Hard Reviews 3
by Martin Popoff

COC - America's Volume Dealer

Lars: "Hard to find good people these days. Guy puts up his Running Wild promo singles collection up for sale. Had to get my damn seamstress to negotiate the deal. Sad. She's going 'this doesn't sound like Rob Halford...'"

Pepper: "Damn calf was stillborn the other day. Cost me an Impala bumper. And it looks like I'm taking hotdogs to the annual Pantera barbecue. Let's shoot something."

Lars: "My sentiments exactly. This tennis movie I'm doing with Andre. I know Stone hasn't picked anybody for the madman sniper yet."

Pepper: "I meant that Gator Crossing sign over there."

Lars: "Right."

Well, America's Volume Dealer might give Metallica and COC (symbolically just initials now) more in common to talk about when they stomp around the country on tour together. Even if it's only bad reviews. But hey it could be bad reviews and robust sales, which will finally salve Pepper's itch, which has grown to a full body rash after dealings with Columbia. And I can't quite see Phil Filth biting his tongue and going "(devil horns) COC!" given that the mancrank would rather mosh on tour with Morbid Angel. Damn, I wouldn't be so jazzed off about this album if the warm humanity of the songs wasn't so stupifyingly negated by their production values. This band was once the masters of groove, even catchy groove. America's Volume Dealer has none. Why? Reed's drum sound, tone, volume, and ultimately his performance. Forced to play electronic pads, Reed, who is the epitome of metal finesse, chock block drools his way through ballad and fey precious rocker alike, main problem being the pre-beat snare grace notes, something he is fond of, being keystroked in at the same volume as the two and four. This summarily ruins ballad Stare Too Long, opener Over Me and Who's Got The Fire, probably the best example of funky writing on here reduced to a three-legged sack-race of drunk bank managers. Painfully lacking in flow. Bass drum sounds like Kraftwerked-over Meco too, toms are lifeless, guitars are only a little bit ruined. Custer: "No, no Reed, to make this work, you gotta play shitty!" Oh yeah, and Gittin' It On sounds like something off of Accept's Eat The Heat. That's what hurts, aside from the fact that Wiseblood and Deliverance were two of my favorite albums of the '90s. No, what burns my ass is that for all of Pepper's southern hospitality and blood red rock roots, COC put up a Wal-Mart in the middle of a lush summer, bees a' buzzin' backwood. The songs are for the most part there. Hated 'em at first but played it a bunch (because it's easy and I'm old), and I got to enjoy Pepper's vocals, his lyrics, the southern rock melodies and tones. But let's not go too far. Pepper writes a little too much ad copy here, faux-clever sloganeering wordplay hookery dropping like fake jewels of radio-play wisdom. As of late, Nevermore and In Flames are also both guilty of this, Nevermore because they are trying to counterbalance the difficult Dreaming Neon Black album with some memorable choruses, In Flames, because Anders' English ain't that good (Pinball Map, Square Nothing). However let's not forget, these records are solid 9's. But man, the songs here, variously successful and soft-shoe shilling as they are, are stomped dead by COC's and Custer's ill-advised, club-footed, oven-mitted dabbling in digital. Of course, it's only freaks like me that care about this stuff. It's probably all designed to sound good on scratchy radio. I made the mistake of playing the CD on headphones. Don't you.
Rating 5

Hard Reviews Page 4