Metal reviews, 2013

Acolyte, Alta

So here are some black-metal rookies from Manchester, England who actually manage some space, melody and roll, thanks mainly to a one-named guitarist named Chris whose relatively clean and exploratory tone splits the difference between loud shoegaze and blues-proggy classic rock. Also, singer JT isn’t super oppressive, and is occasionally almost comprehensible: “fear and loathing!,” he seems to grumble once in “The Nameless Expanse” before turning into a crying toddler. Moods tend toward reflective repose as much as ogre anger, and the ebb and flow isn’t totally amorphous. Though it’s close.  

Adrenaline Mob, Coverta

These journeymen comb through the great hard-rock songbook for cover material: Eight tunes ranging, both chronologically and in terms of famousness, from the Doors’ 1970 “Break On Through” (shrug-worthy after an opening rototom volley) to 1989’s “High Wire” by bargain-bin boogiemen Badlands (meaty, though the title sounds more like “How are ya?”) Fast ones (Van Halen raced totally over-the-top, Dio) beat slow ones (Led Zep dragged to hairy-backed levels of lemon-squeezing grossness). There’s a pompy but punchy Rainbow remake, too – and at the end, a Sabbath sockarooni about Mob ruling. Get it?

Alpha Tiger, Beneath The Surface

Actual Saxons from Saxony, in the former East Germany, Alpha Tiger do a tasteful, operatic-chorused ‘80s prog-bombast metal thing that’d be more diverting if they played faster (as they do to start “From Outer Space”), if their rhythm section had more thickness to it (as it does to start “We Came From The Gutter”), if they really sounded like they came from an outer-space gutter, and if their songs didn’t outwear their welcome. As is, Queensrÿche fans might fall for them regardless – and those munchkins conducting the call-and-response Q&A in “Eden Lies In Ruins” do earn their fall from grace.

Ancient VVisdom, Deathlike

Their trappings read “occult rock” of the Devil’s Blood ilk, but this ostensibly demonic Austin, Tex. outfit sound more like the commercial end of grunge: Alice In Chains harmonies, clearly, but also artsier inheritors like Days Of The New, and – disturbingly – every-hair-in-place moaners like David Cook. There’s darkish metal in there, too: Oafish Americans Danzig and Type O Negative, at least, plus ‘90s Metallica. Heavy riffs are rare, but “The Last Man On Earth”’s Chris Isaak hushabilly is a surprise, and chain and wind sounds lend “I Am Rebirth” and “Here Is The Grave” an eerie atmosphere.

Big Boys, The Fat Elvis

These 31 tracks – including 11 checking in under two minutes – comprise the Austin skatecore band’s entire output from 1982 to 1984. (The Skinny Elvis compiles 1980 to 1981; Wreck Collection has odds and sods.) Though not as genre-stretching as the Minutemen (who they sometimes sound like), Big Boys sincerely wanted to get funky – They cover ‘70s Kool & the Gang; mimic the Gang Of Four (“Prison,” “Work”) and maybe Heaven 17 (“What’s The Word?”); do a five-minute turntable jam (“Common Beat”) and a ‘60s frat-soul parody (“We Got Your Money.”) And they’re at least as fun slowed down as slamming.

Black Sabbath,13

Tony Iommi and Geezer Butler hold up their end on Sab’s first Ozzyfied studio set in 35 years; guitar and bass riffs sound as inexorable as you’d hope, and grimier than you’d expect. Without Bill Ward drumming, though, the bottom still feels floppy and waterlogged. And Oz’s gig has been self-parody forever: rhyme “tomb,” “gloom” and “doom”? Check! That said, “Zeitgeist” is some dreamy across-the-universe space-metal; Beatles rips (“Rocky Raccoon”!?) in comparatively speedy Deluxe Edition tweak-rocker “Methademic” are even more blatant. And “Live Forever,” about not wanting to, is plenty heavy.   

Black Star Riders, All Hell Breaks Loose

Not quite Thin Lizzy, but the most sustained imitation ever, what with four of five Riders also in Lizzy’s 2013 lineup; heck, Scott Gorham joined in 1974. Ex-Almighty singer Ricky Warwick, channeling Phil Lynott’s warm-blooded phrasing and hard-luck optimism, is the sole Irishman. But his Yank mates mix shamrock-and-emerald folk into their sweet percussive heaviness anyway, and by the reggae-tinged blues closer they’re returning to Belfast. The urban romanticism feels immediately classic: “Way down in Suckerville tonight…we’re all trying to lose a little more slowly.” Oily maybe, but holy too. 

Black Veil Brides, Wretched And Divine: The Story Of The Wild Ones

This black-mascara-flaunting, Cincinnati-rooted L.A. emo-goth-glam band’s third album went top 10 in its first Billboard week, and apparently took some work to get there: This is an ambitious record, a 19-track Kilroy Was Here/Operation: Mindcrime-type concept opera about an organization called F.E.A.R. trying to round up and suppress young rebel deviants, who ultimately foil the Megachurch of Lies. Semi-legit power-to-hair-metal riffs and high-mass chorales uplift the bombast a bit, between piano-schlock and narration interludes. “Days Are Numbered” and “In The End” even manage crunchy hooks.  

Blood Ceremony, The Eldritch Dark

Third time around, Toronto’s queen and court of Wicker Man metal truly are living in the past, as their woodwinds-of-the-wood role models Jethro Tull would say. Just eight songs in 41 minutes – very 1969! Alia O’Brien’s ritual incantations, flute and organ swirl really take center stage, too, and a new drummer ups the 16th notes. Longest cuts open and close, but there’s plenty in the middle: zodiac killing in “Goodbye Gemini,” demonic dancing in “Lord Summerisle,” ancient forest folk in the intriguingly named “Ballad Of The Weird Sisters.” But is the album title a Sisters of Mercy nod, or not?

Bullet For My Valentine, Temper Temper

Several tracks on this popular Welsh metalcore foursome’s fourth album grab early with guitar intros, and a few make way for savory power-metal fills later – Michael Paget is clearly no klutz. The songs themselves, though, are almost embarrassingly clichéd in their sub-late-Metallica therapy-session emotionality:  “Temper temper, time to explode/Feels good when I lose control.” Several lyrics address mean people (especially girls), and “Saints & Sinners” damns the bad folks for eternity. Only running from sirens in the punkish, Misfits-shouted “Riot” do BFMV sound like they’re having much fun. 

Clutch, Earth Rocker

Sounds like Maryland’s stoner-funk musclemen have been digging Westbound-era Funkadelic as much as old RATM lately: Their rhythm section’s packing that kinda whomp, especially in the werewolfish opener and closer, the latter of which defines their “political persuasion” as “howling at the moon” just a few cuts after they hand some blowhard “Mr. Freedom” his ass on a platter. “D.C. Sound Attack!” goes even further, with metal’s most bomb-dropping Trouble Funk go-go break ever. Elsewhere, they opt for boogie slide, prospector-rock duskiness and a White Zombie facsimile about racing a Rocket 88.

Corsair, Corsair

Nine tracks in under 38 minutes, this co-ed Virginia quartet’s first full-length is as confident and realized a debut as has come down the metal pike in many a moon. Two instrumentals ignite halfway between ‘70s fusion and ‘80s Metallica, while songs with words effortlessly exude the mythic calm, toastiness, tunefulness and rhythm of classic Thin Lizzy. Criss-crossing guitars of Paul Sebring and Marie Landragin warm prog intricacy with blues feel á la the great lost Chicago band Winterhawk. In “The Desert,” Landragin finally takes vocal reins, and closes the set traversing Yes-like topography.

Deafheaven, Sunbather

Deafheaven make shoegazer metal that does its dark work in the background, but refuses to stay in one place. Augmented by a drummer on their second full-length Sunbather, the San Francisco duo alternate four nine-minute-plus compositions with three shorter tracks, letting feedback slowly thicken to thunderous crescendos while a cloud cover of despondent growls rains down. Moments of minimalist stillness, acoustic strumming, and spoken word – for instance, in “Windows,” an apparent preacher warning that hell is a real place – vary the volume. But the mood remains ominous and anguished, even as sonic details award the patience of headphone-equipped headbangers.  (Rolling Stone)

Devil To Pay, Fate Is Your Muse

From Indianapolis – also home to power-doom gods Gates Of Slumber – Devil To Pay play mostly sludge-tempo metal that equally skirts grunge and Sabbath. And either way, they don’t sound super happy – “Yes Master” suggests what might’ve happened if Kurt Cobain joined Trouble. They start out philosophical (“if this temporal world is nothing more than lies, can we reconcile the great divide?”), and dreariness eventually drags them down. Still, woodblock percussion helps “Already Dead” howl bangingly, “This Train Won’t Stop” accelerates down the railroad and “Tie One On” ties some old ZZ boogie on.

Endless Boogie, Long Island

Hard to imagine you’d need more than one album by these aptly named New Yorkers – this is approximately their sixth, counting self-released jam sessions. But one might come in handy, if you’re a Savoy Brown fan who stares at shoes while woozily enjoying the rocking chair. Vocals are Beefheart-grumbly and buried when even audible; wah-wah tends toward early Stooges; repetitive impulses range from Can (13-minute opener “The Savageist”) to Hawkwind to Groundhogs to sundry bogan bands unknown outside ‘70s Australia. Now and then, the tempo doubles. “General Admission” could almost pass for a song!   

Five Horse Johnson, The Taking Of Black Rock

These Toledo boogie-stoners open up with an ominous riff, echoing and building and panning across speakers like early Aerosmith back in the saddle to record an open-expanse spaghetti western about recovering debts on a horse named Mexico. “The Job,” the song’s called, and the band never equals it. But their harmonica-hopped backporch-biker heaviness holds its own regardless, ripping down wanted posters and dodging hanging-tree blood at it goes. Eventually Cheap Trick’s Robin Zander ups the pitch for six minutes of “You’re My Girl,” and in “Shoot My Way Out” they funk out with burly 16th notes. 

Gozu, The Fury Of A Patient Man

Despite Soundgarden grunge tendencies in the grunt department, this Boston bunch throw a wicked pissah of a party. They only rarely slip into Sabbath-gloom mode on this third album. And they know how to keep from getting bogged down – with QOTSA-style air-floating high registers, trance-jazzed instrumental sections (best in “Traci Lords”), Urge Overkill bubble-soul harmonies about sweet soul sisters (in “Salty Thumb.”) They funk it up unhorribly, too, and stay concise until the finale takes a 23-minute flight to nowhere. Plus, it’s about time somebody did a song called “Signed, Epstein’s Mom.” 

Hexvessel, Iron Marsh

Co-ed psych-folk Finns slim from an octet to a quintet while thickening in a slightly more doom-metal direction on this half-hour-plus so-called EP, peaking with some blooze-wah-wahed Wiccan history called “Woman of Salem” that starts at 6:00 on a June morning in 1692. Opener “Masks Of The Universe” escapes “the nuclear world of chaos,” building in 13 minutes from trumpet stabs toward space distortion; “Superstitious Currents” and “Don’t Break the Curse” sound woodsier and more pastoral, the latter setting pagan talk of “primal ancestors” to Jethro Tull rhythms at a crashing Swans-dirge pace.

HIM, Tears On Tape

The bubblegum goth-glam these Finnish girlie men call “love-metal” feels even lighter on their eighth album than it used to – as flouncy as Suede or Placebo, and downright feather-like in “Into The Night.” But they still make sure to stick some sanitized Sabbath riffs (“Hearts At War,” “W.L.S.T.D”) between the more Adam Lambert material, and they swipe real pretty melodies – from Duran Duran’s “Come Undone” in “I Will Be The End Of You,” Def Lep’s “Hysteria” in “Drawn & Quartered,” maybe 1976 Blue Öyster Cult in “No Love.” For bookends, two darkwave instrumentals let the lipstick runneth over.

Iceage, You’re Nothing

Following a 2010 debut that inspired more hipster blog bytes than the rest of Copenhagen’s population combined, depressive Danes Iceage return with a squatter-rock sophomore set maybe even punkier than its predecessor – at least if punk means varying your Killing Joke dolor with Hüsker Dü Zen Arcade barrage (see “In Haze” and “It Might Hit First”) fronted by Darby Crash-style blabbermouthing through a Vaselined lens. “Ecstasy” gets stressed out and spits staccato; “Interlude” goes the militia-drummed industrial instrumental route. Then “Everything Drifts” raises fists like life during wartime.  

Iggy and the Stooges, Ready To Die

Despite guitarist James Williamson’s return after 40 years, with a tone recognizable as himself during a few intros, Ready To Die still feels more like an Iggy solo album. “Dirty Deal” probably dances closest to the old raw power; elsewhere, occasional handclaps and saxes try hard to. “Gun” and the domestic-terror-inspired title cut suggest a tabloid obsession with American violence, but Iggy’s flattened recitation grabs more when goofing on big breasts and bad jobs. And though plenty of it plods, at least Ig’s acting his age when he croons a couple maudlin ballads for the Leonard Cohen crowd.

Intronaut, Habitual Levitatons (Instilling Words With Tones)

These thoughtful Los Angelenos opt for atmosphere over aggression on their fourth full-length more than ever before  – it’s their least metal and most prog album, in other words, but with at least as many shoegazey holding patterns as paradiddles. Everything but the three-minute “Blood From a Stone” sounds stretched out for Porcupine Tree fans, with a frequently itchy and scratchy undertow. Sabbath-rumbler “Eventual” has the heaviest gravity, until it starts fluttering; closer “The Way Down” wiggles every which way like a snake plugged into a light socket. At least two songs refer to insomnia.

Jess And The Ancient Ones, Astral Sabbat

On the wiccan-womaned 2010s occult-band spectrum, this Finnish septet sound more metal than Devil’s Blood, less metal than Witch Mountain – i.e., maybe as metal as Blood Ceremony, only with less flute. This EP, a followup to 2012’s self-titled full-length, stretches three songs over nearly 25 minutes. The two originals have Jess wailing Grace Slickishly about Lucifer, Mother Earth, souls on fire and succumbing to the Omega while organs, guitars and lap steel build their shamanistic prog. Between, they revive a 1969 goddess-rock nugget by Holland’s Shocking Blue about driving on a Sunday night.

Kadavar, Abra Kadavar

This hirsute, guru-looking Berlin trio pull off their early ‘70s acid-blues groove with knowing deftness rare in stoner rock. Their second album opens with “Come Back Life,” a melodic basher that finally acknowledges doom-metal’s debt to Simon Garfunkel calling darkness an old friend; another tune, built on hot pedal action, seems titled directly after proto-metal gods Dust. “Fire” turns downright lusty, and by the end things burst wide open, with Age Of Asparagus psych-zoom preceding the bongolicious jungle-rock title instrumental with breaks as disco-ready as any from metal dudes in decades.  

KEN mode, Entrench

Named after an old Henry Rollins acronym (“Kill Everyone Now”) and fronted by shrieking vomit vocals alternating with bellowing vomit vocals, this high-strung Manitoba post-metalcore trio ache to give you an earache. But tracks like “The Terror Pulse” and “Daedon” suggest they’d be more interesting as an instrumental band, without all the germy spittle clogging up the clanging. Their tantrums take some proggish little twists and turns, and two longer tracks – “Monomyth” and the passably psychedelic “Romeo Must Never Know” – hint at Pelican’s metalgaze drone. Mainly, they flail and lurch a lot.   

Kill For Eden, Kill For Eden

This London-based, German-rooted band aims for a synthesis that deserves to be tried more: Big-lunged and flashdancey Taylor Dayne/Bonnie Tyler/Pat Benatar-type belting from Lyla D’Souza, fronting churning hard rock of <i>Appetite For Destruction</i> vintage. So Nerf-metal aficionados, be ready for Precious Metal or Princess Pang flashbacks. Gets a bit samey, but select cuts hide “Immigrant Song” (“Ned”) or heavy wah-wah boogie (“Slip Away”) underneath; “The Truth” partakes in a rappish rhyme scheme. And focus cut “Kerosene” – not Big Black or Miranda Lambert, but not bad! – is some real sex on fire.    

KMFDM, Kunst

Nearly 30 years and 20 entertaining if mostly interchangeable studio albums into their goose-steppingly pervy career, these aged Hamburgers still sound more rhythmic than most industrial metal acts and more muscular than most industrial dance acts: “German engineering/Astounding ingenuity/29 years of continuity,” they brag in the title opener, which also repeatedly threatens Depeche Mode. Rubber baby dub bumpers, electro ping-pongs, sledgehammered synths, rapping goth frauleins, it’s all still here – plus a sincere tribute to Pussy Riot, and hints that they know how fun Ke$ha and Scooter are.  

Krokus, Dirty Dynamite

With all five positions filled by Swiss Misters whose Krokus experience dates back at least to 1982, they’re back to their boogie base – Or at least, to being a respectable bargain-bin AC/DC, in numbskull boffs like “Better Than Sex” and blatant “Dirty Deeds” cop “Go Baby Go.” There’s Chuck Berry riffs, some beer-commercial blues, a power-ballad Beatles cover and plenty of good old-fashioned sexism. In the Slade-ishly bawdy music-hall ribjoint-shuffle of a title cut and the dancey closer that brags “I’m a hard-rockin’ hard-rockin’ hard-rockin’ hard-rockin’ man,” they truly get their swerve on. 

Kvelertak, Meir

They grunt like Celtic Frost and blaaargh like black-metal demons on top of it all, but these Norwegians’ bottom end is garage-rocking punk, more indebted to their countrymen Turbonegro than to their countrymen Satyricon. Their rock side emerges as the album progresses – fast Joy Division in “Bruane Brenn,” subliminal “Sister Ray” rhythm into “Telstar” satellite-dishing in “Nekrokosmos,” electro-industrial grind in “Undertro,” spiraling arena-rock soloing in “Tordenbrak,” and finally Grand Funkish party stomp in a closer that shares their band name. Now and then, they dance a jig in the woods.

Manilla Road, Mysterium

The pride of Wichita, Kansas just keep rolling along, building their 16th-or-so temple of galloping power-prog in a third of a century, though who knows if anybody besides Mark Shelton himself has heard them all? Mysterium opens with the piercing kind of low-budget opera-metal crunchola they specialize in, dips into minor-key murk and waddling doom, and adds a couple regal Stonehenge ballads for variety. Then finally, some water-gonging Yoda-rock wisdom and an 11-minute title cut lushly crossing the sea of dreams. “Carry my torch ‘til my life turns to dust,” Shelton pledges once – and he will. 

Megadeth, Super Collider

Not ‘til after the classic-rock-lush intro of “Don’t Turn Your Back,” the tenth of 11 cuts, does Megadeth’s 14th album opt for all-out thrashing; momentum’s in short supply, and Dave Mustaine’s vocals sound increasingly strained – senior-citizen-era Alice Cooper often comes to mind. Still, there are moments: world-gone-crazy goofiness (“Off The Edge”); semi-talked paranoid ranting for a struggling middle class (“Dance In The Rain”); quasi-Eastern gloom (“Beginning Of Sorrow”); Appalachian banjo into marchtime drums (“The Blackest Crow”); a compact closer with big Priestly riffs (“Cold Sweat.”)

Melvins, Everybody Loves Sausages

Seattle’s eternal sasquatches teach a class on the weird world before grunge – mid ‘60s (Fugs) to early ‘80s (Venom, Scientists, Pop-O-Pies, Tales Of Terror), but mostly ‘70s. J.G. Thirlwell and Jello Biafra help rave up the space-glam in Bowie’s thin white “Station To Station” and Roxy Music’s inflatable “In Every Dream Home A Heartache”; Clem Burke and Halo of Flies’ Tom Hazelmyer add punk push to the Jam’s “Art School” (done as drunken Anti-Nowhere League oi!) and Kinks’ “Attitude”. Ram Jam and Divine don’t work as well, but it was wise to save the Throbbing Gristle lab experiment for last.  

MindMaze, Mask Of Lies

This lady-fronted Allentown, Penn. foursome is “progressive” less in terms of “zany time signatures” than of “wanky solos” and “could use an editor.” There’s a “Cosmic Overture,” too: how prog can you get? Most songs check in around five or six minutes, a length the Carl Orff-ish vocal backup and conflicted forecast of coming end-times battles in “This Holy War” put to best use. “Dark City (Dreaming This Life)” and “Destiny Calls” go longer and heavier, with new age oceans, seagulls, fancy ballet music and gang choruses to help. Much of the rest suggests Evanescence or Flyleaf gone ‘80s metal.   

Mothership, Mothership

Dallas dudes with cosmic minds and biker biceps, power trio Mothership open their masterful debut space-doomin’ across galaxies, but by “City Nights” they’re back on earth, a travelin’ band doing one-night stands over classic rock riffs. They kneel down in the mud, grease, blues and oysters, but before long they’re hitting cruise control in the fast lane. “Lunar Master” shifts from Motörhead chug to placid, solo-stretched Southern boogie; “Eagle Soars” has drums that dance. And “the good book” gets paged in both the Metallica-in-NWOBHM-mode “Angel Of Death” and apocalyptic clodhopper “Elenin.” 

New Keepers Of The Water Towers, Cosmic Child

On these metal Swedes’ previous album, four of nine cuts lasted less than three minutes; on this, their third, only one of six does, while two exceed 12 minutes and another passes nine. Stretching out allows them time, space, and other dimensions with which to tap their inner Pink Floyd – occasionally via Opeth, Intronaut, Porcupine Tree or maybe Nothingface-era Voivod, at least when the atmosphere eventually thickens enough to locate some gravity toward ends of marathon tracks. They’re also indulging in more vowel-elongating multi-part harmonies. But their old cryptozoology concept is missed.

Paradox, Tales Of The Weird

This Bavarian metal bunch, around on and off since the mid ‘80s, do their no-nonsense speed-power stuff with enviable skill and finesse. The title track opens the show by keeping momentum going longer than nine minutes without losing footing, and the pipe-organ-ornate prog-pomp bridge of  hard-rock-riffed closer “A Light In The Black” might be the best thing here. “Escalation” escalates from siren guitars to monkish medieval chanting; “Brainwashed” gets lovely in the middle; “Zeitgeist” is a Steve-Howe-like two-minute instrumental. It’s all easy to respect, if not as easy to get excited about.  

Maxine Petrucci, Back To The Garden

Best known for her guitar prowess in mid ‘80s Detroit hair-metal laugh riots Madam X (seriously, Google their LP cover), Petrucci is now on her third solo album: coffee-shop hippie poetry about butterflies, Vietnam, “psychedelic dream attacks” and “life just isn’t fair, that’s why we’re on drugs” atop shredding-bumblebee metal that often feels almost harmolodic. She pays homage to Hendrix in the incidentally funky title track and the Who in the rock’n’rolling “Ginger Man”; blows Ian Anderson-style flute in the naively prog “Wicked.” And though her songs aren’t great, her chops serve them well.

Dug Pinnick, Naked

On his third if not sixth solo joint, King’s X’s king confronts insanity and technology while risking rapcore hysterics and emo confession – the latter most uncomfortably in opener “What You Gonna Do?,” where he laments lacking insurance and savings and money to meet his mortgage. Soon he’s worrying depression might turn you atheist, but mostly he refines his time-tested funk/prog/flower-grunge art-metal amalgam – ornate here, rustic there, swiping an insomniac staccato Chicago-via-Green Day riff in “Take Me Away From You,” letting solos stretch “I Hope I Don’t Lose My Mind” to seven minutes. 

Pissed Jeans, Honeys

Clearly still misanthropes of mundanity even if you can only make out snatches of complaint, these Allentown, PA reprobates spend most of their fourth set yanking their dirty, dirgey glop downward with basslines anchored Flipper-style deep beneath the Lehigh River.  They tell a “Teenage Adult” not to grow up; “Cafeteria Food” snarls at a “stick-figure family” stuck to some car. Now and then, a hook surfaces: Stranglers melody in “Bathroom Laughter,”  garage riff in “Cat House,” the way guitars in “Health Plan” – which recommends avoiding doctors – catapult out the gate like mid ‘80s Hüsker Dü.

Puscifer, Donkey Punch The Night

Tool-timer Maynard James Keenan revolves his half-jokey side gig’s 2013 EP around interpretations of two classics by leather-loving homoerotic metal heroes. Queen’s “Bohemian Rhapsody” is crooned whiney, somewhat mournful, but less amusing than, say, We’ve Got A Fuzzbox And We’re Gonna Use It’s ‘80s rendition; Accept’s “Balls To The Wall” is slowed to a minor-key alt-rock ballad. Then they’re both stripped into unrecognizably ambient instrumentals. Originals “Breathe” and “Dear Brother” get two mixes each, too: Trip-hoppy-to-dub-steppy, with some kinky electronic-body-muzik whispering on top.

Sevendust, Black Out The Sun

Coming off of five straight Top 20 albums, Georgia’s stalwart nu/alt-metalers devote most of their ninth studio set to contemporary smackdown screamo, not turning legitimately heavy until wah-wah cruncher “Decay,” the seventh song. “Dark AM” is the only real hint at  industrial or funk, and the record’s most interesting bit — 28 seconds of sparkling stained-glass goth — is saved for the intro of final cut “Murder Bar.” There are a few passably AOR-like guitar solos, but the primary mode is post-grunge binge-and-purge, eventually shivering into acoustic-strummed dreariness in “Got A Feeling.”

Tomahawk, Oddfellows

The alt-metal supergroup’s fourth album partakes of a detached aesthetic that feels way more alt than metal. Members’ Faith No More/Jesus Lizard/Melvins pasts all figure in: Songs stop and start, yell and whisper, split the difference between supper club and moshpit, occasionally stopping off at horror (“I Can Almost See Them”) and spy (“Typhoon”) soundtracks.  But there’s nothing here to scare away, say, Pixies fans — not even when the skippidy-dippidy throat-clearing of “Choke Neck” makes way for mass-murderer shtick, or some stuff later about “baby let’s play dead/I got a hole in my head.”

Uncle Acid, Mind Control

Despite dropping “and the Deadbeats” while swapping personnel, these retro-proto-metal Brits still sugar their muddy repetitive horror-doom plod with amiably high-registered melodies and harmonies: downright pretty in spots, and the Blue Öyster Cult moves (that riff in “Mind Crawler”!) feel even more enchanted than Ghost’s. George Harrison might dig the extended sitar-like Indian drone of “Follow The Leader”; “Valley Of The Dolls” burrows like a monster mole ‘til buzzing like early Sonic Youth. Then, after explaining they’re the devil doing the devil’s work, they end with fed-back white noise.

Rob Zombie, Venomous Rat Regeneration Vendor

Give or take the minute-long Middle Eastern psych instrumental “Theme For The Rat Vendor,” Zombie may not break new ground on his fifth solo album. But he can’t be accused of taking his shtick too seriously. He’s mainly in heavy techno-garage mode, keeping punch-outs short and simple like Pussy Galore and ratcheting up cartoon-trash hooklines: “I’m so hazardous/My name is Lazarus,” “They call me a pentagram Peter Pan,” “69 in the county morgue.” He also pretends to be howling radio DJ, intercepts sundry sleazy grade-Z horror signals, and mixes the cowbell really high when he covers Grand Funk.  

rhapsody.com

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