Hard Reviews 3
by Martin Popoff

Elektrik Mistress - Elektrik Mistress
(Echo Relations)

Kurt Kuthe and his bulbous wallow rockers Elektrik Mistress comprise one half of Toronto's dynastic brethren of stoner rock gymnastics, Eric Kuthe with Sea Of Green being his brother, both leading similarly catchy dope rock outfits. Elektrik Mistress contains ten tracks that occasionally break out of the box, cool, high fidelity ballad Blank Room being an example. Much of the rest is quite simple, usually slow and invitingly groovy retro-grunge (like all the best Hawkwind songs) featuring a great drum sound from Chris Henry, no surprise given that the album was produced by Rush veteran Terry Brown. Of particular note are Kuthe's vocals, which are prefect for this grinding format, Kurt sounding like a major label, no sales, too heavy '70s dude, especially on Heavy Handed, which reverberates with a flurry of effects over a sludge carve that sounds like Aerosmith discovering Sabbath, as well as on the hippy acoustic Maya, which begins mellow then loads on the chords. Which brings up a good point: I personally think this thing improves as it sludges forth, tracks one and three (Rock Star and Looking For), both stumbling forth on annoying riffs that stick in the head and not in a good way. But damn, the rest of the album is pure and purist stoner rock, no frills, trippy, layered tastefully with beeps and bleeps, just loud and down the middle. See www.elektrikmistress.00band.com for more info.
Rating 7.5

Alex Masi - Fire In The Rain, Downtown Dreamers, Attack Of The Neon Shark, Vertical Invaders
(Lion Music)

Italy's crazy, grinding version of Yngwie kicked about with his band Dark Lord for awhile before landing in sunny L.A., thenceforth signing a contract with Metal Blade and becoming a second string Satriani Shrapnel-type guy. But as is the blessed metal magic of the times, Masi ended up touring with everybody, from Triumph through Slayer through Hurricane, even landing a Grammy nomination for Neon Shark. Well, archivists of obscure power metal Lion Music (www.lionmusic.com) have licensed the four Metal Blade albums (they are also Alex's home for new music), and the sum total shows a versatile axeman able to churn the Bach to the blues, always with a tough aggressive attack, even emulating a bit of the wide-ranging Italian prog ethic with these surprisingly non-cliche' albums (ranging from '87 to '90). The recording isn't always great, but the variety of rhythms and arrangements is ambitious, Alex coming up with tones and tunes that could, and did, appeal to non-shred audiences, very much like Satriani.
Rating 6.5, 7,6,8

Hard Reviews Page 4