by Martin Popoff

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Fresh Metal

Darkane - Layers Of Lies
(Nuclear Blast)

Four albums and seven years hence, Darkane have begun to create a pattern, underscoring their raison d'etre, namely an uncompromising and fearless will toward being the most progressive of Swedish thrash bands to be able to emerge from the fray with songs. Daunting Meshuggah-like rhythms stab then retreat (that's what happens when your spiritual head and creative catalyst is your drummer, in this case Peter Wildoer, whose very name embodies leadership qualities), Soilwork-strong transitions pile up eventfully, choirs of robots serenade the Fear Factory workers, and incredibly, amidst it all, the band trash at the old school edge of chaos like The Haunted. And to make sure all of this can be plainly heard, a clatter of platters is laid out production-wise, each stainless steel plate containing a distinct and demarcated instrument (or ten), a vocal, a dozen pieces of Pete's drum kit, clarity like an unassailable mathematical theorem the result. Can thrash get any smarter than this? I mean, the booklet, the lyrics... Darkane put together the package. Now if they can only shake this reputation of being too pedal to all the metals, too much of a synthesis of too many influences, exploded upon the canvas, they might grab some commerce. But then again, all of the band's kicking thrash ass at the cash register in the last 24 months... it's all Americans now.
Rating 8

The Atomic Bitchwax - 3
(Meteor City)

A neutral verging on good and a great coupla comparisons to Queens Of The Stone Age here. First off, The Atomic Bitchwax have located that strange and strangely comforting production tone, where a certain frequency seems to be missing, a trebly one - a cushy warmth is achieved, although this ploy may annoy some people, as they yank their lobe wondering if they've finally been to too many shows without earplugs. Second, for those who wonder record after record, where are all these good songs the Queens in theory should need, to be this weird huge band they are, well, 3 provides them. Significantly, Monster Magnet guy guitarist Ed Mundell is not on board, replaced by band insider Finn Ryan. The result - because of this or not - is a fairly tight, melodic rock 'n' roll record naggingly crossover-pointed, what with that plain, clean singing, those '70s moves, and through no fault of their own, all sorts of reminders of QOTSA and their head-scratched cache. I hear Clutch, Cream, Spiritual Beggars, Mountain... all bands I dig, but I'm a little put off by the slick, safe, major label sound of the thing, even if the guys assembled the thing in ten days. Love the Maybe I'm A Leo cover, but again, that's a pretty safe, too logical cover for this band.
Rating 7

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