Hard Reviews 4
by Martin Popoff

Virus 7 - Sick In The Head
(Metal Blade '00)

'Ere's a weird one, Mercyful Fate's Hank Shermann and Bjarne T. Holm teaming up with Original Sin vocalist Edgar Paul Allen, who moved from L.A. to Sweden, suddenly becoming this rapping hardcore yobbo (this doesn't last). The result is a bunch of old power metallists making very heavy (and methinks somewhat tongue-in-cheek) nu-metal, big Papa Roach grooves, rhythms battered only by the massive weight of those guitars. As the record pounds and pounds ever on, it proposes something more like 85% stomping metal and a scant 50% flirting with the rules of the big sellers. By the time blown ears hear the dying strains of this, er, virus, the lasting impression is more like metal guys flirting with the hardest damn grunge they can find (AiC), just like it's 1995 again. Stripped to its basics, this is ultimately very heavy metal of a half dozen slow-to-mid varieties, proving that nu-metal is equally indebted to stonerish doom and grunge. So there's something oddly dated about this thing, and not in a good way, the effect being metal guys trying to be a version of contemporary in '94 by incorporating '91 influences. Weird. Like a visit to the Psycho Motel. You appreciate the reach but you just don't fully buy it.
Rating 6.5

Arsyn - Degeneration
(RSE '00)

Pretty cool balancing of volatile elements here, Chicago's Arsyn making crackly, industrial-tinged metal that thankfully betrays those moderate elements through pure sleaze metal riffery and even sleazier vocals. So forget the fancy graphics, band name and album title, this sounds like the hard end of L.A. strip mall rock ground up and spit through an irreverent mod production that is more Butthole Surfers, Ministry and early White Zombie than Godsmack or Static-X. But it is the ragged vocal work of Collin Whalen that drags this far away from the rap 'n' bark 'n' croon of the nu-metallers. He's basically Lemmy crossed with Joe LeSte and Stephen Pearcy, and he couldn't do Nothingface if he wanted to. Damn, they even look like Bank Tango. But seriously, this is just good vicious biker metal with a wink of the industrial eye, for what reason I don't know, except perhaps for the cinematic quality that offers a diversion, or indeed addition, to the no-nonsense headbang of the thing. Good drinking fare, but guys, forget that Limp Bizkit/Eminem tour. Not happening. See www.arsyn.com for more info.
Rating 7.5

Hard Reviews Page 5