Hard Reviews 4
by Martin Popoff

Various Artists - Right In The Nuts: A Tribute To Aerosmith
(Small Stone)

First of all, great band to tributize, extremely sturdy, tuneful songs. Second, it's a double and I'm a sucker for doubles. But the key reason this is one of the best durn tribute albums ever is the confident inventiveness practiced by the bands on here, most of which run a specific bee-line from stoner rock to redneck rock. Example: The Quill take the mid-paced S.O.S. (Too Bad) and karate chop it in half to make a gluey Kyuss blues, followed immediately by Five Horse Johnson taking the double time Bright Light Fright and chopping it into a mid-paced gutter blues. And then much of the rest, given the mutt pedigree of the bands, man, they just make this sound so homey, harmonicajun, garage-brewed, thick as a brick, irreverent with a wink and a nudge, making me laugh out loud at all those tributes where some dude is trying so constipatedly hard to sound exactly like Clap For Me Toronto! Bruce, Metal God or Bono Tate. Imagine The Meat Puppets or The Replacements wanking these off with a big fat bass and a bit o' Nashville Pussy and you'll gather up the vibe of this surprisingly cohesive onslaught of glorious rock classics rocked with alcoholic might. Two marks off for a bit of a quality drop on disc two (although Roadsaw and Red Giant kick theirs in the pants). Winner (of many) Train Kept A Rollin' from Iron Boss. Man, break out the hooch, that guitar killed yer mama.
Rating 8

Syrinx - Crystal Cliffs
(Seasons Of Mist)

After that preposterous synth flourish at the 40 second mark, I was ready to chuck this against the wall, prone to dismiss this as finicky fusspot prog metal from the inner winter hinter depths of Hungary or Poland. But that turned out to be the only dumb move on what is otherwise an energetic, raw and innovative bit of otherworldly power metal, very creative, unlike the cookie cutter German stuff. Plus vocalist Henri Ebeyer sounds like that Sortilege guy crossed with that Jacob's Dream guy (there's good research for ya, eh?), probably the album's key triumph amongst many somewhat indescribable cool vibes. Gave me the same philosophical preponderances as that ethereal fringe Defender band, this fuzzy feeling that these writers exist outside of direct influence, no doubt due to their foreign country status. Classy stuff, oddly reminiscent of complicated underground US metal from the '80s but resoundingly more interesting.
Rating 8