Thursday, February 24, 2005
…AND YOU WILL KNOW US BY THE TRAIL OF DEAD
Worlds Apart | Interscope Records
On their fifth album, Worlds Apart, …And You Will Know Us By the Trail of Dead trade in some of their visceral rock punch for flourishes of psychedelia. Throughout the course of the 12-song release, there are birds chirping, choruses of children, orchestral interludes and a ponderous song about the Egyptian goddess of protection (“Ode to Isis”).
Some of the production is a bit much. Does the band really need an orchestral interlude in the middle of a rock song like “A Classic Arts Showcase”? Probably not, but it sounds cool.
Despite some overreaching, the album chugs through the most tepid numbers due to the band’s fierce two-drummer attack. Songs like “Will You Smile Again?”—which slowly builds to a boil after an initial blast—is a very impressive blend of their old (pummeling, straight-forward rock) and new (psychedelic rock) styles. Also, one of the best tracks is a less than two-minute blast of Pink Floyd-inspired music (“All White”) that is far removed from anything the band has ever done before. (ST)
Push the Button | Virgin Records
With Push the Button, the Chemical Brothers, one of the big electronica artists from the ‘90s, are clearly hoping to stay relevant—their logo may still have that same acid-twinged influence that marked their early days, but they have a drastically different sound today. The pair’s fifth studio album starts off big with their monstrous UK single, “Galvanize.” The song flits with some middle-east flavor, but settles into a solid mid-tempo jam, complete with Q-Tip keeping things fresh.
Of course, there’s still some lingering ‘90s nostalgia: “Believe” comes straight out of the hardcore rave days, while “Come Inside” reflects that same outdated love for early house techno.Yet on the innovative side, “Hold Tight London” uses a rollicky bush-drum tempo and “Left Right” mimics the lethargic, heavy thump of current thug hip-hop to a tee. And although there’s nothing here that’s as instantly catchy as that big-beat bass loop of “Block-Rockin’ Beats” or as aloof as Noel Gallagher’s King-of-Brit-pop vocals on “Setting Sun” (both from ‘97’s triumphant Dig Your Own Hole), “The Big Jump” aims for a funkier, bass-driven beat that keeps the blocks of today rocking. (BS)
BLACK LABEL SOCIETY
Mafia | Artemis Records
The brainchild of Zakk Wylde, the sometime Ozzy guitarist, this group is dedicated to the proposition that all musical life ended sometime in the early ‘90s and has not evolved a whit since. Seriously. Otherwise, how can one explain the choked Alice in Chains/Dio/Godsmack vocalizing, the endless leaning on the whammy bar and detuned doom riffing and, when all else is exhausted, a good ole sentimental ballad?
Not to say that Wylde isn’t really adept at this—he is a master guitar player and canny arranger of reasonably tasty riffs. But this is distinctly inside the already too-defined parameters of a tired genre—the only time Wydle ventures outside it much is on the Springsteenish “In This River,” which only proves that one can never take the boy out of Jersey, however long he’s lived in the LA ‘burbs.
Metalloids will enjoy this, the rest of the planet will continue about their business as if it were never recorded, which is the bane of marginalism after a popular movement has gone. If you’re a fan of his music and acting (his turn as a semi-Nugent in Rock Star was terrific), why not pick this up? Otherwise, why bother? (JA)