CD reviews

SlipknotIowa

After selling over 1.5 million copies of their self-titled 1999 debut with little promotion other than word of mouth, the metal community was anxious to see if Slipknot would fall victim to the dreaded sophomore curse. Despite what mainstream music critics will tell you, Slipknot have indeed overcame many skeptics and pulled it off again with their new opus entitled Iowa. Focusing on more complex song structures, more intense drumming from an already maniacal Joey Jordison, and a heavier low-end from Paul Gray, the band centres the anger that lacked focus on their debut. This time around our masked heroes take out loads of aggression on those who underestimated their capabilities, dismissing them as the next nu-metal fad. Frontman Corey Taylor lashes out with unbridled, venomous lyrics like: “I wanna slit your throat and f*ck the wound, wanna push my face in and feel the swoon” on “Disasterpiece”. With lyrics so intense and so graphic, it‘s hard to imagine Slipknot rallying us to “keep on rollin‘“, a la Fred Durst. They’re more apt to tell you to skin him alive with a dull, rusted knife. However, ass-ripping brutality is the forte of this nine-man outfit, and it continues on this album. The guitar stylings of #7 (a.k.a. Mick Thompson) , and #4 (Jim Root) have been upped for this offering. With faster, groove-laiden riffs, and the odd “metal squeal” thrown in for good measure, the guitars shine like never before. Slipknot’s two percussionists: the Clown and #3, DJ Sid Wilson, and sampler Craig Jones, have been more seamlessly integrated into the madness, blending in far more than on the debut.

This makes for more layered songs that will have you still hearing new sounds even after 30 listens. Slipknot have effectively pissed in the faces of their detractors, and raised the bar on their long-awaited follow up. Seeing this band self destruct is more plausible than seeing them turn into another disappointing band who “used to be good.” And this cat wouldn’t want it any other way. (Roadrunner Records)

— Zach Parker

Love As Laughter

Sea To Shining Sea

I like driving, but driving home to Toronto for the weekend to have a root canal is not amusing. I decide to throw in Love As Laughter’s debut album and the rock and/or roll quickly comes spewing forth from my factory speakers. With it just being my second listen, I feel I already know the words and attempt to sing along (picture Garth singing “Bohemian Rhapsody” in Wayne’s World, or trying to).

The first track “Coast to Coast” is already getting a respectable amount of play on campus radio airwaves, and rightly deserves it. My thoughts of having a dentist drill the hell out of my mouth disappears and my head begins to bop to the infectious yet simple guitar riffs. The vocal twang in the second track, ‘Temptation Island’ seems very reminiscent of Screeching Weasel’s cover of the Ramones ‘Now I Want to Sniff Some Glue,’ and proves that Love as Laughter knows to keep the twang out of the guitar. With song titles like ‘Miss Direction’ and ‘Drugachusetts’ you would expect clever lyrics, however, this is exactly where the album lacks. The lyrics are bland and at times drone on, in the track ‘sam jayne=dead’, the chorus: ‘shoot me in the head man, shoot me in the head man’ just annoys the hell out of me and reminded me of the root canal I would have in three hours. The album ends with “E.H.,” a ten and a half minute emotional rollercoaster that makes me want to drive my car straight through the dentist’s office. Now that is rock and/or roll. (Sub Pop)

— jordy yack

Eels

Souljacker

Mark Oliver Everett, or ‘E’ as he is now known, is a talented bastard. He is not only credited on the album as playing “seven instruments”, but “seven instruments, etc”. In addition to this, he also writes or co-writes all of the songs on the album. This however is not surprising considering that the Eels were basically a solo project until he needed a backing band. He wrote and recorded most of the debut album, Beautiful Freak all by his lonesome.

Souljacker, their fourth studio album is, for lack of a better term, an alternative pop album. On the disc, E keeps them short and sweet, with only one track, “Teenage Witch,” cracking the four-minute mark, a rarity nowadays. Also quite rare is the band sampling their own songs. On “Fresh Feeling,” the best track on the album, they sample “Selective Memory” from their album Daisies of the Galaxy.

The synopsis to the song “Jungle Telegraph” reads like a short story written by a crackhead. In it a boy is born during a terrible storm, grows up to be a teenage prostitute, kills a man in self defense and then flees to the jungle to live out his life in a tree. If that song alone is not enough to buy it, they’ve also got Koool G Murder on a couple of tracks, and a hilarious and informative intro in the liner notes written by MC Killingspree. This is funny, absurd and brilliant stuff. (Dreamworks)

— Mark Flindall

Spiritualized

Let It Come Down

It’s been four years since the last Spiritualized album, Ladies and Gentlemen We Are Floating in Space, an album title that perfectly described that beautifully rambled sound. Let It Come Down also beautifully describes this album. Spiritualized have essentially let the album come down a grade. The loud and wild Spiritualized I have come to love has replaced its thrashy guitars for an orchestra and choir, although you won’t hear me complaining. The 11 minute long guitar squawking track “Cop Shoot Cop” on Ladies and Gentlemen We Are Floating in Space is probably the last time you will hear something that loud out of Spiritualized. Let it Come Down is an album about God and love and love for God. At times the lyrics are vague and dull; it is during these times I wish that they just covered up the crap with loud, unmelodic guitar riffs. The British, however, know where it’s at as many big names have decided to put down the guitar and pick up other instruments and have been extremely successful. (Radiohead, Damon Albarn/Gorillaz) This album isn’t completely void of guitar, it’s just that the guitar comes second to the choir and orchestra. I’ve always noticed strong gospel influences on past Spiritualized albums but I never thought it would impact Spirtualized this much. Again, I’m not complaining, I am just in between liking and loving this album. For an extra Spiritualized snack, go to www.spiritualized.com and watch the video for “Stop Your Crying”, it has made thousands of people cry. (Spaceman/Arista/BMG)

— jordy yack

Pissing Razors

Where We Come From

After inking a deal with Spitfire Records, Texas’ Pissing Razors are back with their fifth album in about four years. Where We Come From isn’t a bad album, either. Pissing Razors was one of those bands you always wanna listen to, but never get around to it, despite being acclaimed by metal fans from many circles. I will admit I was pleasantly surprised by the aggression found on the album. The guitars were heavy and hard.

Drums? No complaints here. Lots of double-kick beats, triplets, and the lot, which always pleases me. But what got me was the vocals. They were too similar in tone and style to those of a once-mighty Machine Head, or even those of Skinlab.

This was the biggest beef I had with this album. I just couldn’t shake it, so it lost some points there I suppose. Also there were some hints of Fear Factory in there as well, which weighed in on the final decision for this review. Overall, I would rate this CD as a 6.5-7, on a scale of 1-10. That’s not bad in my opinion, especially since I am unfamiliar with their previous material. In the end, Pissing Razor’s Where We Come From is still a CD that has made into my regular CD rotation, and that’s what the people really want to know anyways, right? (Spitfire Records)

— Zach Parker

Merlin

Merlin’s Milkbar Stereo

This album by Merlin is make-you feel-good kind of music. Merlin’s Milkbar Stereo has fun catchy lyrics and good rhythmic flavor. Merlin combines many different instruments from violins to turn tables and Spanish flamenco guitars.

Two of the best songs are: “Adrenaline Junkie” and “San Pedigro”. Other than the great lyrics, they both display instrumental versatility. The song “San Pedigro” makes you want to pump up the volume and chill out with an icy cold Corona.

The art in the CD booklet makes you wonder what the hell was going on in the head of the artist. It almost seems like it was pulled out of a Douglas Coupland book. (MCA)

— Alejandro Tanaka

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