HardReviews 2
by Martin Popoff

Brand New Sin - Tequila
(Century Media)

Bussin' with Black Label has turned our favourite Syracuse, NY posse into a bunch of burly booze hounds. So off on a Tex Mex tear comes opener Said And Done (in perfect worm-chomping synch with the cover art), until the huge and heroic riffs crash in like Pantera with the rednecks. Vocalist Joe Altier is the main source of this band's southern rock comparisons. He sings like a barrel-chested Blackfoot soldier, which is perfect for the band's Down-swampy, impossibly power-surged riffs, courtesy of Kenny Durham and Kris Wiechmann. Tequila's got weird production, almost like there's a canny error, a couple frequencies knocked out on purpose. Not sure what it is, but there's a compactness that works all too well after a few shots, crucially as a totality, because if you listen to say, the drum sound alone, it's bad. But it's no surprise that Tequila is so full of huge, sweaty, grinding metal anthems - both the band's self-titled debut and '05's Recipe For Disaster got superlative reviews across the board and for good reason: these guys don't screw up, possibly because they've got a huge cache of songs and song ideas stuffed down their well. Look for endless touring from these audience-winning road rats.
Rating 8.5

Trivium - Crusade

It's disheartening the politics that reigns down upon one when approaching a high stakes, controversial, career metal album like this one. The haters say Trivium is too young, that they haven't paid their dues, the label's got heavy interest in what it is said, and the ironies of trendiness are multiple, Trivium being a post-metalcore band of guys almost too young to be metalcore, impatiently leaving metalcore for something new, which is basically a heavy emphasis on the old. I've played - and enjoyed playing - Crusade many, many times now, and one impression still stands - that this sounds like Death Angel with the smarminess of Mordred, The Organization and later Exodus (and any Under One Flag band circa '89), and material that is a little closer to conservative thrash circa Master Of Puppets, that last an easy trap 'cos Matt Heafy is singing more like Hetfield than ever. But the brains and tongue-in-cheek aspect of a Wolf or Witchery or a good redneck metal band like Brand New Sin or Bible Of The Devil is ingrained here as well. These guys are a walking encyclopedia of classic thrash riffs, and thus have churned out about 60 of their own, again with the impetuousness of youth, this idea that there's a hurry on to make them quick, catchy, but technical enough to keep their busy minds occupied. What'll make this album additionally controversial is the ghey-ness of some of the clean singing - I say some, because it's integrated well into 'And Sadness Will Sear', but then sounds like a spliced-in metalcore tip 'n' trick elsewhere. Also, some of the lyrics are a little catch-phrasey. Moving on though, this is one interest-keeping, constantly shifting, well-written 1988 thrash record, packed tight like a grenade with alchemical and chop shop speed metal playing, most of the grooves brisk, some (like 'This World Can Tear Us Apart') daring to be rockist and believing of the press. But something like 'Tread The Floods' or 'Contempt Breeds Contamination' is all cockles-warming metal, while 'The Rising' sounds like heavy Dokken - again, just another surprise in a long, involved, flashy record stuffed with eventfulness.
Rating 8

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