Hard Reviews 3
by Martin Popoff

Michael Harris - Sketches From The Thought Chamber

Once again, Harris goes the instrumental route, although he has really stepped out into something quite strange (call it gothic fusion?), Harris throwing extremely jazzy shadows, Michael's three (!) drummers driving percussively these enjoyable and exotic and not all that metallic tracks. The creative verve of a Steve Morse is still evident, but there are also recurring King Crimson signatures (Prognosis, Neuro-Transmitter, Mad Fingers), and, with Eat Your Words, a soulful melodic roustabout evocative of Schenker, a guitarist few seem to try duplicate. But all told, Sketches is the man's most fluid, hi-fidelity, yet versatile record, a point driven home by the compressed classical mania of IdeoSymphony, the Kotzen greasiness of Regroovination, and the album's dozen or so guitar effects that are distinctive enough to perk the attention of even the most passive guitar watcher. See www.IMFrecords.com for more info.
Rating 7

The Hangmen - Metallic I.O.U.

OK, this has been out for a while, but damn, the band has been up, down, hangin' around an/or broken down for 12 years (with one major label release), so what's time got to do with it when you're one of the great failed, shelved, drugged, sleazestrip stories in the history of unwashed hair metal? Bryan Small could write a book of poor rocker escapades, but chucking all that, it's just cool he's back with this Hanoi Rockin' Izzy Stradlin' collection of ten rockers faithful to the Hangmen crash 'n' burn spirit. You might want to included Nashville Pussy, the Stones, L.A. Guns and American Dog in the mix, The Hangmen all of a sudden arriving with this authentic bluesy metal authority, captured in full flame-thrown fidelity glory, delivering top-down (or if you like, flipped up) grooves fer miles through a beer drinking pile of anthems that bear-hugs the magic moments of a wide rock swath reaching from 1973 to 1991, and thank your stars, no further. Only fault: a few of these songs are a little bit too traditional, too Izzy and not enough Use Your Illusion. Just a variety issue, really. Plus it always smarts a bit when your fave rave is lead whipper snapper, in this case Downtown announcing things with an uncorked champagne jam that brought old rock stars and stripes to these failing eyes. See www.acetate.com for more info.
Rating 8

Hard Reviews Page 4