Hard Reviews 4
by Martin Popoff

Solarized - Driven

Here's another dead-average (which oddly means pretty useful and good in my life) stoner rock album, Driven being album #2 for this New Jersey quart-quaffing quintet. Can't think of much to say really. The recordingÉ some of the tricks are used (fuzzy guitars, fuzzy bass), some aren't (lotsa bass). The vocals of James HoganÉ I like his raspy adolescent voice, even if it's occasionally out of tune. The front cover is awful (and awfully clichŽ), and the cover of The Damned's glorious Stab Yo(u)r Back is slowed down and re-grooved, filing down its natural teeth; still it's a welcome pick. Strange: everybody involved I'm sure is a musicologist to some extent. You'd think they'd know that every visual and audio clue here is squarely in the middle of all things stoner rock, eccentric thought out of the box nowhere to be imagined. I mean, they gotta know and have decided deliberately to go exactly here, right?
Rating 5.5

Benediction - Organized Chaos
(Nuclear Blast)

One must certainly see the irony of Benediction and Bolt Thrower re-entering the metal fray with new albums at exactly the same time, both three years since past well-and-good-enough poopsters, both former metal mountains looking like warm and fuzzy accessible legends with their almost quaint new musicks. In '01, Benediction are the link between Bolt Thrower and the much more lively, participating and modern world-creative Napalm Death, coming back this time with a new vocalist in newcomer Dave Hunt, who does an admirable job of sounding like an angry old UK deathster, puking into his fish and crisps, waiting for petrol for his stalled lorry. After a few go 'rounds, Organized Chaos begins to sound intelligently restrained rather than old through rot, Benediction mixing in funtime riffs as if building a fortified stew, finding all speeds and doling them up with a dependable slap into yer soupline bowl. Highlights: 'Easy Way To Die', 'I Am The Disease' and the title track, all towards the back end of the meal, which is always a good sign that an album has legs. Produced (or more or mess abandoned and left to no-tone metalize) by Andy Sneap.
Rating 7.5

Hard Reviews Page 5