HardReviews 4
by Martin Popoff

Sound And Fury (Rebel Youth)

Couldn't think of a more appropriate bill for Sound And Fury than its concurrent jaunt with Airbourne and Less Than Jake, this Toronto act offering some fresh sleaze to a scene dominated by ProTooled metalcore, retro- and neo-thrash bands. Also along the lines of Buckcherry juiced by a bit of Murderdolls/Wednesday 13, there's also a punk integrity that leans it into Hanoi Rocks/New York Dolls terrain, due to the wild child vocal twang of Luke Metcalf, who steals the show, even if his propulsive, high octane band is a hard good band to keep down. Indeed, Metcalf almost gets into Wolfmother and even Serj terrain, a personality-ascribing dimension to the band to be sure. Fave tracks are the riffier, AC/DC-ish ones like 'Bad Touch', which clangs like 'Bad Boy Boogie', Sound And Fury doing everything right from creating a raucous engine room to guitar tones - which vary, thoughtfully ('Hellhound' is mud-bound). Some of the lyrics a little self-consciously rawking, trying to make the sale, and there's a bit too much playing to punk (they like the '70s bands but it sounds '90s). Still, if it all sounded like Angel City and Rose Tattoo and Krokus and those other guys, we'd be calling Sound And Fury a novelty act. There are way too many positive performances and decisions made to risk that dismissal.
Rating 7.5

Zero Order Phase (Century Media)

Look around and it's surprising how few of these guitar shred instrumental albums rock this hard. Loomis is, of course, (aging) boy wonder for Nevermore, and on Zero Order Phase he lets rip with riffs that are likely just too complex and extreme to serve as vehicles for Warrel's words. There's an interesting (very heavy) Megadeth vibe to Jeff's snarling, attacking style and the molten tones with which Neil Kernon nourishes that style. Even when slowing it down, Loomis is amusingly doomy and dripping with poisonous liquid metal. 'Azure Haze' and 'Cashmere Shiv' are as exotic and darkly imbued with extreme metal electricity as the heart-racing numbers are - you forget they are essentially ballads (and you can forget that fretless solo - it sounds shoe-horned in here just because). More than helping out is raging drum hurricane (there's only one tornado) Mark Arrington, who almost shares the album, as well as Ron Jarzombek, Michael Manring and Pat O'Brien who cameo. Fusing prog with bulbous heaviness yet not sounding like Opeth, this is a fine work, which manages to be both smart and extremely heavy, also filing a bit of a gap in this genre, which usually finds guys often trying to write songs without vocals. I mean, I often prefer those and would naturally play them more often than I would something like this, but for a lesson in the future of heavy metal guitar, Loomis is yer lecturer.
Rating 7