer speakers? Those sparkling clean, slightly-Kim Deal-reminiscent female harmony vocals... Those fuzzy, but relaxingly so, guitar tones... Those midtempo drums... Ahhh - it's just LOVELY! (Here's the part where I reveal that last sentence to be a play-on-words) LIV Lovely, that is! HA! HA AH!! HA! HO!!! HO!!!! HO!!!! MERRY XMAS!!!!

If there was such thing as a God of Fuzzy Pop Music With Sadness Included, this Milwaukee trio would be its Holy Trinity. What the? This makes no sense! The women are named Liv Lovely and Barb Lovely, yet it says here that they didn't meet until early 2000. HOW COULD THIS BE??? WHAT KIND OF PARENTS WOULD KEEP THEIR DAUGHTERS SEPARATED FROM EACH OTHER FOR NIGH ON TWENTY YEARS OF SWEET, SWEET LIFE??? OH THE HEAVENS WOULD WEEP IF ONLY THEY COULD HEAR SUCH A HARROWING TALE OF ABANDONMENT, WRETCHEDRY AND DARK-SPIRITED CALLOUSNESS!!!!

I'm not going to get over this. It took me 25 years to stop crying about those poor Ramone boys.

Band: Lubricated Goat
Album: The Great Old Ones
Label: Reptilian

It's not often that I get the opportunity to talk about Lubricated Goat, so please indulge me for about six and a half days while I reminisce about my life and times. Back in college, when I was but a young man (I am now 84), I happened across a delightful little record label entitled Amphetamine Reptile. This label released noisy, insane pre-Nevermind grunge by such American and/or Australian acts as Cows, Helmet, King Snake Roost, Tar, God Bullies and so many others you could throw a shoe and hit one. One of these very same acts was an Australian combination entitled Lubricated Goat. Led by a person entitled "Stu Spasm," this rock and roll band combined sleazy burlesque music, novelty funk, high-pitched glass-smashing guitar racket, oddball sound effects, normal-guy shouted vocals, tons of excess noise and hilarious lyrics like "Stick my penis/Deep inside you baby/I can't beleive we're really making love." They released three funtastic, experimental punk/noise/rock LPs on AmRep entitled Plays The Devil's Music, Paddock Of Love and Psychedelicatessen, and then the plate went cold.

Years later, suddenly a new record called Forces You Don't Understand appeared on.... Matador? What the hell were Aussie garbageheads Lubricated Goat doing on Pavement's label? Unfortunately for me, they were a whole new NYC-based band that completely buttoned down the off-the-wall aspects of the band in favor of what I consider to be pretty basic and somewhat forgettable hard rock. The album had a few amazing tracks (the unrepeatable guitar noise-driven "Twentieth Century Rake" might be the greatest song they've ever recorded), but for the most part, it was just too sterile. When I think of Lubricated Goat, I think of their MTV video for "In The Raw," featuring the band slogging around onstage with no clothes on! I think of out-of-tune slide guitars jerking vomitously to and fro! I think of crazy horns and samples and songs like "Anal Injury," "Give Chance A Piece" and "Funeral On A Spit." I do NOT think of straight-faced hard rock with bland titles like "Next World" and "Half-Life."

So another ten years have passed and FINALLY we have here a new Lubricated Goat CD. On another new label. Or do we? Well, the last thing I want to do is say anything negative about a band that has brought me so much joy over the years, but this CD is basically a bunch of NYC-based musicians playing staid guitar rock versions of formerly crazed, off-the-wall Lubricated Goat tunes of yesteryear. Three from Devil's Music, two from Psychedelicat..., a distressing ONE from the classic Paddock Of Love, one from Forces, one from he and his wife's side project Crunt, one from a Sub Pop single and one from an AmRep compilation. No new songs; just cleaned-up versions of old ones. I wish this man the best of luck with everything because I love him, but I really don't understand why he did this. Sure, the old albums are out of print, but so what? Bring them back INTO print! The songs still have really catchy melodies, but you can't recreate crazed youthful exuberance fifteen years later. If this is the only Lubricated Goat you can find, you should certainly buy it, but me? I'm "all about" that crazy early stuff.

Band: Luna Field
Album: Close To Prime
Label: Season Of Mist

Stuttgart, Germany is no place to raise your kids. In fact, it's cold as hell. And there's no one to raise them if you're DEEEEEEEEEEEEEEEEEEEEEEEEEEEEEAD! That's a song I would have written had I been borne into thine Luna Field, a new musical concept and intelligence within the action/adventure genre. They have masterminded a deadly plot to combine the orchestral morbid gothic undertones of black metal with the aggressive high-speed lurky-jurks of death metal, blazing new paths and churches along the way. The singer dude (Benny "Hill" Rakidzija) keeps alternating between uproariously high vox and stupendously low vox, the guitarists have wrists of steel that hit each batch of strings with a pick around 400 katrilliobillion times a minute and the drummer just won't stop blastbeating. Why won't he stop? Do you know the guy? More importantly, how do these guitarists come up with so many cool riffs? The hammer-ons! The "twisted" emotional torment they weave out of this metallic web! Next time I'm in Stuttgart, I'm gonna drop by their house just to say, "Thank you, Luna Field. Thank you for the music."

Band: Lunaris
Album: Cyclic
Label: Earache

I have it on good authority that this Norwegian black Metal band is comparable to the Old School phat beets of such def col' medina booyaa!'s as Ulver, Arcturus and Borknagar. If you be illin' and chillin' to some wackass progressive experimentation in the heeeeyouse, you gots to be down wit' da L. With stunning lyrics that explore all aspects of science, astronomy, war and religion, these playa-haters sport loud guitars and question "man's inability to take a rational approach to the terms of religion and aim to explore the metaphysical concepts of existence itself." So if distorted, blastbeat-and-orchestral-flourish-driven depression anthems of evil are, in your opinion, the shiznit, then yo! Word up to Lunaris! Now I gotta give a shout-out to my homies Brenda A.P. and Henry The Dog - Much Love! No mad props to God though. That bitch stole my shorty.

Band: Lunasuit
Album: Summer Season
Label: Boss Tuneage

Don't judge a CD by its cover! It may look like a gentle folk product, but Lunasuit's Summer Season is actually a spirited punk rock album! A wispy female voicesmith sings notily as two guitarists turn up the high-end fuzz noise and drummer Matt Snell collects nose sweat in his mustache. The music is pretty emotionally charged for non-"emo" punk, with several moments of arpeggiated, unfuzzed sorrow interrupting otherwise straightforward punk tracks like "Conformist" and "Anti-Social Animal." Wait a second! Aren't those song titles diametrically opposed? Christ, make up your goddamned MIND, people! Also - good work on the CD! It's got a lot of great tunes on it!

Band: Lyzanxia
Album: Mindcrimes
Label: Reality Entertainment

Some sort of power thrash prog metal thing from France. Very tough guitar tone, some vocals sung, others howled/wailed (two brothers). Melodic, but not at the expense of heaviness and "edge." Mostly slow or midtempo, but full of killer guitaring for fans of Iron Maiden, Queensryche and other thinking bands of the melodic metal persuasion.

And by "persuasion," I don't necessarily mean "they're gay" (though I don't necessarily NOT mean "they're gay," either.) Fans of gay metal should love this release.

Band: Macabre
Album: Murder Metal
Label: Season Of Mist

I should be ashamed of myself for liking this band, but then you should be ashamed of yourself for stealing that loaf of bread to feed your family. Who's really the bigger criminal here?!? ME, for liking a band whose sole lyrical inspiration is real-life serial killers, or YOU for red-handedly stealing that moldy loaf of Sunbeam from the dumpster behind Big Lots? The answer is clear: I'm a harmless gadfly and you're going to PRISON and HELL.

But yeah, as much as real-life serial killers suck dogwang, the least they could do was serve as inspiration for lots of scary as shit horror movies and some terrific Macabre songs. They've been around for fifteen years, and I think this is their fifth album. Although not quite as musically diverse as their hilariously sick 2000 release, a rock opera on the life of Jeffrey Dahmer, this still tops the nobs as far as aggressive metal goes. It's NOT unlistenable grindcore or unlistenable black metal -- in fact, it's not unlistenable at all! It's very aggressive and pretty fast, with shrieked insane ridiculous vocals, but the song constructions are really smart and even CATCHY. I mean, seriously -- CATCHY. Sometimes the bass and drums lock together into an incredible high-speed unrelenting slaughter groove (as in "Diary of Torture"), other times the riffs are as sliced-up and disturbing as the lyrics (as in "Acid Bath Vampire"), and third times the sing-songy approach of nursery rhyme is utilized to bring home the message bacon in a language that even a child can understand (as in "Dorthea's Dead Folks Home").

But one thing's for sure: this is extremely dark humor. Definitely not recommended for anybody who has lost a loved one to a serial killer. Because this shit really happened - and continues to happen. It's psychologically intriguing to us normal people, but absolutely devastating for those whose real-life lives are affected by it. So try not to forget, even if you enjoy this band's music as much as I do, that serial killers are not "cool" -- they're selfish, mean sons of bitches.

Band: Macabre
Album: Minstrels: Morbid Campfire Songs
Label: Season Of Mist

I'm NOT ashamed! I LOVE Macabre! I LOVE their ridiculously comical songs about serial killers and their maniacal shriek/fall vocals and awesome punk/thrash/grind riffs. And this ridiculous EP makes me love them all the more. You see, the project itself is actually presented as a creation by "Macabre Minstrels." It just so happens that the Minstrels are "Corporate Death" and "Nefarious," 2/3rds of Macabre. No greasy-grimy-gore-guts-grind herein awaits you here however: nothing but two twelve-string guitars and five adorable singalongs (supposedly by Shel Silverstein!?) with brand new lyrics about murder and mayhem. Love triangle murderer/murder ballad legend Tom Dula, Texas Chainsaw Psycho Ed Gein and prospector/murderer/canniabl Albert Packer are all celebrated here, along with a goddamned cat that wouldn't die and a peanut that is found and sends a man to Hell. I can't get these songs out of my head! I LOVE YOU, MACABRE!!!!

Band: Magnitude Nine
Album: Decoding The Soul
Label: InsideOut

This is an odd one - catch me here on the word slide: WWHEEEEEEEEEEEEEEE!

More specifically, this is a fast, heavy thrash band whose singer is a big smooth pop/hard rock vocalist like Steve Perry or Lou Gramm. The guitarist is back there ripping everything to Hell with kickass, tough-to-perform note-filled riffs and wailing Axe solos, but the singer's pumped ass-loud up front, reminding us of all those great Survivor ballads we enjoyed during the carefree days before the War On Terror stole our boys away. Nevertheless, this is the third album for these Ohio boys, and judging from the sci-fi album cover, they're getting about as much of "that stuff" (female sexual organ) as the talented men of Spock's Shitbeard and Dream Theater Of Losers. Having made that wild claim, let me stress again that the guitarist is talented as hell, and it honestly is worth listening past Mr. Big Hair to hear the cool stuff he's playing. So do so!

Band: Mahi Mahi
Album: Wa No He
Label: Corleone

The two men of Mahi Mahi credit themselves as such: V. von Ricci: "Singing" & Noises, Servicio: Drums & Noises. I'll vouch for them! The noises are created by heavily distorted keyboards, the "singing" sounds like a 14-year-old shouting into a heavy metal pedal and the simple, repetitive organ melodies and countermelodies are (unexpectedly) tremendously catchy! Devo, Kraftwerk and Suicide are possible influences, though it's just as likely that these guys just sat down one day, plugged their keyboards through various processors and started playing wonderful pop hooks while shouting. Completely devoid of pretense, He No Wa is a wonderfully simplistic, catchy, noisy pile of electronic gadgetry.

Band: Majhas
Album: Stepping Into Character
Label: Hawthorne Street

Very aggressive metalcore. I'm told that this band features members of Ice Nine, Endive, Birthright and Curb (hence the name "MAJHAS"), so be ready for some Hottt ROKKIN' 2nite! No but yes. They're from Indianapolis and honestly DO put craft into their songs. Like many other bands of this genre, it just takes a few listens to realize how melodic the songs really are. The brooding Ministry-like bass riff that drives "Fist Fights In Motion," the BIG ROCK power chord pounding and fingering of "Tragedy's Muse," the chaotic tribal roundness of "Quick Breath Before Dying" - heckity-doo, every single track is pretty darned memorable once you hear the past the monochromatic screaming and catch how vibrant, alive, energetic and SMART these musicians are. It's like they say on the commercial, "You ain't HAS nothin' til you MAJHAS. (something)."

Look, sometimes I make up my own imaginary commercials and pawn them off to networks as real. Do we need to make an issue out of this?

Band: Malavista
Album: Malavista EP
Label: Rezist/No Front Teeth

You people are all under 12 years old so you won't remember this, but back in the mid-80s, there was a slightly infuriating form of music called "punk-metal." It was created by bands like DOA and GBH who certainly LOOKED punk with their short messy hair and torn t-shirts, but the guitar tones were slightly heavier, the tempos somewhat slower, the song times a bit longer and the riffs a hell of a lot more Judas Priesty than those of hardcore. However, now that the most strident anti-metal punks are homeless crackheads, we're free to enjoy amateurish midtempo skater metal bands like Malavista. They're fun, loose and filled with oxygen!

Band: Malefaction
Album: Where There Is Power There Is Always Resistance
Label: G7 Welcoming Committee

Insanely intense grind/spaz/screamcore. The guitars sound like a vicious gang of hornets attacking your eyeballs (in a good way!), the drums sound like a man breaking into your home with a power drill (in a good way!) and the singer sounds like he's ripping your ears out and shoveling dirt into your brain (in a good way!). And, as with all bands signed to the Propagandhi-affiliated G7 Welcoming Committee record label, strong political lyrics tell the listener where HE can shove it up his ass. "Fighting The National Security State," "The New American Century," "Red Industry," "A Cold War For A Cold World" - Up yours, Bill O'Reilly!

Band: Malevolent Creation
Album: The Will To Kill
Label: Arctic

A death metal band from Florida? Something's WRONG here! What the hey? That's CRAZY go nuts! Did somebody put acne in my soup? But all complete lying aside, back when I was in college, I happened upon a free copy of Malevolent Creation's third cassette tape Stillborn. It wasn't all that amazing, I suppose, but as it was my very first death metal tape, I enjoyed it! I later got rid of it after Napalm Death and Slayer had made it seem not very catchy. But I certainly didn't think the band would still be around eight years later! Now they have NINE cassette tapes and have traded, dumped and welcomed aboard about eighty new band members over the years, but I swear this CD sounds EXACTLY like what I remember Stillborn sounding like in my head. Just straight death metal. Superfast ear-slicing razor heavy distortion (assuming you bought a really heavy razor) with blastbeats, high-speed thrashing and low gruff growled monster scream vocals. A lot of folk have moved on to black metal and Nordic metal and other silly things with organs and drama, but Malevolent Creation knows that's all puff and promises. The point is to make really fast, loud headbanging music so all the miserable metal kids stuck in the swampy humid shithole of Florida, AM can have some way of getting their aggression out other than killing three eight-year-olds like the Memphis Three did. Goddamn you, Memphis Three, for killing those three eight-year-olds!

Malevolent Creation succeed in their mission and I'm very happy about that. And I won't be getting rid of this one - like my Carcass, Cannibal Corpse and Death CDs, it's going right there in my CD cabinet to be pulled out every once in a while when I get worn down by the saloon of everyday pistachio (I'm using metaphors now, so don't take this next part literally). I like this CD (music).

"CD" was a metaphor for Jennifer Love Hewitt, with "(music)" of course being an infrared photograph of her stretching her ass cheeks as far apart as possible so her music can come out.

Band: Manowar
Album: Warriors Of The World
Label: Mark Prindle

These guys have been around forever and it's STILL impossible to tell whether they're joking or not. The ludicrously overdone operatic vocals, over-the-top patriotism, battle- focused lyrics and grand, sweeping, epic, ridiculous music combine to create. something. Something odd. Something where the song titles include "Call To Arms," "The Fight For Freedom," "Swords In The Wind," "An American Trilogy," "The March," "Warrior Of The World United" and "Fight Until We Die." Musically, Christ I don't know. Judas Priest with some uproarious sensitive piano passages? Spinal Tap. That's it! Manowar are the closest I've heard to Spinal Tap in the "legitimate metal" arena. If they're joking, they're hilarious. If they're serious, yikes. Either way, if you've got a good sense of humor about metal, you need to pick this up because it's weird enough to stay in your CD player for months as long as you don't have any girls coming over that you want to impress.

Band: The Master Plan
Album: Colossus Of Destiny
Label: Total Energy

Ever since America freed itself from the Indians, people have been wondering, "What would happen if Andy Shernoff from The Dictators, Keith Streng and Bill Milhizer of The Fleshtones, and Paul Johnson of The Waxing Poets all got together to form a band? Well, the answer's finally here! And that answer is "They would steal a Melvins album title." In addition, they would crank out the goodtimiest old man rock `n' roll that a bunch of Chuck Berry/Dead Boys fans could manage. The spirit is strong, even if the production is a bit tepid and the melodies a bit lacking. But let's not lie at each other and people - this is a CD for fans of these guys' three original bands and nobody else. Why didn't they CAN the mystery and just call themselves Waxing The Dicflesh?

Band: The Matches
Album: E. Von Dahl Killed The Locals
Label: Epitaph

Much like the "old man" character in any fine action-packed Hollywood bonanza film, "I'm too old for this shit." And I'm quite sure that The Matches and their fan base would agree. I'm 30 years old, my neck aches constantly and I am fairly familiar with around 20,000 previously-recorded albums in the "rock" genre. As number 20,001, E. Von Dahl Killed The Locals has nothing new to offer me. The oldest chord sequences in the world (A! Now E! Now D! Now A again! Okay, we've all learned it. Hit `record'!), fake ska, midtempo power pop, fratboy backup vocals, a couple of slightly upper-tempo "punk" songs with a wink and sports event replacing the anger and idiosyncrasy once supposedly typified by the genre - all this is fine if you're a 14-year-old girl, especially if the band members are cute and their hair sticks up. And believe me, I wish The Matches all the luck in the world with that particular demographic. But I can't follow them there.

Because every time I see a 14-year-old girl, I get arrested for "statutory boner."

Band: Matt & The Castronaughts
Album: This Ain't No Bay Of Pigs, Momma! EP
Label: You're Going Up

Adopting a hilarious name and concept (three of the band members dress like Cuban revolutionaries and go by the names Chuchito Valdes, Don Juan Montelbon and Rojo Rodriguez - and the fourth is a guy named Matt), this Indiana band brings some great fuzztones to slow blues, noisy asshole rock, fast punk, scroungey rockabilly, Nuggets-style garage rock and whatever the heck else they do. Nothing new-fangled, but I suppose the past gave us some good formulas to work with! If nothing else, they bother writing riffs, which the Cramps certainly don't do anymore! Not that the Cramps have anything to do with this band. I just felt like bashing the Cramps for a second there.

Band: Mayhem
Album: Chimera
Label: Season Of Mist

Say, you can vouch for me on this -- isn't it disturbing to be awakened by a ringing phone first thing in the morning, only to have the voice on the other end say, "Hi, Mark? This is Blasphemer!" I of course heard it as "Glass Peter" and wondered why my favorite ass dildo store would be calling me on a Tuesday. I shook my illing head as he clarified, "Blasphemer! From Mayhem!" This is usually the point in a conversation when I pretend I'm running out the door and can't talk, so that's exactly what I did. It's not that I didn't want to interview the guitarist of Norway's most infamous black metal band -- the band whose original lead singer "Dead" lived up to his name by blowing his brain out, only to have part of it EATEN by band founder/guitarist "Euronymous," who not much later found himself stabbed to death by his own bass player, Varg Vikernes (of Burzum fame!). So again, that's two dead Mayhemmers and a third in prison. WHY, NO! THERE'S NO REASON AT ALL THAT I WOULDN'T WANT A MEMBER OF THIS BAND CALLING ME AT HOME!

At any rate, I really DID already have plans that day and honestly DIDN'T have time to interview him, but I'm not sure what I would have asked him anyway. I mean, this is a really really kickass album -- MUCH more intense and "old school" Mayhemmy than the current incarnation's previous studio album A Grand Declaration Of War, with tons of distressing, unsettling chord-driven riffs, up-and-down-the-neck sickness and super-practiced drum manipulations (breakneck rolls-that-won't-end, blastbeats, 4/4 cymbal bashing, even some funky Phunkin'!). But that doesn't mean I had any questions for the guy! How about this -- are you afraid some other member of your band is going to stab you to death and eat part of your brain?

Oh wait, I forgot! Both Euronymous and Varg Vikernes were infamous for burning churches to the ground.

WHY NO, BLASPHEMER! IT'S GREAT TO HEAR FROM YOU! WHY DON'T YOU STOP BY THE HOUSE SOME TIME!??!

Let it be said right now that the old version of Mayhem couldn't record a decent album their way out of a paper bag and only managed to do so on one occasion -- the FANGODDAMNEDWONDERFUL De Mysteriis Dom Sathanas. But this is EASILY the second-best Mayhem album of all time. Well-recorded, well-arranged, well-written -- and the songs kick bleeding bloody blood-filled arse!

Band: Medication
Product: Prince Valium
Label: Locomotive

I'm told that this band features ex-members of post- Sepultura bland SOULFLY, Deep Purple album MACHINE HEAD, Beatles song DAYINTHELIFE, hateful skinhead Driver's ex-partner SKREW, Jim Morrison's mute nostril LIFE OF AGONY (who had huge hit singles in the `80s with "Shout," "Sowing The Seeds Of Love," "Everybody Wants To Rule The World" and "Mother's Talk") and Nobel Prize In Literature Winners UGLY KID JOE. They play a predictable, repetitive brand of what at one time would have been called grunge but would now be called nu-metal due to nothing at all besides the passage of time. The singer really really really really wants to be Layne Staley (pre-blue and sloshy) but without the amazing vocal harmonies that elevated Alice In Chains above everyday low'n'heavies like these guys. Plus, as is to be expected on a "nu-metal" album, the guitarists (one low and heavy, the other generally high-end and occasionally wah-wah-pedaled) have about as much individual character and unique style as a book that you keep throwing at a guitar. Try it. It sounds the same every time. Fuckin' book never tries to branch out and try something innovative. Just keeps making a loud "BLAHNG" noise as you throw it over and over at a guitar hundreds and hundreds of times in a row. You may think that eventually a little man will pop out of the book and grant you three wishes, but

Medication tries to sound incredibly heavy, dramatic and pained for 45 minutes, but it all just sounds like Linkin Park without the rapping. Completely predictable, simplistic "metal" (slowed down punk chords), with choruses all featuring four repeated chords,and overall chord sequences that - though they occasionally DO grab the earlobe and say `Howdy-do!' - are still far too typical of today's mainstream metal sound for this band to stand out as anywhere near as intense or musically interesting as Coalesce, Dillinger Escape Plan, Botch and all the other great underground hardcore metal bands that metal kids would be into if they had any balls at all. You want anger? Buy Converge's Jane Doe and listen to them scream at you both vocally and musically for forty minutes. You want melody, buy some Ween. If you want a combination of anger and melody, buy some Nomeansno or Dwarves or something. So where does that leave Medicine? As another throwaway refuge for alienated teenagers that nobody understands. Nobody knows what they're FEELING! Even their FRIENDS don't know them anymore! Thank God for all those other teenagers with goatees who smoke or they'd feel completely alone!

Conclusion: They're okay, just nothing at all out of the ordinary. We call them "ALSO-RAN"s. They may very well luck out and have some huge hits because, as I said, some of these riffs actually DO have a neat, twisted, dark feel to them. And they ARE better songwriters than a whole lot of groups being played on the radio these days (not that the "old days" were any better). But years from now, when the history of rock and roll is written, Medication will in all likelihood not be included.

I mean, aside from Chapter Four: Ugly Kid Joe Turns the Music World on its Ear.

Band: Mental
Album: Get An Oxygen Tank!
Label: Bridge Nine

Once was a time when "hardcore" meant not "heavy metal guys screaming at you for four minutes" but "short songs with fast 4/4 beats." Mental remember that time, and bring it up to date in these 2004s. You'll find 16 tracks on here, and only one is over two minutes long. I'd say half are played at breakneck speed, the rest slower but still short and dandy! The singer's voice is a mystery though - for the first half of the disc, he sounds like he has a bunch of gumballs in his mouth, then suddenly halfway through he starts sounding exactly like DRI's Kurt Brecht. Explain that one, whoever heads up Canada.

Band: Meshuggah
Album: Nothing
Label: Nuclear Blast

There are so many great new metal bands out in the underworld these days! Not just The Breeders, but have you heard this Meshuggah band yet? They're yet ANOTHER rock and roll outfit that I should have heard years ago but didn't until recently when I was cruising in my Stingray late one night and an XKE pulled up on the right; he rolled down the window of his shiny new Jag, tossed me a Meshuggah CD, and challenged me then and there to a drag (man dressed as a woman). Don't let the Jewish-style name fool you: Meshuggah are a group of angry Swedish men who like their metal HEVVY (Swedish for "guy yelling at you"). Nothing is their, oh, we'll say like 4th or 5th album or somesuch, and apparently it's a more stripped-down straightforward effort than their earlier work, which I'm told featured rhythm shifts every few seconds like an asshole. The guitarists play custom-made EIGHT string guitars, creating low heavy swooping sinister BOOM noises with their really really low G strings (which are really gross, btw - who wants to look at Fredrik Thordendal's hairy balls flopping all over the place?). I suppose it gets a little samey after a while, but what a neat noise - who else has ever used an 8-string guitar on a metal album? I'll tell you who - John Cafferty and the Beaver Brown Band!

No wait, my secretary must have misheard what I said at the end there. I actually said "Nobody, Cathy - and your beaver's brown - Grand!" But I guess it's kinda hard to hear what I'm saying when my mouth is full - IF YOU KNOW WHAT I MEAN!!!!!

Wait - this review IS for Hustler, right?

Band: Metalium
Album: As One (Chapter Four)
Label: Century Media

WHOOOOOOOOAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAA!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!! Do NOT judge this book by its stupid cover. I was all ready to laugh all the way to your bank and withdraw most of your life savings after one look at this ridiculous cover drawing of a half-naked female warrior below the Tough-Like-Steel band logo. A quick gander at the band photo didn't help either -- they're a bunch of 40-year-old Germans with hair down to their assbutt! I expected bad power metal and I expected it now.

I'VE NEVER BEEN SO MISTAKEN IN MY LIFE. This band KICKS ASS!!!! High-speed thrash -- I mean HIGH-speed thrash - with high wailing Iron Maiden vocals but without that out-of-style operatic warble. Harmonic lead guitar lines, nonstop choogletrain rhythm section -- dude, I mean... dude! Okay, the lyrics are pretty standard power metal, but oh MAN is this a Motorhead-worthy speed attack of heaviness! I love fast 4/4 beats. Thanks for being good, Metalium!!!!

(Even though your album tells the story of a mystical female warrior)

Band: Mico
Album: Outside the Unbearable Grows
Label: The G7 Welcoming Committee

This band, releasing here their second full-length, has been compared to "Oasis meets Dag Nasty" -- I personally would alter that description to read "mid-period U2 goes emo." I think I FINALLY understand what "emo" means -- it's that really emotional-sounding music with lots of minor-key chords and a singer who sounds like he's about to cry. Like Dag Nasty! Whee! So there is that. But only half of these songs are based on that midtempo barre-chord with some arpeggios style so common to the emo I've heard -- the others are straight ringing, chiming guitar pop/rock with a sort of spiritual feel along the lines of The Joshua Tree. And by "spiritual," I am not implying that this band sounds like a bunch of black women in the subway station wailing "from the soul" about Jesus -- which, by the way, may be my least favorite mouth-made noise in the Universe. I hate gospel singing so much it hurts my groin every time I stand up.

Oh, THAT'S what a hernia is?! Never mind then - I guess the two are unrelated.

Mico is from Calgary, Alberta, Canada, North America, Earth, Milky Way, Inside Some Giant Being's Fingernail (if you're high). I guess they're singing about how bad the world is, but it's awfully difficult to take seriously any "lyricist" who would pen a line like "How can we survive in a world fueled by greed?" That's like a publicist writing a headline about a company or product "taking (xyz) to the Next Level." It's so cliched and meaningless that it has become -- quite literally -- a joke among people familiar with it. Very few of the songs rise above this basic "early 80s hardcore" sloganeering, though I'm certainly not suggesting that there's no place for it in the world. If things aren't said, they will be forgotten. Heck, in that sense, I'm GLAD that enough people have cried out against "a world fueled by greed" that it has become a cliche.

And not all the lyrics are like this -- "Transmission," for example, is phrased skillfully enough to be extremely sad and moving even if it's too oblique for me to quite figure out exactly what happens at the end! Is he in prison? Or just extremely disillusioned with the society that surrounds him? You tell me! You're the one who wrote all the lyrics on the inside of your penis! "Lina Tres" works too, with its assertion that people who claim they've "found themselves" are wrong -- or lying. What are we really? What is the point? Who are we? We'll never know. Maybe we're just some prehistoric fish's school science experiment gone haywire! (Ha! Hilarious fish/school joke!) Heck, I'm liking this band more and more by the heartbeat! Some might say I should have looked into this more deeply BEFORE I started writing the review. But those people don't know what it's like to have scorpion eggs hatching in their eyeballs EVERY WAKING MOMENT OF THE DAY!!!!!

"Your social hierarchy pushes toward catastrophe" - now THAT'S a shitty lyric.

Maybe I should get back to you in a month or so with my final conclusions. Musically I like it - it's very soothing yet awfully sad and poignant sounding. But you've heard mid-period U2 -- you know how sad and poignant a delay pedal can make an otherwise basic guitar melody sound! Why is it called a "delay" pedal anyway? It's a "repeat" or "echo" - what do they mean by "delay"?

And what is up with these CARPETS everybody's buying these days? Is it a CAR? Is it a PET? WHAT THE HELL IS IT!?

Band: Midnight Creeps
Album: Doomed From The Get Go
Label: Rodent Popsicle

Riot Grrrrrrrrrrrrrrrrrrrrrrrrrrrl! Okay, there are only two women in the band, but look at 'em! They're rioting! Singer Jenny Hurricane is rioting with a micro-miniskirt, black stockings and singing voice that seems to merge influences of Wendy O. Williams and whoever the hell sang for the Lunachicks. Squealing, growling and crooning in a man's voice, she layers her EVIL PROFANITY atop a rough and tumble trash punk backdrop led by the RIOTING guitarist Heather Mars, who keeps RIOTING all over the place, and a male rhythm section that distort their bass and tappity their drums.

Midnight Creeps are a perfectly good punk rock band - and I mean "punk" as in messy loud beer-drinking heroin-enjoying sweatball grinding yell scumbag Dead Boys style punk, not modern Epitaph cleanly, pleasantly recorded smooth-punk. But must sweet Jenny curse so often? Would a real church going lass sing lines like "I'm so fucking horny that I'm swimming in my panties"? Or "Come here, Lick me, Eat shit from me"? Would Mother Teresa have written verses like "I hate you cuz you got a way of shaking your titties/I hate you cuz you got a lot more clit than me"?

As a matter of fact, she WOULD! That song is a Mother Teresa cover.

Band: Midnight Evils
Album: Straight 'Til Morning
Label: Estrus

Your enjoyment of this CD depends chiefly on your ability to accept and enjoy the fact that it begins with a minute-long wankophile blues guitar solo (the kind that makes the player close his eyes, shake his head back and forth and act like he's making love with his guitarectio)n. Once you're past THAT without laughing, the rest of the CD is thoroughly enjoyable energetic garage punk! The singer has a great shouting Zeke-style voice of fun, grit and perspiration, and the band plays lovable uptempo chord thrappin' in the old Johnny Thunders style (not hardcore speed, but not rock and roll speed either -- right there in the middle!). The mix accentuates FULL BAND live _expression, meaning that this is not a guitar-dominated recording: it's a drums/guitars/bass/vocal-dominated recording. They sound like they'd be a heck of a fun live act too!

This kind of music -- and there are several bands playing it in the underground these days -- appears to be the modern-day equivalent of dangerous '50s rockabilly. The same insane, frightening spirit of the devil to scare parents, but updated for today's market. Sideburns and greased back hair still accepted, high-octane funnycars probably enjoyed with whiskey and foul B.O. - maybe even cowboy hats and long beards! But no mohawks. Punk with no mohawks. There! That's what I think! If you like good old rock and roll but faster than usual, grab the first New Bomb Turks album ("Destroy-Oh-Boy!!!") and see if they've got the Midnight Evils lying around too. You just can't listen to guys having this much fun without getting in a good mood! "Midnight Evils"? More like "Midnight BOLL WEEVILS," if you ask me!!!!

Perhaps it's best that you didn't ask me.

Band: The Mist Beets
Album: Dorkabilly Sounds
Label: Get Fisted

If bands that think they're funny were actually funny, they'd be hilarious! Unfortunately, The Mist Beets' song titles include "Conan O'Brien," "Shit Cinderella," "Zoloft Babies," "Cakes For Jesus" and "Poopy Hands."

Band: Mithras
Album: Worlds Beyond The Veil
Label: Candlelight

HoLy ChRiSt!!! This band is frickin' nutso. They appear to have written the fastest, angriest, most intense grindcore/thrashcore of all time, and then recorded it while buried alive in a tomb of lost souls. The production is so ODD! The guitarist plays four hundred notes per second, but it sounds like he's at the bottom of a canyon, just echoing everywhere! The oddest thing (perhaps) is that it's just two guys. This is the two British long-hair hippy freaks' second album, and apparently tells some kind of story about an infinite universe or something. I can't really understand what the guy's saying because he's talking in a monster voice for Halloween. But the music is awesome! Wild, echoey, distorted psych-grind!!! Like Hawkwind merged with early Napalm Death!

Band: The Mixelpricks
Album: Complete The Grin
Label: Geekcore

I'm so sick of pop-punk, I could rip a guy's nose off. Green Day were big, what, 58 years ago? Why are shit bands like this still going out there and copying their style? "GDFC" is such a clone of "Longview," it might as well be called "GDFClongview." Or no wait "LonGDFCview"! Yeah!!! HA! THAT'll show these Mixelpricks!!! Yeah, more like MixelPRICKS if you ask me!!! HA! Point being that every single song on here features a mid- to uptempo barre chord melody that has already been used by a billion other pop-punk bands, topped by overly childish "la-de-da" sissy vocal melody. The only difference is the mix: these guys sound much rawer than the Kung Fu and Epitaph rosters. And the singer sounds like he could have been in the Lemonheads in the mid-80s (before "Evan Dando's lost years," which, as far as I can tell from following the media, occurred before and after every single album he ever released). Bands like this should sit down and ask themselves why they exist if they have no intention of bringing any new musical ideas into the world.

Band: Monster Magnet
Album: Greatest Hits
Label: A&M

Long-running kings of grunge/stoner metal Monster Magnet strike me as not exactly having SIXTEEN "hits," but why poke holes in the condom of marketing? Manly vocals, psychedelic effects, heavy guitars (with occasional wah-wah), singalong choruses and groovy modern beats are the tricks of Monster Magnet's trade, and they use them well. They might be a bit more commercial-sounding than your other favorite stoner rock bands ("Negasonic Teenage Warhead" sounds specifically written for mass acceptance, for example), but if you've ever wanted to hear a musical interpretation of chest hair, here's your ticket!

Artist: Gary Moore
Album: Power Of The Blues
Label: Sanctuary

Nobody loves the electric blues more than I do, and that's why I can say with a straight face that Gary Moore's latest CD will please ALL the electric blues lovers out there in Chicagoland today. The lack of subtlety, the big loud white voice, the cover of Led Zeppelin's classic "I Can't Quit You Baby" by Led Zeppelin -- this is the album all you fans of the low-down boogie woogie blues have been waiting for since Gary crawled out of his mama's sweet Irish human body way back in April '52. All through them lowdown dirty days in Skid Row and Thin Lizzy right on through his smokin' 1993 collaboration with the Lake portion of Emerson, Lake and Palmer, he's been stompin' on his wah-wah and dreamin' of them sweet sweet blooz tones. Maybe you thought he'd gotten those dirty grimy filthy lowdown boogie woogie nitty gritty down and dirty blues out of his system with 1990's Still Got The Blues, 1992's Blues Alive, 1995's Blues For Greeny and 2001's Back To The Blues, but man you'd have your shit ALL twisted up the ass if you thought that! Hell, even if you've splurged on his Ballads And Blues, 1982-1994 and Blues Collection compilations, Evening Of The Blues and Live Blues videos, and "Still Got The Blues" cassette single (released on February 13, 1991 -- for obvious reasons), Gary's still got the blues and baby you got to LOSE if you think you ain't needin' it! Seven originals, three covers and who can tell the difference? That's the BLOOOOUEEEEEEUUUS!

Band: Morbid Angel
Album: Heretic
Label: Earache

After devoting a disturbing percentage of their career to singing us merry death metal tales in Sumerian (the oldest recorded language), Morbid Angel now appears to be speaking English (though it's still impossible to make out the words as they spurt out of Steve Tucker's "decaying 400-year-old-man" throatmouth) and operating as a three-piece unit. That's correct - a THREE-piece! Presumably, that would be bass/vox, guitar and drums except that a few of the songs feature acoustic terror and symphonic bombast as a break from the Morb Norm. But don't think they're one of those Black metal bands with all the violins piled on top of the metal (like Emperor or Kiss). Morbid Angel are loud, distorted, intelligent and as thrashin' as they are classically-influenced. And did somebody say "DRUM SOLO"?????

Okay, I asked around and nobody said "Drum Solo." That's unfortunate because there's a drum solo on here.

Band: Morifade
Album: Domi-Nation
Label: Candlelight

Power! Power! Power Metal Power!!! Iron Maiden and Judas Priest may be gone (though I don't think that's actually the case), but their sound will live 4-eva thanks to nostalgic metalheads like Sweden's Morifade. With wailing "devil's falsetto" vocals, cool heavy chord sequences and soaring note runs, and serious classically-trained keyboards, these guys have just the stuff to tease and please metal fans of yesteryear who find all that modern nu-metal and deathcore to be just a bunch of screaming with no talent or hilariously outdated chorale background vocals. Moribund? Possibly. But why listen to "ironic" half-assed boring nonsense like The Darkness when there's much more talented players out there doing it for real? Morifade has made a good album here. Yes, you have to be able to appreciate the sounds of a previous era (the Dio era, to be specific), but is today's metal actually any BETTER?! Besides, this is a concept album loosely based on Brave New World and 1984 -- you won't see Korn trying anything like that!

(Because they can't read)

Band: Mortiis
Album: The Grudge
Label: Earache

Norway's Mortiis returns in late '80s Nine Inch Nails/Nitzer Ebb SHTYLE! If you thought the awesome sci-fi boop-beep-bweo techno keyboard sound of That Total Age had been sold upriver by those damned electronicars and samplin' club DJs, your time has come, mister, to rejoice with your friends in Mortiis. Specifically, Mortiis. He being a human being (former member of Emperor, in fact!). But he's surrounded this time by two guitarists and a drummer, so you can get your goth industrial dance buzz Skinny Puppy-style. If you were put off by the synth pop of his last CD, don't hold a grudge: try The Grudge! It's a bit noisier and darker for you, the fan.

Band: The Mulchmen
Album: Louder Than Dirt, Thicker Than Mud!
Label: Big Beef

In 1960, The Ventures (and a whole bunch of bands that sounded just like them and may have formed earlier) led a revolution in instrumental music, creating what quickly came to be known as "that surf-spy sound that's taken the world by storm thanks to The Ventures and lots of other bands." This music was instrumental - GUITAH-DRIVEN instrumental. With a peppy uptempo beat and lots of notes played fast and mean on the neck with a "digga digga digga" sound to emulate the waves of the surf and the sneakiness of the spy. And minor keys - intriguing, dark minor keys - were involved quite a bit. Sure, there'd be the slower, more melodic bland ballad songs for the girls and women in the auditorium of lies. As the early `60s gave way to the early-to-mid-`60s, this kind of music went out with the bagpipes as "vocal" bands like The Beatles and The Grass Roots showed Young America a new way to liv (tyler). But for some reason, there is still an underground of bands who thrive on paying homage to this sick, blues-scale-infested music from yesterday. LITERALLY yesterday! If you go by really, really long dog years. Most of these bands can be considered boring after the novelty wears off, even though I've only heard a couple and am in no way fit to judge, especially considering how I gave that 15-year-old kid death by lethal injection for shoplifting a tennis ball. Talk about a "hung jury"! Heh heh.

I hung the jury. Felt they were guilty of loitering, all hangin' out in that box and whatnot. As for The Mulchmen, they write some GREAT surf/spy songs! YEARS after the Ventures are still together!!!

Honestly, it's their next CD that I like so much. But this one is pretty good too. Already this three-man band (one on guitar, one on bass, one on drums, one on theremin and fifty-two on fifty-two-part harmony vocals) is creating some surf/spy melodies so amazing that you'd swear they have to be covers, but they're NOT! The darkness of a "Mudslide," the mysterious casino of "Snake Eyes," the high-pace secret agent car chase where he has little spoke thingies he can push out of his tire to pop the other guy's tires of "Dirty White Collar," the fun goodtime surf hang-ten yet still a spy, just pretending to be a surfer of "Flippin' Out," the pretty ballad for women named "Frank" because women always get romantically turned out by that poster of Frank Zappa sitting on the toilet, the really fast choppy choppy SURF PUNKS (Oh no! Not Them Again!) of "Bridge Of Death" - all killer songs. And that's SIX great original instrumental modern-day classics written and performed in the oldie style last heard in the mid-3's. The rest of the album, like love, is less exciting and new - and the stupidass James Bond ripoff "No. 99" is almost as bad as the bland ENDLESS NAMELESS (except for "Bonfire Serenade") ballad "Bonfire Serenade." But the rest? The rest is six little dashes on my piece of paper meaning "Okay" or "Half-Good."

OH NO! I've given away the secret of my rating system! Now EVERYBODY'S gonna be reviewing albums!!!!!

WHAT THE???

OH CHRIST! I JUST TYPED "MUSIC REVIEWS" INTO EBAY AND THERE ARE HUNDREDS OF THEM UP NOW!!! JUST IN THE LAST 15 SECONDS SINCE I GAVE AWAY MY SECRET!!!! GODDAMN YOU, THE INTERNET AND YOUR INSTANT GRATIFICATION!

Band: The Mulchmen
Album: Greetings! From Planet Stupider
Label: Big Beef

With their second full-length CD, The Mulchmen come to full fruition as a great, lean, dark, melodic surf-spy band with no need to rely on gimmickry like theremin swoops and novelty song titles like "A Man With No Reverb Is No Man At All." With the self-confidence to bring out their serious mature side in compositions like "Tiddytwister" and "Go-Go Boot Camp," The Mulchmen here make it clear with abundance that this genre does not necessarily need to be treated as the retro-space-age kitsch- schlock-camp that bands like The whatever that band was that opened for the Ventures that time I saw them was called. The guys with the space suits or whatever. Bachman- Turner Overdrive or whatever they were. No sir, The Mulchmen come from the Ventures' school of belief that says just because every song in the genre sounds somewhat similar, that doesn't mean that every song has to have the same riff. Same drumbeat? Sure. Same guitar tone and diggida-diggida-diggida high-speed playing style? Yep, that too. Minor keys? Yes. Notey solos in the middle? Absolutely. But THE MELODIES DO NOT ALL HAVE TO BE VARIATIONS ON "PIPELINE"! Now I'm not trying to argue that The Mulchmen are the most creative band in history or that they have any chance of mainstream success or even of being considered anything other than a retro-surf band by 95% of the population - but the mere fact that they bother TRYING to be good - and, more importantly, the fact that they so often SUCCEED at it - is remarkable and worth appreciating. I mean, this entire album is really good - and there's not a single cover tune on it! What other surf albums can you say that about aside from The Surf Punks' timeless Oh No! Not Them Again! LP?

And yes that album has a couple of covers, but when a band as eclectic and masterful as the Surf Punks cover another artist's material, they can't help but stamp it with their own impactful personality - a personality so strong that, like that of Bono, it can only be contained by a pair of really stupid dark sunglasses, even if it's speaking in Congress about some supposedly important political issue. FUCK YOU, BONO! FUCK YOU FOR MAKING MY GOVERNMENT LOOK EVEN STUPIDER THAN EVERYBODY ALREADY KNOWS IT IS!!!!

Band: Mutilation
Album: Possessed By Reality
Label: Crash Music

Fast, mean thrash music with low death metal vocals. Similar in tone and sound to the best Slayer material. The songs are straightforward headbangers of various speeds, not bogged down with a million twists and turns per track nor gloomed up with any cold goth elements. Basically, it's a very cool record for people who like their metal angry and frill-free.

So "frill free" to buy it! Ha haha!! Hehe Yeah. Allllright. Heh heh. HA! Hey, Chevy Chase doesn't own a charity, does he? I dreamt that he did. Does he? Maybe he does! Shit, man.

Band: My Chemical Romance
Album: I Brought You My Bullets, You Brought Me Your Love
Label: Eyeball

Just because somebody is from New Jersey doesn't mean that they don't feel emotions and pain just like the rest of us who live in better places. My Chemical Romance are completely filled from toe to head with angst, as is evident in their lyrics, vocals and double-guitar jingle-BASH attack. Musicality counts, and the Romance have this. Young people need music to relate to and, having been young once, I can vouch for the fact that emotions run high during this period. My Chemical Romance knows this feeling, and rocks HARD between punk anger/anguish and guitar interplaying "emo" doodle-doodle sadness. Buy this CD or put a gun to your temple. One will make you feel better, one will make you feel deader. This is their first album, and already they're beating longtime pain lovers Linkin Park at a much catchier game.

Band: My Ruin
Album: The Horror Of Beauty
Label: Century Media

The debut album by My Ruin (aside from two other full-length releases, which don't count as actual releases because I've never heard them) shows us a loud, screaming, pounding heavy metal outfit. The singer is a woman who supposedly used to be a rapper, but all she does now is scream at the top of her lungs over heavy distorted chords and drums that go POUND POUND POUND POUND POUND. Right now, she's screaming "STINKFACE! STINKFACE! DON'T THINK YOU CAN'T BE REPLACED!" Pretty intense stuff, but I thought girls were made of sugar and spice and everything nice. Is this one a lesbo or something? Hah! No, I'm just kidding! Lesbians are fat. This is "an original blend of sleazy stoner metal and rock and roll." STOP SCREAMING AT ME, LADY! I'M ALMOST DONE FIXING THE TOILET! That was my plumber impression. I've been working on it for five and a half years.

Band: My Ruin
Album: The Shape Of Things To Come. EP
Label: Century Media

EP to demonstrate we one are loud, scream, pounds the heavy metal outfit. This singer was the imagination past is the conversation woman, but possesses her does the now is the scream to goes the pound her lung again the string and the drum top which distorted. Now, she's screams the Plasmatics cover, with elsewhere she's screams two versions of "Made To Measure" from the band's newest album, with two other originals is unable to obtain in the LP. Pretty intense material, only I think the girl and all is made by the sugar and the spice. Is this lesbo or something? Hah! Does not have, I'm deceit! The homosexuality female is obese. This is the frail stoner metal and swings rolls the music and primitive mix. Stops screaming to me, madame! I'm nearly completes the fixing washroom! That is my water plumber impression. I've studies it is five and one half several years.

Band: Narcissus
Album: Crave And Collapse
Label: Abacus

Cleveland, OH has brought us many great things in life. Stained glass, hammerhead sharks and the smallpox virus all found their start in Cleveland (or eventually found their way there) and Narcissus's tentative echoey guitar tone is no exception. Guitarist John Larussa isn't playing backgammon up there in Cleveland - he's developing his mood-o- tastic guitar stylings, designed to make listeners feel lost, sad, hopeless and ultimately redeemed in the eyes of Goodness. The singer, on the other hand, has kind of an uneventful singing voice when he's not screaming desperately like he does a lot on here. They claim to be progressive hardcore, but there's nothing hardcore about this release. Maybe they USED to be hardcore? I'd compare this to the emotionally draining yet beautiful sounds of the latest Cave-In CD. Yep, the one everyone hates. But I LIKE it, goddammit! I LIKE feeling sad!!! Come feel sad with me!!!! COME!!!!

Band: Nasty On
Album: Citysick
Label: Stutter

In Canada there lives a man/there lives a man named Stephen Hamm/And this man, he has a band/A band that he doth call Canned Hamm. I LOVE 'em! And Stephen plays keyboards on two of these songs (just as The Nasty On perform a track on a Canned Hamm tribute CD!), so how can I not approve of their music? Any friend of Canned Hamm is a friend of mine! Also, their music is good, though that's certainly a secondary point. They play an over-excitable fuzzy brand of loud rock pushed on one side by poppy New Pornographerss-style glam sensibilities and the other by a strong '70s macho rock sensibility (Faces, Free, Black Crowes - the BEST of the '70s!). Song titles include "Amphetamine, Now!" and "The Ship That Died Of Shame." Hooks include "a lot of great hooks"! Don't miss out! Canada is poised to be the next Seattle!

Band: Near Miss
Album: The Gentle Art Of Making Enemies
Label: Fearless

Once upon a time, there was a punk rock band called Bigwig. When this band broke up, a coupe of the founding members formed Near Miss in Austin, TX, according to the All- Music Guide (www.allmusic.com). Near Miss plays a nice cozy mixture of lolly-lolly- lolly-get-your-adverbs-here pop-punk SHIT and angry fast-as-hell hardcore speed punk GREATNESS. Which is why their band name is so fitting: they're THIS close to being yet another irritating snot-pop-punk band rising outta the Green Day fame-machine remark traitor trial fun wish monkey car. But because of - you know what? This band would actually be pretty enjoyable if not for the singer. He has that TIRED TIRED EVER SO TIRED BORING pop-punk "nyaah!" voice that we've all heard way too many times since Dookie hit it big among the coprophile generation in '94. Forget it. Make it a Complete Mess unless you're already a big BigWig fan, because there are a billion other bands out there that do the exact same thing. And I'm tired of trying to differentiate between them. It's fast, it's sissy poppy melodic, it's distorted - if that's all you're looking for, GO GET `EM!!!!!

Band: Necare
Album: Ruin
Label: Firebox

Usually when I buy an album with boobs all over it, I expect some hot rockin' goodtime action of the Van Halen sort. As such, I nearly pissed a nickle when I put in this breastastically adorned Necare CD and was confronted with the slowest, most somber and depressing classical goth doom/death metal sorrow that two Virginians ("r.h." and "g.c.") have ever produced in our libertine society of lies. And maybe I'M the fool for expecting party-hearty anthems from tracks entitled "Stillborn Twilight," "Rite Of Shrouds," "Canto XXXIV" and "Waters Of Quiet," but don't even TRY to convince the man (me) that "Touching Eternity" shouldn't be about getting some of that stuff. You know that stuff I'm talkin' about? That stuff you need to LIVE! A little bit of that sweet sweet action!!! (With beer!) But alas, this is cold, dark, soul-deadening music for Swans fans, Neurosis addicts, suicidalists, the Norse and those who don't wanna have fun in the sun with bikini-clad volleyball! Uh-oh! It's SPRING BREAK!!! I brought my PENCIL! Gimme somethin' to write on, man! Hey hey hey! One break - COMIN' UP!

Band: The Necessary
Album: This Is Us
Label: Forsaken

If names of bands were candy and hands, oh what a party we'd have! The "Necessary" is an emotional pop rock band with sensitive and lovely young guy vocals, an ironic "Tony the Tiger" t-shirt, and lovely midtempo riffs built upon heavy guitar rhythms and vaguely Dinosaur Jry lead guitar hooks. This is perfect college freshman music - friendly but a bit longing, as if accepting that childhood has reached its end and looking back fondly at times shared with younger friends, but at the same time asking, "What wonderful surprises await me in this next phase of my life?"

Say! Can you tell I'm about to turn 31?

Band: Necrophagia
Album: The Divine Art Of Torture
Label: Season Of Mist

Well, a-looky looky here - if it isn't a band with gory lyrics. And it appears that the band members include Killjoy on "Black Blood Vomiting and corpse shrieks," Iscariah as "Desecrator of goat's blood and cloven hooves" and Mirai as "Grand inquisitor of pain, torture, and hauntings." Something tells me that they're not half as serious about this important form of music as they should be. The high speed ass-kicking, sludgy muddy guitar tones, weird sound effects and reptilian vomit vocals are everything a fan of extreme metal could ask for, but as a Norwegian man who dresses in long black robes and wears makeup all over my face, I can't help but feel extremely offended by such chivalrous song titles as "Maim Attraction," "Parasite Eve" and "Flowers Of Flesh And Blood." Why aren't they singing Pagan hymns to the Horsemen of Odin and dedicating their lives to endless war? The cowards probably even like girls.

Band: Necrophobic
Album: Bloodhymns
Label: Hammerheart

While we're on the subject of lyrics, Hammerheart Records has three other METAL albums coming out on October 1st that you might be interested in, if you like METAL. And get this -- one of the bands is from Ireland and the other two are from Sweden!!!!???? Who even knew they'd developed language in those fourth-world cesspoles of human filth, let alone written extreme metal songs?

The first one with which to familiarize yourself if you intend to be part of the Hammerheart Street Team is Bloodhymns, the umpteenth release by Sweden's NECROPHOBIC. This would be death metal! Loud, distorted and evil, with slow parts, fast parts and an Evil man rasping hoarse wickedness into the ears of our nation's innocent virgin children. But the riffs are here! Granted, they change every ten seconds so you have to listen fast, but they're there! I'm told they were influenced by Morbid Angel, Slayer and Bathory. I can definitely hear MA and B, but not S so much, except maybe the Hell Awaits album. So S's HA, but no MA or B. Here's an easy way to remember it: Yes, SHA! No, MAB! Like a kid with a speech impediment might say to his parents. Yes, SHA! No, MAB! See, I have many scientific ways to remember all kinds of things. They're called "Teutonic Rituals" and I'll show you some if you come over to my house with just your underwear on. But more specifically, they sing lyrics on here like "Incubus enter her dream/Fertilize her virgin womb/Plant the astral shadowseeds/Let her fucking burst." They also have a pentagram on the cover, type the word "blood" in RED ink wherever it appears on the lyrics sheet, give their songs titles like "Roots of Heldrasill" (?) and try to look really threatening in their photos (especially this guy with a beard and long hair - you don't want to hire HIM as your nanny!). It may be death metal, but as the hella-morbid Billy Joel once sang, "It's still rock and roll to me-ac-ac-ac-ac"

Band: Nekromantix
Album: Dead Girls Don't Cry
Label: Hellcat

After briefly soaking in the band name, album title and alien shadow cover art, I resigned myself to sitting through another one of those funless industrial-goth CDs that seem to keep showing up at my home like a bad penis. But then I turned the cd package over and three `50s-haired crazy retro-punk motorbike Stray Cat death rockers greeted me with tattoos and grimaces! I guess it's true what they say - never judge a book by its cover! I then sat down to read my new book Dead Girls Don't Cry by Oprah Book Club Award-winning author Nekro Mantix. Within minutes, my eyes collided brutally with a compact disc and the rest, as he says, is theystory!

If I may be entirely less vague and word-heavy for a moment, the Danish trio Nekromantix dwells in the swing-happy world of "psychobilly," presumably founded by The Cramps of the Northeast U.S. so many years hence. This is their seventh stab at rockin' bones action since their 1989 entr‚e, and was apparently written and bashed out in about four minutes. The result is punkabillically burning and primitive, the pace anxious and sinister. Are you scared? DO be! Because, by filling their dry ice machine with Zyklon-B, Nekromantix literally murders everybody who attends their concerts! Song titles include "Black Wedding," "What's On Your Neighbor's BBQ," "Ghoulina" and "Where Do Monsters Go."

Band: Neuroticfish
Album: Les Chansons Neurotiques
Label: Dancing Ferret Discs

Ah boy. I'll never forget this neurotic fish I had when I was a kid! I won him at a school carnival for picking a lollipop with a dot on the end of the stick. And talk about anxieties! But that's not why we're here. We're here to discuss the latest CD by a man named Sascha Mario Klein who goes by the name "Neuroticfish" and lives in Germany or Belgium, I think. His music is electronic - synth-based one-man ruminations on pain and despair. Not like that crappyass Pretty Hate Machine assycrap though, mainly because Sascha has a sorrowful melodic European voice instead of a whiny assholish Trent Reznor voice. The music is just as minimalist and simplistic though, mostly repetitive, echoey bleeping and blooping. Some of the songs are supercatchy though! "Wake Me Up" in particular will make you dance like a Mafioso shooting at your feet!

Again, this music seems to be geared towards Gothic Grrrlz and young sad skinny boys who write poetry. And me? I'm filled with muscles and grit! Sports and America! Buxom blondes and steroid-addled penis! Who am I to judge faggoty music for fags?

Look, perhaps it would be best if you didn't look around online for a photo of me. If you DO find one and I'm all skinny and faggoty looking, that's some other guy with the same name as me.

Band: The New Breed
Album: Port City Rebels EP
Label: Thorp Records

Oi! Cor blimey! 'Ello ello ello! Eh wot? You bleedin' blimey miss de bleedin' ol' days of goodtime punk rock oi bar bum ello motorcar BLELLAERLHHRHGHGH. Well, you're in luck! The New Breed are from jolly old the King's Canada, and they play happytime fast 3-chord punk rock '77 style with a touch of Irish drinking fancy tossed in for Gramps. A mandolin and what-have-you. They're PROUD of their Halifax roots, and they like to drink, fight and talk about the old days (six years ago, when the band formed). This REALLY sounds like drinking music. So sloppy, simple and positive! So grab the shrimp off your barby, put on your shamrock clover and have some fish and chips, because Canada's qaiufdnnhfdauinjo.

Band: Nightingale
Album: Alive Again: The Breathing Shadow Part IV
Label: The End

Dan Swano is back! And this time, he's named after a BIRD! You may know Swedish Dan from his work with Ulan Bator, Karaboudjan, Odyssey, Infestdead, Bloodbath, Star One, Wounded Knee, Unicorn, Pan-Thy-Monium, Edge of Sanity or from his 1998 solo album Moontower. If so, GOOD FOR FUCKIN' YOU, YA FUCKIN' SHOWOFFITYFUCKITYFUCK!

Come on, don't get all angry - I'm just kidding around! Laughner (Peter) makes the world go round! For those of you who don't know any of those bands, Dan is no one-trick-human-being: this catalog contains everything from punk/pop to progressive metal to instrumental doomfusion to power metal/doom to death metal to spacemetal to hardcore to symphonic prog pop to weird experimental death/doom to the progressive melodic hard rock of Nightingale. A man who keeps that busy deserves credit in my book - and this guy has played a prominent role in TWENTY- EIGHT DIFFERENT CDS since 1990!!!!! That's almost as many CDs as BOSTON has put out since 1990!

No, strike that. I was looking at the wrong column - that's almost as many CDs as Boston has SOLD since 1990.

But about Nightingale - Dan has a beautiful smooth manly voice, not too high or too low or anything at all. Just a very pleasant, non-assuming, non-show-offy, manly voice, like he has a five-o-clock shadow on his beard or something. And the music is exactly how the record label describes it - progressive melodic hard rock. Old-timey keyboard sounds (like Emerson, Lake and Powell would use) join loud heavy guitars to create a sort of mix between early Genesis, Trevor Rabin-period Yes and `80s heavy metal (Dokken! Ratt! Accept!). A lot of the riffs are a bit odd and cool, and hell even if they weren't, Dan's smooth sexy dark eyed singing voice would hypnotize your soul, just like Paul Rodgers takes you on a journey down a musical river. I guess you might compare this to the most recent Spock's Beard album if you have any damned clue at ALL who Spock's Beard is (or WAS, before the main guy quit because God told him to). Parts of it corn out a bit too close to Survivor (the band) territory, but there IS an audience for this stuff: People who miss `70s hard rock! Blue Oyster Cult! Golden Earring! And now: KKKNIGHTINGALE!!!!

I put the three K's at the beginning. I like making bands look really racist so they'll get death threats and stuff. Did you know that the Ku Klux Klan is really just a librarian's organization called the "U Lux Lan"? Then I gave `em the ol' Prindle "KKK" switcheroo and NOW look at `em! They're running to the hills - running for your life!

Band: Nightrage
Album: Nightrage
Label: Century Media

Nightrage is a powerful thrash metal band featuring the Greek guitarist from Exhumation, the Greek guitarist from Dream Evil, Firewind and Mystic Prophecy, the Swedish singer from At The Gates, Lock Up, The Great Deceiver and The Crown, the singer from Evergrey, the drummer from talented and some Frenchman on bass. This album was produced by a guy who produced Arch Enemy, In Flames and Opeth, and features artwork by the guitarist in Dark Tranquility. With all that talent in one place, it's too bad that the bassist is a Frenchman. Here in America, we frown on Frenchmen because they didn't think we should have attacked Iraq. I don't know who the hell Frenchmen think they are disagreeing George W. Bush's America, but believe you me, we'll be calling them "Freedom Men" for the foreseeable fu - no wait, that doesn't. I'll have to ask my Congressman about that. In the meantime (Helmet), Sweet Vengeance kicks some pretty good ass!!! Even the slower tunes feature very emotional metal riffs and lyrics focusing on the realistic everyday tortures we all feel ("I want to speak and look so profoundly inside this debris heart/Can you hear me?/She wrapped with ethereal veils and shrouds."). Thrash-heads untie!

Band: Nightwish
Album: Century Child
Label: Century Media

Craziness! Nightwish is from Finland, for one thing. Secondly, female vocalist Tarja Turunen is classically trained! Yet they're a heavy metal band!? This CD is a dramatic neo-classical opera dealing with "the heart's deepest yearnings, with the joys of childhood innocence and the pain felt at the end of that precious naivete." The metal guitars are no louder than the tinkly pop-opera-classical synths, making for a surprisingly effeminate approach to the form, even when a male voice leaps in for some long-haired knight in shining armor histrionics of muscle. Actually, it reminds me a lot of both Harlequin Romances and that TV show with the muscle lady and Bruce Campbell. Zena something or other. Heroism! The Olde Worlde! Dungeons and Dragons! But, as the lyrics say, "It's not the monsters under your bed/It is the Man next door/That makes you fear, makes you cry." Men are evil. It's true. Look at that Asian businessman stalking Britney Spears. He's a sick fuck. Nightwish would be fools not to write a TV-movie about that case. That's good stuff.

Band: No Retreat
Album: Pray For Peace
Label: End-All Music

These Shawnee-on-Delaware, Pennsylvania-based gentlebens harken back to those early hardcore/metal "crossover" days, when folks like Agnostic Front, Suicidal Tendencies and SSD took their tentative but HEAVY first steps into military-minded thrash. Unfortunately for moshers, No Retreat prefer to wallow in midtempo pounding anger, only rarely giving us the exuberant energy-releasing speedcore that we so desperately need in today's post-7/11 society. But the singer is hoarse, low and VERY threatening, and the music is as heavy as a parachute full of wet dogs.

Band: Nodes of Ranvier
Album: Nodes of Ranvier
Label: Facedown

They're billed as "metallic hardcore," but it sounds like straight-up metal to me. The indecipherable low-pitched screaming, the heavy pounding, the belligerent unhappy guitar chords with metallic tone, the occasional somber quiet part -- it's all par for the Norwegian Viking/Black/Death course. Which brings up the odd thing about Nodes of Ranvier -- they're from South Dakota. So watch your churches, Sioux Falls! I'd say they're due for a burning!

Oh wait, no. In the liner notes, four of the five members thank "God." Interestingly, the lyrics are... well hmm. Sort of awfully negative! Negative about the negative things in life. People backstabbing you, the Fall of Man, the loss of '60s ideals in the decadent '70s, spousal abuse, heroin death. All quite depressing! So if you love being depressed by people in South Dakota who like God, YOU'RE IN LUCK!!!!!

Band: Ocean Colour Scene
Album: North Atlantic Drift
Label: Sanctuary

Though this appears to be the sixth album by Britain's very own rock band Ocean Colour Scene (you can tell they're either British or illiterate by the way they spell "color" wrong), it's the first time I've ever heard them. I'm told they were big back in the "Madchester" days of Oasis, Happy Flowers and the Stoned Mondays. I hear many influences in this "at times mopey/at other times jangly" guitar music, including 60's Bee Gees (a good influence!), Weezer (more likely Beatles, but I always equate simple fuzzy pop chord sequences with Weezer, usually out of disrespect) and The Jam (a BAD influence for ANY band). When the OCS (pronounced "ox," but please don't get confused and think that I'm referring to late Who bassist John Entwistle) wrote "Boris the Spider," he GODDAMMIT!

When the O.C.S. stick to unbridled gorgeousness (as in the soaring heavenly chorus of "Oh Collector"), they sound like the most emotional love affair in the world, especially with a non-member of the immediate family. And this they do throughout a good deal of record. But every once in a while -- as in "I Just Need Myself" and "On My Way," they bring in the choppy Paul Weller funk guitars and embarrass every black person in the Universe. At these times, it's important to remember something my father once told me when I was knee high to a grass smoker -- "I don't know why the hell I bought that Raspberries album! It only has one good song on it!" But the real question is -- do YOU have more than one good song on YOU?

Look, to be honest, I lost my train of thought about 15 minutes ago. Were we talking about funny cars?

Band: Olympic Hopefuls
Album: The Fuses Refuse To Burn
Label: 2024

With a melodic sensibility rivaling that of early Weezer, a hot double-guitar technique reminiscent of prime Undertones, and a hip low-singin'-like-the-Strokes-guy singer, the Olympic Hopefuls are poised to win the gold medal in this year's power pop relay in Sarajevo. Some of the lyrics try a bit too hard to be clever ("Every cloud they say is silver-lined/Well I proved them wrong; mine's filled with lint," "I pull your bleach hair/And you punch my black eye/I'd kiss your blue lips/If I wasn't so shy"), but who listens to music for the words anyway? What are you, an English teacher or some shit? The music's pure catchy.

Band: Only In Dreams
Album: Under This Burning Sky
Label: Popsmear

If your demesne is one of fast emo hardcore punk, Only In Dreams have your speedy drums, speedy Bad Religion chord sequences, untrained vocals and group backup shouts made to order right here in California, USA. If you're unfamiliar with the self-pitying "emo" genre, here are some sample lyrics: "I can feel this tearing from me," "I can feel this gripping in my back," "I'm hurting and waiting for something to blow me the fuck away," "Hate consumes me, sorrow finds me." I love your ass-kicking music, but if you're just gonna whine at me for 45 minutes, where's my co-pay?

Band: The Opposed
Album: No Gods No Masters
Label: Self-Released

In a world with so much music and so little time, it's hard to give each and every band the attention it and they deserves and deserve. As such, it's pretty important that a new band present something innovative and/or emotionally exciting to grab the interest of the asshole who's reviewing their CD. The Opposed have done this by putting a couple of really fast, great hardcore songs on here between all the slower guitar rock that appears to be their passion. And I want them to know I appreciate the fast ones, because without them, I wouldn't have taken the time to notice that the slower ones are pretty darn good too! "A Night In The Hamptons," for example, has a really cool chukkity-chukkity descending chord sequence I don 't think I've ever heard before, but I would have just called it "noisy emo crap" had I not so enjoyed the kickass "Red And Blue Rearview" two songs earlier on the CD. Let this serve as a lesson for all new bands - include one song from every single subgenre of rock on your CD, or you'll never get a good review.

Especially from me, because my reviews are terrible!

And smeared in human excrement!

Artist: Otasco
Album: This Product Is Extremely Delicious!
Label: Apocalypse The Apocalypse

Otasco is a unique band among today's eugenics in that they have found a way to combine swinging lounge music with guitar indie rock without sounding like a bunch of college town hipsters or somebody's father having a midlife crisis. The guitars could be playing emo or power pop...but they're just NOT! The Vegas jazz chord progressions and noodly note runs, especially when combined with the singer's "Look At Me!" Tom Jones delivery, brew up a mystical soup of sleaze that'll keep your fingers snappin', your toes a-tappin' and your gonorrhea a-clappin'. Song titles include "Deshitterata" and "Concubine Workshop."

Artist: Otep
Album: Sevas Tra
Label: Capitol

Are you ready for this? "Otep" is -- are you ready for this? -- a WOMAN'S NAME! But this is no ordinary woman like you might see driving a station wagon or standing in your kitchen waiting for instructions. No sir! This is the 90s and the time is rife for today's N.O.W. women to stand tall together and proudly shout, "no daddy don't! no daddy don't! LEAVE ME ALOOOOONE! NO EYE DON'T WANT TO BE FREE! SO TAKE YOUR DICK OUT OF ME! PLEASE TAKE YOUR DICK OUT OF ME!"

Did you find that disturbing? I sure did! It's a verse from an incredibly disturbing song on here called "Jonestown Tea." So let's get to the music. It's goth metal, if you're into categorizing, which you better be for the sake of property values, and Otep sings, shrieks, raps, groans through distortion against a backdrop of heavy pound-and-stutter metal riffs (along with a few spooky quiet death rattles). Teenage girls should have this album painted all over their faces. Finally girls can be Marilyn Manson too! One thing about the lyric booklet though-- her spelling of "I" as "eye" sticks out like a sore throat.

A sore throat that's all stickin' out with red canker sores all over it, blowing foul cancerous breath all over the innocents that pass. But sometimes in life, we have to accept the good and the bad together. As eternal optimist Otep herself puts it, "Holy bruises, sweet infections, soaked in a stew like drowning cockroaches!"

Post-script: "Sevas Tra" is just "Art Saves" backwards, and "Otep" is just "a dumb name."

Band: Over It
Album: Timing Is Everything
Label: Lobster

Oh man, this is TOTALLY gonna blow your mind: The drummer's name is "James Ulrich." LIKE SOME GOD OF LOVE AND MIRACLES SQUEEZED THE SOULS OF JAMES HETFIELD AND LARS ULRICH TOGETHER INTO ONE PERFECT BEING TO PLAY DRUMS FOR US ALL!!!!!! None of the other band members have good names though, so who gives a dental damn what they sound like.

I'll tell you who: The readers. My readers are the most important people in the world to me and I can't let them down. I WON'T let them down.

Hey, check this out! I'm gonna dig an underground tunnel so we can escape!

)))))))))))))))))))))))))))))))))))))))))))))))))))))))))))))))))))))

Over It live in Alexandria, VA and have despised each others' guts since before high school. This is their second full-length album and it's full of emotional loud powerful metallic pop-punk that reminds me of Dag Nasty in the way they combine personal, heartfelt vocals and lyrics with really sad, questioning, minor-key, TIGHTLY played and constructed punk rock songs. I don't know if this would be called "emo" because I'm not really sure what today's modern definition for "emo" IS. But the songs are well-written and the singer has a great listenable singing voice a bit reminiscent of Kevin Seconds before he got all nasally and began regurgitating gallons of vomit all over his audience every time he opened his mouth. That wasn't reported though. The entertainment press tries to keep stuff like that away from the fans. The same thing happened when Bono ran through the House of Representatives locker room pumping everybody's butt with a toilet plunger trying to "get specimens for (his) poop collection." Somehow by the time that story hit the stands, it had something to do with "forgiving the debts of third world nations." Whatever! Trust me - the only nations Bono had on his mind that day were TERD- WHIRLED nations.

As for the CD, I say buy it if you see it cheap. Don't pay more than 75 dollars for it though.

Band: Ozma
Album: Spending Time On The Borderline
Label: Kung Fu

Ozma is the name of the second Melvins album, so you would think that a band with that name would be heavy, bitter, sickening, loud and disturbing. But they're NOT! They sound like WEEZER! Why couldn't they call themselves "Pinkerton"? There's nothing wrong with a band calling itself "Pinkerton"! Hey! How about a little truth-in-advertising? Hey! How about not taking interesting intros (eastern plinking, fuzzy fun synths, melancholy guitar plucking, bubbly bass burbles) and making them all turn into the EXACT SAME INTERCHANGEABLE STERILE MIDTEMPO POWER POP SONG OVER AND OVER AGAIN FOR 40 4UCKING MINUTES??!?!?!?!

I should postface that review by pointing out that I actively loathe modern power pop (most older power pop too, samaddafaq!). But nevertheless, Ozma are a bunch of little old ladies from Pasadena, CA who have done two U.S. tours with Weezer (a band they have never heard before, I don't think) and held a slot on the 2002 Vans Warped Tour and are led by Daniel Brummel, whose last name is the singular form of one of the two words in a really great folk-rock band from the 60s.

Why yes! As a matter of fact, I DO mean the Jefferson Brummel!

So if you're wild about predictable happy guitar pop with really loud distorted guitars, even an avid power-pop hater like me isn't too dumb to notice that this Weezer ripoff is still about a billion times better than the latest Weezer album.

Band: Paralysed Age
Album: Into The Ice
Label: Dancing Ferret Discs

A man named Michael. A woman named Andrea. Some guitars. A bit of bass. A sampling of keys. THE RECIPE FOR GOTHY GOODNESS! You can hear it as Depeche Mode or Duran Duran whatever you mopey kids listen to - I hear it as Killing Joke's slick period and I like it like that! Everybody has on serious faces, and Michael sings with a non-smiling serious voice as the fuzzy fuzz notey guitar, bassy bass note melodies and synth washes paint portrait after portrait of loneliness, unhappiness, gloom, melancholy, loss, a marshmallow cookout with the guys from the frat, depression and solitude. This is my favorite of the three by far. Just a really nice mood and interaction of sounds, if you're into the GOTHIC SENE at all.

Band: Passenger
Album: Passenger
Label: Century Media

When Eno and U2 got together and decided to

When guys from In Flames, Gardenian and Transport League decided to get together and play some music, who knew it would be Swedish! It's heavy, it's melancholy, it's melodic -- who could ask for more?

No no, from the ALBUM - not the review. The review is fine. Short and sweet. Like a sugar-coated midget.

They say they're inspired by Handsome, Chum, Helmet, Depeche Mode and the Tea Party. So if you're into brutal heavy distortion or sissy dance pop, listen no fartherway than where the Passenger will passenge you!

Band: Pathos
Album: Perdition Splits The Skies
Label: Intolerant Messiah

I am in awe of death metal bands who can play this quickly, aggressively, tightly and disturbingly, but this awe exists in my brain - not my ears. My ears just want this noisy hellish racket to go the hell away so I can listen to a hilarious prank phone call CD. Pathos are from Sweden, have a vocalist with an evil hoarse undead rasp, and -- judging from the rapid twists, turns and time signature juggling presented here -- practice quite the large Swedish bit. Cripes, there's this one acoustic song on here that's just insanely well-performed and speedy, but once you bring in those distortion pedals, blastbeats and John Milton's Paradise Lost on vocals, my Gaydar goes into full gear. These guys are gay! Literally gay!

Well, not LITERALLY gay.

I guess by "Gaydar," I meant "Desire to Listen to a Different Album."

Band: Penumbra
Album: Seclusion
Label: Season Of Mist

As far as I'm concerned, there is NO music as exciting and variable as goth metal. In fact, I'm fairly certain that it was originally entitled "GOD'S Metal" by our Christian Lord and Savior himself, but gradually over time lost its true translation thanks to assholes with lisps. The music itself has lost NONE of its power, majesty and immense depressional techniques of pain keyboards-and-distorted-guitars-style, and that's where Penumbra comes in. Penumbra? More like "PeGREATBANDa" if you're digging around in the pleasure centers of MY brain! I've always loved raspy evil Satan guys sharing microphones with classically trained female vocalists, and have pointed this out dozens of times in my personal correspondence with T.S. Eliott. With Seclusion, Penumbra pile heavy stutter-death guitar atop trip-hop space synth bloops, operatic vocal chorales (not like Dio operatic - like OPERA operatic) and light plinkity dark guitar lines of harrowing sorrow to borrow tomorrow. Who's with me? Clarence Darrow?

I agree! Penumbra DO represent the absolute pinnacle of human evolution! Now how about getting that "Under God" crap out of the pledge?

Not to mention that "corrupt businessman" crap out of the executive branch!

Band: Persuader
Album: Evolution Purgatory
Label: Noise/Sanctuary

Just because you and I don't understand the logic of trying to sound like mid-`80s Kiss doesn't mean that it's not a valid and admirable preoccupation. Persuader may have some speed metal influences mixed into their brew of musical stew, but the tuff metal riffs are straight out of Animalize and the singer is a read dinger for Paul Stanley or Mayor Daley or whoever the hell sang all those great hits like "Crazy Crazy Crazy Crazy Nights" and "Let's Put The `X' Back In `Xylophone'." So if you ever wondered what Kiss would have sounded like if they'd been interested in really hard, heavy metal instead of their stock portfolios, you'll probably totally be into Persuader. Heck, with a name like "Persuader," they're probably secretly convincing you to buy their CD right now!

Band: Phobia
Album: Grind Your Fucking Head In
Label: Deep Six

Generic grindcore. Like Anal Cunt, but without the hilarious lyrics about things that suck and are gay. (Why call a song "Struggle With The Corruptible" when you can call it "Struggle With The Corruptible Is Gay"?) At least Phobia have bothered to mix the guitars louder than the drums, which a lot of grindcore bands don't do. As much as I personally enjoy this ridiculous non-stop collection of vomitous belch vocals and hyperactive noise instrumentation, I'm not sure why a band would be recording a new grindcore album in 2003. Aside from rock, pop and blues, I can't think of a more limited and played-out musical genre!

Except country/western and jazz.

And dance.

Does "spoken word" count as a musical genre? If so, that one sucks too.

Band: Pistol Grip
Product: Live At The Glasshouse DVD
Label: Kung Fu

This is the seventh entry in Kung Fu Records/Films' "The Show Must Go Off!" DVD series, whose previous entries have included THE VANDALS, NEIL HAMBURGER, and four other this-or-thats. As a person who has viewed every single "The Show Must Go Off!" DVD in its entirety, I assure you that this is the third best one they've released, right behind THE VANDALS and NEIL HAMBURGER. And that's not because the other four bands aren't any good (thought that's certainly the case), but because these Pistol Grip fellows play some darned tootin' good punk rockicle!

Though I've never heard of Pistol Grip before receiving this DVD, they were apparently one of the original first punk rock bands, forming in 1997 and weathering the ever-changing hardcore scene for a full six years to become L.A. scene veterans looked up to by up-and-comers like Bad Religion. Their music expands the punk rock boundaries, presenting a previously unheard-of chord known as "E" and brings its formerly fast tempo to an explosively mid-to-uptempo attack of politically motivated, roughly shouted, shaved-headed lyrics about war, violence and getting sweet & sour sauce on your knife to spread it on a tasty biscuit.

If it were up to me, this DVD would sell five hundred thousand copies! If not for the music, then at least for the bonus footage of Christina Aguilera masturbating for 75 minutes.

Orders can be placed at http://www.vandals.com/Merchant2/merchant.mv?Screen=PROD&Return_Screen=CTGY&Store_Code=KFOS&Category_Code=video&Product_Code=788209. If you have trouble finding the Christina Aguilera footage, just keep looking! It's an EASTER egg!

Band: Plan A Project
Album: Plan A Project
Label: Go-Kart

This is the second full-length CD for New Jersey's Plan A Project, a messy goodtime punk rock yelling trashcan of a band. Loutish, unmusical vocals, arms-all-over drums, messy generic punk riffs through slicky metal distortion. The kind of band that might sound great if you're drunk. Sober they're just a big headache though. Pointless fun. More like a college punk rock party than a band you'd ever want to sit around and listen to.

Band: The Plastic Constellations
Album: Mazatlan
Label: 2024

So I'm sitting here listening to this Pavement B-side, enjoying Steven Malkmus's playful and occasionally cracking vocals as the lightly distorted guitar picks a messy but cute little melody before getting noisy for the chorus when suddenly it hits me - there's no Pavement song called "Mazatlan"! As such, the Plastic Constellations clearly have their influences: another to note might be Weezer. The ironic thing is that these songs are probably ten times better than anything Weezer or Malkmus have written in the past decade. If you're looking for a new band to fulfill your need for detached Indie tears and joy, go Plastic!

And Constellationy!

Band: Polarbear
Album: Why Something Instead Of Nothing
Label: Long Live Crime

When Jane's Addiction released their hotly anticipated fourth album Strays in the summer of 2003, one special man was missing. A man who once performed the astounding bass line that drove "Ted, Just Admit It." A man who had the guts to tell Perry Farrell, "Nobody gives a shit about this band anymore" (Presumably. I mean, I totally made up that quote, but I could see somebody saying that). A man with something better to do than tarnish the catalog of a previously infallible `80s alternative rock combo. That man was Ray Davies.

Another man that was missing was Eric Avery, former bass player for popular funk rock band Jane's Addiction. Having long since replaced idiot savant diva Perry Farrell with idiot diva Alanis Morrissette in his Book Of People I Work With, Eric chose instead to stick with his own Polarbear project. Polarbear sounds not a whit like either Jane's Combat Simulations nor Alotta Moronicshit (ZING!), instead combining dark trip-hop electronica beats with chilly guitar progressions and the stone-cold voice of an understated non-singer who knows how to make the most out of his limited emotional range. Sort of like Chris Cornell without the Wildman wailing. Jesus Christ! My Microsoft Spellcheck just capitalized the word "Wildman"! There! It did it again! Since when is Microsoft hiring professional wrestlers to do their coding?

Polarbear are dark and cold, but there's some humanity in there too if you listen closely enough. "Farm" is even kind of humorous! Granted, it's only a minute and a half long, but it's better than nothing! Remember that - write that down - "A minute and a half is better than nothing." That's totally gonna be a proverb for really stupid people someday.

Band: The Postman Syndrome
Album: Terraforming
Label: Now Or Never

Shifting genres more often than most bands shift their balls around in their pants, The P

Changing their sound more often than most bands change their minds, The Postman Syndrome mixes and matches screaming heavy metal with light indie rock material with gentle minor-key guitar balladry with oddly tempoed modern-hardcorish insanityness in a way that keeps the listener guessing what might be coming up over the horizon. You know, like every morning when we wonder what that big scary fireball is coming up over the horizon! And we always go hide in our caves until our friend Darkness returns again with its calming serenity? That's what listening to this band is like!

The Poster Children Synonym are a five-piece with three guitar players who write hilarious song titles like "Amputees Make Bad Swimmers," "Interpritive Decorating" and "Schizorabbit and the Face Parade." Like a modern-day "Weird Al" Yankovic! Arctually at the end of the day, you'd likely compare them to some kind of ugly depressing mixture of Neurosis and Blind Melon, thanks to the uncompromising AAAANNGGERRRRRRRAAAGGEEEEEEEE(!!!!!!!)))) and tuneless amateurish meandering vocals of the two main vocalists. Management: Jimmy Stewart for Crush. Strangely, never in his life has anybody ever made fun a joke about his name.

Band: Primordial
Album: Storm Before Calm
Label: Hammerheart

This is the fourth album for Ireland's PRIMORDIAL. They are "inspired by their native folklore and modern-day culture (sample song titles: "Cast To The Pyre," "Sons of the Morrigan," "Hosting of the Sidhe"), and influenced by metal classics like Bathory or Candlemass." This CD is actually VERY cool. PRIMORDIAL follow the black metal road of combining the melodicism of dark classical music with the blastbeats and angry guitars of grindcore. There's even acoustic guitar parts! Vocals careen between bold, brash operatic manly masculine muscle-guy singing and black metal shrieking. The CD has seven songs, the band are a bunch of long-haired bearded guys that look like Black Sabbath and - best of all - they're the very first band from Ireland to ever try to make a name for themselves in the U.S.! Of any genre! So expect lots of songs about "four-leaf clovers," "kissing the blarney stone" and "women selling their bodies for a potato."

Band: The Procedure
Album: Rise Of New Reason
Label: Brightside/Blackout

New Jersey is filled with anger when metalcore screamers/pounders The Procedure hit the town on a Saturday night. The guitarist comes up with some gorgeous, harrowing high-end guitar melodies at times and the drummer knows his way around a kit, believe you me - NO, NOT A FIRST AID KIT! HA HA! MUSICIANS DON'T HAVE ANY PRACTICAL SKILLS, YOU GO-FOR-GOOSEY!!! - and the singer's scream/sing thing and the constant barreling wall of rote barre chords brings in quite a bit of the old nu- metal style. So if nu-metal and metalcore are up the alley of your fascination, begin The Procedure! That was a play on words I just made up. Can I have your car?

Band: Protagonist
Album: Hope And Rage
Label: Blackout

Protagonist play very serious, humorless, very fast hardcore punk with the tight playing, strong production and tedious song lengths of heavy metal. I'd never begrudge a band that plays so darn fast (speed is good! And so are downers!), but they might want to keep in mind the old-age witdom of some member of Black Flag whose identity I've forgotten, who once said, "The songs are fast `cuz that's what gets us off, and they're short because that's how long the inspiration lasts." Because Protagonist plays fast enough to (proverbially, not stickily) get me off, but the inspiration just doesn't last for FOUR DAMNED MINUTES AT A STRETCH. Only four of these eleven songs are under four minutes long! And they're a HARDCORE band!!! What the hell? What is this - CHURCH?? Otherwise, great young band!

Band: Pseudo Heroes
Album: Prison of Small Perception
Label: Go-Kart

Down By Law's Sam Williams on guitar and vocals, Pink Lincolns' Kevin Coss on bass and a guy named Carlos Velez-Collins on drums -- joined by a crazy collection of guest vocalists from Government Issue, the Accused, Pink Lincolns, Napalm Death, Massacre, Poison Idea and Dag Nasty. Just CRAZY stuff! And really really catchy too, centering mostly on kickass hardcore and bouncy douncy pop-punk of goodness, with a few odd diversions into gentle acoustic folk balladry, a Blue Oyster Cult cover, blues metal, bad hard rock and slow trudge irritance. I give it a thumbs positive! That's a thumbs positive from Mark Prindle at Rolling Stome magazine! Where our motto is "Rolling Stome -- You can't sue if there's no 'n'!"

Bands: The Put-Ons and Deadbeat Sinatra
Album: Seven And Seven
Label: Basement

Pooling their resources for a split-CD, Northern Californian power pop band The Put-Ons and Northern California old school punkers Deadbeat Sinatra prove the age-old adage, "You can lead a split-CD to market, but you can't make it stink!"

Yes you can. I just liked the idea of replacing the word "drink" with "stink." How about "You can lead a power pop band to the studio, but you can't make it THINK?" Or "You can let Deadbeat Sinatra play in your living room, but you won't sleep a WINK?" Yes, all of those are very good indeed. Very, very good indeed, as a matter of fact.

The Put-Ons sound like one of those obnoxious skinny tie bands from the late '70s who pretended to be the second coming of the Beatles but really just wanted girls on their inflatable needles. The chords and riffs are pretty nondescript though fuzzy, and the singer misses most of his notes, giving the band an even more amateurish feel. But then I don't like power pop. If you DO like power pop sung by people who can't sing, maybe you'll like "The Put-Ons."

As for Deadbeat Sinatra, I'm tired of being friendly. It is ASS-SIMPLE to write a decent punk riff, yet unnecessary shit bands like this one form by the hundreds and thousands to go out there and sing bland new lyrics to punk chord sequences that have been used BILLIONS of times by other bands already - and that same old tired greasy ratchety Mike Ness vocal style. What is the POINT of this kind of band? Just to make "punk" music look even stupider than it is? Come on - there are still some great original punk and hardcore bands out there. Ignore the bottom of the barrel garbage like this.

Except "Ghastly Pee Wee" - that's a catchy song! (As is "Chinese Rock," but that goes without saying.)

Band: Queensryche
Album: Tribe
Label: Sanctuary

I've always laughed and thrown bags of dog poop at people who like Queensryche, fancying them a bunch of Rush fan nerd sci-fi dork guy asshole jerk moron scumbag losers, but if THIS is what they sound like, I'd better stop wasting valuable dog doo, because this is really really GOOD!!! The singer guy doesn't do much of that ridiculous operatic silliness he did back in the days of hairball metal, the hard rock riffs are as melodic, memorable and "alternative" as today's most popular bands (Pearl Jam, Soundgarden and Collective Soul) are writing, and only a couple of experiments gone awry (techno noises in "Losing Machine," faceless nu-metal riffin' in "Desert Dance") spiral down to the runway of bad music in flames of dumbness. I mean, I'm not gonna run right out and buy an Operation: Mindcrime t-shirt, but I could definitely see listening to this as often as that Bad Company live CD I bought a couple years ago. And that's not bad at all for a band most people thought was gone years ago. I mean, the chorus to the title track is fucking GREAT! So is the acoustic chord sequence in "Falling Behind" - and there are moments like this all through the CD. Moments that just make me say, "Oops! These guys are smarter than I thought!" So check it out if you can deal with the occasionally Steve Perry-ish vocals.

Band: Radiation 4
Album: Wonderland
Label: Abacus/Century Media

When I first put in this CD and heard the beautiful plickety bwoop infinite delay intro to "Silence Fiction," I thought I was witnessing the third coming of Jesus Christ (the second was with Mary Magdalene - ooo la la!). But too soon for comfort, the singer revealed his true nature as a Mike Patton wannabe and the rest of the CD was ruined for me before it even began. It didn't help nuttin' that there wasn't a single other beautiful moment on the entire disc. It's mostly Dillinger Escape Planny stop-start intensity merged with Mr. Bungley genre-bending. It takes talent to write and execute music like this, and I think Radiation 4 is actually quite good at it. However, they shoot themselves in the collective foot by retaining a singer that makes them sound like a ripoff of a band that already exists. Nobody likes a tribute band, and until he either changes his approach or they change him, that's all they're destined to be.

Band: Rameros
Album: Teenage Zombie Massacre
Label: Rameros

When one of the members has his own band's name spelled WRONG on his t-shirt on the cover, you know you're looking at some youthful punk rock! These Rameros (combining Ramones with horror movie director George Romero) were a fast-moving catchy punk youth band from FLorida that had apparently already disbanded by the time they self-released this 31-track CD. Sample song titles: "Attack Of The 12' Robots Who Are Gay," "Christmas Fever" and "I Like Boobs." Simple riffs: "Jang Jang Jang," "Jig Jig Jigga Jigga Joo-Joo Joo-Joo" and "Yeenga Yeenga Yeenga-dah Yoongy Yoongy Yoongy." A few of the tracks feature silly sci-fi keyboard bleeps. All feature shouting/singing by a guy who sounds about 14. Not a bad band at all! Sounds like they'd be a bastardload of fun at a party!

Band: Real Lulu
Album: We Love Nick
Label: Big Beef

You know, there are two kinds of people in this world - good people and bad pe - hang on a second.

HAY! GET THE FUCK OUT OF MY YARD, YOU OLD PIECE A SHIT!

WHAT?

I DON'T CARE IF YOU JUST HAD A HEART ATTACK - (*ZIPP!*) NNNNNNNN! (*PLOOP*) GO FUCK YOURSELF, ASSHOLE!

Real Lulu is a pair of good people (Kattie Dougherty and Sharon Gavlick) supported by a whole bunch of different drummers on different songs because the two women, as good as they are, are unable to provide the emotional support necessary to keep the oversensitive musician type around for the long term.

But one thing they DID provide was heavy, distorted fuzzed out grungey POP SONGS! Every song is pretty much just a collection of chords, often in fact a very BASIC collection chords. But their very simplicity manages to effectively ram the songs into your memory bank like Bill Cosby rams his Jello-Pop into a sperm bank!

I don't know why I made that accusation about Bill Cosby. I have no documentation even suggesting that he masturbates into the little mail chute thingy in the door of his local sperm depository, especially in German scat films.

This CD sounds like one that Joey Ramone would have just LOVED. The '60s beach and girl group influences are in full effec'. Kattie has a great poppy girl singing voice and Sharon is no slouch in the slouching department either! And the heavy fuzzmatron chords are alternately fast and punky, slow and boring or midtempo and bouncy - just like Joey's solo album! Interestingly, unlike most women who act like they're on the rag all the time the whores, these two showcase a wide range of emotions, from the happy-go-lucky seemingly bi-curious bouncer "You" (which climaxes with a high-pitched shriek of "I wanna suck your big toe too!") to the angry anxiety of "Little Leaver" to the upset little midtempo "Mary's Cry." That's three emotions!

More important than all these many fine assets, however, is what really separates Real Lulu from such also-rans as Juliana CRAPfield, SuperBabyCRAP and CRAP: a wonderful melodic sense that impresses in many a way. You know how the Lemonheads' sissyass It's A Shame About Ray album will scrub a sugary hole in your brain if you accidentally listen to it too many times? That's what We Love Nick does - and does HOW! Does. "How!" (said the Indian) (Native American)

If I were going to complain at all, it would only be to say that they drag all the songs on for too long (3-4 minutes, with one almost reaching SEVEN MINUTES! I mean, COME ON! SEVEN MINUTES? I could be wrong, but I'm pretty sure that no other song has ever been that long before!), and that sometimes the not-exactly-new chord arrangements can seem a little pointless. But holy Cows, when you hear the amazing more-exuberant-than-Blondie vocal approach of songs like "Hell," it's unbelievably easy to forgive them for any similarities their riffs might have to actual riffs either living or dead or both.

In conclusion, only a woman-hating misogynist with a big beautiful cock could hate We Like Nick, so get on the horn with Big Beef Records right now or email andy@bigbeef.com a bunch of money for a copy, because believe me - this CD is a REAL LULU!

Signed,
The Cleverest Person In The World

Band: Rebuilthangartheory
Album: With Hurricane Blows
Label: Plays-Rite

You have to have jangly indie rock in life. Girls like it, college people like it, even people with glasses like it. That's why bands like Rebuilthangartheory can leave their guitars undistorted, their melodies alternately cheerful and wistful, their vocals lazy and their record collections full of Unrest, Superchunk and early REM. Two women and three men perform on this disc, making it a true "meeting of the minds." Best of all, I think they might live in Rhode Island! Have you been there? It's JANGLY there! I lost my hat once, and I found it all covered in JANGLE!

Band: Re:Cooperation
Album: Transatlantic Collaboration
Label: Uncle Buzz Records

Remember when I was a little kid and you used to watch me through the binoculars playing little fairy games and pirate games and sometimes me and my friend Kathy Feeney (the late Kathy Feeney, god rest her merry gentlemen) would play that stupid game where one person would write part of a story, then hand it to the other person to continue it, then back to the other person, etc etc etc until you had a full story that sucked and didn't make any sense. Well, David Cooper Orton and James Sidlo have taken that game to a whole new level! Actually, that would make a great press release. Let me -

Contact:
Mark Prindle
Prindle's Stinky Crap Firm
212-309-1424
mprindle@nyc.rr.com

DAVID COOPER ORTON AND JAMES SIDLO TAKE THE GAME WHERE YOU WRITE PART OF A STORY AND HAND IT TO ANOTHER PERSON TO WRITE THE NEXT PART OF THE STORY THEN THEY HAND IT BACK AND YOU KEEP PASSING IT BACK AND FORTH UNTIL YOU HAVE A CRAPPY STORY THAT SUCKS TO A WHOLE NEW LEVEL!

Cross-Continental Duo Create CD By Sending Tapes Back And Forth And Adding To Them

Austin, TX, March 3, 2003 - Mark Prindle, the web's premier record reviewer and superstar interviewer, today announced that that Re:Cooperation CD is pretty cool. It's this guy from Britain and this guy from God's America, Home of the Flag who met on The Looper's Delight mailing list (online group for people who eat Froot Loops) and began traind tapes and adding new tracks to them - for FIVE YEARS. All of the tracks were created with Sonic Foundry's Acid software so don't be expecting anything that's not electronic! No acoustical folk harmonicas on here! No bagpipe hardcore! Just Eno-style mood washes, smooth lumpy bass and trancey beats.

Oh wait, no they say here that the guitars are real. Forget everything I just said. Except it really DOES sound really moody and trancey and mellow and smooth and nice as if Brian Eno were involved. If you'd like to give it a listen, might I suggest you visit www.unclebuzz.com? That's a record label, you see! I've got a fever of a hundred and three! Come on music, do you do more than trance? My sink's flooded! My sink's flooded!

My sink's not really flooded. But I knew I HAD to create a hilarious Foreigner parody and it was either that or "Ned Games, I don't wanna play no Ned Games. Cuz I can't take it anymore," which would make it so I had to invent some guy named Ned and go through the whole laborious process of explaining why he had games named after him. No thanks! I'll stick with the one that doesn't require I put forth any effort at all, thanks!

Band: Red Planet
Album: We Know How It Goes
Label: Gearhead

Cheap Trick were a great band, but they all died of genital warts right after Dream Police came out, so it's to the good of all power pop fans that bands of living flesh like Red Planet have come around to recapture the throne of sparkly shiny bombastic excellence in loud pop songwriting. Playing a very pretty fuzzy version of said genre complete with keyboard embellishments aplenty and gorgeous melodic vocal lines, Mars may be the true Red Planet, but don't tell that to Venus because those foXXXy women will teach these poptastic singmosicans not to let their bodies make claims their songs can't back up when their hands whip out the money and sign the deal that the legs can't cash in and the back and neck are writing checks that the nose can't cash because his bank is closed and

Something just occurred to me. Is it possible that I was sent a copy of this CD in order that I write something about it?

Band: Reel Big Fish
Product: Live At The House of Blues DVD
Label: Kung Fu Films

Interestingly enough, it was seeing a guy catch a "Real Big Fish" that led to me becoming a vegetarian. Yo check it out - I don't mean to be playa hatin', ya'all, and it's not like I'm smokin' up in my crib rockin' Birkenstocks and bangin' Edie Brickell (Paul Simon is); I just think that, if anything, we need to give the fish some love, yo.

The same goes for Reel Big Fish, the band! This Orange County punk-ska band has done the impossible -- made me (who I doesn't like ska even a little bit) smile, laugh and finally understand why people like ska so much. The band members just seem to be having so darn much FUN up there! They seem like genuinely friendly and honestly FUNNY human beings. I was cracking up right from the beginning, when Aaron Barrett's guitar cable falls out in the middle of the very first song and he (jokingly, but acting serious about it) demands that the curtains be closed and re-opened to make the band look more professional. Then the curtains close and re-open, at which point Aaron acts absolutely HORRIFIED that a stage hand is still up there with the band, correcting a faulty pedal connection. "WHAT ARE YOU DOING!?!?," Aaron demands in a strikingly Bob Odenkirk-like manner. Then when the band begins a second attempt of the opening song, he whine-yells, "I'M NOT READY!"

See, that's just my kind of comedy. Self-importance is a sin as far as I'm concerned, and these guys clearly don't have an ounce of it. This humor is strewn all throughout the show, which itself is comprised of about 20 bouncy, fast, loud punkity songs with a horn section keeping it skaey. And that's how I insist on adjectivizing the word "ska."

If you like ska, you'll love this DVD. And it seems to me that even if you DON'T like ska, you'd probably get a good piece of cheer out of this release as I did. Of course, it also seems to me that you don't want to talk about it. Seems to me you just turn your pretty head and.... I don't know. Something.

I go to parties, sometimes until four. It's hard to leave when you

Hey! Got any gum?

There goes the neighborhood!

Band: The Reunion Show
Product: Kill Your Television
Label: Victory

If you like pop-punk, you'll love The Reunion Show. They have the energy, the heavy distorted chords, the simplistic predictable cheery chord sequences, the happy notey lead vocals, the ironic Cars-sounding `80s keyboard blurbles - everything you'd ever want in a goodtime pop-punk band. Critics are going google over them and fans from north to south are jumping up and down with excitement about their hot new sound. Pop-punk isn't my favorite type of music, it seeming to rely too much on tired old chord sequences we've all been hearing over and over again since 1962. But every once in a while, a band will come along that combines all of the usual elements but adds something ELSE - a little special extra melodic, emotional SOMETHING that makes me go, "Man! I LIKE THIS A LOT!" Everclear is one of those bands. And The Reunion Show sounds like Everclear.

Band: Revelation Theory
Album: 6 Song EP
Management Company: Idol Roc Entertainment

I'm not a good gauge for whether a new rock band is going to be successful or not. For the past fifteen years or so, radio success has generally come to young bands who play emotionally charged "grunge" (or "nu-metal") chord sequences with loud headbanging choruses. The beat must be midtempo and the singer must sound masculine while still managing to have an impressive vocal range. And some of the bands who use this formula have been really great! I love Alice In Chains, Nirvana, Soundgarden - I even like CKY! But the radio has given us so darn many of these bands over the past decade and a half (Stone Temple Pilots, Creed and whomever the newer ones are), I personally have lost all interest in trying to separate the wheat from that which is not wheat. At this point, I tend to gravitate toward bands that have developed their own unique sound, rather than perfecting a sound reminiscent of their influences.

My point is that Revelation Theory are perfectly good songwriters and strong musicians, but I fear that they're going to be ignored in the long run simply because their sound is so similar to so many other pre-existing bands. I definitely get the feeling they're more of a fan's band than a critic's band, for what that's worth. That's not meant as an insult - tons of kids love this kind of music. I wish them luck, but I also hope they expand their sound and try out some new approaches to songwriting in the future. Still, they've got the heavy passionate grunge thing down, so if you're into that kind of music, hurry to www.revelationtheory.com.

Also, I totally thought up this kickass TV commercial for them. Okay, so they're on stage blasting out today's rock and roll (preferably the song "Save Yourself" because it has a pretty cool riff) and some girl in the back of the room asks, "Who is this great band?" In response, a group of fourteen cartoon elves pop out of a beer can and bounce up and down chanting, "In answer to your query - it's Revelation Theory!" Then they all laugh and somebody punches George W. Bush in the balls.

Band: Revis
Album: Places For Breathing
Label: Epic

This L.A. major label band originally from Carbondale, IL is pronounced "Rev-is" (not "Reev-is") and seems to think that grunge is still a viable art form. Singer tries to do Eddie Vedder, but lacks warmth. Music is too lumbering and belabored. Reminds me of a hilarious Neil Hamburger joke: "Why does the IRS album love the new Metallica album? Because its songs are so TAXING!" There IS an audience for this kind of music, if you can keep them from choking on their own vomit during Homecoming Weekend.

Band: The Revolt
Album: The Revolt
Label: www.TheRevolt.net

"Revolt"-ing!

I'm the first person in the world to have ever thought of using their name in such a hilarious and clever negative comment.

IMPORTANT NOTICE: That Kid Rock/Sheryl Crow song is the most godawful piece of shit I have ever heard in my life. I would GLADLY choose to listen to The Revolt, a grunge/hard rock/metal band from the Orange County area. Every band has potential if they work hard enough on cultivating their own sound -- these guys sound like they have the talent, but they haven't whipped out the creative, interesting riffs yet. The six displayed on this demo CDR sound tailor-made for bland modern rock radio play, which might be what they're hoping for, actually -- it's just not the kind of music that's going to be remembered five years from now. Fake emotions, basic chord-driven heaviness, choruses that are louder than the verses and a singer that hits the notes perfectly but has no sensitivity or warmth in his delivery -- this is what today's young people with their goatees and really short hair want - and The Revolt is certainly as good at providing it as the Stone Temple Pilots or Korn or Flippidydoo or whatever other dispensable garbage the radio is pushing between the commercials these days (actually, do you ever think about the fact that the songs themselves ARE commercials? Trying to get you to buy the CDs? Which means that EVERYTHING you hear on commercial radio is intended to take your money away from you!).

I've been listening to rock music for 29 years; I've run out of patience for "also-rans." What are they "Revolt"ing against anyway? Fresh ideas?

Band: RF7
Album: Addictions & Heartache
Label: Puke N Vomit

Jesus Christ! This band is STILL around!? They've been releasing great high-speed post-Ramones anger-chord punk rock since what the early '80s or something? I don't even know how many albums they HAVE at this point! I have like six of them and I know there are several more. At any rate, you NEED some RF7 in your collection. The singer says everything in one note, but a very INTENSE, IMPASSIONED note, often multi-tracked just for you. The tempos never slow down, the catchiness never fades - this is precisely what the Ramones should have sounded like for their entire career, while not at all being a Ramones ripoff or tribute band. Sample song titles: "A Desperate Man's Jesus," "Where Have All The Quaaludes Gone," "Lazy America." If you're a fan of good old speedy American punk rock, buy the Hell out of every RF7 album you can find. Even their weaker songs are picture-perfect examples of stripped-down classic uptempo punk rock music. Plus there's an interesting story to follow in their lyrics! At some point during the 90s, if his lyrics can be trusted, the singer guy accepted Christ as his savior and tried to stop his junkie lifestyle. But if these NEW lyrics are any indication, he's still into God but is having a really hard time staying away from booze, pot and anything else he can find. So check that out. And pray that the guy doesn't drug himself into oblivion because he's good at this punker thing!

Artist: Eric Glick Rieman
Album: Ten To The Googolplex
Label: Accretions

I don't claim to understand ambient music and I don't think America's friend to the north Canada should fault me for that. The bottom line is that if you love the idea of creepy noises and drones wafting through your home like an Environments album gone PURE EVIL, you're going to like the cystic, eerie vision of Eric Glick Rieman. But if, like me, you generally purchase compact discs because they're full of hot original music like Fountains of Wayne and Eve 6, you know, music that sounds like nothing that's ever come before it, like Sheryl Crowe, then you'll be pressed hard to sit through this whole thing even once

Band: Ripcordz
Album: What If They Held A Revolution And Nobody Came?
Label: Mayday

Canadian punk rockers from the heart of America's Canada! Sociopolitical observations and commentary are presented through zealously hoarse hollers, terrific jangle-crunch guitar tones (NOT an overproduced generic metal tone), catchy good old classic punk chord riffs and cymbally drums that on occasion get in the way of the riffs. There seem to be two forces in this band - one that wants to just kick total fast action rock, and one that thinks that midtempo '77 punk is the way to go. So you kinda gotta like both of those types of punk to enjoy the Ripcordz. But when they're fast, they tear it up superfast speed go fast fast fast! And the lyrics are explained in the booklet, which is actually pretty nice, especially if you hate to think as much as I do. So my opinion is that if you like this CD, you'll love this CD!

Band: Rubber City Rebels
Album: Pierce My Brain
Label: Smog Veil

Although I've never understood how somebody could hear "Bad Moon Rising" as "Bathroom on the Right" or "Jet Airliner" as "Jet Had a Light On," I nevertheless could swear that the very first lyrics on this album are "I wanna piss my pants!" Turns out he's actually saying, "I wanna pierce my brain," but I think my lyric is more innovative and deserving of public appreciation.

As for the band, they play Ye Olde School Punke Rocke, sounding and looking like a bunch of scraggle-haired varmints that idolize the Dead Boys, the Ramones and Johnny Thunders. Nothing wrong with that! Better to worship three great punk bands than to be the five billionth band to imitate the whiny slothful pop-punk of Green Day. Plus these guys were actually AROUND in 1977!!!! This IS their era of music!!! And they're not bad at it either! There are some good choppy dirty riffs on here, and the singer has a good "young punk" shout (especially considering how old he is!).

They're from Akron, OH, by the way. Not sure why that would be called "Rubber City." Is there a tire factory there? Or are all the streets littered with used condoms thrown out of Angie Everhart's window?

Artist: Todd Rundgren
Album: Bootleg Series Vol. 1: Live At The Forum, London '94
Label: Sanctuary

Todd Rundgren has gone through many a phase in his fandango of a lifestyle. He was a '60s sugar poppy, a '70s adult pop singer-songwriter, then a '70s progressive space rocker, then a '70s weirdo, then an '80s AOR guy, then a '90s high-tech guru. Can you believe that one human being is capable of so much change? I'm lucky if I change my panties once a year, let alone my entire brand of musicmaking! Underregardless, this double-CD set Captures Todd Live at the Forum on a chilly three-dog night during his technology stage, when he was putting out these CDs that you could mix yourself at home on a computer (or in a blender, if you weren't fond of his new approach) and adding rap into his mature adult pop sound and calling himself "TR-1" like he was that little robot girl on television's "Small Wonder" and all kinds of untraditional things. And check out the interactive portion of this live show -- he keeps inviting people onstage to play the instruments with him!!! Check out his amazing '70s unforgettable dazzling brilliant genius hit single about "manhandling the flesh-covered pickle" (but not entitled "Manhandling the Flesh-Covered Pickle"), "Bang The Drum All Day" -- he invites the least rhythmic human beings onstage to destroy a perfectly good "Weird Al" Yankovic-like novelty song! They suck! But Tood doesn't. Tood is Good! That should actually be his new slogan. Tood is Good! If they use that for his next album, they totally owe me a billion dollars (which will be NOTHING to Todd - he makes 300 billion on each release, I'm told!).

The point I'm getting at is that this was a very interesting period in the career of Todd Rundgren and if you're okay with pop music made by a 42-year-old for other 42-year-olds, you might want to check it out via this zany "interactive" concert recording.

Artist: Todd Rundgren
Album: Bootleg Series Vol. 3: Nearly Human Tour, Japan '90
Label: Sanctuary

This era of Rodd "Keith" Tundgren isn't the catchy '60s pop of "Open My Eyes" or the '70s prog experimentation of "his 70s stuff," but a Daryll Hally soul-pop with saxophones, keyboards and lots of balladry. The Nearly Human album was considered a major comeback for Todd, but it's not necessarily my favorite type of music in the world. I respect the guy - he raised Liv Tyler as a daughter, you know! - but I prefer "Feet Don't Fail Me Now" to "Hawking."

To be honest, I prefer slamming my eyeball into a doorknob fifty times in a row to "Hawking." Which is not to say every song on here is as boring as "Hawking"! Such is not the case.

Christ, if it were, I'd have shot myself about 45 minutes ago.

Artist: Todd Rundgren
Album: Liars
Label: Sanctuary

Hey FUCKFACE!!!

Yeah!! I'm talkin' to YOU!!! Are you gonna let all your little pussyass friends tell you that AFI are the muthafuckin' hardcore shit and Todd Rundgren is just a fifteen-foot-tall old man? Well, that's not very "eXtreme" of you, now is it? Oh, but you go ahead and skate around on your little faggoty skateboard with big fucking pants that look like you just took a dump in them. Meanwhile, me and the REAL cool people - the INDIVIDUALIST(TM)s - are listening to Liars and learning the truth about how society FUCKS us over and tells us LIES.

Oh, but maybe you didn't know that Todd Rundgren produced a Bad Religion album a few years back? Perhaps you never heard the insane song cycles of his avant-garde pop masterworks Todd and A Wizard, A True Star. And maybe - just maybe - you were sleeping the day he released A Cappella -- an album on which every single SOUND is created by his voice (take THAT and shove it up your ass, Mike Patton! Even though I like you.). Hell, for that matter, I'll even assume you never heard Faithful, on which he tried to create exact reproductions of classic hits like "Good Vibrations" and "Rain." And did Utopia's Beatles pastiche Deface The Music somehow escape your wicked eye of noticingthingsness? Well, forgive me if I'm not surprised, Mr. Youth With The Hat On Backwards.

Bottom line: Todd Rundgren is an experimental pop artist. Not every album he's made is a classic, but he at least TRIES to do interesting things. Not on this album, necessarily, but generally. This album is more straightahead mature r'n'b-influenced synthesized adult pop of the sort he can create with his entire head closed. Some of the tunes are great, some are just okay. Actually, a few are as bad as Phil Collins. But again, this is you we're talking about, not Todd Rundgren. I just want you to check out his career if you haven't already. He was a lot more interesting than his lack of success would have you believe! He was also extremely soft in his poppiness though, so be prepared for that.

Or FUCK YOURSELF, MR. YOUTH OF THE SORT THAT I'LL NEVER EXPERIENCE AGAIN!!!! (*CRIES IN PARENTHESES*)

Did Todd Rundgren just say, "Why do you have to be such a lying-ass motherfucker"? Jesus. He did. In the song "Flaw."

Eww.

Band: Saosin
Album: Translating the Name EP
Label: Death Do Us Part

If you were to combine emo post-punk high-pitched guitaring with really heavy metalcore breaks and give the microphone to somebody who sounds like a boy and a girl at the same time, you might end up being taken to court by Saosin for copyright infringement. Because that's what they do. I'm out of order? YOU'RE OUT OF ORDER! THIS WHOLE COURTROOM'S OUT OF ORDER!!! Fans of young pain, juvenile screaming and loud guitars might be right up Saosin's alley, consumer-wise. DID YOU ORDER THE CODE RED? YOU'RE GODDAMNED RIGHT I DID!!!

Band: Scarlet
Album: Cult Classic(TM)
Label: Ferret

I have to admit I have quite the soft spot for metalcore. It's in the center of my skull; I can push my finger right in. It's pretty disconcerting! Nevertheless, I am quite fond of the insane, startling intermingled guitar lines, herky-jerky rhythmic shifts and viciously violent attitudes expressed in the artworks of such modern-day math metallists as The Dillinger Escape Plan, The Converge and The Botch. Well, sir, Scarlet play this very same game and play it well, with high-pitched ringing, clamoring guitars skrinkle-skronkling in unnatural patterns atop a low metalloid thundertone rhythm guitar and bass boom. The vocals are the same old played-out "guy screaming at the top of his lungs" crap, but the music is as clever and jarring as you should expect from a band in this challenging genre for rocket surgeons.

Band: Sceptic
Album: Unbeliever's Script
Label: Candlelight

The world of metal needs more bands that actually get together and write riffs that rule. At first I was "sceptic"-al that this band would pull it off - you might say I was reading an "unbeliever's script" as I perused the liner notes by "candlelight" one fine day last January. But the hilarious plays-on-words stopped on the dime of a heartbeat when I slipped the disc into the crack in my stereo and the ASS-KICKING Slayer-style driving heavy thrash/death (but with clean technique and solos + black metal vocals!) came pouring out of the speakers one after the other. Some of the tracks are quieter and more foreboding, but the metallic brains and songwriting craft are all over creation. No more am I an "illussion (sic) possessor" who is "controlled by mind" and "spiritually tormented" - after becoming a "knowledge gatherer" and throwing away the "voices from the past (instrumental)," I declare Sceptic to be more than "just another band out of Boston."

Look, theoretically you have a point: Sceptic isn't actually from Boston, nor do they perform a cover of Boston's "Rock And Roll Band" on this CD. But if you believe, as many do, that all people are part of a larger spiritual being and entity, then it's clear that we are all one singer and one song, and therefore I was correct on Jeopardy! when I said that Anal Cunt wrote "Ode To Joy."

Band: Seether
Album: Disclaimer II
Label: Wind-Up

If you bought Seether's post-grunge emotional rollercoaster Disclaimer two years ago, boy did you screw up! Because now it's out again - but with a remastered sound, eight bonus tracks, a DVD disc, and a "II" after the word "Disclaimer." You don't often get to hear a white South African man sound as angry as Seattle's Alice In Soundgarden - for example, Trevor Rabin of Yes didn't sound very angry, especially on the Union LP - so if you're a fan of big loud American grunge metal like the kids dig, buy a Disclaimer II unit from South Africa's Seether. It's "Aparthei-tastic!"

Band: Sentenced
Album: The Cold White Light
Label: Century Media

Finland's Sentenced, on the other hand, sent out their new CD The Cold White Light with a fake suicide note. All the band info says that they have “complex musicality rich in the depth of brooding human emotion” and that “recognizing one’s sadness is embracing one’s despair” and all this sad pretentious stuff, so I was all excited and ready for a keen new Swans/Neurosis experience of severe aural depression. Instead, I got a band that seems to really like Metallica. But one that is content to reduce the gentle suicidal melodicism of “Fade To Black” with the blunt idiocy of “Excuse Me While I Kill Myself.” I’m actually extremely surprised that this came out on Century Media. I’ve always associated that label with the future of metal, and SENTENCED sounds like the past. If you like older metal, you might really dig these guys. They certainly aren’t bad at all! It’s just real 1986y, and that was several years ago, as some of you might already know.

As for the rest of Finland, I think it’s just a bunch of walruses.

Band: Seven Wiser
Album: Seven Wiser
Label: Wind-Up

Some bands are made up of strong-willed, creative individuals who merge their various interests and influences into a collective sound that is unlike anything you've ever heard in your life (ex. The Cows, Mr. Bungle, Thinking Fellers Union Local 282). Others simply take a look at the hit radio landscape, internalize the key ingredients of ClearChannel's playlists and combine them in "new" and "exciting" ways in hopes of riding the wave of best-selling obviousness to massive success for a year or two (ex. Matchbox Twenty, Sum 41, Third Eye Blind). You might note that those in the latter group tend to include a number in their band name.

Band: Sex Slaves
Album: Nikki
Label: Germ

Opera and prog rock may be the favored forms of music among today's youth, but these NYC adolescent scumbag jackass girl-kickers are more than happy to revive the old Motley Crue/Hanoi Rocks glam-pop-metal sound and alcoholic vehicular manslaughter (presumably). The singer has David Johansen's attitude and a nice mid-range tone that's a lot easier on the ears than his squealing Poison-style forebearerers, and the rock music is as poppy as Cheap Trick, as sexist as the Knack and as crunchy as a Butterfinger filled with gravel. Don't miss out today and delay! Six Sex Slaves Songs Sound Super!

Band: Sex Slaves
Album: Pull The Trigger (Live)
Label: Germ

Christ! Didn't I just fucking review a CD by these people? How much praise do you expect me to give a band that shouts "Oh! So many beautiful girls!" at their audience? I'm 30 years old, for the love of America. I've heard 68 billion albums in my day, and it takes more than a few chords and a guy shouting about screwing to make me want to hear an album all the way through. It's one thing to say "These guys are rock's saviors!" in a zine; it's something else entirely to expect me to listen to it in my home for recreation. Are the Sex Slaves a perfectly good sweaty rock and roll band? Sure. But do they bring anything to the genre that hasn't already been there for about 40 years? No, nothing at all. They're in it for the fun. If you are too, buy both these CDs. They only share 2 songs in common, and this one has a Misfits cover! Granted, none of their other songs sound like the Misfits, but still - a Misfits song!!!!!

Band: Shai Hulud
Album: A Comprehensive Retrospective Or: How We Learned To Stop Worrying And Release Bad And Useless Recordings
Label: Revelation

If you love getting screamed at by a modern "hardcore" band that plays midtempo emo-metal, you'll love Shai Hulud. And if you love Shai Hulud, you'll REALLY love this collection of early demos, guitar tracks, warehouse recordings, live sessions and 4-track recordings. And if you really love this collection of early demos, guitar tracks, warehouse recordings, live sessions and 4-track recordings, you'll really REALLY love sending me $100 for a picture of me taking a shower!

Come on, what am I supposed to say about an album that presents ITSELF as "bad" and "useless"? Uhh... good work, guys! You've completely succeeded at reaching your lofty goal!

Band: Shining Fury
Album: Last Sunrise
Label: Metal Blade

A drummer recruited a singer from a Deep Purple cover band, bassist from a Led Zeppelin cover band and guitarist from an Iron Maiden cover band and puts out an album with one cover tune. What is that cover tune? "Smoke On The Water"? "Kashmir"? "Run To The Hills"?

No, it's a goddamned TOTO song!!!

As for the rest of the album, there's definitely a strong Iron Maiden power metal influence with the high-pitched male vocals, dual-guitar harmonies, bombastic minor-key melodies, dark keyboard accompaniment and choogling uptempo drumlines. Personally, I'm always surprised to learn that there are still new bands playing this type of music - it just sounds so darn '80sish! Like Angel Witch or something. But I guess a lot of people, especially musicians, really get into the classically-trained musicianship and soaring vocals of the genre. If you're a power metalhead, pick up some Last Sunrise before the Next Sunset! Yeah, that was a good one. Put that on a sticker.

Band: Ship Of Fools
Album: Let's Get This Mother Outta Here
Label: Peaceville

Ship Of Fools were an oddball band of British instrumental kooks who displayed a Hawkwind-esque progressive sensibility with modern synth sounds, lots of vocal samples from movies and things, distorted guitars, bass guitar and drums (as well as the occasional flute noise or whatever else might confuse you and that ear of yours). They recorded two albums before busting all up in the mid-90s so Les Smith could go join Cradle of Filth and Anathema. If you consider yourself a prog fan but are saddened by the current state of prog affairs, especially regarding the longstanding prog sanctions against Iraq, Ship of Fools might give you the gustigo you're looking for. Some of it sounds like Wish You Were Here-era Pink Floyd, other of it sounds a little like Tangerine Dream or The Blue Turtles, even other of it is just plain dance music! But one thing's for sure, when you stick your hand in the Ship Of Fools, you never know what's gonna happen to your fingers!

If they come out all smelly and brown, you can probably figure out what happened to your fingers.

By the way, I totally made up the band name "The Blue Turtles" just so I could sneak an uproarious Sting reference into the review. Sting LOVES it when I give him a "shout-out"! Especially if it's a 24-hour tantric shout-out with no release at the end.

Band: Sick Fits
Album: Are We The Young Savages? EP
Label: Longshot

In the mid-70s, there was this whole spate of Cleveland bands playing nasty, provoking, nihilistic, malicious, out of control, edgy/restless, contemptuous/acerbic, invigorating, anguished, explosive music related to punk rock but a bit more rooted in traditional Chuck Berry rock and roll. This "proto-punk" movement featured bands like Electric Eels, Pagans, Mirrors and Rocket from the Tombs, and faded away pretty quickly when REAL punk rock came along and the town's scenesters turned into Pere Ubu and the Dead Boys. But it never died in the hearts of America's sweaty youth! Or at least early- 30's. Sick Fits bring it all back, and it's still as spitty and rank as before. And great!!! They're from Ottawa though, so enough with the Cleveland comparisons. Cleveland is the golden cherry apple in the heart of America, and Ottawa is just some place you hear about in fairy tales. I love the Sick Fits and if you love rock and roll, you should too. Listen to the guitar tone in "Kiss You On The Lips"! Do you realize how many members of The Sweet would've killed for that guitar tone???

Band: Leigh Silver & Bitter Things
Album: Leigh Silver & Bitter Things EP
Label: Self-Released

Leigh Silver is in his sophomore season at UC Santa Barbara...As a freshman, he competed in four tournaments...Averaged 77.92 shots per round in 12 rounds...His best tournament score of the year came at BYU's Ben Hogan Cougar Classic when he shot a.one sec.

Leigh Silver is in her sophomore EP at LA Bitter Things. They play well-produced rock sort of in the pop metal vein but with solid Ramones influences (especially in the lead-off track, a chugging melodic chord rocker that I can totally hear Joey Ramone singing). Leigh has a strong voice, though it occasionally veers off into cocky Sheryl Crowe "white person soul" phrasing. This is the kind of band that the "industry" tends to like, especially the bald guys in sunglasses that you see in Music Connection all the time. Bunch of coke-snorting pricks. I do wish the best of luck to Leigh Silver and her Bitter Things though. Why not, in life.

Band: Sinai Beach
Album: Wolves In Sheep's Clothing EP
Label: Strike First

I pride myself on going around telling people that Christianity is a freakish cult made up of weak, superstitious morons who believe in magic and are afraid to take responsibility for their own actions, but dude - Sinai Beach kick ass! This is a Christian metalcore band that pounds every bit as hardly, meanly, intensely and violently as Cave-Inly, Dillinger Escape Planly or any other band of distorted twisted-riff screamers you're happy to make adverbs out of. The singer is screaming with veins pounding on forehead and blood pouring from wrists about God's glory, asshole bullshit preachers who rip people off, guilt caused by evil and those who play "teeter-totter on the cross of my savior." Strange. Strange but true! The bible is true, and so is Sinai Beach. No, but seriously - they really do totally kick ass. So if you're interested in weirdo brainwashing cultic ideas set to some mindblowing hardcore metal anger, you gotta check out this EP by Sinai Beach. It's Christioriffic!

Band: Siouxsie And The Banshees
Album: The Seven Year Itch Live: The Shepherds Bush Empire London 9th/10th July 2002
Label: Sanctuary

Man, Siouxsie and the Banshees were a really good goth band. I think in my youth I must have fancied them sissy-pop or something, because I never gave them the time of my day. But listening to this reunion CD, I'm very pleasantly thrilled by all the dark memorable riffs, hypnotizing wavery bass lines and Siouxsie's unnatural singing accent. They sound like early '80s Cure! Angst-ridden, spooky, suicidal, black lipstick, doom -- no wonder so many adorable little high school girls wanted to look like Siouxsie Sioux! It's just like the way I used to dunk my head in a barrel full of lipstick every morning so I could look like Robert Smith! It's never too late to become a goth though - buy this CD and change your life.

Dick Cheney did. Seriously! Check out the recent photo below!

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Band: Siouxsie And The Banshees
Product: The Seven Year Itch Live DVD: The Shepherds Bush Empire London 10th July 2002
Label: Sanctuary

Weirdly, the DVD is almost completely a different performance than the CD of the exact same name. This is the entire July 10th show -- the CD only features three recordings from the 10th; the rest are from the 9th. THE 9TH!!! Plus, what's REALLY weird is that the DVD has a VIDEO component - you can actually SEE the band playing while you're listening to the music. This scared me at first because I thought the band were going to jump out of my TV and kill me like that girl in "The Ring," but they just ate some Cheez-Its and played with my dog. When they returned to the DVD, I noticed that Siouxsie was wearing a man's suit like a transvestite (woman) would do. And there was an awful lot of the color blue. And she made a crude joke when the guitarist put on his acoustic guitar. Her crude joke ran as follows: "Why does it take you so long to strap it on? I say that every night!"

I hope that wasn't too offensive for some of my younger readers. The only reason I put it in is because I figured that the adult component of my audience could enjoy a nice ribald laugh while the younger ones remained mystified at the meaning of the joke.

SHIT! The local school administrator just called to tell me that Tuesday is Dildo Day for the entire second grade. FUCK!

Band: Matt Skiba & Kevin Seconds
Album: Split
Label: Asian Man

This was before your time, but back in the day I actually CARED about the idea of "Straight Edge" and thought it was a neat idea. But this was in high school, you understand. "Straight Edge" was this deal where punkers would draw "X"s on their hands to show that they didn't drink, smoke, do drugs or have casual sex. I got into it far after the fact, of course (1988) and wasn't even terribly serious about it, but it DID matter to me. I got really really upset at the thought of my then-girlfriend smoking, drinking or having sex (even the stuff she did before I met her upset me! I wasn't especially mature!) , and swore that I would NEVER drink (I'm actually kinda tipsy right now), NEVER smoke (stuck to that, thanks to Mom! Old stinky yellow-teeth chimney Mom!), NEVER do drugs (basically stuck to that, but only out of fear of "bad trips" and harmless, cost-effective "addictions") and NEVER have sex before marriage (that vow didn't last too long after high school - unfortunately my willingness to sin against God didn't change the fact that my hair looked like Axl Rose and I wore skintight jeans with holes in the knees every day).

I bring this up because back in the day, Kevin Seconds was one of the leaders of the "Straight Edge" movement, along with Minor Threat's Ian MacKaye (relunctantly, so he claims), that guy who sang for SSD whose name I've forgotten and probably some others too. Kevin used to sing (and now again, thanks to reunions, STILL sings) for a band called 7 Seconds. They released a few unbelievably great, speedy, tuneful hardcore albums - most notably Walk Together, Rock Together and The Crew, then decided to slow down and be just a pop band that nobody cared about so they gave up. But then all of a sudden, punk hit it big in the 90s and they were a fast hardcore band again! But here's my point - one day in College Freshman year, when I was still a self-righteous holier-than-thou perfect being, I ran into Kevin Seconds at the Schoolkids Record Store where Mac from Superchunk worked. I said, "Are you Kevin Seconds?" He said, "Yeah!" My next question was intended to be a polite acknowledgement that his tastes had changed and he would likely play slower new material at that night's concert I planned to attend. Unfortunately the words got completely mangled somewhere between my brain and my mouth, and what came out was an incredibly rude "So are you mostly gonna be playing older stuff tonight?" He looked at me as politely as possible for a guy who doubtless has had to deal with hundreds of asshole punks trashing him for slowing down and not kicking ass anymore, and said, "Uhh. no, we'll probably play mostly newer stuff. But we'll do some old stuff too. Some of both!" I felt like such an ass, I didn't even bother explaining what I'd intended to say. HOWEVER - and this part is key to the story - as I was leaving, I saw him holding up a Boss Hog t-shirt and laughing with his friend. And what was on the cover of this Boss Hog t-shirt? Boss Hog's leader Cristina - NAKED.

And you know what? I held it against him. That's how grown-up I was. I spent the rest of the evening thinking, "What happened to Kevin Seconds? Is he just like Sammy Hagar now? Why was he looking at that naked girl on the t-shirt like it was okay?" (I should also point out that at this point - age 18 - I STILL had never made love to the old woowoo on my body, honestly believing that only LOSERS and WEAK PEOPLE did). Imagine how disillusioned I became later that night when this absolute prick Indian hypocrite douchebag whose name I'm GLAD I've forgotten (Kenji or Ruhal or some stupid Indian crap name like that) informed me that he had seen Kevin Seconds DRINKING A BEER outside. "What happened to his morals?," I wondered. "What happened to his character?"

Luckily now I'm old enough to listen to his half of this CD and ask, "What happened to his songwriting ability?" His half of this split-CD is filled with terrible cutesy acoustic sissy crap that my wife thinks is good and keeps singing all the time. So if you're DICKLESS and have NO BALLS like my wife, you might totally be into his bouncy little tunes like "Tracey - I was yo man - I did everything to make you understand - and now there's no more you and me, Tracey!" I prefer his early stuff (assuming he wrote the lyrics - I can't verify that) - like "We're fun - you're not! We play - you fight! You're off - we're not! THAT CHIP IS ALL YOU'VE GOT!" And "Me and you - We're gonna fight their narrow minds! Make our own rules! Live your life and I'll live mine! WHOA-OH-OH-OH! WE'RE GONNA FIIIIIGHT! WHOA-OH-OH-OH!" God I'm all excited now - those early 7 Seconds albums really do kick some serious ass. Very very catchy fast as hell hardcore. But the past is gone. To my ears, Kevin's half of this CD gets a 4 out of 10.

But who's this other guy? Matt Skiba? From Alkaline Trio? I don't know him! But I know one thing - his acoustic songs sure are better than Kevin's! A couple are forgettable but I gotta give his half a 6 out of 10 due to the fantastic uptempo leadoff track "Good Fucking Bye," the wonderful folk punk rocker "The City That Day" and this AMAZING love song called "Soul To Keep" that was written by --- oooo.

Problem.

What do you do if the better guy is only better because his best song is a cover of an old song by the worse guy?

Oh! I know what you do! Ignore the issue, rave about what a great, guy-next-door-but-tuneful voice Matt Skiba has and bitch about how Kevin's voice has gotten really reedy, nasal and irritating over the years for some reason! That's my opinion and that's what you're hearing from me. And my name is Glenn Hubbard, former second baseman for the Atlanta Braves! Let me know if you want me and my buddies Rafael Ramirez, Ken Oberkfell, Bruce Benedict, Chris Chambliss and Jeff Burroughs to come over and wash your car for a few bucks!

Band: Slaughter And The Dogs
Album: A Dog Day Afternoon
Label: TKO

After the 1998 death of guitarist Tim Kelly, many thought falsetto god Mark Slaughter would never have the heart to sing his distinctive brand of pop metal again, but a chance meeting with XXX rapper/imprisoned murderer Labrant Dennis led to a.... what's that? One sec.

Okay, yes. So in 1976, a band called Slaughter and the Dogs released a "punk and roll" single called "Cranked Up Really High." It did so well that the band broke up really quickly and kept reforming in different incarnations and now HERE THEY ARE!!!!! THE GUITARIST AND SINGER WITH TWO OTHER GUYS!!!! LIVE!!! IN!!!!! Uhhh... February 2002. Okay, see the deal with old-school punk is that historically it's been created by the young, vibrant and free, as kind of energetic youth personified, with malcontent, anger and all that "young" stuff. So a group in their mid-'40s theoretically wouldn't be the most exciting proponents of such an art form, especially when said group chooses to cover a song by the Velvet Underground. But all of this is secondary to whether or not you're already a fan of the band. If you ARE, you'll thrill to your favorite three-chord riffs ("Where Have All The Bootboys Gone?," "Boston Babies"). If you're NOT, you'll probably have a much harder time getting into it -- the songs are all midtempo and extremely simplistic, and the guitar tone is way too trebly (and the bass too quiet) to create the optimum listening experience for chord-based rock and roll.

Plus, Mark Slaughter's voice has REALLY gone to Hell, hasn't it? And where are all those hilarious dirty raps we used to love? No "Fuck All Night"? No "Ten Little Niggers"? No "Work That Ass Baby"? All in all, this is one disappointing collaboration between two of the most powerful artistic forces of which our planet will ever collectively dream.

Band: The Earl Slick Band
Album: Slick Trax
Label: Metal Blade

The "Amazing" Earl "Grace" Slick - "How Sweet The Sound!" World-accepted for his guitar playing boogie work on David Bowie's Young Americans and Station To Station (he wasn't on the blockbuster Black Tie, White Noise though, so don't bother poring over the liner notes for six hours with a magnifying glass like I made all the kids in the local nursery school do), Mr. Slick also recorded a couple of hot rocker albums in the mid-70s, featuring that mid-70s guitar rock feel that the kids dig - Bad Company, Edgar Winter Band, Spooky Tooth - straightforward slightly-bluesy-and-maybe-slightly-Southern- influenced hooky distorted rockin' goodness. As Jackie Gleason used to say, "How Sweet It - I SUCK! ALL I EVER DO IS YELL! IT'S NOT FUNNY AT ALL!"

This recent CD release appears to be a rearrangement of the entire 1976 Earl Slick Band LP, along with a few other tracks and demos from who knows where. Unfortunately, none of the songs are technologically "sweetened" by the overdubbed sterile musicianship and fake drums of today's hottest session performers, so you have to listen to the songs as they were intended (fuckin' pain in the ass). If you can manage that, though, the rest is Pizza Pie.

I must still have the wrong idea about what Metal Blade is all about, because this sure doesn't sound like METAL to me! Blues-influenced hard rock is about as far as I'd go. I do like it though! And if you're into mid-70s loud guitar rock, you should too. Not too loud, screamy or rednecky, this is old-fashioned hard rock combining tastefulness and rough edges in such a nice way that you just want to shake your fist at the classic rock radio dial for its failure to have introduced this artist to you during all those years it's been playing the Eagles and Crawling With Tarts over and over again.

Wait, that IS the Eagles that do that "Hamburger Lady" song, right?

Band: Slow Jets
Album: Good Morning, Stars
Label: Morphius

This is the second CD for Baltimore's Slow Jets, who live in the Maryland area and play NOT NECESSARILY SLOW guitar-driven indie-rock featuring jangly-jingle cleanish rhythm chords topped by Superchunk- and Sonic Youth (sassy era)-reminiscent lead lines. In other words, very OBVIOUS lead guitar lines, but catchy nonetheless. A little bouncy up-and-down fret fingering for the happy songs, and droney blues clich‚s for the downbeat ones. Not at all a bad band, if you're into music for the 4/4 drum-driven but too-trebly-to-really-ROCK clangy/jlangy double-guitar sloth college strum-and-solo approach so prevalent among the Modest Mice and Built to Spillers. I myself am really NOT into music for that kind of sound because I'm so manly and need my music to be really loud, fast and angry like The Turtles, but I USED to be a college student back in my early teens, and in those days, I probably would have liked this band pretty well. If "emo" is your "schemo," don't let my "peeno" distract you from your "beano." Not that I have any idea whether or not this is emo. I'm still a bit unclear on the different "genres" of rock. For example, is "gamelan music" that stuff they put on shirt collars to make them more stiff?

Band: Slur
Album: Independence
Label: Tarpit

The first thing I see when I take the CD out is a quote from Theodore Roosevelt announcing that "It is not the crtic who counts, not the man who points out how the strong man stumbled, or where the doer of deeds could have done better" and so on and so forth before concluding "...If he fails, at least fails while daring greatly; so that his place shall never be with those cold and timid souls who know neither victory or defeat." What a convenient way of putting your shitty boring music above the ridicule it deserves -- by announcing that those who criticize it are spineless and don't know what it's like to TRY. I have four very basic problems with this attitude.

(A) First of all, these guys are - or at least the main songwriter is - born-again Christian, typically one of the most arrogant, above-it-all judges of his fellow man that will ever exist. Not only that, but TWO of the songs on here go out of their way to viciously lash out at critics - dismissing them with the hypercritical conclusion, "I am all you'll never be!!!"

(B) Since when are rock and rollers - or ANYBODY, for that matter - above criticism? Would these guys prefer that we let George W. Bush get away with doing whatever he wants without murmuring a word in opposition? After all, HE'S the doer of deeds, and we are simply the critics who don't count.

(C) Music criticism is writing -- a form of art (or at very least, journalism). If I'm going to put my name on something I write, I want to be proud of it, knowing that I've not only accurately described the music at hand (helping consumers to spend their money wisely) but also created something that might entertain even those who don't care too much about music.

And (D) if they honestly feel this way about critics, they really shouldn't be hiring a publicist to send copies of their CD to, you know.. CRITICS.

Having said that, I will now honor their wishes and not critique their also-ran nu-metal album.

Band: Smoking Popes
Album: The Party's Over
Label: Double Zero

You know what? In the mid-to-late '90s an irresistible musical oddity out of Chicago, known as the Smokig Popes was busy cranking out 2 major label release bla bla bla Josh Caterer ultra-smooth crooning, blah blah This is the previously unreleased final studio album. Recorded in 1998.... over 10 tracks, the Popes tear through inspired cover versions of songs by such artists as Patsy Clined, Judy Garland, Willie Nelson... No Gen-x "aren't we sooooooooooooooooooooooooooooooooooooo ironic?" blah blah punk power pop. So enjoy the CD's and don't say I never gave you anything. Ha-ha. :)

Visit www.doublezerorecords.com and buy the CD for 10 dollars if you want to hear "punk power pop" versions of:

1. Seven Lonely Days (Brown/Shuman/Shuman) - 2:57
2. Valentine (Nelson) - 2:32
3. Bewitched (Hart/Rodgers) - 3:29
4. The Party's Over (Comden/Green/Styne) - 3:26
5. Farther Along (Stevens) - 3:36
6. Zing! Went the Strings of My Heart (Hanley) - 2:53
7. Stormy Weather (Arlen/Koehler) - 4:38
8. I Wake Up Crying (Bacharach/David) - 3:04
9. You'll Never Walk Alone (Hammerstein/Rodgers) - 2:45
10. Why Me (Kristoferson) - 2:50

Bunch of old songs by a bunch of old people. If you like old people music but think that it could be better as "punk power pop," go for it. I got bored and took it off halfway through, but you have to understand -- I fuckin' LOATHE power pop, and as far as I'm concerned old people are only good for one thing -- pickin' my cotton!

Band: Smut Peddlers
Album: Coming Out
Label: TKO

This rock and roll quintet has a female drummer and loves The Ramones! The double-guitar chords come out at your head fastly, furiously and quickeningly. Song titles include "Hamburger Deerns," "State Of The State," "Rebatron Party" and "My Old Addictions." Member nicknames include "The Duck," "Smut" and "Stiffness." Song tempos include fast. American punk rock has always been a friend of society and now is no time to make that stop, especially when it includes 35 minutes of video footage that you can watch on the old computer dish. So get out the computer dish! Now's the time for some Smut and the Pellde!

It's such a fine line between an advertisement and a review. Sometimes I find myself crossing that line. Usually it results in lengthy torturous prison sentences, but it's worth it if I can help sell just ONE Smut Peddlers CD. In fact, if there were a way to contract cancer and AIDS concurrently in such a way that my rotting, dying body would expel gaseous fumes that spelled out "The Smut Peddlers - Brought To You By TKO Records!," I would say, "Hand me that sweet virus cocktail, Mr. Syringe."

Actually cancer isn't caused by a virus. FUCK! IT'S LIKE I CAN'T WIN!!!!

Band: Soilwork
Album: Figure Number Five
Label: Nuclear Blast

I'd read good things about this band, so I was surprised to find that it's just basic nu-metal shit. Screaming the verses, singing the choruses, playing loud boring distorted chords - the word "timeless" doesn't come to mind. Supposedly they're really good though, so don't take my word for it. Buy it and enjoy a version of Linkin Park that won't make people call you a pansyass!

Band: Sonata Arctica
Album: Winterheart's Guild
Label: Century Media

Leave it to the Finnish to come up with an interesting approach to silly old power metal (Iron Maiden, etc.). What the Finnish have gone and on in the form of five men calling themselves "Sonata Arctica" (which translates to English) is add in Yes-style prog melodies and classically-trained keyboard solos that stick a bale of cotton straight up the otherwise straightforward soprano/tenor-singing singer guy and fantasy-driven guitar pirouettes. There's something a little smarter than usual about the guitar chord sequences. "Broken," for example -- that is a TOTALLY "Yes" chord sequence! You think you know exactly what it's going to do, but it shoots a different -- and BETTER -- direction. I love that!!! THAT!!!!! I love (having) SHAT!!!!!

Folks who dig melodic-prog-rock-metal like "The Final Countdown" and "Sole Survivor" should definitely check these fellers out. Move over, Europe and Asia! An Arctica has come to town!

Do you realize how many years it would have taken mortal man to come up with that play on words? Luckily, I'm a supercomputer from the Year 3856! Who's up for some "River Raid"?

Band: Soul Demise
Album: In Vain
Label: Season Of Mist

More heavy Germans. Dude, this -- dude -- this band is fucking GOOD, dude. They play very fast extreme metal with great vicious guitar tones, very loud screaming vocals, memorable, repetitive Slayer-esque chord changes, melodic lead riffage and solos -- DUDE! My dog is part-German Shepherd and he would know. Look what he did when I played this CD for him!

SEE??? He started kickin' ass!!!!

Band: Soundtrack Mind
Album: Plastic Dreams
Label: Shut Eye Records

Athens, Greecorgia's Soundtrack Mind plays a really nice sort of acoustic country/folk/pop/rock music, with some terrific choruses that'll have you singing all over town, in cars and other vehicles that run on gasoline. We're at a point in history when it's hard to write a basic little guitar/bass/drums song that's worth hearing, but these guys pull it off. With jangly chords, nice leads, accordions, banjos - and an honestly truly impressive collection of singalongs. Jonathan Potter, Rusty Bridgers and Bryan Mullis are their names and people have compared them to Tom Petty, Neil Young, Wallflowers and other folks - and I can see why! They have a downhome relaxed country vibe like Tom Petty or early Neil Young, but also without ever losing sight of the goal of a real songwriter: to CREATE something. Not just pay tribute to their idols or imitate the latest styles, but to actually design an aural creation that they can play for friends and say, "Do you like this? I came up with it!" Personally, I think Tom Petty still pulls it off a lot more often than you'd expect for a guy his age. Neil Young? Mmm. not the last couple albums, but before that, certainly! And Soundtrack Mind does the same thing. For about thirty seconds, you'll think to yourself, "Oh Christ, another generic jingle- jangle college folk rock band," and then an amazingly catchy chorus will come in and you'll find yourself feeling so cozy and warm, your balls will dangle fifty feet off your body, possibly out the window and into the back of a garbage truck, where they'll be squeezed until they pop like zits, spraying blood and sperm all over the rest of the garbage, which may very well contain an uneaten egg from a carton which, through an inconceivable accident of nature, becomes fertilized by your sperm and hatches into a monstrous Chicken-Man who gobbles up everybody in the world.

Band: The Soviettes
Album: LP II
Label: Adeline

You can't lie to an American man. That's how I know these so-called "Soviettes" aren't really from behind the Iron Curtain at all. That and the American accent - unless. UNLESS!!!! They've taken LANGUAGE courses! Oh, that dastardly Red Kaiser; I'll get him yet! In the meantime, how about three girls and one man playing really cute fun catchy fast punk rock with a raw garage guitar tone filled with fuzz and skrinkle instead of roar and "rah-rah-rarararara-RAH!" Every band member sings, and the songs are melodic and everything. And one of them TOTALLY quotes The Cure! You've heard The Cure, right? That band with Ric Ocasek and Ian Astbury?

As for the Soviettes, I would argue that judging by the name, this is their second album. The cover's bright orange though, so cover your eyes before looking for it in the grocery/music store. They're lyrically adorable too: "Ten" tells ten reasons why the singer loves you (including "Because you're funny" and "You think I'm sexy!") and "Pass The Flashlight" is built around a silly rhythmic conversation between drummer Danny and tha ladies. Even if I hated music, I would like the Soviettes. Since I DON'T hate music, you can only IMAGINE how I feel about them!

Because I'm not going to tell you. Now FUCK OFF!!!!

Band: The Spades
Album: Learnin' The Hard Way
Label: Go-Kart

One's first response is, "Hey! Black people who aren't playing shitty rap music!" One's second response is "Hey! Black people from the Netherlands! What, are they trying to alter the definition of 'Norwegian black metal'?" One's third response is, "Hey! This is some fun uptempo garage punk-metal Dead Boys style!" And then there's the fourth and most shocking response: "Jesus Christ -- they're singing about raping and killing people!" And indeed they are. Presumably it's just a schtick like fellow Norwegians Turbonegro, but it's kinda difficult to chuckle heartily at lyrics like "If a girl says no she don't always mean so/Feels right so it can't be wrong" and "I hide their corpses in the night...The female shapes start showing/Has my penis growing" and... Oh hang on, I see. I spoke too soon. It's an all-around violent schtick, not just a misogynist one. There's also a song about a guy feeding people to his alligators, a couple about raping and killing men and a whole bunch just about shooting people.

So maybe they ARE playing shitty rap music! No, but seriously. If you're into pummeling hard rock and extremely black humor (that wasn't intended as a double-entendre, but feel free to treat it like one if you want to, you fuckin' racist), check in with Son Of A Cop, Denvis Wakalot, Dick Spade, Barry Black and all the rest of The Spades!

And by "all the rest," I mean "Enus."

Band: The Spits
Album: The Spits EP
Label: Dirtnap

Hey! It's Tommy Ramone's drum beat! There's also distorted fuzz chords, sci-fi themes, neat cheap keyboards and bubbly bass lines, but the driving force of it all is none other than Tommy Ramone's sped-up stripped-down "dit-dit-chit-da, did-dit-chit-da." Judging from the band photos (two men dressed like Arabs and a keyboardist who appears to be about 75 years old), these guys are as great live as they are on record, which is mighty great indeed if you like Ramones-style punk rock with a swirling 50's-futuristico Lost In Space feel. Take it from Steve - The Spits are saliva-tastic!

Band: The Spotlight Syndicate
Album: Forget The Static Past EP
Label: Substandard

Hey! Who forgot to put in the guitars? Reno, NV's Spotlight Syndicate enjoys their bass, keyboard, drums and guy shouting unhappily, creating a very early-80s post-punky attitude and sound. Like that there early Gang of Four unsatisfied and NEVER happy sound. They'd actually probably be compared to early Trans Am if the singer didn't sound so darn politically agitated. When whoever it is that runs Canada outlaws guitars, this is what punk rock will sound like. Good band! And one of them is totally a girl and shit! "Wicked!" "Phat!" "Dopamine!"

Band: Star Strangled Bastards
Album: Whose War Is It?
Label: Go-Kart Records

THIS is what hardcore punk is supposed to be! No slick pop-punk production, no happy songs about girls -- just really fast, angry, tough songs for slamming, kicking, headbanging and running around in a circle if anybody still does that (it was big in the late 80s - big and DUMB lookin'!). Just because you're from Orange County doesn't mean you can't have a mohawk, and that is the true lesson of the Star Strangled Bastards. That and -- it's NOT impossible to make great new hardcore even though a billion other bands have worn out the formula before you. It's 2003, we're all old and boring - and the Star Strangled Bastards are still recording memorable politlcal hardcore songs with choruses so great, I'm going to shout a few for you right now:

SYSTEM OF GREED! KILLIN YOU! SYSTEM OF GREED! KILLIN ME! SYSTEM OF GREED! KILLIN US! SYSTEM OF GREED! KILLIN EVERYONE!

You see? They've taken the basic premise of DRI's classic "Reaganomics killing me/Reaganomics killing me/Reaganomics killing me/Reaganomics killing YOU!" and taken it not one, but TWO steps further! It's not just you and me that are in trouble here -- it's EVERYONE! This system of greed in which we live is BIGGER than even Reagan in his heyday could have imagined! America's most popular web site Deadontheweb.com says "Some of the hardest old school punk that I have heard in a long fuckin' time!" America's sweetheart magazine Bodyboarding Magazine says "Grinding punk... gets me so amped I catch myself going 100 on the freeway!" And some unknown piece of shit rag web site or homemade xeroxed zine called "Maximum Rock n' something-or-other" says "Fast and angry, it's a proven winner!" And most importantly, renowned music reviewer who doesn't get paid Mark Prindle says, "This band has got 'it' -- if you miss hardcore punk, don't miss the Star Strangled Sons of Whores, you Bastard!"

Band: Staring Back
Album: On
Label: Lobster

Okay, I get Lobster Records' "schtick" now. They'll only hire you if you play really emotional rock/punk that reminds Mark Prindle in MOOD (though not sound) of Dag Nasty. They demanded it of the band Over It and now they're demanding it from the band Staring Back. I remember when Staring Back first formed way back in Goleta, California in Y2K and they kept calling me going, "Hay Mark, we want to play country rap with a gospel choir as our lead singer, but stupid Lobster keeps telling us to play emotional pop-punk. What should we do, Mr. Prindle? We needs be know!"

I of course told them to go for the green. Bad advice in golf perhaps, as the "Green Trap" is one of the most dangerous hazards of the sport, but in the world of music, you can either retire young and rich like Blink-182 or starve to death like The Replacements and The Pixies, both of which starved to death. The answer is clear: Do what your business manager and lawyer advise.

Getting back to the topic I'm told is at hand, Staring Back have loud distorted guitars, a singer who shouts in tune like the Superchunk guy but not quite as high-pitched and riffs that are emotional and filled with passion and anxiety for a world gone crazy. Did you guys hear about September 11th? On September 11th, 1974, the Philadelphia Phillies beat the Pittsburgh Pirates 8-5 at Veteran's Stadium. And our world was changed forever. Never again would we ever take our loved ones for granted. And Staring Back feel the same way. That's why they offer up a mood for every occasion - and yes, it's the SAME mood for every occasion, but if you've always considered dynamism a dangerous trait best reserved for ballistics experts, this sameyness is nothing to get your wanties in a pad about. I'm still at a loss as to why bands like this bother forming in the first place, but then I've heard so many goddamned albums in my short life, I'm bound to ask that about ANY band. Except The Locust. Christ, are The Locust a weird band.

Band: Statica
Album: Statica
Label: Delirium

The indie rock/power pop sound of Statica comes straight out of the Matthew Sweet/Weezer world of Guy-Next-Door singing fuzzy warm anthems of longing and girls over heavy distorted midtempo rock activity. Futuristic phaser effects and kitschy `60s keyboard tones bring further color to what is already an exceptionally warm tone, both in terms of songwriting and production. They're from California and this is their debut CD. Won't you lend a hand? Do so at www.statica.net. Try not to gasp at how elderly the band members look though. Remember - the camera adds fifteen years.

Band: Still Life
Album: The Incredible Sinking Feeling...
Label: Greyday Productions

This Los Angeles trio loves the ol' quiet verse/loud chorus construction, with simmering rainy-day dark tones of stuffed-nose melancholy giving way to anthemic blasts of screamed fuzzed-out bliss every four or eight lines. The nicest thing about the album is how bassy and boomy the production is -- it's so much more evocative than the overprocessed fake rock sound that so many emo bands are willing to accept. Another differentiator in today's crowded marketplace is that Still Life doesn't just play ringing guitars and have the singer sound like he's going to cry: instead, Still Life's INSTRUMENTS sound like they're about to cry. A heavy shadow of depression overhangs the entire release, and it comes across as genuine. It's not like they're purposely TRYING to depress you (like the Swans) - it's just that we live in a sad world and their music could be no other way. Bunch of sad sacks! Whatever happened to happy entertainers? You know, like those guys in Badfinger?

Band: Strata
Album: Strata
Label: Wind-Up

Strata's bombastic, overserious post-grunge metal perfectly nails every emotional tone experienced by teenaged consumers, and would fit in perfectly on ClearChannel modern rock stations. The singer's a bit Pearl Jammy and the music screams loudly for a hug, but I must admit that regardless of the band's lack of original vision, some of the songs are really goddamned catchy! It's this melodic talent that separates Strata from other soundalike also-rans and hints that they might survive the inevitable downfall of this shitty nu-metal/emo crap or whatever it's called.

Is it called "shitty nu-metal/emo crap"? Is that the official industry term?

Band: Stratovarius
Album: Elements Pt. 2
Label: Nuclear Blast

If you love guitar Gods and classical music equally, consider Stratovarius your new favorite band, even if you've never heard them. The singer sings higher than Bruce Dickinson, the guitarist plays those Bach-esque fugue toccatas (?) faster than Beethoven (?) but on his guitar (!) and the keyboardist isn't afraid of making it all sound like church or a Phil Collins album with his gentle wind-whipping pop synths. Styx fans will go CRAZY over this, especially Styx fans who always dreamt that Dennis DeYoung would be replaced by Yngwei Malmsteen.

Band: Sun Ra & His Arkestra
Product: The Cry Of Jazz DVD
Label: Music Video Distributors

In 1959, a man named Edward O. Bland set out to prove a point about jazz music. This point was simple: Jazz could only have been created by Negros because its mixture of freedom (in the notes) and restrictions (in the changes) is the Negro's cry of joy and pain in response to the freedom of God-Given life compounded by White America's refusal to offer the Negros any sort of future. Also, White People have no soul and are not human beings.

The backdrop for this heartwarming tale of racial harmony and poor acting is plentiful footage of visionary pianist Sun Ra during his Chicago period, alongside tenor saxophonist John Gilmore and many other Arkestra members. This is the first commercial release of this short film, and if you're a Sun Ra fan even a little bit, you pretty much need it because you can't get this particular material anywhere else. I have to warn parents though: the film features abundant cigarette smoking.

Band: The Suntanama
Album: Another
Label: Drag City

Drag City has put out some great records - Neil Hamburger, Pavement, Scott Walker, Stereolab, The Nig-Heist -- I mean, that is some GREAT stuff!!! Have you heard The Nig-Heist? They were a hilarious Black Flag side project that pretended to be sexist heavy metal sleazebags. Catchy songs too! And obviously Stereolab and Neil Hamburger are without peer. But unfortunately, if Wet Willie or the Atlanta Rhythm Section were to suddenly get signed to a hip indie label, they wouldn't magically become cool by osmosis. The Suntanama are fuckin terrible.

Band: Supercharger
Album: The Singles Party
Label: Rip Off

Listen at me. The founder of Rip Off Records is a man named Greg Lowery who used to play in a band called Supercharger. You might remember them from their #1 r'n'b hit "Sooprize Package For Mr. Mineo," later an enormous smash for Avril Lavigne. If you don't, perhaps you'll know them from their new singles compilation CD The Singles Party -- this is garage rock at its least well-produced! Kind of mod- sounding but really reverbed all to Shim and back, the tracks raucously recall a day in the not-so-distant past when rock was new and rebellious because Marvin Berry held up the phone to his cousin Chuck while Marty McFly was playing guitar at the high school dance, and Chuck was looking for a new sound and Doc found 13.21 jigawatts of plutonium and Marty was all like, "Gosh Doc, this is heavy!" and Biff was such a JURK! FUCK YOU, BIFF!!!! UP THE FUCKING ASS!!!!!!!

If you like fast punk-speed guitar rock that sounds like it was recorded in somebody's closet in 1966, "Take A Hint" and admit that you "Want It Bad." Say to yourself, "I'm Beat" because "I Got None." Then jump in your car, "Rev It Up" and drive to the local record store with an "Ice Pick." When the clerk yells, "Bad Boy!" and "Don't Mess Me Up!," grab your gun and go "Boom Boom!" Then go home and listen to "The Three Other Songs Whose Titles Don't Suit Themselves To The Narrative Form, Especially `I'm A Hog For You Baby' Unless I Opt To Turn It XXX, Which I've Been Known To Do, But You Wouldn't Know That Since You Haven't Seen My Original `Director's Cut' Of Schindler's List Before Schpeilburg Got His Hands On It And Took Out All The Hot Fiennes-On-Neeson Action."

Or should I say. "Mystery Action"???????!?!??!?!?!????!!!!!!!

Oh that's right, you don't have the song titles in front of you. You probably didn't find that last paragraph anywhere near as funny as I did.

Band: Superyob
Album: Ghetto Blaster
Label: Underground London

Very few British bands sound quite this British! Thick accents, pub lyrics, `70s punk riffs - yet a sense of fun and normalcy that won't alienate non-punkers (no Mohawks - normal looking guys). They also do a cover of the Easybeats' "Friday On My Mind," which is pretty much all you need to do to impress me.

Artists: Survival Research Laboratories
Product: 10 Years of Robotic Mayhem DVD
Label: Music Video Distributors

Survival Research Laboratories is a group of smug but intelligent fellows that have spent the past 25 years creating hilariously violent remote-controlled machines that battle each other during painfully loud, abrasive, confrontational public performances. Endless streams of young people have tried to describe this phenomenon to me for about ten years, but I really didn't understand the point of the whole thing until I saw it for myself here on this handy-dandy DVD. There IS a point - it's FUNNY! I mean, this is a group of very smart electronics engineers who have fallen victim to the iconoclastic vision of determined nonconformist Mark Pauline, a man who at a young age decided that he would have no self-respect if he just went to work for a company. Instead, he decided he had to do something that nobody else had done before: use his skills and book learnin' to create, destroy and rebuild dozens of big ridiculous machines made from stolen factory parts.

The DVD makes a much stronger case for it than words can. You'd really have to see these horrifying beasts created from steel, blades, throwing arms, guns, skulls, rib plates and bones to get a good feel for why I'm now going to refer to them as "soulless dwellers of a nightmarish Damnation Alley-style post-apocalyptic society!" Plus the DVD presents their work in a variety of manners and contexts that will make your eye move as happily towards the television as your bladder moves towards the urinal directly in front of the television (in some homes). There's the human-free, machines-as-stars motion picture -- the behind-the-scenes interviews and preparation footage prior to a big ol' foreignland exhibit - the art museum installation they created in which a metal hand continously smashes glass bottles onto the ground as a cannon fires shockwaves point blank into viewers' faces (as Mark explains during the footage, the wave itself is so forceful, it automatically gives the viewer a migraine headache regardless of their earplugs -- one woman even got an immediate nosebleed!) -- and ass-plenty footage of demonstrations and shows they've conducted over the years as the machines have grown bigger, scarier and more complicated.

Personally I could do without Mark Pauline's arrogant line of Situationalist bullshit, but he sure makes some neat machines!

Band: Sweet
Product: Glitz, Blitz & Hitz DVD
Label: Music Video Distributors

For a band that really didn't have that many good albums, Sweet was an incredibly entertaining bunch of transvestites. From their early days as a long-haired bubblegum band performing moronic Nicky Chinn/Mike Chapman compositions through their middle years as a campy cross-dressing glam band blasting out PHENOMENAL Nicky Chinn/Mike Chapman compositions through their late decades as a good-to-middlin' hard rock band performing original compositions even after firing their singer and not bothering to replace him, Sweet were - ah, this sentence is too long already.

This wonderful, spellbinding DVD collects TV footage and promo videos of some of their greatest hitz ever, including "Blockbuster," "Ballroom Blitz," "Fox On The Run" and "Love Is Like Oxygen," along with an oral history of the band and recollections by their early manager/producer Phil Wainman, midperiod manager/songwriter Nicky Chinn and Sweet guitarist Andy Scott. At first, I was a little irked that they could only get one Sweetie to take part, but it turns out that half the band is DEAD! I'm not sure what the heck happened to flamboyant sexy bassist Steve Priest (the guy who sings "She thinks SHE'S the passionate one!" in that Beastie Boys song); the only update offered by the DVD is that he "now lives in America."

If you never fancied yourself a Sweet fan, grab this sack of wonderful shit because it will make you one. The bouncy early stuff ("Funny, Funny," "Co-Co," "Poppa Joe") is a bit sickening, but once they whip out the elevator boots, silver vests and KICKASS stomping loud guitar rock, you'll want to hear more and more and MORE! As for the interviewees, Andy has put on a few (hundred) pounds, Nicky seems to have four gallons of phlegm stuck in his throat and Phil Wainman behaves EX-ACT-LY like that ridiculous boss in the TV show "The Office." I mean, EX-ACT-LY. Same goofball smile and overly self-impressed sense of pride and wonder - even the same accent! So if you like that show "The Office," you'll LIKE Taking Shitz On Titz!

Oh, I'm sorry. See, Chuck Berry was in Sweet for a while.

Band: Richard Swift
Album: Buildings In America 7"
Label: Velvet Blue Music

Dick Swifty lives in Long Beach, Cafilornia and apparently plays organ and piano in SF 59. This solo single, however, showcases a gentle acoustic balladeer of sorrowful proportions. Both songs begin with just Richard's heavily-reverbed lazy rainy Sunday caf‚ vocals and the strumming of a broken guitar (there's a big HOLE in the middle! Get that thing fixed!), and then fill up with sleigh bells and violins or loud fuzzy noises, depending on which side of the record you're spinning on the end of your finger and playing with your magical Space Needle. One of the songs is a cover of a song by Gene Eugene who apparently has passed away. Then there's some ringing bells that are given a title as if it deserves to be considered a third song. I don't consider it a third song and I'd like a third of my money back please, bartender.

You know what I can't wait for? I can't wait for Jello Biafra's touching, emphatic "Why I'm Glad Another Space Shuttle Blew Up" speech.

Band: Symphony In Peril
Album: Lost Memoirs And Faded Pictures
Label: Facedown

I thought it might be a good idea to learn a bit about this group before penning my dainty review, so I visited www.facedown.com to see what the record label had to say. Imagine my blushy-faced countenance when I found myself face-to-screen with "Facedown Entertainment Adult Video Entertainment!" Escorts, massage, nude maids, an "employment" link with an animated hand job icon next to it - how could such a nice, friendly hardcore label as Facedown take part in such philthy animal behavior in front of children (I'm 4). I won't even ponder that question for one second longer. At the end of our time here on Urth, it's Symphony In Peril that will be dancing with the Satan Devil - not me! As for the music, it's metalcore featuring vocals by Shawn Jonas, formerly of ZAO. Haint never heard ZAO, me, but Shawn has a loud, raspy, hoarse, ugly shouting attack that reminds me of why I can't listen to Poison the Well. Musically, Symphony In Peril is pretty darned intense too - except when they're being intensely darn pretty (as in the melancholy acoustic "Three Months"). This band is from Ohio and deserves to be heard. The riffs are evocative and diverse, while still thrashing and throbbing lowly enough for today's loud music fans with their earphones and what-have-you. And I'm not calling them "lowly"! I'm just, yet again, putting no effort at all into using adverbs that actually exist.

Band: Symphony X
Album: Symphony X (Special Edition)
Label: InsideOut

Bon Jovi anomalies aside, New Jersey may seem an odd place for a metal band to form, but that's only because Bruce Springsteen tells you lies about the populace. Most of them would rather grow a mullet, smoke a marijuana pipe and listen to Exciter than sweep Rosalita off her feet and race their car down Nowhere Lane. The difference with Sympony X is that they also apparently were into Dungeons & Dragons. Not that Canada's fine Rush outfit WASN'T into such realms of nerdy fantasy, but I'm trying to make a case for Jersey here. The Jersey of Symphony X was no Jersey at all; it was Europe. But strained through America. In other words, they try very hard to conjure up the cold mystical nights of Iron Maiden lore, but instead they sound like a cross between the sweaty guitar speed of Megadeth and the will-never-kiss-a-girl "progressive" pop fantasia of Styx. This was only their first album (released in '94, re-released in this "Special Edition" more recently), but for my money, it's their best. I mean, the vocals are metal-operatic and there are some silly "majestic" keyboard lines here and there, but underneath it all is some great kickass thrash! After this one, they went totally Euro-power-prog. :7(

Band: Symphony X
Album: The Divine Wings Of Tragedy (Special Edition)
Label: InsideOut

I've yet to hear their second LP, but on this - their third - the guitar tones are heavier, but the tempos are slower and the keyboards louder, making them sound more like the Europeans they may have longed to be. The guitarist is an extremely dexterous man, as one has to be to play intricate metal leads, but the energy level stays a little low for my personal tastes. The songs are also overdramatic, corny and WAAAAY too reliant upon minor keys. One interesting thing though -- they replaced the metal-operatic vocalist with a smooth-voiced pop metal guy. This did wonders for their career and just today they won American Idol for their hilarious and heartwarming rendition of "She Bangs."

Band: Symphony X
Album: Twilight In Olympus (Special Edition)
Label: InsideOut

More classically-influenced metal, built on minor keys and keyboard lines and lots of unsmiling seriousness. The musicianship and technical ability is inarguable; the songwriting choices are extremely arguable. Prog metal fans love these guys; I think they need to look into the benefits of a major key. Or at least a chord sequence that doesn't sound exactly like every other one they've written. (I don't mean the guitar and keyboard note runs - just the actual chord sequences, which are darn near interchangeable!). They aren't intense enough to please the metal fan in me, not melodic enough to please the pop fan in me and not musically intriguing enough to please the prog fan in me.

But the hardcore pornography fan in me simply LOVES that "X" in their name!

Band: Symphorce
Album: PhorcefulAhead
Label: Metal Blade

"Symphonic Force" all squished together into one word describes what these guys are going for. This is their second album of "melodic power metal" and they might be German. If not German, then DEFINITELY not from Berlin. They look like Tyr-era Black Sabbath and if it were up to vocalist Andy Franck, that's exactly who they would be. HEAVY riffage, fruity worthless synths and alternately rough and rowdy/high vibrato-wiggly vocals. I'm particularly miffed by the pound-pound-pound drum beats on this record. I like a fast "doop-chick," not a POUND DIGGY DIGGY POUND drum beat. This sort of drumbeat is for masochists, as well as those who enjoy pain. You can't bounce around happily - you can only feel your head being crushed into the ground by the angry jackhammers of life. The guitar chord splash thrash pound frinkage is plenty mean, but don't I have the right to demand more? I do and will. And SHALL! I'm gonna call them up right now. (beep-beep-boop-boop-beep-boop-boop) Yes! Hello? Is this Symphorce? Yeah! Hey! This is Prind! Listen, what's up with your shitty album?

Well, THAT's no way to talk to Prind! All I'm saying is that your shitty album could be a lot better than the shittiness that it is!

Oh HERE we go. Jesus Christ, talk about not being able to take constructive criticism. Fine, play as shitty as you want, SHITKINGS. I'll be in the other room changing all your concert fliers to read "SHITphorce."

Band: Symphorce
Album: Twice Second
Label: Metal Blade

Another great album by Metal Blade's great engergetic power metal/thrash band Symphorce. These guys have an engergy that is unmatched in the engergetic world of metal. Their songs are straight, melodic and full of engergy, and Twice Second, their inexcusably poorly titled FOURTH album, takes that engergy and gets it hotter and hotter every minute! The engergy and power, gained from their live activities, makes it possible to describe the new album with just one sentence: "What a blister!!!" Don't be an asshole. If you like any kind of metal, Symphorce's engergy will engergize you like the Engergizer Bunny!

Band: Takara
Album: Eternity - The Best 93-98
Label: Lion Music

Ha hahaha! They made a typo on the COVER!!! Oh sure, some band was recording cornyass Survivor/Asia/Toto pop ballads with Yamaha keyboards, big stupid drums and permed-hair furry-chested Paul Rodgers vocals in "93-98" - HA AHHHAAH! Aside from that unfortunate typesetting error, this is a perfectly good collection of early-to-mid-80s L.A. light-pop/rock ballads with metal guitar solos. A long time ago, girls in their early teens would have found these guys dreamy. But those days are over, and today's teens would rather listen to grindcore and show their boob on the Super Bowl than appreciate the Elton John-style songwriting approach that such hard and heavy rock balladeers as Tesla, Extreme and Nelson brought to the table back before Nirvana ruined everything with their fucking "reality." So where does that leave Takara? With a back catalog that's not going to appeal to anybody but 40-year-old Taco Bell employees? Don't let that happen. Buy it! Their melodies are sweet! And pretty! Don't you remember your youth? Come on - don't be a jerkass!

Band: Tarot
Album: Suffer Our Pleasures
Label: Metal Blade

Now personally I sprained my ankle yesterday and have to hold it up on the desk as I squinch myself uncomfortably into the chair. It's getting late and it's about 500 degrees in my home. But none of this is to say that, formed by brothers Marco and Zachary Hietala in the mid-80s, Tarot has NOT always been a lasting favourite among Finnish metal fans. In fact, their debut album "Spell Of Iron" was released in 1986 with a line-up of the Hietala brothers in bass, vocals and guitar, Pecu Cinnari in drums and Mako H in guitars. The debut was followed by the 1988 album "Follow Me Into Madness," and also by a five-year vacation during which Mako H. was replaced by keyboardist Janne Tolsa.

In retrospect, it seems obvious to me, Mark Prindle, that 1993's "To Live Forever" would make the band known also among Japanese heavy-fanatics for whom Tarot recorded an exclusive Japan-only live album (like the VENTURES!!!) in 1994. Some of the live tracks were later added to the bonus CD of 1995's "Stigmata," an album that once again marked a small break in the band's career. What all this has to do with anything, I have no clue. I also have no clue why somebody would -- or rather, why I would say that somebody is "in" drums or "in" guitars.

Regardless, if I recall correctly from my research and interviews, the band gathered its forces in 1998 "For The Glory Of Nothing," but for years (five, to be exact) it seemed that it was to be Tarot's final album. Although the band played occasional gigs here and there -- just as a sidenote, "Convulsions" is a fun as hell song! It's like death metal doing Chuck Berry! -- but getting back to my thesis, the limelight was turned to the members' other projects. Christ, my new deodorant stinks. All the better then that Marco Hietala joined Conquest (?) and played bass in Sinergy (?) while Janne Tolsa took part in the recordings of Virtuocity (?)'s "Secret Visions."

I was going to write a paragraph here about the band signing to the Spinefarm label, but decided it was too boring to make up. So instead, now after five years of silence, Tarot returns with one killer of an album, "Suffer Our Pleasures"! In the words of MarkPrindle.com, the biggest Finnish metal webzine, "Dear pricks, Tom Petty's 'The Waiting' has finally reached cessation and this CD has definitely been a value to be patient for! That's Incredible! "Suffer Our Pleasures" is doubtless the best Tarot-album of all time! And this can be further verified by somebody who's actually heard one of their other albums!"

Well, fuck you too asshole. My back hurts. You think I get paid for this? Ooo neat! "From The Shadows" has a REALLY cool warped acoustic/bass/synth conflagration of weirdness at the beginning. See, that's the thing. That's two songs that are cool as hell. But too many of the others are just basic power metal with a high falsetto singer. But as I was saying, after months of persuasion and long conversations with Spinefarm's representatives, Tarot finally agreed and started the recordings of a new album in October 2002.

And then I wrote "The Music Man"!

(Sorry, inside joke)

(But wasn't it hilarious anyway????)

Band: Tear It Up
Album: Taking You Down With Me
Label: Havoc

In one band photo, the singer is wearing a Black Flag shirt and the bassist a Discharge shirt. In another, the singer is bare-chested and shown to have a Black Flag tattoo as he holds the mic up to an audience member in a Circle Jerks shirt. On the cover, the singer is murdered the other four band members with a knife. Song titles include "One Down Me To Go," "Taking You Down With Me" and "Down In Flames" - you might say the band is "going down"! Ha haha a! hah! (Blow job) HA !! ha ahah!!

If you like `80s hardcore, you'll love Tear It Up's 21st century hardcore. The guitar tone is cheap and fuzzy, the singer's got a great angry young scream and the riffs alternate between "so fast, it's already over" and slow sick My War-style dirges. Tear It Up, Kriss. I'm about to!

Filmmakers: Teenagers From Marz
Product: Teenagers From Marz DVD
Label: Daybyday Productions

And we don't CAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAARE! But seriously, Teenagers From Marz is a foul-mouthed youth collective led by Will Carsola and Dave Stewart (one of which owns a beard). Their debut DVD shows a clear Jackass influence, but instead of smashing their heads on rocks and eating tangerines with razors in them, the Teenagers From Marz just make up dumb, profane skits and fake commercials, then intersperse them into lots of cool footage of graffiti artists and skateboarders honing their craft. My brother once commented to me about how he's always impressed by somebody who can be humorous without being obscene. The Teenagers From Marz don't even TRY. Obscenity IS the joke with these guys. So if you're into cuss words and silly young men - or alternately, skateboarders and graffiti artists - the Teenagers From Marz should be visiting your home right about today!

Band: Ten Foot Pole
Album: Subliminal Messages
Label: GoKart

Is a band still the same band if the singer has replaced both the guitarist and the bassist? Mark E. Smith of the Fall certainly thinks so, and apparently so does "Nyaaaah"-voiced Dennis Jagard (no relation to Mick), for that is exactly what has occurred here on Sub Lim In Able Mess Ages, as Chuck D would have named Ten Foot Pole's latest CD. Supposedly these guys play punk rock, but I'll be darned if a full half of the tracks on here aren't mid- to slow-tempoed pop songs. Even the fast ones are really just midtempo rock songs with a few cleanly-produced, energyless fast breaks here and there. And it's all mixed FAR too cleanly, as if they're on a major label and looking for nothing but modern radio success. I'm a big fan of GoKart Records -- there are very few labels who still issue as much great old-school hardcore punk (both new and re-issued) as the fine fellows (and women) of that label. But Ten Foot Pole doesn't deserve to be a part of their roster. This band is just generic frat boy garbage. No guts, no power, no edge -- just boring chord sequences and an unforgivably bratty-sounding singer turned up way too loud in the mix. I wouldn't touch Ten Foot Pole with a... with a... SHIT, with a... Aw man, with a... I wouldn't - aw jeez... Can you? No! To... With a Let's Not Come on, is there... Can anyone? HELLO!? OPERATOR!? I wouldn't touch my balls with a twenty-foot lit candle!

(again)

Band: Terminus
Album: Graveyard Of Dreams
Label: Boss Tuneage

This is a compilation of tracks by an early `90s English punk/goth/metal band called.umm.Terminus. The singer has a really cool low British adult singer guy voice and some of the punk riffs just pound and gallop like crazy (I'm especially enamored by "Star Born Thing"). The gothier tunes (like "Dance With The Dead") drag a little for my tastes, but overall this is a nice confluence of worlds, inviting young Mohawk guys to sip tea with their dressed-in-black cohorts in the Gothic kingdom, while Billy Idol fans drain their colostomy bags into each others' mouths in the lobby. Keep on rocccin', Terminus!

Band: Texas Terri Bomb!
Album: Your Lips...My Ass!
Label: TKO

Oh Yeah! Raunch City! Dirty Action! Brain Explosion! The Rocker!!!

Never Shut Up? Dream Wrecker. Strike 3. Turn It Off!

One Hit Wonder. And I Got A Right to say so!

MAFIA?!?!?!? I guess Courtney Love Hates Me!

That whole joke would have gone a lot smoother if she'd just left "Mafia" and "Love Hates Me" off of the album. But what do you expect from a Texas-twangin' sleazer-bangin' loud garage rock screaming heavy-mascaraed Riot Party Slut Grrrrrrrrrl? One thing's for certain - if you like loud party yell rock, put your lips on Texas Terri's ass and give her a rim job!

Why didn't they just call the damn album Give Me A Rim Job? You KNOW that's what Phil Collins would have done. If only we had more fearless revolutionaries sticking it to the system like Phil Collins does.

Band: Theatres des Vampires
Album: Vampyrisme.
Label: Beyond Productions

As far as I can make out from the ridiculously overdramatized bunch of lies in the liner notes, Theatres Des Vampires formed in 1994 (or rather "crept towards darkness during the period known to mortal beings as 1994 A.D.") and released a 1995 CD called Vampyrisme, necrophiilie, necrosadisme, necrophagie (following the original members "giving up their immortality, thus leaving the doom of the human race in the sole hands of Lord Vampyr"). Then the good Lord Vampyr recorded four more albums before now completely re-recording that first album with "the actual line-up" -- I'm not sure whether this means the line-up that recorded it the first time, or the line-up that gave up their immortality, but I have the craziest feeling that Lord Vampyr had an ulterior motive for re-recording it (as Mike Muir did when he had an all-metal line-up re-record the debut Suicidal Tendencies LP so he could get the song rights back from Frontier Records). So that's the story of the release. The music itself is goth-flavored death metal, drenched in string section synths, retching heavily-accented vocals, high-speed guitar note thrashing and more lyrical vampire teeth than you can shake a Sisters of Mercy shirt at, if you like to shake shirts at teeth. Fans of Christian Death and Cradle of Filth will be pleased by the presence of Gian Pyras and Valor, and all others will be tickled EVIL by the dark orchestral death throes of "Lord Vampyr" and his henchmen "Necros," "Blasfemator," "Blutsauger," "Morgoth," "Incubus," and "Scarlet." Girls who like Anne Rice will TOTALLY get boners when they hear this band. Hold tight girls, `cuz your DICKS are gonna get HARD AS A ROCK!!!

Band: They Might Be Giants
Album: NO!
Label: Idlewild

If you've ever heard early They Might Be Giants, you'd have to be some kind of argumentative jerk guy to not agree with me that it's pretty childish. Bouncy sing-songy nursery rhyme-style goofiness with ridiculous lyrics about making birdhouses and not let starting and whistling in the dark. But then they CHANGED and became all sort of normaller and adult and crap, resulting in albums that. well, if I may be uproariously, hysterically clever, here -- They Might Be Generic HEEEEEEEEEEEEEEEEEEEEEEEEEEEEEEEEEEEEE!

But that's in the past and now NO! sounds just like their debut again! They may claim that this CD is "a very special disc for the entire family" (especially children), but really it's just like the first album, but with a few lyrics almost resignedly geared towards kids. There's "Where Do They Make Balloons?" (geography!), "In The Middle, In The Middle, In The Middle" (traffic safety) and "No!" (no means no) - but other than that, it's the same old psychedelic childlike cartoony weird nonsense! Accordions, keyboards, violins, trombones, trumpets, kooky things and funny voices - and yes, it IS a fun CD for children. It's cute, easy to sing along with and better best of yetness, it comes with adorable interactive cartoons when you shove it up your computer's ass. So do yourself and your baby a favor, and buy NO! instead of that EYEHATEGOD cd they keep plugging on Captain Kangaroo.

Band: This Microwave World
Album: Total Information Awareness EP
Label: How+Why

Gang of Four bitter reggae, early Public Image Ltd. bass-as-lead-instrument, Jonathan Richmanish deadpan vocals. Cool, dark and danceable. Except "Alien/Sedition," which is about the greatest Fall homage I've ever heard in my life - at least since THE ARM!!!! Sean O'Neal heads up both bands and heads them up quite well indeed. I get the feeling This Microwave World probably gets more chicks because they're more "serious," but The Arm - awww sweet sweet The Arm.

Band: Thrice
Album: The Artist In The Ambulance
Label: Island

Thrice is donating a portion of proceeds from sales of this album to an endowment that provides chemotherapy and other medication for people who can't afford it. So how on Earth could I NOT recommend that you buy it??? Luckily, the music's pretty good too. They play that melodic sort of post-hardcore emo thing that the kids might be talking about (I'm 30, I wouldn't know), and sound FAR too passionate to be on a major label. Thanks, Island, for not ruining them yet! The guitar lines are fuzzy, emotionally resonant and generally interesting aside from a few pop-punk clich‚s here and there. High orange tones live alongside dark angertones of heavibleness, and the world cries out for forgiveness.

Band: Thyrfing
Album: Vansinnesvisor
Label: Hammerheart

This is the fourth album by Sweden's THYRFING. Sung almost completely in Swedish and telling the tale of a sinner who drives a van and wears a visor (as far as I can make out from the title), this CD will "take listeners on a voyage back to the true age of carkness and mystery." I guess this is black metal, because it has a keyboard that at times sounds really out of place. But the guitars still thrash and tear like an angry goldfish ripping a wolverine apart. More raspy evil vocals too! I will never understand why these extreme metal bands never hire cuties like that girl who won "American Idol" to sing for them. The Gathering did though! Well, I don't know if she's a cutie, but she's a woman alright! I can tell by her adam's apple! You'll find some good evil riffage here and there, but I honestly think they could have splurged a little and purchased a grand, ethereal keyboard - or at least one that doesn't sound like the "electric piano" setting on a $50 Casio. And don't worry when you see unwieldy song titles like "Varldsspegeun" and "Vansinnesvisan" -- when the lyrics kick in, you'll immediately understand them thanks to the language tutoring that all children receive whenever that Swedish Chef is on the Muppet Show.

Band: Thy Disease
Product: Extreme Obsession Live
Label: Music Video Distributors

Even if one is a black metal fan, I'm not certain that one would have heard of Polish sensations Thy Disease, so I'm a little surprised and confused about MVD's decision to focus an entire DVD on them. I guess if you're a fan, you'll love it. As somebody who'd never heard of them, I have to express my disappointment at the mix. I can't hear any of the damn guitar riffs over the booming drums! It's accurate though - this IS what it sounds like when you see a band at a concert hall. The drums are always thuddingly boomingly loud and you can never hear the guitar unless you're right in front of the guy's amp. So forget it as an introduction, but if you're already into the band, where the heck else are you going to find a DVD of them? Extras include a band history, interview, bonus videoclip of the song "Perfect Form" (a brutal song with an even MORE brutal video, unless you enjoy seeing lesbians knifed to death, as many Christians do), six audio tracks, a photo gallery and desktop images. 95 minutes of pure EEEEEEEEEEEEEEEEEEEEEEEEvil. And check out the band members' names: Psycho, Yanuary, Pepek, Marco'tic, Alize666 and Cube. CUBE!!!! Can you imagine if his father's name was Rubik? I know! I can't either!!! What would it be like? Should we call someone?

Band: Tidfall
Album: Nucleus
Label: Nuclear Blast

This is the third album for a black metal band from Norway called Titball. Quite a funny name for a pinball game, but it's been a successful one nonetheless. The latest release for Tidfall features scary, dark synthesizers backing up the growly, screamy vocals and fast-as-heck double-bass-drum galloping trolloping and heavy guitar abuse. This release may leave you wondering where the voyage began, and what will become of your doomed soul. Alternately, it may leave you wondering why the band members go by such stupidass fake names ("Abraxas," "Aftaneldr," "Drako Arcane," "Sorg" and "Zarthon."). There's not a bad thing to say about this release - you either love orchestral black metal or you don't.

Band: Tiger Mountain
Album: Analog Heads Gone French
Label: Lucky Cat

Former members of Murphy's Law, Nada Surf and Girltoucher (?) joined together, got influenced by the Clash, Cheap Trick, the Yardbirds and The Damned and somehow put out an album that sounds like The Knack. No surprise, I suppose, when you consider that the two main guys in the band used to be in a band called GIRLTOUCHER (?) and seem to pride themselves on utilizing the most smarmy, cocky fratboy vocal deliveries and onstage body motions possible. One of them does a gross, lecherous party-hearty "BLEAH" kind of singing and the other guy seems to be trying to sound as much like the Cars' Ben Orr as possible, complete with the fake British accent! (assuming it's fake, you understand) The music is harmless double-guitar electric power pop of the sort you'd hear by four or five opening acts before the band you came to see (the Poster Children) finally come onstage and play a shitty boring set of power pop fucking crap music.

Let me move on to the positive though - and there IS some positive here: first of all, unlike way too many a power pop band, these guys do NOT just play straight fuzzy chords and assume that it counts as a song. They play notes, leads, arpeggios, different rhythms - I mean the guys can obviously play their instruments. Heck, as irritable as I can be, even I can't escape the catchy melodic genius and fun guitar stylings of something like "Night Town." Secondly, if you're a sports-loving fratboy beer-drinking guy, Tiger Mountain will be RIGHT up your alley. And they're probably a lot better off being up YOUR alley than being up MY alley because my alley is full of `60s one-shots and irritating noisy bands that will never sell more than 25 units per release. And that's what makes me such a trustworthy music critic! Did you say The Hombres? Why, I LOVE The Hombres! And who's that - Bloodlet? Shit yeah, I love Bloodlet! Thanks for asking!

Band: Tourniquet
Album: Where Moth And Rust Destroy
Label: Metal Blade

Tourniquet is a Christian metal band with about a billion albums out. The singer's last name is "Easter," which I will be the first person in America to not point out is "appropriate." All of their songs appear to be based on biblical passages, but only lyrically because most of the bible doesn't have a kickass distorted guitar tone. Don't be warned! Or rather -- no, hang tight. Don't worry! That's what I meant. Don't worry! They don't sound like Stryper! Musicallywise, they use tempos ranging from thrash to sludge, melodic construction similar to early Metallica but with an occasional love for those classical music-sounding progressive harmelodic chords (which have an actual name -- the deal where the chords are like superharmonized into two chords at once? You have an effects pedal; you know what I'm talking about). The mix is dine and fandy thanks to Bill Metoyer of DRI albums production fame, but the vocals are you KIDDING ME?!?!! Why do so many metal people try to sound exactly like James Hetfield? He's NOT a very good singer, folks! If you feel compelled to imitate somebody, at least make it Minnie Riperton, for Christ's sake (pun probably intended, not that it's a pun). Why don't more metal people imitate Minnie Riperton?

OH, DON'T GIMME THAT "FIVE OCTAVES IS HARD" SHIT - IF MINNIE CAN DO IT, YOU CAN TOO!!! AND NO MORE GAY SEX UNTIL YOU DO, THAT GUY IN TESTAMENT!!!!

Oops! I probably shouldn't be talking about gay sex in reference to a Christian rock band. After all, Christians hate fags. That's what being a judgmental self-righteous prick is all about!!!

Bottom Line: For about fifteen different reasons, I don't like Tourniquet. But if you're a Christian metal fan, you probably won't get much better than this.

Band: Tora! Tora! Torrance!
Album: Get Into It
Label: The Militia Group

I was all totally hoping this would be that heavy metal band Tora! Tora! with that hot naked cartoon slut on the cover of their album so I could pull out my cartoon penis and animate my hand all up and down it til a word balloon squirted out the end, but unfortunately it's some band from Minneapolis/St. Paul - home of NetRadio Networks! And Navarre Corporation! Don't forget OmniMedia and Digital Entertainment! Can you believe it??? ALL THAT TALENT??? ALL RIGHT THERE IN MINNEAPOLIS???? THE VERY THOUGHT OF IT MAKES YOU WANT TO TAKE ALL YOUR MONEY OUT OF THE STOCK MARKET AND MAIL IT TO BOB MOULD AND SAY, "JUST PUT THIS ANYWHERE IN THE CITY BECAUSE I KNOW IT WILL TRIPLE IN VALUE BY THE TIME I COME PICK IT UP THIS WEEKEND!!!!

They play bitter pissy collegey sounding rock music - like Honor Role (who fuckin RULED, if you're into bitter pissy collegey sounding rock music) - but with a singer who seems to open his mouth too wide every time he sings - so every line ends up sounding like "Ah wah sah bah dah wah gah da!" But hey! It's a style! And I'm a Stylin' guy! I'm a "Ladies' Man"! A "Superstar," if you will! Every day is like "A Night At The Roxbury" when I'm around! Hey! Look who's got both fists shoved up her vagina! "It's Pat" Nixon!

So yeah, if you're in college and looking for a guitar-based band that tries to pull together some cool minor-key interplay for you, as well as letting the bass/drum juggernaut take center stage for aggressive pound-downs fairly often, you should check these guys out. The singer's high-end approach takes some time to get used to, but the band is tight, interesting and completely determined to bum you out - in a VERY GOOD way. Their guitars are mad as hell, but not in a metal way. In a mad young double guitar rock of thoughtfulness way. Buy this CD and also go pick up the Honor Role CD! You need both or your record collection doesn't have both of them in it!

Band: Tora! Tora! Torrance!
Album: A Cynic's Nightmare
Label: The Militia Group

Annoy! Annoy! Annoyance! When I heard this band's debut album last year, I thought to myself, "Well, the singer is godawful, but what a neat angry jagged pissed-off guitar attack these guys have got!" Well, as bands will do when a career beckons, they (mostly) replaced their original standoffish approach with an IN-YOUR-FACE guitar sound extremely palatable to the ears of young ROCKERS!!! The riffs are a little too obvious (and obviously designed for maximum youth emotional response), but since most popular bands can't even pull off the obvious, I have to give them credit for that. Just because I know exactly where a song is going every second of the way doesn't mean I can't enjoy it. The guitar lines are loud, bombastic, anthemic but tension-filled as well. However, what really kills this one again is that fucking SINGER!!! He apparently was brought up to believe that all the words in the English language are supposed to rhyme with each other, giving us endless streams of indecipherable, loud, whiny declarations like "Ah wah sah bah dah wah gah da!" I mean, I love the guy so much I'd buy him a new jaw that closes if that would help, but otherwise I'm going to avoid this band until they either go instrumental or replace this guy with somebody slightly less irritating. Like, you know, anybody else in the entire world.

Except Sammy Hagar.

Band: Toxic Narcotic
Album: We're All Doomed
Label: GoKart

THEY'RE SCREAMING AT ME! THEY'RE PLAYING REALLY REALLY FUCKIN FAST!!!!! THEY'RE SCREAMING AT ME THAT THEY'RE "AT WAR WITH NATURE" AND THEY'RE CALLING ME AN "ASSHOLE" AND SAYING THAT "WE'RE ALL DOOMED" AND ASKING ME TO "PAVE THE PLANET" (WHICH I'M NOT AT ALL ACCREDITED TO DO!) AND COMPLAINING ABOUT THESE "BULLSHIT CONDITIONS" AND TELLING ME THAT "YOU WERE WARNED" (WHICH MAYBE YOU WERE, PERHAPS OVER THE TELEVISION!) AND SAYING THAT "5 BILLION PEOPLE MUST DIE" AND TELLING ME TO "SHUT THE FUCK UP!"

mm

aaah

They scare me with their anger and brutality, but their songs are catchy as hell hardcore -- "EVERYWHERE YOU GO - ASSHOLE! ASSHOLE! EVERYONE YOU KNOW - ASSHOLE! ASSHOLE! EVERYONE YOU SEE - ASSHOLE! ASSHOLE! EVERYONE YOU MEET - ASSHOLE! ASSHOLE!" This is such a great CD - every song flies by in a heartbeat, with - oh hell, I don't know who is singing. It credits all three guys with vocals. Regardless - these guys are from the Boston area and have been playing for THIRTEEN YEARS! That means that they've all gotta be -- shit -- at least 60 years old! It's amazing that a bunch of senior citizens could play this fast - I'm amazed that drummer Sam "Old 'N Wrinkly" Jodrey" doesn't lose an arm every time he starts flappin' and zappin' away at those love guns I call drums.

Why can't I call 'em love guns?

No no -- I refer to penii as "acoustic guitars."

The overall feel is similar to early Poison Idea (and I swear I STILL would have thought that if there wasn't a song on here called "Talk Is Poison Idea." I'M SERIOUS!). Count me in. I love hardcore and these guys play it fast, mean and socially responsible (a lot of the titles I mentioned earlier were ironic -- their lyrics honestly ARE socially conscious). YES, they think 5 billion people must die, but only because "humans are the cancer" and "we've almost drained our host" and that "what we need now is another fuckin' plague - one that won't discriminate by race, sex or age!" And that's a valid opinion. I wouldn't refute it. I wouldn't argue FOR it, but I wouldn't argue with it. We ARE pretty much killing the planet probably. People having fuckin kids all the time. But I'm not having children and I'm glad I (probably) won't be around when resources run thin enough to ignite global genocide.

And it KICKS ASS!!!!

Band: Tragedy Andy
Album: It's Never Too Late To Start Over
Label: Popsmear

Billie Joe Armstrong will face a cold firing squad in Hell for convincing far too many young people that an obnoxious, developmentally disabled "NYAAAH BWIIHHH GAAAHHH!" vocal approach is even slightly listenable (rather than punch-in-the-mouthingly assholish). Otherwise, Tragedy Andy plays midtempo emo "punk" pop with heavy guitars, perfectly produced for radio play. The songs themselves are quite charming and would be eminently listenable if not for the gruesome vocals; understand, I hope, that apparently a lot of young people LIKE this "young teen punker" vocal approach, so I'm probably just showing my old mannitude.

AUGH! My bowels just fell out!

Band: Trapt
Album: Trapt
Label: Warner Brothers

Check this out - I'm totally gonna make a hilarious joke about the band name. "Hey, it sounds like that guy who used to sing for Foreigner is 'TRAPT' in a generic nu-metal band!" Ha indeed, and we're all sharing in the laughter! Except for the band members, who are going to spend most of their adult lives working at Kinko's because they dropped out of school to throw themselves headlong into the most embarrassingly earnest genre of music since protest folk. Nu-metal is the hair metal of 2003, mark my words. Hey that's my name! I'M Mark! <-------- And THOSE are My Words!

Band: Treephort
Album: Enchanted Forest
Label: Springman

Atlanta nerdcore never sounded so core! Treephort blast you upside down from your seat with high-speed rhythms, warped screams from guys who sound like they're wearing glasses, ass-kicking organ lines and quirky rock and roll guitar lines. They may not SOUND like Devo, but you can tell they've got the same kind of smartness running through their hyperactive little beans as the Descendentsy singer makes fun of goth girls, people who won't shut up and everyone else in town. Song titles include "The Only Artist You'll Ever Be Is A Sandwich Artist," "Jesus Would Play This Show For Free" and "It Takes Talent To Scream Into A Microphone." I don't live in Atlanta anymore but if I did, I bet these guys would work at an area record store or Kinko's.

Band: Trivium
Album: Ember To Inferno
Label: Lifeforce

These guys merge about every type of metal that the world has ever known, combining the classically-influenced note runs and solos of NWOBM metal, the classic fist-pumping riffage of thrash/speed, the pummeling thubbida-thubbida gribble-grabble of Norwegian black metal, combining the depressing end-it-all lyrics of death metal and the brutal screaming/melodic singing dichotomy of nu-metal. More than anything, I think it's the mid-80s thrash influence that stands strongest, but it's a modern-day version of it, not all corned out like Megadeth would do. You can tell they're young guys with energy to spare, volume to share and polka-dotted underwear!

Best,
Dr. Seuss

Band: Twisted Roots
Album: Twisted Roots
Label: Bacchus/Dionysus

Oh! Well, I'll ask you then since you're here. What would YOU do if you saw a CD that claimed to be "Twisted 1981 L.A. Punk with Ex-Members of the Screamers & Germs," then you took it home and discovered that it featured Kira Roessler on bass? Wouldn't you scream, "WHAT ABOUT MOTHERFURRIN' BLACK FLAG??? HAH???" Because that's certainly what I would have said, what with Black Flag being forty times more well-known than the Germs and about 800,000,000,000,000,000 times more well-known than the furrin' Screamers!

Anyway, as world-famous (and rightly so, because he's a GREAT FURRIN' WRITER) music critic/historian Richie Unterberger once stated, "The band's material was a rather zany, haphazard mix of hardcore punk, moderately catchy new wave-pop, and a snide, satirical sense of humor." I would add to that that they used a VERY high-pitched Doors-like organ, played bouncy silly pop and had a female vocalist who couldn't sing her way out of a bag made out of air. Some of Kira's greatest and busiest bass work ever can be found on here though, which makes it just that much more offensive that it doesn't say "and Black Flag" on the cover like it should. She could play rings around her co-Root keyboardist brother Paul and his co-Root guitarist friend Pat Smear of Nirvana fame. Man, Kira was good! Check out the "thwapp-frump" bass chord insanity of "Are There Cobwebs On My Face?" or the Van Halen-style bass solo in "Fill Your Heart."

If you own the CD, that is. If you don't own it, you ain't gonna furrin' be checkin' out furrin' shir! Except maybe CREED or some furrin' shir, murrerfurrer!

My new "r"-based obscenity language isn't catching on as well as I'd hoped. And the Board of Directors is ALL up my arr about it. Bunch of dourrhebags.

Band: Udo
Album: Thunderball
Label: AFM

For most of my life as an AC/DC fan, I've read and disagreed with constantly dumbassed moron asshole jerk critics claiming that "Bon Scott was replaced by soundalike Brian Johnson." How is it possible that ANYBODY could think that Brian Johnson sounds like Bon Scott? Bon was a clean, goony, charismatic non-singer pally boy and Brian was a multi-ranged histrionic gravelly scream-singer! So imagine my confusion at running across Mr. Udo Dirkschneider, a man who (on this album, at any rate) manages to sound nearly identical to BOTH Bon Scott and Brian Johnson.

"Thunderball"? That's TOTAL Brian Johnson. "Trainride In Russia"? That's Bon Scott! It's as if the souls of both men have converged into the mouth of this German wunderkind and former Accept vocalist. Musically, he's still playing "Teutonic Metal" (a cross between AC/DC hard rock and Judas Priest power metal), and longtime fans won't be disappointed!

It's possible that new fans will be not only disappointed, but bored shitless. But longtime fans? Aw man, you guys are in for a TREAT!!!

Band: U.K. Subs
Product: Punk Can Take It DVD
Label: Music Video Distributors

Back in 1979, filmmaker Julien Temple hit a home run out of the ballpark of society with this tiny, hilarious "wartime documentary" of the punk rock movement, driven by onstage footage of the young U.K. Subs. Even youngsters unfamiliar with catchy UK Subs punker classics like "Stranglehold," "C.I.D." and Live In A Car" will laugh their eyeballs silly at the between-song skits tracing the history of the punk war: Temple hits a home run out of the ballpark of humor with scenes ranging from (1) a public service announcement explaining how to convert your school uniform into a punk uniform to (2) various battle footage showing spit as the punk movement's prime weapon to (1) an uproarious scene of colored-hair ruffians destroying a statue of the traitor Johnny Rotten. Even my wife was laughing, and she doesn't have a mouth! So if you're looking to hit a home run out of the ballpark of your DVD player, swing hard because "Punk Can Take It!"

(Don't literally swing a bat at your DVD player. There's not an ACTUAL ballpark in there.)

Band: The Umbrella Sequence
Album: Sparkler Cliche'
Label: The Umbrella Sequence

Ahh, the old sparkler clich‚. Haven't we all heard it enough? But now - the ALBUM! The Umbrella Sequence play a very interesting, Radiohead-reminiscent mixture of different organ, guitars and bass tones in this collection of extremely well-written, sorrowful songs. I've long been a fan of the "interesting chord sequence" and these fellows toss them out like yesterday's America. One interesting thing to note is that I can't tell whether their singer is a sensitive man or a pretty woman; the voice is ambidextrous! For all I know, it could be a pile of crap with teeth. Either way, great band!

Band: Unholy Ghost
Album: Torrential Reign
Label: Olympic

Extreme metal's sundry subgenres confuse me and those like me. Take Unholy Ghost, for a random example that I pulled out of a hat here in this Unholy Ghost review: the vocals sound like the Cookie Monster, and that's death metal. But the nonstop double-bass-drum blasting and speedy up-and-downstroke guitar playing is black metal - except it can't be black metal, because there's no whispery/wailing vocals or dark Norwegian keyboards. And it's not grindcore because blastbeats or no, the guitar playing is too technical. And then there's the high-speed 4/4 thrashing in songs like "Torn Apart," which is just great straight-up thrash (or speed metal). Then there's slow heavy trudgy breaks - and that's stoner metal. Do you see my conundrum? So I guess I'll just stick to the catchall term "Tin Pan Alley-style pop."

Unholy Ghost plays some of the most intense, kickass Tin Pan Alley-style pop since The Great Gatsby blew his fucking brains out while listening to Ira Gershwin. (Played backwards, the record clearly said, "DO IT, 23-SKIDOO.")

Band: Unsanctum
Album: Ignite The Skies
Label: Cacophonous

Very cool brutal metal! Doesn't fall into clearcut category of thrash, speed, black, grind, NWOBM, death, pop, hair, classic, morbid, leather, potato or bippity-boppity, but poses a nice BRUTALEJA mix to BRUTAL music that BTRUTYL folks BURUTE to. Plus the singer shrieks through a neat echoey distortion effect, immediately distinguishing himself from all those singers that don't. The nicest thing about the CD is that all the band members look like cute little thirteen-year-old boys. Unsanctum might just be the ones to bring extreme metal to the elusive 11-to-14-year-old female demographic!

Band: Uppercut
Album: Four Walls
Label: Blackout

Uppercut formed around a small group of friends who made the Sunday pilgrimage to CBGB matinee shows from the campus of Fordham University in the Bronx during the mid-80's. Lars W-HEY! WAIT A MINUTE!!! I'M JUST COPYING ALL THIS STRAIGHT FROM THE CD BOOKLET!!! SEE??? SEE HOW THE LIBERAL MEDIA FUCKS WITH YOUR MIND??!?!??! NO MORE!!! They were a bunch of guys who trying not to sound like every other NYHC band at the time. GAH!!! There's allot (sic) of history wrapped in these 50 minutes. GAH!!!!! GET OUT OF MY BRAIN!!!! Endured GAHHHHH!!! Kyuss and Surgery GAHHHHHH!!! GAH!!!! BLAZING METAL PATH!!!!!! BLAZING GODDAMNED METAL PATH!!!!!! And that is what hardcore is about.

Band - Useless I.D.
Album - No Vacation From The World
Label - Kung Fu Records

This is a pop-punk band from ISRAEL, of all ridiculously dangerous places to be from. As I'm a big old fan of the Vandals, who own Kung Fu Records, I have to say I found this pretty disappointing. The slick mix puts Useless I.D. in the same pile of Descendents soundalikes as NOFX, Alkaline Trio, Green Day and all them there other young boring bands with the short hair that sticks up the air. It takes a special kind of smartypant to apply sugary-sweet melodies to punk rock aesthetics, and most pop-punk bands - in my opinion - don't have what it takes to pull it off (my underwear). The Vandals, The Descendents, the Ramones, the Lemonheads back when they were "punk" as well as just "pop," Bad Religion (though they do learn more towards PUNK riffs too, I suppose) - honestly, that about covers it from the bands I've heard. These slick Willy bands just make me wonder why they form in the first place if all they're gonna do is repeat simplistic happy chord sequences we've already heard a million times by other bands of their genre. Take it from me - nothing good EVER came out of Israel nor likely ever will.

Best,
Guy Who's Going To Hell

Band: Utopia
Product: Bootleg Series Vol. 2: KSAN 95FM Live '79
Label: Sanctuary

Utopia was a quartet that Todd Rundgren led between and around issuing his own solo albums in the '70s and '80s. They're probably best known for one magnificent pop single MTV hit called "Feet Don't Fail Me Now," but that (unfortunately) wasn't released until three years after this live-for-radio performance was conducted. Though there's nothing on here as instantly bubbly and lovable as that track, what IS here covers a mighty nice range of good guitar-driven rock, emotional adult pop music and Yes/Styx-esque prog rock. Heck, it even has Todd's solo piano ballad hit "Can We Still Be Friends." And THAT'S certainly not a Utopia song! That would be like Sammy Hagar playing "I Can't Drive 55" at a Van Halen concert! (which he did) Or like Keith Morris singing "Nervous Breakdown" at a Circle Jerks concert! (which he did) My argument is getting weaker by the moment. Am I the only one whose two brain halves literally dangle out of opposite ears?

Band: Vader
CD: Blood/Reign Forever World
Label: Metal Blade

This disc compiles two previous releases by Poland's death metal champions Vader. With a very tough, rock-solid rhythm-and-guitars attack, occasional keyboard accompaniment and a vocalist whose lyrics you can actually understand, these guys have something good going. Not sure why they're named after a Star Wars character, but that's a question for George Lucas's attorneys.

Band: The VaGiants
Album: Short And Hard
Label: Sin Klub

What would Burton Cummings say if he knew that his very own Winnipeg was home to a loud filthy rock band with a name based on a dirty part? Doesn't anyone ever think about Burton Cummings's feelings anymore? The VaGiants are a raucous noisy motorcycle punk noise rock four-piece led by a female woman with a cocky, more-low-than-high Melissa Etheridge voice and approach. She says "fuck" more than Melissa Etheridge though. So whip out your sexual organs and give The VaGiants what they need!

(A urine wash)

Band: VALIS
Product: Vast Active Living Intelligence System
Label: Abstract

Back in '65, Gene Pitney had a huge hit sensation with his single "The Man Who Shot Liberty VALIS." Little did he know that just eighty-three years later, a band from

In late '81, Paul Newman and Sally Field starred in an intense newspaper drama entitled Absence Of VALIS, but little did they know that way off in the Northwest, a band of

VALIS named themselves after a Phillip Dicknose story - it stands for "Vast Active Living Intelligence System." Since two of the band members used to be in the Screaming Trees, we already KNOW that "vast" is an accurate description. Everybody in that band weighed like 300 pounds. Then there's a guy from TAD apparently and someone from Mudhoney? Mudhoney? Really? Oh wait, I see. Dan Peters was in the band at some point. He's not on this CD though, so get Mudhoney out of your head right now (heh heh - it's just like when someone asks you NOT to think of an elephant. All you can think about is a huge gigantic elephant sprouting jets of semen out of its trunk, all over a group of naked girls in the corner of the cage.

No no, I said all YOU can think about. Me myself, I'm thinking of how much I like God, Jesus and praying to them.

But if it's a band description you're after, VALIS play smooth heavy melodic GRUNGE! GRUNGE IS NOT DEAD! GRUNGE WILL LIVE FOREVER! SOUNDGARDEN, ALICE IN CHAINS AND NIRVANA WEREN'T TRUE GRUNGE ANYWAY! AS LONG AS ELVIS COSTELLO KEEPS MAKING ALBUMS, GRUNGE WILL NEVER DIE!!!!!

Oh wait no, not grunge. What's the word I'm looking for - oh yes! "Garbage." That's what I meant. As for VALIS, they play dramatic neo-grunge with smooth, distorted guitars aplenty. I'd compare it pretty readily to late-period Screaming Trees actually. They have total control over the guitar tones, never allowing an ounce of ugly piercing feedback to seep through. But unfortunately, over the course of the record, it all starts to seem too simple. Like Love Battery, if they sound at all like I think I remember them sounding maybe. Still, if you like the "cooler" more mesmerizing side of LOUD GUITAR MUSIC (in all caps), then you should really check these guys out because they do it well. You'll be in a rocking trance in nose time!

Band: Vells
Album: Vells EP
Label: Luckyhorse Industries

The Vells are nice. They're from Seattle, WA and thus sound exactly like Nirvana, Soundgarden, Alice In Chains, Pearl Jam, The Melvins, Silverchair, Monkeyshines, Dipsydoodle, Angry Bill and the Poops, James Angry, Bill Mad & the Grunge Queens, Green River and Mudhoney, except that they've replaced all the heavy guitars and yelling with "sweet, syrupy, dark and eerily addictive melodies" played on "guitar, bass, drums, organ, Rhodes piano, vibes, sticky vocals and mystic lyrics blend(ing) into the Vells' take on 60's 70's and 80's pop" similar to "The Shins (????), The Kinks, Roy Orbison and The Maroons (????)." It all sounds nice and pretty to me, though the vocals are a little too loud and falsettoey. Not that he sings in a falsetto (or she, if it's a woman, who the hell can tell in today's androgynous gayfer world), but the voice is abnormally fey and high, and I don't like that. I don't like that one bit. It makes my throat hurt just thinking about it.

No wait, that's because I'm eating a bowl of sand.

Band: Vesania
Album: Firefrost Arcanum
Label: Crash Music

The Vikings have arrived from Poland and they've brought Vesania. Clanking swords, whinnying horses, blastbeats, an angry screaming troll, a sad orchestra keyboard of sorrow and way, way, WAY in the background a guitar being played very fast. This is today's black metal. It's more gothic and intricate than yesterday's black metal (perhaps to attract goth girls who aren't into 500-billion-miles-an-hour guitars and guys killing themselves on stage?), but for Olde Skoole aficionados like myself, it just doesn't have the same creepy vibe that Varg Vikernes had when he burned all those churches down. See, THAT was some creepy music. This is good and smart and eerily melodic and well-developed and full of intriguing noises and production ideas and --- you know. this is REALLY good. Maybe I DO like new black metal better! At the very least, I'm enjoying not having the singer come into my home and drop a cattle skull on my head like all the older bands always do.

Bands: Voodoo Glow Skulls and Left Alone
Album: Voodoo Glow Skulls Left Alone EP
Label: Smelvins

California's punk/ska gang Left Alone pair two of their Brit-style tracks with two from the awesome Spanish ska/punk legends Voodoo Glow Skulls. Only four tracks, but all four are good! If you're into horns, this is the 4-song EP you need to purchase post-haste (or post-humous, if you're dead but still like ska). You'll totally be bouncing up and down and wearing stripes and a hat!

Band: Vomitory
Album: Primal Massacre
Label: Metal Blade

They're back! They're the men behind the masks! (And they're out of control!) Although they don't actually wear masks and have nothing at all to do with either Alice Cooper or the Friday The 13th film series, Vomitory are nevertheless back, rendering my introduction factually sound. Primal Massacre is the fifth full-length for this high-speed death thrash band from wherever people named Rundqvist, Gustafsson and "Ulf" come from. Speed is key - these guys pound like early Venom and Slayer, NOT blastbeating your ears off or pummelling your brain with nu-metal slam-slam-slam, but playing ultra-fast 4/4 beats perfect for headbanging. The riffs are heavy, chord-driven and evil, the vocals evoke thoughtful images of a rotting evil overlord suffering from throat cancer and the war-obsessed lyrics are as pleasant as a spring day. "The stench of Christians screaming, burning, dying" indeed! "In sludge of body parts crawl those who still breathe," you say? "Muscles stretch until they burst" - I hear ya! "All religions have to die" - Hey. Now you're taking this a little too far. "The eyeballs leave the face, skin falls to the ground in a mixture of human mush" -- Much better!

Waco Jesus
Album: Filth
Label: Morbid

We don't often receive a grindcore CD that falls into line with the Christian message of Snaggletooth, so I was tickled ginger when this disc appeared one lovely Sunday. I commend these boys for displaying God's majestic creations in their cover photos of a woman with a gigantic ruptured anus and a girl angrily squeezing another girl's nude breast. God would also enjoy hearing their "singer" growling such witty psalms as "Blast You In The Face With My Semen, Blast You In The Face With My Fist," "Punch You In The Cunt" and "I Hope He Beats You." God Rocks!

Band: WarsawPack
Album: Gross Domestic Product
Label: The G7 Welcoming Committee

WarsawPack is a seven-piece baked potato comin’ atcha live from Canada (but without the 1976 hit single “Stand Tall”). They have kind of a “dub”-bish drum sound similar to that of early Fugazi (but without preaching at their listeners to not buy consumer products – such as, for example, Fugazi records). The singer sounds Jamaican (but without being an Uncle Tom to George w. Bush), the lyrics are very political (but without developing an energy plan with their rich friends in Texas, then refusing to tell Congress what went on in the meetings), they have a turntablist (but without sounding like me when I was a little kid putting records on my little blue record player that opened like a briefcase and had a shard of broken glass for a needle), a tenor sax and flute player (but without having a really long gross beard and the lyric “Snot is running down his nose”), a baritone saxophonist (but without me knowing the difference between a tenor and baritone sax), a guitarist who has developed a gorgeous ringing delay-echoed tone (but without naming himself after a brand of shaving cream), and a sound that’s as dark as it is funky, much like a piece of shit (but not metaphorically).

Bottom Line:WarsawPack has a really cool sound built upon minimalist repeated “riffs” built of saxes, flutes and shaky-pretty guitar pings and glingles, perched atop a concrete foundation of clean bass nothingness and groovy kickin’-it fat lardass beats. Then the singer tries to make it sound like reggae, but it’s sure not reggae! This isn’t any more reggae than Jimmy Cliff’s reggae albums are regga – oh. Well that’s not the best example but you see where I’m going with this. The songs go on and on and on in a good way – EXCEPT when the riffs are boring, because then you’re up Skrewd river without a swastika (paddle). “Friday Night,” for example, is two saxophones playing “You Really Got Me” for three and a half minutes. Two other songs are solos by the turntablist. Not the saxophonist or the flutist. Or the guitarist or bassist. No no, why have an actual musician play a solo when you can get some jerk to swishy swishy swishy an album back and forth like a retard. “Deeeuhrrr, look at me, I’m a DJ!” Swishy swishy swishy! “I take two records that are the same speed and fade one into the other!” Swishy swishy swishy! “And 18-year-old gay junkies think I’m a genius because they’re fucking morons!

Deeeuhhrrr!” I’m actually just kidding. This particular DJ brings in occasional wicked samples that help carry some songs absolutely over the TOP of awesomeness (I’m assuming that’s his weirdass creepy keyboard sample driving “Valdez” anyway). But he’s the only good one. Every other DJ, especially the morning Zoo Crew, needs to be let go, in my opinion. Am I crazy or is the word “DJ” a complete antonym of the phrase “actual music”? To test my theory, listen to one radio station for three hours in a row. Then spend the evening in a club without drinking or dancing. Just listen to the “music” that the DJ is “spinning.” Then see if you don’t wake up the next morning and pen a novel entitled Last Night A DJ Bored My Life.

HA!!! DID YOU SEE MY CALAMITOUS LAUGHITY JOSH???? HAHAHAHHAHAHAHAAHAHAA! HEEEEEEEEEEEEEEEEEEEEEEEEE!!!!! (vomits shit all over self)

Band: Watch Them Die
Album: Watch Them Die
Label: Century Media

I don't know who's writing artist bios for Century Media these days, but may I suggest that it's a bit dangerous to say something like "WATCH THEM DIE are quickly going to revitalize the currently stagnant metal scene with their overwhelming intensity" when your ENTIRE CATALOG is comprised of material from said metal scene, but alas I'm not the one with the job (or any job at all, for that matter!), so who am I to point things out? Some weather forecaster? No, I'm no weather forecaster. If I were, I'd let everybody know about the cold front that's going to be sweeping over the northwest this weekend. But as it is, I'm NOT a weather forecaster, so I'm going to leave the soothsaying to those wearing ties and standing in front of green screens. That's right, the professional weather forecasters.

Watch Them Die's goal is to play BRUTAL, INTENSE, PUNISHING, ANGRY, SCREAMING, POUNDING metal. They succeed at this goal! You can tell they're angry - their vocals roar hoarsely, their drums pound mercilessly and their guitars have ugly, low-pitched distorted tones. What genre do they play? Hmm... Sort of a cross between modern hardcore, metalcore, death metal and nu metal. Sometimes they bash forward with glee and abandon in a headbanging fervor ("The Struggle"!!!!!!), other times their riffs are more traditional almost sort of Iron Maideny riffing in an angrier setting ("To See You Bleed") and other times, they're happy just to see you battling a headache as they jam their drumsticks directly into your ears with no memorable melody in sight ("Torn Pages"). But that's today's young people for you! Out for RAGE!!! I tell you one thing -- this isn't your FATHER'S heavy metal CD!

Oh I'm sorry - here you go, sir.

(Why didn't you TELL me this was your father's heavy metal CD?)

Band: Tom Watson
Album: Country & Watson
Label: Theologian

It's still possible to take a well-trodden type of music and do something interesting with it. Why, look at Wilco. Their new album sounded pretty interesting that time I heard part of it in that store, with its C/W meets house music type or ambient something with Steve Malkmus-style vocals. And now there's somewhere else you can look. And his name is Bob Watson, former first baseman for the Atlanta Braves.

A lot of people claimed that Chris Chambliss had the desert/country/folk/alternative/tropical genre tied up and sealed with a ribbon made from his own intestinal bile, but Watson knew such was not the case and set out to prove it with some friends and a heaping helping of CriscoT brand Elbow Grease. Result: this pleasant CD of calm, relaxing guitar tones picking, plucking and strumming their way into and around each other as modern 21st century keyboards, drums and kooky little noises create vaguely incorrect atmospheres around them. Is it "country," as the title suggests? No. But it's not rock either. Or folk. Or adult pop. Or alternative either. It's actually just a Diet Dr. Pepper can sitting in front of a computer screen.

Oh wait hang on. I was using the wrong sense there.

Ah! There we go. When I LISTEN to this CD, I wonder if maybe this is that crazy No Depression modern c/w scene I've been reading about on television. Who knows. I don't follow scenes and even if I did, they'd run when they saw me coming. So let's call it desert guitar music because I really like the sound of that, and it reminds me of the most talented and modest artist in America, Michael Nesmith.

Tom Watts In A Tank (featuring the hit "Sausalito Summernite") also sings sometimes too, in what sounds like his speaking voice. This vocal style reminds me a bit of some of Stephen Malkmus's stuff, but without the ego-in-overdrive yelling and off-tune hipster shouting that jerk does a lot. Tom just does what his voice lets him do - and it's fine! A lot of these songs are instrumental though - let's get that straight right now.

Okay, so let's start the review with a little background. Apparently Tom has played with the Red Krayola, Overpass, Slovenly and Toxic Shock, and he's good buddies with new Sonic Youth member Jim O'Rourke (who appears on several of these tracks). He is an excellent guitar player, pulling extremely calming tones out of the thing while still having the brains to throw in lots of unexpected chord changes, oddball vocal melodies and flawless arpeggios, slides and leads. If he were in this room right now, I'd turn around and go, "You da man!" And then I'd surreptitiously pat him on the ass while pretending to show him my penis.

In conclusion, let me recommend this CD to you if you like really good mellow guitar playing (there's at least two guitar tracks intertwining in every song, and sometimes more!), but don't mind when the performer dicks around with echoes and electronic toys when the mood strikes him. That combination of traits will make you a MILLIONAIRE!!!!

Say, when Ed McMahon says I may already be a millionaire, is he taking into account my cocaine addiction?

Band: We Ragazzi
Album: The Ache
Label: The Self-Starter Foundation

Chicago's We Ragazzi return with what might be their second album, spewing rancid, offensively self-loving vocal stylings all over lo-fi-ish drums, bass, organ and light lead guitar (the emphasis is definitely more on the organ, which is nice!). The song "The Cure" is one of the greatest new songs I've heard this year, and the band's almost trip- hoppy approach to indie-pop is a relaxing delite, but most of the disc is rendered unlistenable by the young fellow on the mic, who seems determined to merge the pig squeal of Billy Corgan with the out-of-touch slurring of `90s-era Mick Jagger. Of course that's not to say that YOU won't like it! I'm just a bitcher, whiner and moaner, when you get down to it.

Band: Wehrwolfe
Album: Godless We Stand
Label: Magick/Cleopatra

I will no longer sit idly by as perfectly talented extreme metal musicians relegate themselves to the laughingstock of history through the utilization of two SHITTY, WORTHLESS genre clich‚s: blastbeats and "Cookie Monster" vocals. I simply do not understand why a group of clearly intelligent and well-practiced musicians are so willing to destroy their dark, interesting guitar riffage by burying it beneath a guy jackhammering a new street into his drumset and some jerk growling and wheezing about suffering and evil like it's somehow scary and not just a ho-hum ripoff of five billion other death metal vocalists. Is there no room in this genre for any creativity? How "extreme" is the 5000th identical "extreme metal" band really going to seem? If they really want to be extreme, they should try bringing in a female country/western singer and a guy breakdancing - now see, THAT would be "WAR!!!" and "FUCKING DOMINATE"!!!!!

Band: White Star Line
Product: White Star Line
Label: AntiAntenna

What do you get when you cross The Flaming Lips with Pavement and bring Ray Davies in for guest vocals? A heck of a good howdy-do, THAT'S why! But one thing you DON'T get is White Star Line, because it's a group of unknowns that you've never heard of (except for Stephen Dohnberg, whom you know from the note "Hey Mark! Enjoy. Best Regards, Stephen" that appears on the back of my CD booklet - and, I assume, yours too -- in blue magic marker ink). Uncontrollably and unwieldingly, this is a really damn good band. The melodies (acoustic and clean guitar) are folksy, poppy and country-y all at togethers, the lead guitar plays a nifty amount of slidey lead distorted things like the Flaming Lips guy used to do, they throw in lots of neato OTHER instruments like keyboards, xylophone and vibes like The Flaming Lips have been known to do, especially back in the day - and the vocals sound like Ray Davies, Wayne Coyne and Stephen Malkmus made love in the sunset and gave birth to an Ass Puppy! (That Ass Puppy sings lead on this CD, and presumably isn't offended by being called an "Ass Puppy," the most offensive term I've made up for a human being in quite some time).

The White Stars And Line are not a ripoff band at all. It's just that their presentation makes them seem TO ME at times like they might enjoy Transmissions-era Flaming Lips a bit too much. The melodies are completely their own (and they're catchy as all hell!), but when you get these arrangements that sound nearly identical to those presented by Oklahoma's finest (the baseball team, of course - the Oklahoma Boilers), it's hard to bury your musical memories in the backyard where you buried the encyclopedia salesman. It gets to the point where even stuff that DOESN'T sound like the Flaming Lips SEEMS to be Flaming Lips-inspired even though it isn't. Like the really heavy swooping bass in "Year Of The Horse" is totally a White Star Line original, but all I can think when I hear it is, "Hey - this is like in The Flaming Lips' `This Here Giraffe' when that really loud bass swoops up and down and carries the song. Or the minor-key guitar and smash-a-crash cymbal drum intro to "Sniffer's Row," which is no more Flaming Lippy than Paul McCartney's Pipes Of Peace but to these jaded "professional critic who makes millions of dollars for his brilliant observations about all kinds of music, especially world music like Peter Gabriel" ears, it sounds like the Flaming Lips' "Labia In The Sunlight" or whatever that song is called. You know the one I'm talking about. The one where he goes, "Tell everybody waiting for Superman/That they should try to hold on as best they can/He hasn't dropped them, forget them or anything/It's just too heavy for Superman to lift/I'm referring of course to a really large pair of labia."

I'm told that the band members other than Stephen Dohnberg will get all pissy and start crying if I criticize them, so I'd like to make it clear that this is NOT a "criticism" of the GREAT songwriting, BEAUTIFUL performances, AMAZINGLY dense production or FRIENDLY vocal delivery. It is simply an inability on my part to Get Over The Occasional Musical Reference (like "And Fine Wine," which is an absolutely GORGEOUS loop of genius guitar genius - but it's that goddamned slidey style that the old Flaming Lips guy used to do, like in the intro to "Superhumans" and other things too - and for FUCKS' SAKE, the bonus track is about "India"!!!! There's a fucking song on fucking Zaireeka afuckingbout India!!!! PEOPLE DON'T JUST WRITE FUCKING SONGS ABOUT FUCKING INDIA EVERY [goshdarn] DAY!!!!!). The same thing happened the first time I heard Green Day. I was all like "Jesus Christ, these guys sound just like REO Speedwagon" and to this day, I still can't separate the two bands. They're like iron and honey in my head.

So if you're a reader of this and you like great great guitar-driven country/rock/pop/psych songs with tons of instruments in the mix to listen to, please ignore my BULLSHIM and visit www.whitestarline.indiegroup.com. There really are a ton of soaring heavenly guitar- driven arrangements on here that deserve the attention of many an ear. And I'm not just saying that because the one guy has an afro and I'm "all about" afros!

Artist: William
Album: Tints And Shades
Label: Impression Music

William (real first name: William) plays lovely guitar pop with collegey guy next door vocals. His guitar will share with you some distortion, some clean electrical tone and even some acoustic folk-tones. William may not have the single-name clout of a "Madonna" or a "Pinocchio," but he pens very gentle songs with expressive little arpeggios, poignant string twinkling, touching vocals and lyrics about murdering everybody in the world, especially little kids. Oh no, hang on - I had my glasses on inside-out.

Band: Winfred E. Eye
Album: The Dirt Tier
Label: Luckyhorse Industries

This is the second album, I take it, for Oakland's men with beards "Winfred E. Eye" (a band, not a guy!). They play what I will undoubtedly refer to as a cross between Thin White Rope and Tom Waits. Dark "Americana" blues, though I'm not sure exactly where one would find this sea shanty raspy pirate-style "Americana." New England, maybe? Either way, the guitarwork is moving and excellently performed - all full of arpeggiated playing and hinted-at supernatural ghosty threat - and the singer has a nasally rasp that sounds like Squiggy from TV's Laverne & Shirley doing his much-vaunted Captain Beefheart impersonation that wowed them down at Potsy's Eyesore, that club everyone went to on Happy Days. Any fan of Tom Waits who's sick to death of that prick using the same music over and over again should give Winfred E. EYE AN(D) EAR. They're true SPECIALISTs at their occupation!

Now kids, see how long it takes you to find your father's occupation in the last two sentences of the preceding paragraph!

That's right! Your father's a prick!

Band: Withered Earth
Album: Of Which They Bleed
Label: Olympic Recordings

To quote several fantastic action films, "I'm too old for this shit!" Specifically the blastbeats and generic death metal "C Is For Cookie" vocal stylings. Usually I can just write these things off on my taxes, but in this particular instance, these genre trappings are specifically disappointing because some of the guitar lines are actually really good. They've got two creative guys collaborating on some really nice pounding, swooping and often even catchy chord-and-note constructions, and heck the bassist sounds mighty good too when you can hear him. But the completely unnecessary groan-vocals, mixed far too loud for the music, totally wreck what could have been a new Gin Blossoms experience. Miserable!

Band: Wolverine
Album: Cold Light Of Monday
Label: Earache

This band doesn't belong on Earache! Look at my ear - do you see it aching? I doubt it, because it's NOT aching! And if it WAS, it would be an ache of redemption. Sweden's Wolverine play sad goth music with BIG Lou Gramm-style pop star vocals. There is no metal here at all. The guitar is strumming sad distorted notes of loneliness, the keyboards are painting your home with sorrow and the singer would do well on American Idol (that's a television show we have in the United States of America Featuring George Bush). Not my cup of tea, but it takes all kinds!

Band: WTN
Album: Rotting In Pestilence
Label: Razorback

If you thought classic grindcore went out with the pigeons, you haven't been following Razorback Records. With global bucketloads of gory, bloody, blastbeating fiend bands like General Surgery, Embalming Theatre, Birdflesh, Fondlecorpse, Gore Beyond Necropsy, Engorged, Gruesome Stuff Relish, Lord Gore, Bloodfreak, Fuck.I'm Dead, Coffins, Exhumed, Urban Head Raw, Mortician, Maggots, Gore Fuck, Corpse Fucking Art, The Thompson Twins and Bathtub Shitter, this insane Farmingville, NY label has led the way for serial killer murderer autopsy music for many a fine year, so visit their web site and buy everything in sight!!!!

Oh, also, WTN is on that label. They're from Singapore and title their songs things like "House Of Necrophilia," "Toetags And Bodybags" and "Flesh Ripping Torment." If you're into the glee of gore-grind (and it IS gleeful - this is one type of metal that's so over the top, it's ridiculous. This is NOT overserious Viking Black Metal or socially conscious death metal - this is the aural equivalent of a disgusting horror movie --- it's all for fun!), then WTN is probably as good as anybody else. Except for Macabre!!! I LOVE the band Macabre!!! Buy everything by them!!!!

Band: Yattering
Album: Genocide
Label: Candlelight

Q: How many Polacks does it take to record a death metal album?

A: FOUR! HAHAHAHAHAHAHHAHAHAHAHAHA

Yattering are a heavy as a barbell at a gym extreme metal band from Poland, featuring Thrufel, Hudy, Svierszcz and Zabek, which brings up the obvious question, "Why didn't they just name themselves the catchy, memorable 'Thrufel, Hudy, Svierszcz and Zabek' instead of the outlandishly confusing, difficult to pronounce 'Yaternafity SEE??? I CAN'T EVEN WRITE IT!!!! HOW DO THEY EXPECT PEOPLE TO PRONOUNCE IT??? ESPECIALLY TODAY'S KIDS WHO THINK THAT "PI" TO TEN THOUSAND DIGITS IS 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SORRY ASSHOLES, THAT LAST DIGIT SHOULD BE AN 8, YOU STUPID ASSHOLES!!!!

Were we talking about something? Ah yes! Yattering. They play very heavy, complex, intense, great, loud extreme metal with those typical growling death metal vocals that Neil Diamond pioneered on his 1977 I'm Glad You're Here With Me Tonight LP. This band does some strange, oddball stuff within the tracks though - you may not notice it at first, but listen close and you'll hear some truly bizarre noise blasts and swooping eeriness hidden in the middle of the blastbeat attacks of murder satan evil. And I have the craziest feeling that the lyrics are violent, what with song titles like "Panic In A Sea Of Blood," "Rapist's Victim," "Sentence (To Die)," "Murderer (You Are)" and "Hey! How's It Going? I Love You!"

That's what I named the bonus track. I feel it has a ring and could be the masterstroke that gives them the MTV Buzz Bin success they've been hoping for since founding the band seven long miserable years ago.

WHAT DO YOU MEAN, MTV'S BUZZ BIN WENT OFF THE AIR YEARS AGO??? OH GOD!!! MAY THE LORD HAVE MERCY ON US ALL!!!! except Mexicans

And proving that the Polish are smarter than we give them credit for, the little book numbers the tracks 1, 2, 3, 4, 5, 6, 7, 8, 8, 9, 11 and 12. Way to defeat centuries of stereotypes, fellows!

Band: Gary Young's Hospital
Album: The Grey Album
Label: Omnibus

Regardless of his former standing as the drummer of America's Youth Pavement Band, it's fairly obvious even at first glance that Gary Young is an "outsider" artist. At age 50 or whatever he is now, he both looks and sounds like a Charles Manson marijuana burnout who has somehow managed to write (with help?) a bunch of surprisingly original 60sish folk/space/novelty/music hall/pop rock songs propelled by his loose, overactive drumming and hilariously (yet soothingly) flat, untrained voice. Although not perfect from beginning to end, The Grey Album is quite literally about eight hundred billion times better than the last Gary Young album I heard (his unlistenable-except-"Plant Man" 1995 debut), and is a damn sight more unique than anything his former bandmates have come up with on their own (in The Jicks and Preston School Of Industry). It's still outsider art though. You're not going to hear Gary Young on ClearChannel, I'd wager (he doesn't suck enough corporate dick). Song titles include "The Long Song," "I'm Going Through The Same Midlife Crisis As Phil Collins," "Vegetarians Are A Token" and "Fred Named Friend."

Band: Zebrahead
Album: MFZB
Label: Columbia

The third CD for Orange County's rap-funk-metal band Zebrahead (you've undoubtedly seen their cheesecake-jacketed CDs Playmate Of The Year and Waste Of Mind in used CD bins all over the country) finds the band bringing terrific major-label predictable big bombastic choruses to rappin'-tappin' cool muthapucka verses of booyaah! Sort of like Linkin Park, but funky instead of just loud. Definitely made for a major label, and thus also made for modern radio play. There's a certain kind of songwriting that FEELS like a hit. This type of songwriting is designed to manipulate the emotions of young people, based on the examples of past songs by other artists that have exploited similar aspects to desired result. In other words, most major-label bands of the 90s and 00s have very little creativity. They are specifically signed in order to take advantage of a market that is already assumed to exist. Zebrahead's songs are not bad in any way, nor do they take any chances at all. They give modern radio programmers exactly what they want: urban rhythm and huge emotional choruses. And chances are good that teenagers will fall for it. But who could LOVE a band like this? It still blows my mind that so many people think Weezer is a great band. There's just like NOTHING SPECIAL going on there at all!

Band: Zebrahead
Product: Live At The House Of Blues DVD
Label: Kung Fu Films
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If you like frat boys who mix bland overproduced major-label midtempo "punk" and substandard "ska" with mohawks and a guy who raps every word at the same note -- you'll love your new job at Columbia Records! Otherwise, just scratch your brain stem and wonder like me why a member of the fantastic Vandals would want anything to do with this bunch of unnecessary charlatans. Songs so uncreative that they're almost ANTI-creative. So don't blame me if the Beatles' entire career disappears from history because you keep listening to shit like this and throwing the psychic sphere out of balance.

Band: Zodiac Mindwarp and the Love Reaction
Album: I Am Rock
Label: Cosmosodomistic

If you like AC/DC, you'll LOVE the album Back In Black by AC/DC!

You also might like this new Zodiac Mindwarp album since several tracks are awfully AC/DC-E, G. Like "(Givin' The) Hurricane (A Bone)," for example. Or "(What Do You Do For Money, Get) F***cked By Rock (, Honey?). Or "Call Me (Back In Black) Baby."

But to play "Good Cop" (by The Cows) for a moment, this band's singer has a smooth singing voice (not scraggly), the lead guitarwork has a more melodic, modern toned dynamic to it than AC/DC would EVER have, and when they dump the simplistic hard rock thing and bring their own style to the table, they sound really good - standouts might include the pretty pop metal tune "Jane In Blue," and the dark motorcycle-thrasher "Christmas Eve On The Reeperbahn." If AC/DC's guitar tone and deliberate, midtempo 4/4 beat are up your style, but you hate short people, go with Retractable Lovepipe and the Warped Zodiac!

Band: Zombie Zombie
Album: Not Bad Singles Series Volume One
Label: Not Bad

Although I have no proof of it, I'm starting to get the feeling that bands are purposely going out of their way to make me go, "THE FUCK IS THIS SHIT?!?!?!" But I mean that in the best possible way. If I KNOW what the "shit" is, it's usually a retread of something else. But in the case of something like Zombie Zombie, who combine a bloodcurdling metalcore scream with bouncy fuzzy sci-fi keyboards and a rhythm section, I'm just happy to be on the receiving end of something so wonderfully WRONG that I want to listen to it over and over. That singer is just SCREAMING! SCREAMING! SCREAMING! But there's no loud guitar - or in fact ANY guitar! Just wonderfully bouncy fuzzy little organ notes. I suppose it harkens back a bit to good old Rancid Hell Spawn, but those guys (that guy?) distorted EVERYTHING. Zombie Zombie isn't an industrial band at all. It's a prog-rock-pop band whose singer is brutally murdered every time they sit down to record a song. Go for it, Zombies! "Tell Her No" indeed! "She's Not There" indeed! "Time Of The Season" I peed!

Band: Various Artists
Album: Against Police Injustice: A Benefit Compilation
Label: Non-Commercial

Ever since the dawn of time, punk rockers and police officers have been natural enemies. There are two basic reasons for this: (1) punk rockers are assholes and (B) police officers are pricks. Not that my theory has Jack Hell to do with this CD, but it's an important theory. This CD features 25 punk bands gathered together in support of Ahmad Nelson, who was wrongly imprisoned for the murder of an off-duty policeman. But he's free now! Huzzah! The disc includes some really terrific hardcore bands, including Conflict, Daycare Swindlers, Choking Victim, Nausea, Leftover Crack, F-Minus, Anti-Flag, False Prophets and M.D.C. Most of the material has been previously released, but not all of it! Rare M.D.C. track ho! Lots of bands I've never heard of that sound really great too. It's punk, it's for real, it's hardcore, it helped free an innocent man. Way to go, Non-Commercial!

Band: Various Artists
Album: Beer: The Movie
Label: Triple Crown

Rap, dance, punk, power pop, emo, lo-fi balladry, singer-songwriter acoustica - all by bands that nobody has ever heard of! Who is this compilation supposed to appeal to anyway? Good luck moving units and making your third quarter numbers! What will your stockholders think? How long are you going to keep blaming a "sluggish sales cycle" and "challenging economy"? Eventually you're going to have to put out a CD that people will BUY!

Artist: Various Artists
Album: The Best Of Bluegrass
Label: Sanctuary

If you like your banjos a-twangin' and your accents a-southernin', you'd might as well stick your finger in an eel if you don't own this compilation! (Because, you see, presumably the eel would nibble on your finger, enjoy the taste and slowly move on to the rest of your body, eventually, over the course of several days, devouring you whole, at which point you would be dead, which you'd might as well be if you don't own this compilation.) The songs are classic: "The Big Rock Candy Mountain," "Orange Blossom Special," "Mule Skinner Blues," "Wabash Cannonball," "Foggy Mountain Breakdown," "Oh Death," "Will The Circle Be Unbroken." The artists range from legendary to contemporary: Bill Monroe and his Blue Grass Boys, the Carter Family, Lester Flatt, Dolly Parton, Ricky Skaggs, Emmylou Harris. And best of all - "Oh Death" is a capella and thus not bluegrass at all even a tiny bit even once never!

Artist: Various Artists
Album: Best Of The Blues
Label: Sanctuary

Man, Sanctuary's really good at these genre compilations! First bluegrass, then rockabilly and now blues - the BLOOOOZE. All those names you've heard about in books or seen on the radio -- Slim Harpo, B.B. King, Freddie King - they're all here. No matter where you look, the most famous bluesmen of all time -- Elmore James, Muddy Waters, Albert King - just keep popping back at you. Even if you've never heard a blues record in your life and your favorite band is Nelly Furtado And Her Fat Ass, you can consider yourself a minor expert after hearing these famous artists -- Howlin' Wolf, Junior Wells, Taj Mahal -- all amazing players with a real feel for the BLOOOZ. So take it from me, from one white yuppie to another, if you're into black people for the music, you can't get NO BLOOOZIER than the artists on here -- Magic Slim, John Mayall, Robert Cray --

WAIT A MINUTE??? ROBERT CRAY???? THEY PUT ROBERT CRAY ON HERE?!?!?!?

Christ, a Chinese baby in a solid gold womb has a better feel for the blues than Robert Cray. Isn't he the reason that the NAACP changed their name to NAACP (Except Robert Cray)?

Artist: Various Artists
Album: Black On Black: A Tribute To Black Flag
Label: Initial Records

Why is it that for the first 15 years after Black Flag's breakup, nobody put out any tribute albums, and now all of a sudden there are two to choose from? Who has that kind of money? Nobody in MY profession (hobo), that's for sure! Let's forget the other one for the time being, as it was released to raise funds for three young people who were wrongly imprisoned for child murders they didn't commit. Instead, I'd like to focus on one that was released to raise funds for the record label that released it -- Back In Black: By AC/DC. From the moment the church bells of "Hells Bells" ring in side one, your balls are coated bubbly with chill bumps and

Black On Black: A Tribute To Black Fags features nine metalcore bands thrashing their aggressive, angry, spitfire, noisy, intense way through eleven classic Greg Ginn compositions. American Nothing screams of DEPRESSION! Anodyne wails of a LIFE OF PAIN! The Dillinger Escape Plan tells of being DAMAGED! (I) and DAMAGED! (II). The Hope Conspiracy has a NERVOUS BREAKDOWN! Planes Mistaken For Stars are WASTED, possibly because they took some swigs from Playing Enemy's SIX PACK! At least they didn't drink as much as Burnt By The Sun, who are DRINKING AND DRIVING! Coalesce arrived too late to get any beer, and are now JEALOUS AGAIN! Converge are so angry, they're going to ANNIHILATE THIS WEEK! Keep it up and Planes Mistaken For Stars, once they sober up, are going to be telling a POLICE STORY!

I used all my vocabulary words! Now can I go poop in the library, Mrs. Teacher?

Band: Various Artists
Album: Bring You To Your Knees: A Tribute To Guns & Roses
Label: Law Of Inertia

A long, long time ago, before Axl Rose lost all hope of re-establishing contact with reality, Guns `n' Roses was one of the leading lights of the American hard rock scene. This tribute is a terrific reminder of why that was so. Their songs were ter-RIFF-ic! Children of the `80s simply cannot hear the intro to "Sweet Child O' Mine" or "Used To Love Her" or "Welcome To the Jungle" without getting a fever to the brainsicle as a memory from early high school returns to whomp us all in the ass. The guitars were loud and stupid, the band members were hairy and drugged, the drums were 4/4 and real - where other MTV metal bands were all gloss and goo, GNR were all dirt and misanthropy. Then the money rolled in and Axl Rose joined Prince in Insane Ivory Tower Land.

The only problem is that most of the bands on here are metalcore. And sure, I love metalcore and hey sure metalcore musicians are smart enough to adequately dumb down to play hard rock if need be. But the vocals - aye yi yi, the vocals. See, even if you found Axl's voice whiny and piglike, the bottom line is that he DID sing. He sang vocal melodies, comprised of notes and changes in tone and pitch. Metalcore guys, on the other hand, scream everything in one note. Like rap artists, but even more monochromatic. So you the listener sit there enjoying the diddle-doo out of the music (especially Most Precious Blood's "Sweet Child O' Mine," on which the beautiful lead guitar line is played on even more beautiful piano!) until the asshole singer guy just comes in and screams all over it, ruining it (especially Most Precious Blood's "Sweet Child O' Mine," featuring the least talented vocalist in the entire history of the universe).

Speaking for myself, I've only heard of two of these bands - Every Time I Die (who play "Used To Love Her" fairly straight) and Dillinger Escape Plan (who make a valiant but incredibly irritating attempt to translate "My Michelle" into the metalcore style). But you better bet that some day, every single one of these bands - especially "Zombie Apocalypse" and "Vaux" - will be more famous than Guns `n' Roses ever was. And you can take THAT to the bank, Donald Rumsfeld!

Band: Various Artists
Album: Evil Lives: A True Metal Tribute to Black Sabbath
Label: Boss Tuneage

Sure, Black Sabbath was good, but you know what would have made them even better? Had they let OTHER BANDS play all the songs on their albums! That's why this tribute album is the greatest record ever. Vince Neil sings "Paranoid," Iced Earth squirts "Black Sabbath" and eleven other modern power metal bands cover Sabbath songs spanning every single era of the band -- Ozzy Osbourne (star of reality TV series "The Flintstones"), Ronnie James Dio, Ian Gillan, Tony Martin; even that godawful Glenn Hughes album is represented on here! So forget the near-perfect original recordings, and get ready for over an hour of pure, classic MEDDLE!!!

Band: Various Artists
Album: Go-Kart MP300 Raceway
Label: Go-Kart

This is a double-MP3-disc, featuring 150 bands and 300 songs from all walks of Go-Kart life (mainly phenomenal hardcore punk and sweet pop-punk). If your ears can deal with 7 billion songs in a row, this is the double-disc for you! It's a little worrisome though, this new-fangled MP3 technology. Remember how albums used to be 30 or 40 minutes long until CDs came along and made it possible for "artists" (like me) to cram 74 minutes worth of HUMAN FECES onto every release? Well, what happens now? What happens when Billy Corgan finds out that there's a disc out there that'll hold 150 songs worth of his pig-headed bullshit? I'll tell you what happens -- a listening experience even more tedious than The Melon Collie Sickness Of America or whatever it was called. Talk about WASTING your LIFE!

Band: Various Artists
Album: Greaseball Melodrama
Label: Gearhead

New Bomb Turks singer Eric Davidson is no stranger to rock and roll. Not only did he lead one of the finest punk/garage rock bands in the world for a full ten years, but he's also a highly paid record critic for America's finest weeklies and things. So when Gearhead asked him to put together a compilation of great music by little-known modern garage rockers, he was just the man to say, "Is there any money in it?" But he DIDN'T. He asked no questions and got the rock and roll a-cracklin'. And here's your result: strange, passionate guitar-driven rest'n'relaxation bands with names like The Goddamn Gentlemen, Exxon Valdez, Scat Rag Boosters and Mystery Girls. And it's a good thing Eric chose to include that last band, because otherwise we'd all be sitting around going, "Hey! Where are the Mystery Girls?" Heh heh yeah. Let's all sit back and bask in the glow of that uproarious observation.

Yeah, I'm not basking much either, to be honest. But this song by The Hunches kicks ass! To be honest, none of these songs hold a candle to Eric's New Bomb Turks, but I suppose we can't all be number one. After all, if we were all number one, who would be number two?

Billy Joel would be number three.

Band: Various Artists
Album: High Energy High Voltage
Label: Sound Pollution

Oops! There goes my cultural bias. I'm a sucker for high-speed hardcore punk. I love the straight 4/4 beats, the catchy angry guitar riffs, the exciting energy and the guy screaming like a group of angry bumblebees are chasing him through the library. Neat mix of bands too - the melodic Hellnation sharing space with the retarded Spazz, th e completely unhinged Uncurbed dancing alongside the delightfully foreign-language-speaking Mukeka Di Rato, the sweet female old-school Romantic Gorilla going to the lesbian sock hop with the pus-ridden female grindcore Society Gang Rape.. 50 songs! All fast! Some angry! All loud! Some hey! Descendents rule! All sucks!

Band: Various Artists
Album: Live From Nowhere Near You, Volume One: Pacific Northwest
Label: Funkhead

Halfway through this CD, my wife shouted excitedly, "This is great!" Unfortunately, we weren't making love at the time, so I knew she meant the CD, or air. She liked the beats, you see. And the rappers. And the cool rhythms, or "beats" -- oh, I...

The concept is a new one and a neat one: Mr. Kevin Moyer has paired up a bunch of street musicians with professional musicians to create a benefit CD whose profits go to the homelss and street youth programs of the OUTSIDE IN charity. So if you have a charitable bone in your body, ask that bone to visit www.nowherenearyou.com and order the shit out of this great CD. If you're a selfish asshole like every single person in the Bush cabinet, maybe I can win you over with some celebrity names: Squirrel Nut Zippers! Pearl Jam's Mike McCready and Stone Gossard! Chris Ballew of the Presidents of the United States! Brad Hargreaves of Third Eye Blind! Director Gus Van Sant! Madonna!

Ha ha! I fooled you with that last one. Madonna couldn't make the sessions -- she was busy at home writing a song about how selfish she used to be, but how now she realizes what's really important in life.

Jewelry!!!

Band: Various Artists
Product: Metal Blade's 20th Anniversary Party DVD
Label: Metal Blade

My God. I look exactly like George "Corpsegrinder" Fisher. It's unfortunate that I didn't know this when I interviewed him, because one of my questions would definitely have been, "Do you realize that I look just like you?" Actually, to be fair, we aren't IDENTICAL twins. I'd say Corpsegrinder is more of a cross between me and Henry Rollins. He's got the muscles, I've got the pointy nose, but our eyes, eyebrows, mouths, faces we make -- my holy Heavenly God of soldiers, his long brown hair in a ponytail is just like I used to have too! All this was revealed in a mere 5-minute interview featured on Metal Blade's Big Anniversary Showdown Goodtimes video, now available on DVD under its actual title.

One fabulous night just several months ago, a whole big group of Metal Blade artists -- Cannibal Corpse, Vehemence, Lizzy Borden, Armored Saint, Decapitated Cattle and Engine - all gathered together to play some rock and roll in celebration of twenty years of such kickass heavy metal releases as The Goo Goo Dolls' Jed. The result was a special presentation on Much Music (some TV station of some sort) and now a handy DVD/CD set of live in-concert goodness. The biggest slice of metaphorical candy is probably the interview footage. Most of the bands say a few words about their experience with Metal Blade founder Brian Slagel, and then he comes on and talks about the history of the label. Exciting indeed!

The DVD goes on to show one or two songs performed live by each of the performers, two of which I need to call out for particular discussion. The first is Cattle Decapitation -- the music is basic grindcore, but the singer is wearing some huge disgusting mask over his entire head! It's WEIRD looking! The second is Armored Saint. I had never heard Armored Saint before seeing this DVD and I have to ask -- do they ALWAYS kick this much ass??? Their two tracks are by a wide friggin' margin the most straightforward 4/4 kickass thrash speed metal numbers on here, and I loved both of them!

Unfortunately, the dumbasses at Much Music only brought one camera and the guy had tickets way up in the top row, so nearly every band is shown from exactly one angle, straight-on, from very, very far away. You'll be fine if you have one of those big-screen TVs that they're always talking about at that place, but it looks like complete crap on my 3" black and white set.

Band: Various Artists
Album: Nice Guys Finish Last
Label: Nice Guy

Listening to compilations like this helps me understand why so many young people loathe "punk" music to such a degree. It's because today's most visible "punk music" is radio punk - the Blink 182, Sum 41, Chicago 7 brand of fruity tepid sing-songy boyband pop crap that's classified as "punk" simply because the guitars are distorted and the band members have short dyed hair sticking up in the air. If you're unfamiliar with punk rock, start with the Ramones, Dead Kennedys, Dwarves, Vandals, Germs, Minor Threat, Misfits and the first couple records each by DRI, Black Flag, Circle Jerks, TSOL and Suicidal Tendencies. Let these Nice Guys finish last - as they deserve to.

Band: Various Artists
Album: Punk Rock Is Your Friend #4
Label: Kung Fu Records

I've been following this band's career for many, many years now, and I tell you their artistic growth and dynamic range is AMAZING. Aside from a few setbacks like K-Tel's Out Of Sight! and Now That's What I Call Music! Volume Four, the Various Artists have come through time and time again with

HEY! Neil Hamburger is on this CD! America's Funnyman! His hilarious one-liners are all over the place! Hell, that would make it worth buying even if the rest of the CD was a bunch of interchangeable pop-punk songs. Luckily, this isn't the case! Because the Vandals are on here!!!! Ever heard the unreleased track "Count To Ten"? Well just maybe you should, the Vandals being a great fucking band and all. PLUS, there are videos inside by Vandals, OZMA, Tsunami Bomb, One Man Army, Alkaline Trio and The Ataris. All for the low, low price of low!

Band: Various Artists
Album: Rock Against Bush Vol. 1 CD + DVD
Label: Fat Wreck Chords

Any band that thinks George W. Bush is a callous, heartless failure, fraud and liar is good by me. Pity about Johnny Ramone, but he's always been an openly ignorant patriot (I can still like his music, can't I? Of course I can, in life!). But just look at all the talented bands who loathe our corporate president: The Get Up Kids, Ministry, Descendents, Jello Biafra w/ D.O.A. Not only that, but lots of OTHER punk bands hate him too! Why, there's Sum 41, Alkaline Trio, Anti-Flag, The Offspring, The Ataris, Pennywise, NOFX, Social Distortion - heck, even Less Than Jake featuring Billy Bragg are sick of his self-obsessed power grab bullshit. So many bands loathe him in fact that this CD has 26 songs on it, 18 of which are previously unreleased/rare tracks. Not only that, but there's a bonus DVD featuring David Cross comedy, footage from The Whole Truth About The Iraq War and lots of great other bits and pieces, music videos and short films. All this for only ONE DOLLAR!

Or however much they're charging for it. I didn't actually look.

Band: Various Artists
Album: Rockabilly Riot!
Label: Sanctuary

CHRIST! What a fantastic compilation!!! Gene Vincent's "Race With The Devil" (later covered by The Fall), Richie Valens' "Come On, Let's Go" (later covered by the Ramones) and "Ooh! My Head" (later covered by Led Zeppelin as "Boogie With Stu"), Roy Orbison's "Ooby Dooby" (later covered by Creedence Clearwater Revival), Carl Perkins' "Blue Suede Shoes" (later covered by the Residents) and "Honey Don't" (later covered by the Beatles, Jerry Lee Lewis' "Breathless" (later covered by X) and "Real Wild Child" (later covered by Iggy Pop, Johnny Burnette's "Train Kept A-Rollin'" (later covered by Aerosmith), Warren Smith's "Ubangi Stomp" (later covered by Alice Cooper) and more than five thousand other classic early rock and roll goodtime uptempo classics!

Oh wow, I totally counted wrong there.

Band: Various Artists
Product: Secret Weapons of Kung Fu 2
Label: Kung Fu

Punk rock label Kung Fu now has on the market a $6.99 (that's $6.99, as in SIX THOUSAND DOLLARS and 99 cents) DVD featuring 23 hot videos by your hottest artists of yesteryear (Vandals, Weirdos, Adolescents), today (Reel Big Fish, Guttermouth, Goldfinger) and tomorrow (Poison The Well, Neil Hamburger, Audio Karate). Any opportunity to enjoy the Vandals' "I've Got An Ape Drape" should be taken several times a day of course, but especially when a full 18 other bands are present and accounted for. Do you see the point? You watch 18 bands for a split-few-minutes and you can then say to yourself, "Hmm. Well I enjoyed Band X, Artist Y and Useless I.D., so I should go to the local Camelot Music Dealer and buy each artists' individual CDs." In the end, we ALL win!

Except for the guy who decides to sit through all three Ozma videos. Christ! Why are there THREE Ozma videos on here? Am I the only one who's noticed that they sound just like Weezer, who aren't any good in the first place?

Otherwise, GREEEEEEEEEEAT DVD for all fans of video in their music!

Band: Various Artists
Product: The Story Of The Blues DVD
Label: Music Video Distributors

Although I'm not sure this is the kinda DVD you'd sit around WATCHING all day (the visuals are all just photos -- like a fancy new-fangled 1990s slide show!), it is one heck of a great music compilation for anybody who's sorta interested in the blues but can't tell the difference between any of the artists. From Big Bill Broonzy and Sizable Robert Johnson to Blind Lemon Jefferson and Lactose-Intolerant Johnson, from Cousin Joe and Third Cousin Twice-Removed Tony to Mississippi John Hurt and Maine Clarence Williams, from Jelly Roll Morton and Bundt Cake Hill to Hot Lipps Page and Hairy Nutballs Johnson, from

Hey! I'm not done with the hilarity! Wait just

The disc appears to be separated into four sections: Blues Form, Country Blues, Urban Blues and Electric Blues -- but the narrator only has about three lines from beginning to end! So really it's a musical blues extravaganza that might as well be on CD instead of DVD. But if that were the case, how could you play it on your TV? Answer: You couldn't! Therefore, until technology reaches the point where EVERYBODY (and not just the Rockefellers) can afford a CD player, we'll have to watch all our great albums on the DVD player.

Band: Various Artists
Album: To The Bitter End: International Punk Hardcore Compilation
Label: Vinehell

In cities all over America, there are countries featuring young people who like to play loud, fast, political, shouting, old school hardcore punk. Many will argue that Punk Is Dead, but those people are jealous unhappy ASSHOLES. Something is only dead if nobody is into it anymore (like a corpse), and plenty of people all over society and the cosmos enjoy fast violent music to slam dance to. So Up The Academy of so-called big shooters who think they can take away my right to shout "Oi!" and grow my hair into a mohawk while using nothing but strength of will to keep the sides from growing in.

And that's the message of this 29-song compilation, which features bands from the USA, Estonia, UK, Germany, Canada, Sweden, Mexico, Australia, Japan, Brazil, Finland, Russia, Israel and some place called Slovakia which I think is between Canada and the USA. Can you believe that such a genre of clarity and longevity has continued to rile the impassioned children of so many earthly spots of today? I do - and CAN! This is fast hardcore punk - no fratboy pop-punk or modern screaming rap-metal. Buy it, love those simple riffs and be pleased that there are still bands out there with controversial names like This Is My Fist, Crispy Nuts, Juggling Jugulars and Los Dryheavers. For without them, who would provide such incendiary tracks as "Sweet Fireball," "Dreams of Fire," "Fireflies" and "Fire"? That's right - NOBODY!

Who's that? Jimi Hendrix? No, I've never heard of them.

Band: Various Artists
Album: Uncorrupted Steel 2
Label: Metal Blade

Metal Blade is back with a settling of scores, as well as with a new label sampler called UNCORRIGIBLE STOLEN TWO. SIX FEET UNDER will batter you with their gulping down snarl!!! BLACK DAHLIA MURDER will make unconscious and dumbfound you with their buckshot coach of capably dexterous passion!!! CATTLE DECAPITATION provides a salver of spray for the judicious run through mince buff!!! AS I LAY DYING will engage you in a demise bout of jackhammer beats, inconceivable binary deeps, incensed guitars and hardcore singing parts!!! THE HEAVILS are flammable, clannish, unforeseen!!! DAVE BROCKIE EXPERIENCE is well-groomed and droll!!!! VEHEMENCE is unerringly what the demise metal vista requests to dribble its ass back into sky-scraping cog!!! AMON AMARTH is charming, surface gashing and stately!!! GOD DETHRONED is financed with a reprisal and a memorandum to go beside it!!! 40GRIT will bazoom you with their thickset yet easy on the ear guitars and earnest libretto!!! BEYOND THE EMBRACE will azame your eyes with their discrete three guitarists!!! TOURNIQUET will tarmillerize you with their hard line methodological knack!!! CANNIBAL CORPSE is contentious yet all the rage!!! BRAINSTORM will underwhelm the overvalueless with this utterly severe song! DIES IRAE will knock holes in your melons with their sadistic passing away metal!!! VADER will darth you today with their executioner's cutting edge!!! ENGINE is the name of a band an old friend of mine was in, but they're not this one!!!!! If you don't buy UNFLAPPABLE WINGS BIRD TWO, don't hold me responsible!!!!

Band: Various Artists
Album: Vital Idol
Label: Idol

I pride myself on not liking power pop very much, but cripes, if there are any good power pop songs in the world, Idol's got them on this compilation! The bands aren't too well known - the Deathray Davies, the Fags, Chomsky, Gunfighter, Soviet Space, others - but almost all of them are clearly capable of writing at least one or two KILLER melodic guitar anthems of loveliness and sugary unforgettablenesses. One thing though - what the hell is wrong with the sinjger in Centro-Matic? Are half his vocal cords dangling out a hole in his neck or something?

Band: Various Artists
Product: What The Punk?! 2: An MVD Sampler
Label: Music Video Distributors

I don't go around chit-chatting with DVD companies so I don't know who all is out there doing cool things, but Music Video Distributors is one company that I know for a FACT has been releasing lots of fantastic DVDs in recent months - GG Allin, Bad Religion, Meat Puppets, Dead Kennedys, and so on and so forth. This particular disc is a budget-priced sampler so you can enjoy just quick little snippets of 22 different releases from such punk GODS as those I just listed, as well as DOA, Wesley Willis, Psychic TV, Butthole Surfers, Weirdos, Germs and Circle Jerks. You also get to see snippets from a few non-music releases - the awesome interview disc Hey Is Dee Dee Home and two ridiculous-looking cult movies called Desperate Teenage Lovedolls and Jesus Christ Vampire Hunter. Folks with short attention spans might actually be better off buying this thing than the actual full-length releases! Of course, folks with short attention spans probably

Reader Comments

InMyEyes82@aol.com (Zach English)
re: Chomsky
I'd recommend reading one of his books, though if audibly he bores you, I wouldn't assume he'd give you a boner on the written page.

But Chomsky's essential reading if you even want to have a smidgen of a clue about what's going on in this country. Basically, after World War II the triumphant and unbelievably wealthy United States set up a HUGE military-industrial complex called the Pentagon, to which 50 percent of everyone's taxes go. What does this building do? It funnels money to technological corporations that build all these fancy computers, cell phones and cars that everyone has nowadays. But more than that, it builds bombs. Nuclear bombs. By the fucking truckful. America's defense spending equals that of ALMOST EVERY OTHER MAJOR NATION ON EARTH COMBINED. Imagine if Hitler had started out with that kind of infrastructure; now imagine how easy it could be if we had a depression or some other godawful thing that throws our political system (already less than a joke) into a tailspin and some rising young turk decides to turn this land into a police state. The twentieth century has shown how easy such a move could be.

Chomsky may sound boring, but the issues he deals with are of greater magnitude than almost anything else that's happened in Western history. Know how channels like Fox News and CNN and people like Rush Limbaugh and Sean Hannity make people think their tax dollars are going to feed sleazy, lazy welfare mothers? IT'S A RACIST TRICK. Only a tiny percentage of our tax dollars go to welfare, which had already been cut into tiny pieces since the Nixon administration. Conservatives are bought and paid for by corporations that act in a pyramid-like fascist structure which will only allow a tiny plot of space to be covered in their discussions. 90 percent of what you hear out of their mouths are lies, though most of them have been led to believe that what they are saying is the truth by statist propaganda.

I could go on all night, but, again, I urge Mark and any other readers of this review to investigate what Chomsky is talking about, and to make damn sure you realize what our country is doing on foreign soil and within our own boundaries. It is scary and dangerous and needs to be talked about.

VayaCon13@aol.com
re: Chomsky
yeah,he lacks the spit and fire that hitler used to brainwash the germans.i used to be anarchopunk...till i read one of his books.they're probably good ideas,but talk about dry reading.that's when i realised anarchy sucks.i quit listening to antischism and bought a supersuckers album.i quit being a punk rocker and became a person who likes punk rock.

knowstev@med.umich.edu (Steven Knowlton)
re: Mico
If you really want to know, it's called a delay pedal rather than an echo because of the differences between digital and regular reverb. In a regular reverb setting on your amp, the sound is actually reflected against the walls of a tiny chamber and then out the speaker. The delay pedal just records the signal, and sends it out again after a few milliseconds (hence, the delay). You're right, though, repeat pedal would also be a good name.

dave@happydrifter.com (Dave B. Wagner)
re: Bob Log III
I saw this guy at a "festival" (ie, several bands in a dilapidated theatre filled with about twenty people - including the band members) about a year ago, and while I haven't heard his record, your description makes it apparent that he sounds exactly the same on stage as on record. He sounds like he's singing through a megaphone twelve miles away from you even when he's ten feet away. The "boob scotch" thing went horribly and hilariously askew when Bob asked for female volunteers and NO ONE raised a hand. It all seemed like one ridiculous half hour song, but pretty much made my night.

dahaws@flash.net (Andrea Parrish)
re: Matt Skiba & Kevin Seconds
No offense to you and all, seeing as how I don't know you, but that review was very moronic. Given, the lead struck me and kept me reading; however, the following blew my mind. I had never heard of 7 seconds until the split, but I'm a huge fan of Alkaline Trio and Skiba himself. Man, you should chill out--seems you haven't let go of those self-righteous ways of yours...no doubt you have no idea of what strait edge, or punk for that matter, is all about. Requoted once again, "We're fun - you're not! We play - you fight! You're off - we're not! THAT CHIP IS ALL YOU'VE GOT!" And "Me and you - We're gonna fight their narrow minds! Make our own rules!

LIVE YOUR LIFE AND ILL LIVE MINE!"

Let Kevin Seconds live his own life, write his own music and be his own damn self. Just because you look up to him (or did) doesn't mean he lives to please you.

The End

mwest@ranchomurieta.org
re: Matt Skiba & Kevin Seconds
you must have the brains of a walking zit, asshole. with a beer doesn't mean drinking it. And holding up a T and laughing doesn't mean shit except in your imagination. look to why your aging imprint on Kev is making your back in the day teen world view go all negative on Kev these days. then maybe you can separate your mommy daddy thing from your music and see what music is all about--whether its punk or pop or punkpop. you're stuck somewhere way fukt.

OLEAA148@aol.com
re: Matt Skiba & Kevin Seconds
You're funny.

Not knowing Alkaline Trio.
HAH!

I agree with that other person. 7 seconds? Who the hell are they? Kevin Seconds? He's just a guy who is on Matt's Split CD. One thing we have in common though is that we both listened to the CD and say that Seconds was bad.

Skiba was great though.

BlkRseRaine@aol.com
re: Matt Skiba & Kevin Seconds
Now that you point it out .. Matt's a lot better than Kevin. My friend and I rock out to this CD on road trips ... we like it.

GeTupKID10@aol.com
re: Matt Skiba & Kevin Seconds
dont exactly get how you've never heard of alkaline trio. cuz . i guess alkaline trio is more mainstream.....mainstream..ish...? no. not at all. but bigger than 7 seconds. and half of the review you ranted about how kevin seconds wasnt straight edge anymore. and basically based your rating on how he changed...

i like 7 seconds.. i heard kevin seconds songs on this and i cant stand to listen to them. i just go to the next cd in my cd player after..

meh. im really really into alkaline trio and a huge fan of skiba. and some of these kids commenting are dicks.. but. i'll leave it at that.

g_freye@hotmail.com (Greg Freye)
re: Matt Skiba & Kevin Seconds
"Seven Seconds...Who the hell are they? Kevin Seconds? He's just a guy on Matt's CD." Sad...

You sissy emo fucks wouldn't know punk if it came up and gobbed in your face. Seconds was here before you, and he'll be here long after your trendy, whiny, shite one-hit wonder bands have gone back to their jobs at Haagen Daz.

Know your roots, at least. And as for not knowing who 7 Seconds is...? I wouldn't admit that shit too loud in the company of someone who knows something about punk rock. You'd come off even more stupid in person.

jtfortin@yahoo.com (Jeff Fortin)
re: Matt Skiba & Kevin Seconds
I agree that the Kevin Seconds portion of this split is garbage. It sounds like something some hippie would play on the street with an open guitar case hoping someone is drunk enough to drop a buck in there. Lets face it, 7 Seconds has been living off Walk Together, Rock Together and the Crew for far too long. Just about everything else since than has been garbage.

As for the Skiba half, it is awesome. It is way better acousitic work than anything that that whiny 90210-looking pussy in Dashbord Confessional has ever written. The tune "Good Fucking Bye" is incredible. The skiba songs make the split worthwhile. If they still had tapes, I would buy this on casette and record over the Kevin Seconds tunes with 7 Seconds classics so I can remember Kevin for what he was, not what he has become.

(Side Note: The new Alkaline Trio, "Good Mourning" is great)

PunkRokrD@aol.com
re: Matt Skiba & Kevin Seconds
Fucking amazing! thats what it is.

Matt Skiba's track's are sweet and melidolic. Something you'd expect for him, with the exception for number 3 "that song sucks"

Kevin Seconds, well his songs are all poppy and catchy, but thats not all bad I like that he is expirementing with his accoustic style.

Of course it's not as harcore and wonderful as 7 seconds, which every single one of their songs was loud fast and just plain awesome. But once again Kevin electrifies your cd player with tracks like motherfuckers, extra something, and ugly mouth. tell me you can't relate to lyrics that say, "no one care's and no one bothers, cause we're all selfish motherfuckers, and don't think you're the only sucker, cause were all selfish motherfuckers.

kevin kinda reminds me of how Ian MacKaye turned into and accoustic singer when he formed fugazi. This change is for the good of kevin not the bad. before you make your rude remarks of kevin think about all he has done.

think about how that accoustic guitar is striked so hard and played so loud and how he works at it.

not only is this cd fucking amazing, but matt and kevin are perfect together and i hope they come out with another album.
untill next time,
fuck off

iwonas@dodo.com.au (Monika)
re: Matt Skiba & Kevin Seconds
look, i've never been a big Kevin Seconds fan (really, Kevin who?) i thought i'd give the whole cd a shot seeing as i really like alkaline trio. I can never seem to get past track five before going back to the begining. Let it be noted that although, last time i checked i was a "dickless" member of the whussy female sex, i still find kevin a bit nasal and whiney.

that's not why i'm writing. why i'm writing is, i don't know what you do for a living, but really, try becoming a novelist if you have a spare minute. take it from an old lady (almost 30 and needing another drink at the thought) you make the most amazing verbal pictures, your grasp of imagery and your wit and your dry self-depreciating humour are damn impressive. If you're not writing for a living, you're wasted.

Hunter
re: Matt Skiba & Kevin Seconds
For the record, the leader dude your talkin about from SSD is Al Barille. He's the guitarist not the singer. The singer was Springa, who was know for smoking dope during practice, while the other guys werent around. Chust so ya know. Love the site. And the complimentry Cheezits dont hurt either.

HallowedScream@aol.com
Re: Beyond The Embrace
Those new comers outta New Bedford really know how to bring out the soul of metal music. When I first heard thier music I was impressed, I have been a loyal fan of pretty much any band with a "Metal Blade Record" lable, Give em' a few years and they will become capable of greatness, everyone screws up a little on the first release.but I tend to disagree with those who badmouth them, because when I have a shitty day I can turn the lights off in my room , Light up a joint or two and zone out listening to them for hours on end, "or at least until I can walk straight again"

jofuss12@hotmail.com (Joe Bukowski)
re: Matt Skiba & Kevin Seconds
This post amazes me...I dont know why I even read it or typed this. OK..first off how do people not know 7 seconds.Although im not into them I grew up listening to them and alot of other punk and some really old stuff. Keep an open mind people. Second..become a novelist? are you on drugs lady. As a college student that offends me. Poor writing. Next...this kid bitches the whole time about his life. Suck it up pal...dont be afraid to go get some ass drink a beer do a line smoke a bowl..something that wouldnt make you so...well you know.....you. Ok Im done my rant. except for wow that lady who wrote really doesnt know a damn thing about writing or what it takes to become one.

stevenjules@xtra.co.nz
Hey Mark, bang on, Full on idle is an old AMPS song. Kims even put at at number 8 like the old AMPS album. Title T K is lost for ideas and they are trying to capture a new (younger?) audience. I love her to death but this just pulls in the wrong places. Laurie Anderson anybody?

pinguinner@hotmail.com
re: Meshuggah, let's talk about them. I'm gonna mini-review the discography of these guys I don't from which year are the first two records but they are in order.

Meshuggah - Contradictions Collapse Rating: 5

Their first effort is really dissapointing. It's a total rip-off from Master of puppets and Ride the lightning, and all the old school Metal They play good and the first song is fast and catchy, but the rest... The second song rips-off the fast part of Leper messiah... If you are a hardcore fan you should have it. Something interesting is the cover. It has a drawing of an explosion in New york city... I remember that a friend lend it to me a month after September 11th. So we laughed a little. I'm sorry I'm not from the States.

Meshuggah - None Rating: 9

Nice record. I mean it's incredible. This is the meshuggah that we know. It's fast, heavy and they started to mess a little with the rhythms sections Meshuggah has always sounded to me like a soundtrack for an hiperactive person. I was hiperactive when I was a kid, and sometimes I am now, so it fits perfectly. This record is very short. It has only for songs (If you're lucky you can find a version that has a fifth song called "Ayahuasca experience" which is the noisiest song I've heard noisiest than Melvins' Google and The cows' Sugar) The weaker song is Ritual that is about a break-up from the point of view of a metal-head.Short and good record. It's like having sex with your best friend's sister before he arrives home.Exciting, isn't it?

Meshuggah - Destroy Erase Improve (1995) Rating: 8

This is the record that includes the song "Future breed machine" one of the most incredible songs that a band has ever recorded. A friend told that a guy wrote an essay based on this song the guy studied music and he analyzed all the rhythm's changes, the patterns and all the things that I don't know but I listen to. It's in the internet so you can check it. The coolest songs are Beneath, Transfixion, Inside what's within behind and Suffer in truth. The others are good but not THAT good, you know. They sound very similar between them you have to listen carefully. This record is not played by humans they're androids, I mean check out the drummer... It's like a mechanical octopus.. and the guitar players they are amazing with the riffs and the well-programmed noise that they make. The singer actually sings like a beast in heat, he doesn't use vocal distortion like that wussie-assed idiot from Slipknot. If you like this record throw away the entire Pantera's catalogue from your window. Meshuggah is the metal band of the millenium. Period

Meshuggah - Chaosphere (1998) Rating: 9

Did you see that movie Cube??? ....Me neither, but it's about some idiots that wake up in a cube and they have to escape and they are dying one by one because the cube is filled with traps... Anyway this is a Chaosphere, it came to me the idea that this record is like a circle. Because every single song has a very catchy messed-up riff that is repeated over and over again thru the song. So you'll feel that you are in a gigantic ball going round and round over and over again... he he. This is a very original and catchy record. Once I went to a party they were lots of metal-heads so I brought this record over the party, and THEY DIDN'T LIKE IT. I mean some of them said "oh... it's cool, but I have to listen to it again..." but most of them told me to change it for a Cradle of filth record that they had. I think that many metal-heads don't enjoy this record because they don't know where to bang their heads... The rhythms are very messed-up, the guitar lines are like classic metal riffs but twisted, and this record shows us the death of old school metal for meshuggah. The last record had some of them but now no more. Only eight songs, the best of them New millenium cyadine Christ, the drums and the guitars are so coordinated that is like to listen a complicated math problem explained by Meshuggah...beautiful...

Meshuggah - Rare trax (200?) Rating:5

If you are a big fan you buy this. They are mostly B-sides and demos from their first record. The only cool song is War the opening track. It's a Slayer's Reign in blood Morbid Angel's Blessed are the sick influenced song. Very fast, very heavy it's amazing, It'll blow your house like Macaulay Caulkin on that Michael Jackson's video. That video is so funny, it starts with this heavy noise from the guitar and then turned into a bad aerosmith riff, a shame... but it's michael...

Meshuggah - Nothing (2002) Rating:10

Holy crap... The first time I listened to it i was like ".......... " yeah like that, I couldn't believe it. The first track is kinda dissapointing because it's just plain, but the rest of the record is so fucking good! It's like Chaosphere but tighter and slower. It doesn't have the experimentation from the previous records this record is like a dinosaur footstamp on the moon. The rhytms and guitar lines are still wacky but this time are more "organized" are more direct. You cannot dislike this record. Well maybe you can say "oh.. it's too slow..." It's not that slow, Go listen Melvins early records or Neurosis... That is slow, this is gold.

That's my mini review, I hope Mark will make his own meshuggah review. Please do it, it doesn't matter if you do it on 2078. Bye!

adamburtrules@yahoo.com
re: Soul Demise
Thank you for posting that picture of your dog in the Soul Demise review. That is damn near the funniest thing I've ever seen. I saved it as my desktop wallpaper, and I laugh audibly every time I look at it.

robertkoehl@yahoo.com
re: Aina
Wow, if ever there was an album that I never ever ever thought you'd ever review, it's the Aina "Days of Rising Doom" disc. (Which is in your Zine reviews, where I seem to be finding all my newer favourite bands these days.) About the only thing sadder than the fact that this cd is a sad parody of the new breed of Euro-Metal (Nightwish, After Forever, Epica etc) is the fact that they somehow managed to conn members of Nightwish, Epica, After Forever, and all the other greats from that scene into performing on this piece of shit. It has some great moments, yes, but the story is a joke, and some of the extreme overthetop nonsense "oh you sick son of a bitch, no use for you, no pity for you now die" and all just get's REALLY old.

If you want to get a concept album from one of the new EuroProgMetal acts, try "Invisible Circles" by After Forever (death growls with operatic soprano female, together at last), "The Phantom Agony" by Epica, "Secret of the Runes" by Therion, "Echos" by Lacrimosa, or "Once" by Nightwish (follow-up to "Century Child" which I think you've reviewed already).

But you've gotta be way into the scene to be able to stomach the LOTR nonsense on this disc.

bdw@cruzio.com
re: Noam Chomsky

and now Chomsky is on the newstands just like you foresaw, in the pages of Sept. Hustler magazine!


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