Hard Reviews 2
by Martin Popoff

Lungbrush - Old School New School

Quite the fierce heatblast from this Chicago act, Lungbrush led by fabled Chicago crazyman Roach, who for seven years rocked the house with The Plague. First touchstone would be Pantera, especially vocally, although musically, these guys busy it up way past Dimebag and Co., great arrangements, a touch of hardcore, a little street rap, but mostly just highly memorable sledge riffs like the one driving 'For A Minute'. Manic drummer too.
Rating 7.5

Sacramentum - Thy Black Destiny
(Century Media)

The formula worked so palpably last time, Sacramentum once again call upon Andy LaRocque to produce, who does a fine job stripping any semblance of finery, all craptatious harsh light and Witchery, especially within the snare and bass drum sounds, allowing all of Sacramentum's musical wizards to be heard objectively. The sound is somewhat the same curious fusion of black metal and Kreator speed metal, and the best part is that when they hand you the bottle, you forget about tomorrow. Sorta like that inner sanctum tingle that Necrophobic garnered with their cranky sound and even crankier interviews, Sacramentum sound like a whole lot of hard food left in the microwave too long.
Rating 8

Cage - Unveiled

Winning Rock Hard magazine's best new band competition seems somewhat appropriate for the makers of this album which should not be an indie, unless it's been of choice. Fact is, what San Diego's Cage do is a highly European sort of power metal, and thankfully, not the fast effeminate type, more like Memento Mori crossed with Jugulator-era Priest, a touch of doom, lots of classic goth metal riffs and unbelievable Ripper Owens-style vocals (with a touch of Messiah) from one Sean Peck. It's pretty cool, especially when you get a visual gander of the thing, because the whole band look like their burly, muscle-strapped roadies, and you just know they understand this stuff because they were there. Occasionally the lyrics get a little cliche unto Manowar crossed with look-at-me Quiet Riot, but a close read shows that it's very occasional, the listener exaggerating the thought because Peck enunciates everything so damn clear and dramatic, a bit wearing at times. Could have used a few different arrangements and guitar sounds, although if I had to pick one mix, this would be it, Cage recording this thing with mid-years Accept-like perfection. Contact: http://members.aol.com/ncchainsaw/cage
Rating 8

Iron Monkey - Our Problem

Hopefully past all the label strife at Earache, Iron Monkey can get down to what they do best: upset stomachs. The cover art will accomplish this immediately, but you'll probably go blind accessing the profanity of the caterwauled lyrics. The sum package is a curious mess of Eyehategod, Blood Duster, Acid Bath, Brutal Truth, Napalm Death, whacked Canucks Kittens, and an intriguing whiff of stoner rock. I think it's art, but if it is, it's like that '60s stuff where they used to throw rotting meat at the crowd.
Rating 7

Built For Speed - A Motorhead Tribute

Here's a swift chaser after you've blown your mind with the fortified, instructive new Motorhead double live album (out now on CMC, if you dare), hardcore label Victory gathering various, often non-Victory young Lemmys in salute to the original. A good chunk of this is a bit sparse, scant, and unfeeling like much hardcore, but there are also shafts of glory, most notably Zeke's I'll Be Your Sister and Electric Frankenstein's We Are The Roadcrew. Then there's Swedish stoner rockers Terra Firma who do a '60s non-metal psychedelic art rock version of Bomber, the only surprise on the record, and not altogether a pleasant one. Kinda creepy. Great Derek Hess cover illustration though, adding a breath of fresh air and humour to the Motorhead library, and a dollop better than the crap used for the latest live album. Contact www.victoryrecords.com.
Rating 7.5