All records on this page are from Nitro Records. When I first opened the package I thought 'Oh No it's Restless Records all over again' - you remember, the label that had so many bands during their worst years (TSOL, 7 Seconds, Vandals, DOA, Social Distortion and Forgotten Rebels all did crap albums on this label c:a 1988). And I wasn't far off.
You get the feeling that some of these bands hang out at guitar stores trying to be professional musicians rather than hanging out with their friends looking for action. Sort of hoping to be the next token punk band at the MTV awards or something.
For some reasons the label seems to present all their records with gothic horror themed covers. I guess goth is back or maybe they just like horror movies. The label is owned by the guy from Offspring which is neither here nor there. Spending his Obladi-Oblada money on a new label isn't a bad idea in itself, but the label's info sheets focus on business type things like sales and radio station rotation lists which seems pretty far from the spirit of independence and punk rock. The label is doing well financially so their attitude must have paid off. Ok, enough of that and on with the slagging...
TSOL - Disappear CD
TSOL's first LP is sort of ok, nothing legendary but nothing you have to hide when your friends visit either. I think they used to start riots when they played. Then they went crap pretty fast so I expected the worst when I got this one. I wouldn't even have looked at it twice in a store.
Sort of a pleasant surprise this one 'cause of it. Gone is most of that L.A. poodle stuff they did during the heyday of Guns And Roses. Soundwise this is more like a mix between the last Ramones records and - I don't know - the Members maybe? Still with a hint of L.A. sleaze, especially in the slower ballad type songs. I think this is more or less the original line-up and not the ones that did their most awful stuff, or is it? Wasn't there two bands of ex-members touring under the name TSOL in the late 80's? Like I said, my interest in this band has been zero for so many years. This might be a reunion thing (I'm full of information, ain't I?).
Still too slick and polished to really ram it home but some of the songs are pretty good - the chorus in Wasted sounds a bit like the Buzzcocks, Disappear like the Only Ones with more guitars. Opening track Sodomy sounds like early 999 and AntiCop a bit like the Dead Kennedys, both more radio-friendly of course. In My Head is quite good with that driven kind of punk metal guitar that sounds faster than it is. Too bad that songs like Automatic and Terrible People has hints of white rap and that they felt it important to include some slow numbers that give their background away. Good guitar solos in the faster songs though.
Lyrics are either I-broke-up-with-my-girlfriend-and-it-hurts stuff or 'I'm sick of politicians' and 'We are anticop'. Nothing wrong with that. At least they seem honest.
Once you get passed the bland, smooth production 7 of the 13 songs actually sound pretty decent. Compared to the Beneath The Shadows LP this is great. But then again, what isn't?
Less Jack Daniels bottles filled with ice-tea and a lot more beer can do wonders. They're more than halfway there. Cut down on the soap and water too, ok?
ENSIGN - The Price Of Progression CD
Modern metal hardcore with annoying vocals dangerously close to rap. This kind of crap I can't stand and ain't fit to review. The lyrics are what you'd expect. Semi-religious stuff about 'my faith has been tested' mixed with marxist slogans delievered parrot fashion. What you usually get from SXE/Emo kids who grow up to be intellectuals. It's not so much their politics that annoy me as the way they present them. It just doesn't feel like it's their own ideas when they use what is obviously someone else's lines. The classic HC lyrics like 'Racism sucks' and 'I hate cops' might be standard stuff too, but at least that sounds like it's from the heart, not some pamphlet your cult leader gave you to memorize.
Corporate America will be happy to sell this next to their Ché Guevara t-shirts.
Has some sort of softcore guitar melody parts on top of the rest to really make it hard to enjoy. Just a little less useless than that 'something ant farm whatever' band that's always on TV doing some old Michael Jackson song.
SON OF SAM - Songs From The Earth CD
Three guys who used to be in Samhain (or played with them on their reunion tour) + AFI's singer recorded this Misfits sounding CD. Lots of Wooaaah's, simple chord patterns and images of skulls and graves. They seem to be a studio band only and mainly guitarist Todd Youth's project.
Musically this is closest to the Earth A.D. record, but with occasional metal solos and some pop. Lyrics centre around christian mythology with titles like Michael, Purevil and Evernight. Lots of 'darkness', 'black' and 'fallen' which basically mean nothing. I like Iron Maiden's The Number Of The Beast as much as the next guy but here the lyrics bore me. I guess they're supposed to 'evoke images of ancient evil' or something, but all I see is cry babies in black make-up going 'no-one understands me'. That and nerds playing Dungeons And Dragons. The Exorcist is a great book and a good film but makes for poor lyrics. Early Misfits lyrics had both humour and danger, these have neither.
There are lots of Misfits clones around and Son Of Sam is not the worst of them, and as some of the members have played with Glenn Danzig that adds to their credit, maybe, but when all a band aims for is to sound exactly like another band they've already lost. This record is not as awful as it could have been, except the solos, but if I want to hear this kinda stuff I'll stick to the originals.
Glenn Danzig plays some cameo guitar and keyboard parts on it if you're interested.
Karaoke done well is still karaoke. This isn't even done well.
AFI - Art Of Drowning CD
Skate softcore music littered with complicated breaks and tempo changes. I thought this had gone out of style, but maybe I was just hoping it had. Very bland all-american la la la to show your parents that this thing called punk is completely without danger, threat and controversy. 'Look ma, no brains'.
Somewhere between a faster Offspring and Bad Religion with a bit of MTV metal hardcore on top. Hardly a line from the singer without an answer of Oooohhh or Aaahhhh (or Oooohh-aaahh) from the rest of the band.
There's the occasional metal ballad on it too, not that it helps. For some reason Lars Frederikson of Rancid does backing vocals on this. Shows bad taste. Lyrics are like a diet version of Son Of Sam (singer Davey Havok wrote lyrics to both CDs) with more general fantasy/dream and less evil/satan stuff. I lost interest in it pretty fast but there might be a bit of 'I'm so sad' emo bo-hoo here as well.
They're touring with Offspring and will soon appear on a TV set near you.
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