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PAIN OF SALVATION
Scarsick (Inside Out)
Daniel Gildenlow has long since signaled that his band is much more than progressive metal, for a spell now being part of that generalist rock craftsman realm that uses distorted drums and a profusion of structures and mood shifts as tools within a completely broad framework to the point where labels are meaningless. But like any of the old greats who've done this (Rush, Marillion, Queensryche, Yes, OSI... Anathema!) the clump of songs will add up to... something. And describing that chunk here has to start with Clawfinger, then adding a little OSI, for Scarsick contains nu-metal riffs, rappy vocals, and then lots of trippy contemplating bits textured up nicely, Daniel inciting all manner of character to rail on modern consumption-mad society. It's silly everyone calls out 'Disco Queen', which yes, has one pure but tongue-in-cheek disco part, repeated. Still, it's a typical Scarsick song elsewhere, and it's epic and dark. Best of the often smarmy but not so runty litter is 'Cribcaged' a plush, passionate ballad with enough f-bombs to ensure it'll never hit radio. 'Idiocracy' is also huge and moving down a dark balladic way, while 'Flame To The Moth' is simply killer Egypto-prog metal. No doubt, this is going to tick a lot of people off (it's certainly not that heavy, save for the Mudvayne parts), but take a little trip around the album, especially to the back half, and then revisit the rappy 'Spitfall' if only for it's cloud-parting chorus, and you'll find lots on here to admire and even assimilate as pleasurable and still way smart music.
MAYLENE AND THE SONS OF DISASTER
Fans of Clutch, Priestess, Fu Manchu, Artimus Pyledriver, The Illuminati, Hammerlock, Witch an' Wolfmother... take heed, for this rocks with a bigger smack in the mouth than all of those, 'cept maybe for closest compare, Artimus Pyledriver - no one hollers like that Slocum guy. This is the second album for this redneck band of molten riff monsters, and the elliptically addressed idea is Ma Barker and her sons and their crime spree in the 1920s and '30s. But that's secondary to the horned-up classic metal riffs on this thing, and the grooves and the production and the shout at the cattle vocals of Dallas Taylor, ex of Underoath, if you can believe it. Birmingham, Alabama is home to these guys in so many ways, 'cos of course, there's the strong southern rock vibe, although it's more of a Maryland vibe, with the southern rock Kiss and BTO could get up to before 1978, when, really, it was only Blackfoot that did power chords from down under. And it doesn't let up, Maylene bulldozing relentlessly, on huge backbeats and explosive concussion bombs from below, Taylor hollerin' great words that occasionally give another great southern wordsmith, Dax Riggs, a run for his collectible-value-only railroad stocks. Really, it was good ol' Raging Slab that started this mess, but Maylene clean up the crime scene with so much more energy than any and all corn husk comers.
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