Hard Reviews 2
by Martin Popoff

Soil - Throttle Junkies

Alright, alright, I'm warming to these guys, and it's probably that guitar sound (and the fact that this is miles above hyped hometown blandsters Loudmouth) that is doing it. Bottom line is, Soil get an explosive mix here, big drums, outrageously electric guitars, and solid vocal belts from Ryan McCombs when he's loud, something closer to Days Of The New than Creed when he's quiet. The much-lauded Corrosion Of Conformity comparisons also fit the bill, Soil finding that mushmouth southern metal vibe on 'Stand To Fall' and 'Concrete Slave', both highlights, neither on the band's two EPs so far. I can tell too, that this is a band I'd tattoo across my face in 3-inch letters after seeing them live (not that I'd ever go), given the blowin' free riffery and DIY vibe that recalls my own basement jams years ago. Put 'em on the radio, pound it into my skull on the car radio, and maybe I'll be there caring.
Rating 7.5

Goatsnake - I
(Rise Above)

Don't know if it's odd or appropriate but the doomers with pedigree continue to make the best stuff. Goatsnake's V12 core is 2/3 of seminal but not all that great upon inspection stoner pioneers The Obsessed. Goatsnake try a lot of silly, interesting, pointless, ragingly heavy metal ideas here, many guitar tones, many eras of chemical hurling rocka rolla, some authentic psychedelia, even a handful of songs. And there's the rub: there really ain't enough accessible compositions on here (something Cathedral has solved, for better or worse), which is a pity, given the half-dozen personas vocalist Pete Stahl can conjure, best being that cross between Ian Astbury and Glenn Danzig. Feels important, even inspired, but I can only find a dozen useful minutes on it.
Rating 7

Children Of Bodom - Hatebreeder
(Nuclear Blast)

Finding themselves in the strange but fortunately hyped space between Dimmu, Witchery and Hammerfall, Children Of Bodom once more succeed in being all things to all metal folk, in essence, this time combining keyboard-drenched power metal with black metal, emphasis on the Castle Malmsteen music. I find things don't really refresh until the mid-point, when the few blastbeats and plentiful purty fast beats are mercifully dropped, Black Widow, Wrath Within and Children Of Bodom combining nicely cool grooves, Alex's blech! metal vocals, and Mikko Karmilla's crisp, bass-less production within guitar and keyboard symphonies that recall the frilly shirts of that old Silver Mountain album. A palatable and fresh hybrid of styles that just happen to be hot stuff today, Children Of Bodom actually embracing Helloween to a much greater extent than on the debut, but hitting hard with a trio of aggressive early tracks so we feel bludgeoned enough to headbang in pure pleasure for the whole back half. Two minutes longer than the debut at 38 minutes.
Rating 8.5

Tellurium - LV426

Best thing I can say about this 25 minute industrial metal EP is that Tellurium got that sparse thing going, sounding like Six Feet Under crossed with White Zombie, a couple of decent grooves, a submerged minimalist sound with retro-death vocals. Casual and underproduced in a healthy way, until you get fed up and just think it's cheap.
Rating 5

Bongzilla - Stash

This would be just another head-removed stumbling stoner rock lurch if not for the total pot culture concept to the thing, Bongzilla loading up with photos, words and deeds all hailing the sacred bud. Musically, the band has been infected with the Relapse spirit, combining aimless casual noise with wildly wrong noisecore vocals. So the music sounds more like a violent drunk than a peaceable peacenik waving and smiling in a blue haze,and the vocals are like a background buzz, mixed down the tube, ranting pretty funny and leafy words which would be lost without the manual. Couldn't wait to get the end, where an obscure Sabbath cover waited for seed removal. Could barely tell it was a cover. Must rest now. Oh yeah, don't buy this album.
Rating 0