Hard Reviews 5
by Martin Popoff

Jacobs Dream - Theater Of War
(Metal Blade)

Wonderfully eccentric, Jacobs Dream seem like one of those acts that people will dissect and collect for decades as the output grows up and out. Vocalist David Taylor is even higher and more ahem, precious than on the debut, sounding like a decadent French king, or like Saga's Michael Sadler on the starkly weird Wisdom. The album as a whole is heavier than the plush, universally praised debut. These are dark riffs that have much in common with Jag Panzer or labelmates Eidolon, and they are supported with busy, proggy drumming from Billy Queen, who can get out of hand, but again, he adds to the lost collectible LP sound of the band. The (self) production of the album ain't near as good as the debut, but one could optimistically chalk up and chop away half the complaint to accidental synergy, the organic, blunted sound working well with an album that sounds more grim, more underground, more combative, combat being a loose lyrical theme throughout. Another fine slice of metal outside the norm, Theater Of War serves double duty by being strange in a whole new way compared to the equally strange debut. Both are timeless, which carries good and bad connotations, a certain greatness as well as a certain na•ve cluelessness, something I hope Jacobs Dream never lose.
Rating 8

Les Claypool's Frog Brigade - Les Claypool's Frog Brigade
(Prawn Song)

OK, it ain't metal, but once you hear that this is Primus' Les Claypool and gang doing a live rendition of the entire Animals album by Pink Floyd, I just know you are dying to check it out. Don't. 'Cos what this is is a band of (I thought) hotshots, just getting through it with Les singing mostly barely in tune, and then often not at all. Musically, Les' bass is buzzier than the original, fine, a nice Primus nod, but the band haven't even really considered whether they want to be creative here, only occasionally and randomly throwing in a new texture or a brief whacked-out note or two. It really is like they haven't thought about it. And Les, well, he sounds like Roger Waters on one take and perhaps battling a throat infection, which is not good when the base paste to work with is something as rope-knawing as Roger' voice. Then there's (small) crowd sounds' man, it just sounds like a bad Pink Floyd cover band, yes, a bad one, having unfortunately to wrestle with material way too sparse, open and echoey to ever work live. Cool idea, but the real dope would have been a discombobulated, completely and painstakingly rewritten and math rock arranged Primus version. This thing on the other hand, just loiters without purpose.
Rating 4