CD REVIEWS ISSUE 13 Page 5
By Bob Nalbandian
SLAVE TO THE SYSTEM
SLAVE TO THE SYSTEM
Slave To The System is the side-project of Queensryche drummer Scott Rockenfield, Kelly Gray (ex-Queensryche guitarist/producer), and Brother Cane vocalist/guitarist Damon Johnson and bassist Roman Glick (also featured is guitarist vocalist Scott Heard). Although this CD isn't nearly as eccentric or "against the grain" as it was hyped-up in the press-releases, it certainly is a good, solid hard-rockin' record. Traces of classic '70s hard-rock combined with the typical post-grunge Seattle sound makes Slave To The System both interesting and somewhat entertaining. Gray's production is a bit too muddy (in typical Seattle form) for my tastes. A brighter more lively production would have certainly given this CD more energy and depth. The songs are quite strong, but at the same time very radio friendly, in the likes of Audioslave or Velvet Revolver, giving this CD a very safe and commercial flare, once again contradicting what the band apparently set forth to accomplish. This is apparent from the first three numbers "Stigmata," "Ruby Wednesday," and the title track, which all provide great lyrical hooks and melodies but are very predictable indeed. Other songs such as "Cruz Out Of Control" and "Ragdoll" are a bit racier sounding, coming across very similar to early Soundgarden, but nothing overwhelmingly original here. Also included are the slow semi-acoustic numbers in the Jar Of Flies era Alice In Chains meets Temple Of The Dog vein, although not near as memorable. Don't get me wrong, Slave To the System is a good album showing off a great deal of musical talent, but it's certainly not all it was cracked up to be. It sounds like the band is stuck in the post-Seattle rut (not surprising since most it's members hail from the grunge capitol.) Queensryche fans will perhaps be disappointed, as STTS doesn't come close to the musical caliber or experimental visionary of the prog-metal powerhouse. But I do recommend this CD for fans of hard rock and classic metal.
LINE OF FIRE
LINE OF FIRE
Wow, this is shock to say the least. Tribunal Records, known primarily as a hardcore death/thrash metal label, goes full-circle this time around. Line Of Fire aren't grindcore, black/death, Goth, nor thrash-metal. This band plays pure melodic (once considered) '80s-style rock! The ironic thing is that this type of music that was once referred to as "cheesy corporate rock" has in fact now become the rock/metal underground whereas the self-proclaimed indie metal labels such as Roadrunner, Century Media, Victory, and Nuclear Blast that boast many of today's prominent hardcore and nu-metal bands have now become the industry Mecca that has fallen prey to corporate powerhouse puppet-masters like Viacom (MTV), Clear Channel, and of course Ozzfest. Interesting how the tables have turned. This North Carolina rock trio brings back the sound of the late '70s radio rock ala Styx, Journey, and Survivor with a strong hint of '80s arena wimp-rock ala Firehouse and Autograph. What I found astonishing was the fact that vocalist Shawn Pelata is also the vocalist in the metal-core band Killwhitneydead (although I wouldn't consider this a "selling point" for the label since most metal-core fans would shun this type of music and vise versa.) And, believe it or not, Pelata is a superb vocalist belting out impressive vocal harmonies and chorus's. Duel guitarists Ed Darst and Niki Dimage churn out some shredding tasty lead work. [I believe drums and bass were performed by session players so this band isn't a true trio]. If you're into late '70s/early '80s arena-rock I strongly suggest you purchase this CD. The songs are very typical of that style displaying nothing new or mind-boggling but the performances are strong and the songs are well-written, feel-good rock anthems. Highlights include "Faith In Fire," "Fade," and "Falling Down (Hear My Prayer)."
Shockwaves CD REVIEWS ISSUE 13 Page 6