Hard Reviews 2
by Martin Popoff

Hypocrisy - Catch 22
(Nuclear Blast)

Peter's been through the ringer lately and he's angrier for it, that's for sure. So Hypocrisy grinds on (work = life), and fortunately flip comments from Peter about the upcoming album have not borne fruit, except maybe the mumblings about a slight elevation in hi-tech-ness. But really, Catch 22 is a pretty conventional Hypocrisy album featuring huge stressful guitar sounds, trebly snare and cymbals (and bass drum for that matter), and vocals that are usually pickled in a sea of electric currents. The band's melodies are a blast, sort of In Flames in flames, and these can be heard in the increased number of gut-churning mid-paced tracks, Hatred and Destroyed being particularly punk-drunk and turgidly Entombed, Seeds Of The Chosen One swaggering like Kiss' War Machine, until chorus time when it sounds like Lillian Axe. Just kidding, but there's a grain in truth there: Peter is singing (and please, let's hear more of this), and the boys are not afraid to get really melodic, even if it chafes with the surrounding steel-on-steel mayhem. The tunefulness can be pulled out (if you yank hard), because the writing is level-headed, Hypocrisy creating the Black Album of their lonely death doom genre. So yeah, don't be scared away (or thrilled, if that's your style) with lead blaster Don't Judge Me; the rest of the album is more of the band's slowing, ever-flowing sorrow-growing style, a sick thick smothering thing that Hypocrisy do better than anybody. One mark off for Peter's extreme and fairly plentiful death vocal which just grates on my nerves. And not that there has to be or should be comparisons, but what a contrast with either the Pete or non-Pete Lock Up albums, both sounding like five year old rusted bolt rock compared to this band's confrontational yet emotional, professional and valid songwriting.
Rating 9

Craving Theo - Craving Theo

It's cool to see that amongst the half dozen nu-metal bands on each major, something heavier occasionally creeps into the mix. Portland's ridiculously named Craving Theo is an example, falling somewhere between Alice In Chains, Guns N' Roses and heavy Big Wreck, with inevitable nu-metal and Godsmack touchstones. Opener Stomp totally crushes, and then things relax a bit for the grungy old Aerosmith riffs of Hold Me Down before a few more dynamics are thrown in, mostly that modern thing where a slightly quieter verse breaks into loud, cymbal-smashed grooves. All told, it's a welcome blurring of the lines, or at least a deliberate shift back to loud alternative, away from nu-metal, final destination, er... really, heavy grunge. Highlight: All I Am, which is almost punk metal, again, something one could imagine Slash writing, another Slash-er being the opening riffs on Lie and What Do You Want, which again, both frustratingly fall away for the verse. Still, the sum total of this is a welcome dose of dirty, no-frills '90s metal, thankfully not as studied as corporate heaviness in '01 and '02. Damn. I wonder what they look like, although not badly enough to go check the site.
Rating 7.5

Hard Reviews Page 3