Hard Reviews
by Martin Popoff

Martin Popoff is the author of The Collector's Guide To Heavy Metal (previously known as Riff Kills Man!), now a 540 page, 600,000 word compendium comprising 3,700 heavy metal record reviews. Also included are rock lists, a glossary of terms, a concise listing of almost 500 9's and 10's, plus a roll-call of non-metal faves. New to this edition is an exclusive 19-track sampler CD from premiere metal label Century Media. The book is now in its second pressing. For more information, visit the book website or contact martinp@hardradio.com


Fresh Metal

Overkill - Necroshine
(CMC)

Overkill continue to make records at an alarming pace, all the more admirable given the technical production wizardry flowing throughout this electro but not electro post-thrash feast. Managing to sound organic and machine-buffed at once, Overkill continue to prove their mastery of craft, dishing out crisp guitars and crisp drums, over crisp disciplined songs that contain more than their fair share of mortality, a byproduct perhaps of Bobby "Blitz" Ellesworth's recent bouts with nasal cancer. But again, there's a paradox between the obvious layering and the often stripped power metal feel that can remind one of Metal Church at times. More than anything though, this is a clinic in production perfection. The fans will care, and like Flotsam, new folks might continue the blank stares. Strange franchise.
Rating 8

Puya - Fundamental
(MCA)

Here's another one of those jarring fusions between seeming disparate n'er twain shall meets. Picture Latin horn-driven swing 'n' samba, crossed with the party flavours of Sublime crossed once more with the warm, down-tuned guitar hardcore of Nothingface, Vision Of Disorder and Coal Chamber. Slipping stealth-like in the night between these dynamics, Puerto Rico's Puya create a rum blend that is wildly entertaining, although considerably limited to my soft Canadian ears, given that most of it is in Spanish. But the band doesn't stop there, juggling all these balls with a jazzprog ethic (even the metal: think a less hectic version of Meshuggah) that is quite amazing to behold. I can't help hear a bit of trendy hip-hopped Everlast in all this, and even a whiff of System Of A Down, but all in all, it's a pretty cool monster that has been spliced and diced for your channel-surfing confused consumption.
Rating 7.5

Mindset - A Bullet For Cinderella
(Noise)

If this very cool band's '97 debut rocked heavy, if a little clumsily, like a groovy, Korn-funked Rage Against The Machine, A Bullet For Cinderella has somehow decided to buck trends and go for the mensa metal mindset jugular. For verily, these Virginia Beach conundrums have delivered a turbo-riffed brainfest akin to a band we all miss, Soundgarden. I'm not sure if it's the new guitarist that has caused this amazing transformation, but something's lit a fire under this band, propelling them through to some amazing power chorded arrangements and attendant vocal hooks. Same producers as the debut which is also odd, given this record's creamy, power-assisted electro-glide. Every song's a fresh new trip, every second song an infection, every third a raging holler-out ecstatic anthem. For some reason, I'm reminded of that under-rated Hansdsome record from '97, plus all the things about Tool no one understands, and none of the obvious trendy bits. Highly viable alternative metal that ever so calmily picks a new verdant niche. Plus they sorta look like The Stranglers.
Rating 8.5

Hard Reviews Part 2