BETWEEN THE BURIED AND ME The Anatomy Of (Victory) Rating: NNNN
Whenever I get that old nostalgia monkey chewing my ear about all the music I listened to growing up, I either feel all warm and fuzzy or slightly embarrassed until my brain changes the subject again. North Carolina's metal/hardcore BTBAM have decided to go a step past sweet reminiscing into full-blown homage territory for a bunch of tunes that obviously had some great effect on them. It works. What's most interesting here is in the varied song choices the band made and how well they can pull it all off. Sure, there are metal covers of Metallica, Pantera and Faith No More, but these guys also kick out King Crimson, Blind Melon, Queen and even one of the few decent Counting Crows songs out there. Musically the band's range is impressive, and singer Tommy Rogers can even keep up with Freddie Mercury, and that's no small beans.
BURN TO BLACK Mach 666 (Urgent Music) Rating: NNNNN
Holy shit-freaking awesome! I know expectations are high for this record, due to their bass player being Sam Dunn, the filmmaker responsible for the recent celebrated documentary Metal: A Headbanger's Journey, but after a listen you won't second-guess the fact that Toronto's new metal saviours Burn to Black have put out an incredibly accomplished and endlessly punishing album. Mach 666 both showcases the band's fiery talent, like guitarist Paul Harrington and exceptionally good drummer Evan Johnston, and dishes out the most exciting elements of hyper-fast Swedish thrash bands like At the Gates and the Crown, along with some fine death metal breakdowns and a wee pinch of black metal ambience for show. Singer Rob Ouellette's voice is menacing and perfectly suited to the bad-assedness of songs like Winter Rancid Skies and, well, pretty much every other song as well. If the band keeps this up, it won't be long before they're on par with metal's international elite.
CRADLE OF FILTH Thornography (Roadrunner) Rating: NNN
Always a favourite with the mall goths, and serving as a sort of gateway band into extreme music, England's Cradle of Filth have been playing grandiose, symphonic blackened metal for more than a decade, with an appealing if predictable slant. Album number seven sees singer Dani Filth grunting and shrieking his way through heavy-handed gothic wordplay perfect for anyone who regularly drinks Shiraz out of goblets by candelabra light while wearing crushed velvet. Nothing too jaw-dropping, but enough thrashy riffs and blasting drums to satisfy the band's minions of the night... or something.
DEFTONES Saturday Night Wrist (Maverick) Rating: NNNN
I like the Deftones. That's cuz they're generally an awfully likeable band with a knack for writing songs that are catchy, heavy and totally distinct. You know a Deftones song when you hear it, due to their heavy groove, crunchy guitars and singer Chino Moreno's hauntingly dissonant voice. Saturday Night Wrist melds the heavy with the unusual, like on U, U, D, D, L, R, L, R, A, B, Select, Start (the old Nintendo joystick code for unlimited lives!!!), an electro-jazz ambient instrumental, and Pink Cellphone, a swirling, cinematic hiphop track complete with a bizarre female spoken-word guest spot that ends with And that's why British people have bad teeth. Amen. Wrist is yet another excellent record from mainstream hard rock's only real hope.
TENACIOUS D The Pick Of Destiny (Sony BMG) Rating: NN
When the film Tenacious D In The Pick Of Destiny was initially screened for focus groups late last year, audience reaction was reportedly so bad that it had to be re-shot. But before anyone sees the updated version (slated to open November 22), Sony has shrewdly released the soundtrack to try squeezing in some sales to diehard fans of Jack Black and the D before those movie reviews start pouring in. And there should be some interest, because Black and his acomplice Kyle Gass return (with former Nirvana drummer Dave Grohl) to the same sort of fantasy metal parody concept of their 2001 self-titled debut, and apparently metal is cool again, according to the New York Times. As you would expect, there's a sizable dose of frightfully droll wordplay from Black to go with the purposefully overblown sonic bluster. In addition, there are guest appearances by Meat Loaf and Ronnie James Dio, which looks a lot better in print than their contributions actually come off. That comedy gap between concept and finished product appears to be par for the course with Black's ventures.