Hard Reviews 2
by Martin Popoff

Meshuggah - Rare Trax
(Nuclear Blast)

With the straining opening strains of new whipsaw 'War' it all comes flooding back how this disappearing act ascended to become the reigning kings of math thrash. But then we get a mixed bag on this rarities odds 'n' sodser, beginning with 'Cadaverous Mastication' and two more from the band's 12 year old Psykisk Testbild EP, originally just a vinyl pressing of 1000. Here the band sounded like smart Masters Of Puppets-era Metallica, already well appointed, but nowhere near the crackly science force the band would become. Next up, we jump forward to '96 for two characteristically jagged songs, 'Don't Speak' and 'By Emptiness Abducted', as good as anything the band ever cooked up, but unreleased until now. Back to 1990 for a couple of demos, we begin to see the band's unique style take shape, even if the Fripp-ish soloing seems wedged in with a shoehorn. And the memory of Hetfield remains. Rare Trax closes with a remix, a jazz-noise mess and then apparently (not on my advance CD burn) three video tracks, all told, comprising an excellent catch-all catch-up as we wait for the somewhere-simmering next studio spread from this daredevil band of devil-may-cares.
Rating 8

Various Artists Twisted Forever
(Koch)

Bang-up job on this one. First of all, these are sturdy dependable songs, and second, these renditions are for the most part spirited, well-recorded, and handled by professionals. Faves would be Cradle Of Filth's 'The Fire Still Burns' because they burn it to a blackended crisp. As well, Motorhead prove their road cases with a gritty 'Shoot 'Em Down' as does Nashville Pussy with a snarling, thick and nasty 'The Kids Are Back'. The Chuck D and Nine Days break the flow with hip hop feels but there is much partying to be had elsewhere. Hammerfall, Fu Manchu and Sevendust are a little wobbly, but Overkill and Anthrax anchor the lower intestine, while the Sisters themselves oddly perform their own little switchback with a cover of 'Sin City', functional, no big flash, true to Dee's specific regular rock credo that took the band through lows, highs then lows again.
Rating 7

Hard Reviews Page 3