By Bob Nalbandian

Liquor And Poker Records (Roadrunner Europe)

Countless bands have attempted to recreate the legendary early '70s acid rock sound of the rock city known as Detroit. But the fact remains about 90 percent of these wannabe bands suck ass. Some teen picks up an old Stooges or MC5 record, learns three chords, gets a major recording contract and consequently thinks he re-wrote the book on rock'n'roll. Pathetic. But, then there's the 10 percent who consist of seasoned musicians that have the right amount of talent and attitude to actually pull it off. Dirty Americans are certainly one of the 10 percent. Strange Generation is the band's debut for the newly formed Liquor and Poker label [the CD actually came out in Europe via Roadrunner last year] and it's beginning to cause quite a stir in the American market, and for good reason - the songs are strong, the musicianship is solid as hell and the band play with vigor and energy. The production also adds to the greatness of the CD - rather than the muffled and distorted garage-barrage that is so typical of today's 'eclectic' rock [a common ruse used today by producers to cover-up sloppy musicianship] producer Paul Ebersold (3 Doors Down) offers a crisp & bright resolution bringing out the true musical brilliance of this band. These guys certainly know their craft - especially guitarist Jeff Piper who performs blistering retro-leads and ball-busting riffs. And, unlike the majority of retro-rock bands from Detroit that capitalize on the predictable MC5/Stooges/Velvet Underground sound, Dirty Americans show signs of vast influences ranging from Grand Funk, BOC, The Yardbirds and Ted Nugent to Stone Temple Pilots and Lenny Kravitz. This band definitely has the talent, song-writing ability and charisma to compete with the likes of today's 'supergroups' like Velvet Revolver and Audioslave. Strange Generation is one of the best straight-ahead, hard-rocking albums I've heard from an American group in a long, long time. From the opening track "No Rest" on through "Burn You Down" (with one helluva guitar riff and great harmony vocals), "Dead Man" (great middle break combining an "Even Flow" of "Dazed and Confused" & "Stranglehold"), "Chico" (my hometown), to the killer title track, this CD rocks like no other. This band should be huge.

Sanctuary Records

In The Arms Of God is COC's first release in five years. This is the band's eighth studio release and it carries on their tradition of stoner-hardcore metal, a style they've initiated in the late '80s. Underground, but nevertheless groundbreaking, COC formed back in '82 (shortly after Metallica first formed) with guitarist Woody Weatherman and bassist/vocalist Mike Dean and quickly became an underground cult favorite in the punk rock circles. Seeing that the band hailed from neither NY nor LA/Orange County [the punk rock capitol at the time] made this band from North Carolina the unforeseen icons of punk-metal. At that time, many west coast punk bands like Bad Religion, Black Flag, Channel 3, The Dickies, D.R.I. (from Houston, TX), and particularly Suicidal Tendencies appealed to only a small percentage of metal heads (mostly Motorhead fans). But it was COC that was perhaps the most prominent pioneering punk/metal crossover band as they ushered out the then-emerging NY hardcore scene that saw the rise and fall of bands like The Cro-Mags and The Crumbsuckers. Fortunately, COC persisted. They shifted their line-up, altered and updated their sound, signed with major labels and toured the world, and till this day are still considered an aspiring yet underground cult-metal phenomenon. On this latest disc, COC rage-on with their signature brand of pulverizing hardcore stoner-metal, which is fine and dandy...the riffs are heavy and the energy and integrity of the band is prevalent, but none of the songs really stand out and there's nothing here that is nearly as cleverly catchy as their semi-hit "Clean My Wounds" [from their '94 release Deliverance]. The first four tracks are solid, heavy, modern-day Sabbath sounding tracks you would expect to hear from COC (great stuff...but we've heard it all before) but track five, "Rise River Rise," is a fantastic melodic metal tune that features some great Aerobic acoustic-guitar overtones. "So Much Left Behind" is also a hightlight, featuring an eerie Ozzy-esque vocal melody atop an equally haunting guitar riff. "Backslidr" is interesting in the fact that it drifts into old Sabbath territory, with the riff of "Lord Of This World" and another Sabbath riff I can't seem to pinpoint at the moment. The remaining songs fuse early Sabbath and Metallica riffs atop a grungy, yet effective, production courtesy of longtime producer John Custer. Like I said, nothing you probably haven't heard before from COC or other stoner-rock bands, but one must respect the Godfathers of this genre.

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