Friday, December 1, 2000

Album Reviews 2000

Ninety Pound Wuss - Short Hand Operation
Tooth and Nail
I wouldn't think electronica would mould together so nicely with pure punk rock as it does here. Lots of experimental guitar work on these these songs, and amazing passion and energy on the whole album; kids are digging this new NPW contributed from the complete diversity compared to their debut material. Jeff Suffering seems to have gotten rid of his scratch-core vocals, replacing with with a more natural roughness. My favourites include Intermediate Laceration (some talented screaming), and the beginning title track which starts out with a Moog intro and blasts into speed-punk rawness - the bass sounding crystal clear over all the fury. Percussionist Matt Johnson (Roadside Monument, Blenderhead) contributes his rhythmic talents playing bass and drums on a few of the tracks.

Zao - Liberate te ex Infernis
Solid State
This album may not be as edgy as Where Blood and Fire Bring Rest, but it is still filled will pure hardcore passion and its energy is inclined to get you moving in one form or another. The guitars on Zao albums have seemed to sound more distant than they would live, but on this release it makes more room for Dan's growling vocals that prove their loyalty to metal-core. The subject content may frighten the light-hearted or simple-minded, dwelling highly on the reality of hell and such. I enjoy that about these guys though, they are honest musicians.

Training For Utopia - Throwing a Wrench Into the American Music Machine
Solid State
Throwing a Wrench... is partially electronic and quite experimental; it isn't too experimental that you'd lose yourself, but experimentl from their older sounds compared to their newer maturity. The songs themselves range broadly from melodic, non-melodic, industrial, acoustic emo-pop, distorted metal dance mixes, and grooves as if the Beastie Boys were burning alive. Some of the stuff is rave material, like Dead Signal 2000. The following track, The Art of Killing a Copy Machine is, however, a non-melodic sloppy ballad of harshness. Burt Reynolds vs Godzilla is very heavy with start-stop/loud-soft techniques of rhythm and progression.
One thing that remains similar throughout TFU's older and newer projects would be their fast riffs in repetitive forms and in odd times. Distorted vocals and screaming remain the same throughout most of the albums as well, though they are now experimented with more.

Phaedo - Landscapes
Velvet Blue Music
Not as completely dynamic and powerful as their live sound, this record is Phaedo's second and was produced by Mr. Starflyer Jason Martin and Mr. VBM Jeff Cloud, also of Starflyer 59. Phaedo's style has been thrown around under several terms, including emo-core, math rock, animal rock and even dirty hardcore. It also does have an indie rock smell to it though, which might be Why Mr Cloud picked them up on his label. Intensely emotional screaming, loud/soft riffs and thick bass lines all lie in odd time that will throw you off just when you're getting the hang of things.

Chasing Furies - With Abandon
A fresh sounding unique quality of music that is extremely saturated with aesthetic satisfaction. Poetic imagry described by the vocals of siblings Sarah and Rachel Meeker. Some parts of the album are very strong as surrounding melodies are nicely placed over top. While not distinct in resemblance, The Chasing Furies would probably appeal to fans of Jars of Clay, The Cranberries or Sixpence None the Richer.

Tooth and Nail Video Complilation
Tooth and Nail
I like T&N's #4 video compilation the most over all out of all of their videos, and probably this one the least. Dissapointed my the lack of harder material, I was also bored during the pointless interludes that turned to be annoying compared to previous T&N videos. Rad videos were Plankeye's Goodbye, Ghoti Hook Walking On Sunshine and the Joy Electric Children of the Lord video. The Supertones almost made me hurl. It wasn't even funny in a cheesy lame ska-like way, just so distasteful. Dogwood was okay; they're good musicians but the video was visually unappealing. There's also an older MxPx video, Money Tree, from their Teenage Politics album.

Stitch (demo)
An aggresive pick of "aggro-tribe-groove-metal" from a CA band that sent me this two song demo. Vocals growl, scream and add toughness to their style, but they seem to over-rate themselves.

Time Is the Enemy (demo)
Heavy glam-metal from Vancouver's rising scene. The vocals are spooky in a dreamy sense, with occasional screaming, and guitar riffs lay think, follwing the low end of the bass, producing a very dark and heavy atmosphere.

Essays On: Frantic Desperation, Annihilation and From Another Passerby
Clandestine Project
Twenty-one songs here put collaberated together by three indie bands: the pAper chAse, E-Class and Lugsole. The first to appear, The pAper chAse, seem pretty psychotic to me in a persoanl way. Call their material weird and disturbing if you want, but I'd call this band a new favourite. There are a couple experimental preludes they include; one of them of an open drum beat playing over the background of a radio, a slamming door, and some screaming that created for me the mental picture of some guy in a straight jacket kicking against a wall. It isn't the harshness that makes it creepy, but their soft melodies that will blank out your mind and will whisper to you everything that you want to know. The guitar work and song layout is well structured, and the band is quite spontaneous. E-Class is melodic punk from Texas. The vocals and unique and muttered in an illegible way that can be enjoyed. The riff's aren't too repetitive, and while I wouldn't necessarily call it new-school, it is catchy; they have their own original sound that amazingly isn't too boringly simplified. Lugsole is an act that overall almost anyone could enjoy. They spread out driving rhythms enjoyable no matter what frame of time signiture they're composed in. With Andy Crump's passionate and emotive screaming, they remind myself of a more radio friendly Roadside Monument.

Stretch Armstrong - Rituals of Life
Solid State
I decided to buy this album, hearing so much good about it being such a great album. It's not punk, and it's not metal, but it's a hardcore that this band has successfully separated from both of the two former genres. The riffs are tough, melodic and rhythmically genuine; along with the well screamed vocals of Chris McLane, it mixes a perfect combination for a lighter and highly excited hardcore sound. The tracks on this album are passionate, with inspiring lyrics of emotion; I find it very fun.

Noxious Emotion
ADSR Musicwerks
I was sent a demo tape from this Seattle-based group with four songs that were I'm guessing from their upcoming album Symbols. As their own review states, "NE's music, described as Elektro-Body-Music and Dance Industrial, is a unique blend of hard drving beats overlaid with 80's wave melodies." Their music is quite high in quality, as Symbols is their fifth full length, and would appeal to fans of The Awakening, Skinny Puppy, Project Pitchfork and Front Line Assembly.

Extol - Mesmerized
Solid State
Here's a new EP out on Solid State from those Scandinavian metal heads. Three tracks of brutal screaming metal with driving melodic talent, followed by three more tracks of electronic remixes of their older songs. Extol has kept pretty much the same level of energy that was on their last release, Burial. Their tracks are very epic. The last track, Work of Art, is an ambient remix developed completely from original sounds. Very interesting material from this death metal band.

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