HardReviews 4
by Martin Popoff

Rise Of The Infidels (Megaforce)

Amusingly, this is framed as one of the longest extended EPs of all time, S.O.D. offering four previously unreleased studio tracks, with the bonus being a 20 selection live show from The Fenix in Seattle. First the studio tracks - they are standard, actually, sub-standard, S.O.D. (two originals, two covers, not that the distinction matters), with a crap and toneless production job that makes them sound like ProTooled Pro-Pain out-takes. The concert proper starts and ends appropriately with 'Ballad Of Nirvana', after which Billy shouts out "Thank you very much, Seattle! Good night!" But then there's a generous 19 song encore, so everybody goes away snap-necked, having witnessed one of hardcore metal's funny and fat treasures. Warning - get to the tummy of the beast, and there's fully six ballads in a row, a brief concept suite produced out of polluted thin air. The nice digipak packaging I suppose is designed to make up for the fact that the sound quality of this set is dodgy, not down to boot levels, but distorted and missing a few frequencies.
Rating 5

The Hierophant (Bieler Bros.)

Always well-regarded, this somewhat avant-metal Sacramento act followed up '01's Carpe Diem with well-received live dates and then a hiatus, somewhat of a shock given their career upsurge. Now back with a new vocalist (Grady replaced by Jeff Jaworski), the band continue with their weirdly chilled alternative hardcore, creating jazzy chord slashings that recall Earth Crisis and obtuse Napalm, but within a slippery hardcore framework. Recent touring with Crowbar made sense, given the doomy vibe, but this is more descended from Neurosis and Today Is The Day in unpredictability, in preciousness. It makes for highly novel riffing see 'Handlebars To Freedom' and 'Landing On Ice' for large, clanging dissonance that works a rarified, almost Mastodon-exciting magic.
Rating 7

Hard Reviews Page 5