Hard Reviews 3
by Martin Popoff

Halfway To Gone - High Five
(Small Stone)

Diggin' this redneck rock lately, but have been frustrated how many want to follow that Nashville Pussy into speedy flyswatter punk at the expense of song and cement. Halfway To Gone fix that by sloshing around the Kyuss barrel and soaking in a few southern fried blues licks while the slosh soaks their sopwith heads. It's almost like they've found the way to make regular singin' songs out of the high quality uselessness of Karma To Burn and Clearlight. There's slide, there's slink and there's big fat boogie, but all anchored with a blue stone, way fat drums, bass and guitars, which I guess, truth be told, are recorded like a stoner clichˇ, no great originality there. The uniqueness comes with the songs as well as the mellow oases, as well as the left-field blues. I minor twist, but a twist all the same, which is more than half the battle within a genre that is generally pretty useful and listenable anyway.
Rating 7

Solefald - Pills Against The Ageless Ills
(Century Media)

Three varied albums now for this creatively exploded Norwegian duo, Solefald back with an album less phreaked than Neonism, slicker, classier, more majestically modern black. Sort of a cross between Satyricon, Sigh and commercial Strapping, the idea here is healthy, fecund musical madness, but the locked discipline of the thing pushes it high-minded and academic. The base is progressive black metal, but there's an English eccentricity to it, especially in the Peter Hammill-ish/Vintersorg-ian vocals. Arrangements simply and authoritatively tower, and dark majestic melodies, which often verge on goth, weave through every track with a sense of unease. The album is some sort of sick conceptual piece about two brothers, one a pornographer, one a philosopher, but hey, I've got stacks of books to read, so I doubt I'll ever get around to either intensifying or dampening my pleasure of this formidably elaborate album through dissecting its literary depravity.
Rating 9

Hard Reviews Page 4