Hard Reviews 4
by Martin Popoff

Scene Killer - Scene Killer

Scene Killer is a huge catch-all of a warehouse of a storage unit of riffs and ideas poured forth by a myriad of New Jersey stoner rock stalwarts, including members and embers of Monster Magnet, Atomic Bitchwax, Solarized, Halfway To Gone, and my fave act from the pack, Solace. Falling somewhere between an Atomic Bitchwax, Fu Manchu and Clearlight album, most of Scene Killer is instrumental and jammy (Pit Of The Soul is a blasting rocker with vocals, and a highlight, given its rubber-burning riff). The production is great throughout, and more than anything, Scene Killer is a splendid collection/display of guitar tones and effects, many bluesy, many fuzzed out and stoner-proud. A real cool part of this is the 13 pages of diary entries by James Hogan, documenting the whole process and by extension the vibrant NJ scene. As mixer Jack Endino sez at the end, "a somewhat motley batch of stuff", but that's one of this album's charms, its many textures and hues, the album truly evoking the variety of a loud and obscure old '70s hard rock album by a band who perhaps hadn't really updated and assimilated Sabbath and Deep Purple yet. See www.meteorcity.com for more info.
Rating 7

The Defaced - Domination Commence
(Nuclear Blast)

S'funny, only attuned metalheads with paranoid and sensitive nu-metal radar would detect the nu-metal that the label hype casually and sparingly mentions as being buried somewhere within The Defaced. But sure, dig and it's there (amidst the band's Swedish melodic death: this features Soilwork and Darkane folk), in the occasional mopey and electro-treated vocals, in the guitar tones, in the quiet scrapey sections. But the lesson is more likely about how heavy nu-metal can be at times, The Defaced combining extreme Swedish violence with the white hot and heaviest bits from Amercian nu-metal bands, most notably Machine Head and maybe Skrape and Slipknot (see opener October Ruins for a weird approximation of the 'Knot). In fact, I hear more Nevermore and debut-era Machine Head guitar riffing and tones in here than later Machine Head. And same thing with Henry Ranta's drumming: this is 90% complex frost metal and maybe 10% cymbal-thrashing American groove. Somebody had to try this, and what a great idea. And what a great execution as well, The Defaced staying well the hell away from anything within nu-metal that is annoying and damnifying, while just lightly sampling some of the cool new ways nu found to be heavy.
Rating 8.5

Hard Reviews Page 5