Hard Reviews 3
by Martin Popoff

Sinergy - Suicide By My Side
(Nuclear Blast)

There seems to be a self-perpetuating trumped-up plot to slam this band record after record, after which the latest is pronounced as the actualization to behold (Slayer gets the reverse: raves for the fresh kill and then a quite revising downward after the carcass gets pungent). In any event, not much has changed, other than two members and a slight up-ratchet of heaviness. Call me contrarian, but I've been closeted in my glee at the melodies on first two, and those are still abundant within the dastardly, fastardly but neat and complete shred of Suicide By My Side. Kim's vocals do it for me, because she sounds like the ultimate party chick, belting along with Jack Daniels to the concert in her head, while Alexi and their crack band snap tight their aggressive power metal platings. It's a metal lovebird love-in that occurs, an embracing of tradition with the gleaming technology of today applied to add spring to the six-string step. So hell, they're all good in a specific place - the land of vampy female-vocalized power metal - but at 38 minutes, call this a tie at best with the now much-maligned first two, which contain a good four of my favourite hundred metal songs of the last three years.
Rating 7.5

Fu Manchu - California Crossing

Workin' out a nice little niche here, Fu Manchu - I guess along with Queens Of The Stone Age, but more power-chorded - finding a slouchy loud pop context in which to stack them guitars. Scott Hill's vocals are really a big part of the attraction, the man taking the band sorta Sloan and Weezer. Producer Matt Hyde as brought on board, and the result is a cleaner vibe with more spaces, less torque on the six-strings, even if there's still a melding between wot's bass and wot's guitar. Still, Fu Manchu can't help but write steamy riff rockers like heavy-ass BTO or Masters Of Reality, y'know that heavy oak table sound you'd get if Leslie West wrote a couple dozen Mississippi Queen's or if Bad Company wrote just one. So it's just that now their metal breathes, and within the pregnant pauses comes monster rumblings from the rhythm section, including grateful snatches of cowbell. Weird, but I'd say this has resulted in the brightest, most enjoyable collection of songs from these perennial stoner rockers yet, especially the rippin' title track (lyrics courtesy of Speedealer guy, Rodney Skelton) and the monster truck size Bultaco. Highly entertaining, Fu Manchu have figured out to rock their way out of a box.
Rating 8

Hard Reviews Page 4