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Shadow Music Review by
Mike Oliveri
Giant Records

The first single ("Stupify") from this debut album first hit Chicago airwaves a month or so ago. Our alternative and our rock station both picked it up, and it's been getting some serious airplay ever since.

I was hooked instantly. The track has a hard rock feel to it, with some catchy lyrics and some real crunch. Every time it came on, I cranked up the radio. I thought about going to pick it up, but I didn't want to get burned picking up a shit album on the basis of one good track.

Thankfully, the RIAA hasn't quite succeeded in shutting down Napster. I logged on, did a few searches, and found a couple more tracks. They were damn good, so I picked up the whole album (Yes, that's right! If it weren't for Napster I wouldn't own this CD! Fuck the RIAA!).

It's hard to put an exact name to their style of music. They've got a similar feel to GODSMACK, yet at times I picked out chords or vocals that reminded me of early LIFE OF AGONY, JUDAS PRIEST, and on one track, even PRONG. There's occasionally electronic programming, reminiscent of KMFDM and similar industrial bands. These guys really put a lot of effort into their music.

Sadly, they could put a touch more effort into some of their lyrics, but I'll get to that in a bit.

Most impressive to me is singer David Dramain's vocal range and style. Most new singers to emerge lately have a distinct style of singing, and use that same voice in every song (Ed Roland of COLLECTIVE SOUL is almost criminal in this respect). Dramain can sing, shout, scream, wail and grumble, and sound good doing it all. He even occasionally uses vocal effects beyond "yeahs" and grunts. Rather than building the music around his voice, the band seems to treat his voice as an entirely separate instrument, in my opinion allowing them to write some better songs.

"Stupify" dominates the album as one of the better tracks, but track 2, "The Game", is a close second. "Numd" is their obligatory ballad, possessing a mellow, macabre quality. "Violence Fetish" is aggressive as the title suggests. One of the coolest tracks is a cover of TEARS FOR FEARS' "Shout", here remixed and hardened into "Shout 2000".

Back to the lyrics. There's only a few instances of poor choices in lyrics, but they do stand out from the music. Near the end of "Down with the Sickness", the song degenerates into a tirade against a mother that comes off as childish and whiny despite the furioius manner in which the words are shouted. In "Droppin' Plates", an otherwise great song, the chorus contains the lyrics "I'm dropping plates on your ass bitch" and when I first heard it, I had to laugh. Finally, there are a few instances of name-calling (motherfucker, punk-ass, and the like). While I have no problem with the language, in the way the lyrics are written it just reminds me of a couple high school losers shoving one another around the parking lot. Lots of bravado, no harm done.

Fortunately it doesn't detract from the album. A great debut, and I think they have a shot at being more than a one hit wonder. I just wish I could have swung the time off to catch them at OzzFest.

I give the album four Perplex Skulls.

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This review copyright 2000 E.C.McMullen Jr.

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