Hard Reviews 3
by Martin Popoff

The Cult Beyond Good And Evil
(Atlantic)

The most adept sell-out band in the biz is back with a bunch of surface-immediate music that one suspects can't be the favourite fish 'n' crisps of Ian and Billy. I've read too many reviews of this album already, and I find myself, running with the pack, which of course points to a platonic ideal of art: a consensus that exists outside and above human endeavor that is simply correct end stop. And that universum says this: good album try 'um hard like Dr. Feelgood, rock, think, but we're not too smart in the first place. So what you get is a big bashing and unusually bassy Bob Rockfest, somewhere between L.A. Guns, U2, Revenge by Kiss, Soundgarden and man, Dino Jr? Ian is busy just being cosmic, and he's a solid 7 at it, one of rock's best voices helping his leather devil seducing the earth mother fragment finger-paintings. And even if Beyond Good And Evil is my favourite heavy Cult album after Electric (with the non-heavy and quaint The Cult coming in second), it sounds more bloated and big boat showy than purposeful. Damn, there are many good ideas buried here, but buried is the operative: too much production, in particular Matt Sorum bashing every song over the head, until Ian's "take this flower" Donovan trip is drowned out. For this headache-inducing reason, anything mellow and slothful, man forget it. But American Gothic, Rise and Nico (OK, it's pop but looksee: a hook!) evoke the driven rock starry mirror snow that is built into this band, but impossibly buried in rock journo ironies only. And one step up from slothful is just a little less slothful, and those ain't so hot either, like fridge peanut butter tearing the bread, pretty much.
Rating 7

Wayne - Metal Church
(Nuclear Blast)

With David Wayne and Kurdt Vanderhoof poking each other in the eye over their failed relationship, Wayne stomps off impetuously and names his band and record badly in the process. In any event, this cheeky turn of events has resulted in a record as viable as the real thing as any from the band's generally high quality catalogue. Original axeman Craig Wells is also on board but it's not like the old Metal Church had a sound of their own anyway, other than the Wayne twang. This is a little weightier and less frantic (thrash) than the general party mix, and the sound is level-headed, perfect, but not distinct. It's like Reverend (wayne's other concurrent band) is too messy and this ain't messy enough, Wayne sounding like the closing three Accept albums crossed with Halford's Resurrection, even if DSD (stands for "Die Satan Die") nicks the vocal melody from Heaven And Hell and opener The Choice is a deliberate rewarming of the classic Metal Church riff. Heck, come to think of it, I hear a lot of '80s Sabbath in here and that's not a good thing, 'cos I don't mean the early '80s, generally speaking. And just when you rationalize away your disappointment at the unremarkable safe havens of this album, in comes a sterile cover of Mississippi Queen. Man, what's the world coming to when sturdy real metal just gets a big-ass "so what?" from someone who is supposed to crave such situations?
Rating 7

Hard Reviews Page 4