Ok, Iíll let you in on a secret. These 2 pages were reserved for a Hero interview. It took place towards the completion of this issue, abd Iíve held on to it until next time. So, #12 will have an absolutely exclusive interview with the band. So, tune in next time, for the questions and answers that you simply donít get in Kerrang! For now instead, you get some more last minute reviews, even though theyíre slap bang in the middle of the ish..
Zebrahead - Waste Of Mind.
This has been out for a while, but I think it was on import. Buy, I found a copy second hand in Select-a-disc for £8, so grabbed it eagerly. That oneís mine methinks. Get home. Pop in the CD. Cook on high. Wait for 45 minutes, not turning at anystage. Oh dear. What a disappointment. The self titled Yellow album which I reviewed in something like #6 or 7, was great. Refreshing, a nice cooling breeze in the heat of summer. In other words, just what you want. And itís still good. Now Zebrahead have followed it up with their major label debut, and if there was an example of why perhaps not to sign to a major in the last couple of years, then this is it. The tracks re-recorded from that debut just stand head and shoulders above the rest. Check, Swing and Bootylicious Vinyl sees the twin vocal one rap one sing in a nasal kind of Offspring way, technique working well. Thereís a sheer sense of energy and fun going on, and the songs work. Itís infectious and youíll be singing away with it in notime. But the rest of the material just feels so depressingly boring. Safe. Aiming for the radio. Iíve never listened to Sugar Ray, but from what Iíve read about the band, itís like they went from something fun and up for a party to aiming for the radio and being safe. This feels like Zebrahead have gone the same way. I would still like to see them live, because Iíve got a feeling they are so much better than this release suggests, and Iíd like to think that this is more "encouragement" from the label as to what to do than the band just loosing it. Because it may mean that somewhere down the line on future releases, thereís a hope they can recapture what they first had, but really, at the moment, this is a sad disappointment for me. That title seems way too apt. Do though check out the self titled CD first if you can find it.
Snapcase Vs Boy Sets Fire
A four track split EP this one, bought mainly cos I want to find out what all the fuss is about Boy Sets Fire. Some people have also had good words to say about Snapcase. Seems like a nice introduction to both bands. And it is.
Snapcase start out with Energy Dome which feels quite heavy, and almost mechanical, but thereís still some melody there. The vocals are on the right side of gruff, shouted but not to rough. Next up is a cover of The Policeís Truth Hits Everybody. Ugh. Covers. Ableedygain. Yeah. Why canít we have an original? Anyway, donít know the original to compare against, but it doesnít feel out of place here. Some nice tempo changes in there. Although itís an intro, itís also difficult to judge a band on two songs. So my jury is out. Iíd like to hear more.
As for Boy Sets Fire, well, Iíd been figuring on them being an emo style band from the snippets Iíve picked up. And first track Unspoken Request tends to suggest that. Itís much more melodic than Snapcase, driven along at a fair pace. The guitars chime and chug away, switching styles and pace to keep up the interest and itís not so overwrought as some stuff seems to be. Their second, and the final track on here, is Channel, a much heavier proposition, that truly does lean over into the hardcore territory, though more on the old school side. It actually sounds like 2 different bands, which if they actually sustain that over their albums would make them well worth investigating. Think the arsonists have edged it on this one, partly because theyíve avoided a bloody cover version. Iím not a miserable sod all the time. Honest. Just most of the time. But please, save the covers for the gigs.
Itís all over in under 12 minutes, so it really is too little to judge 2 bands on, but I certainly wouldnít be averse to hearing more by both bands.
Available on Equal Vision Records
Cardiacs - Guns.
Iíve only really listened to the Cardiacs for about the last year, and my knowledge and exposure to their back catalogue is therefore somewhat limited. But, on what Iíve heard, I was well interested to learn that there was a new album from them emerging. So I returned with it tugged in the same bag as the Anethema album. It didnít get played for a week though, because Anethemaís CD glued itself to the player. Which I thought was pretty clever, but a little unfair, and quite messy. But eventually the Cardiacs jumped in. And well, itís a little less manic than the other material Iíve heard from them. See, I have no idea how you describe the band. Theyíre certainly not heavy, but theyíre noisy and mad. And thatís a good place from which to start. I kind of think thereís elements in there that probably early Mr Bungle might have hinted at as well. I also canít help but have these visions of a helium fixated cartoon going on, because thatís how it sounds.
Opening track Spell with a Shell kind of bounces away driven by the rhythm section and a little sound in the background that just makes me think of something bouncing, which is why I said it bounces along. Half way through it suddenly slows down and then immediately speeds up, like someone's twiddling with their knob. Speed knob I mean. Yeah, that's an utterly crap and inadequate description, but see, I just don't know how to describe 'em. You need to listen for yourself. You'll either love 'em. Or you'll hate them. Or you'll be indifferent to 'em! Thereís Good Cud is a bit speedier, hell, there's even what sounds like some double bass drumming in there, and if you do know what this band sounds like, then you'll know how utterly ludicrous that is because they simply aren't metal or anything like the sort of bands that you'd expect that kind of behaviour from. Wind and Rains Is Cold then slows the pace and everything down totally. I must be wrong, cos it sounds like there's ska/reggae sort of thing, but without it. None of the "eveyone's doing it so we should" of the American Ska/punk bands. I must be wrong on that.
Jitterbug (Junior Is A) takes you through a 7 minute journey, there's all sorts going on here. There's little guitar licks thrown in, some kind of sax thing going on, time changes before settling into a mellow finishing section. Twisting all over the shop, doing it's best to be a snake escaping your grasp. Fuck, I've descended into bollocks NME like witterings. Shoot me now. Ha, missed ya suckers!
The album is described as being Side A and Side B. We're now onto side B which feels more upbeat happy Cardiacs such as on Sleep All Eyes Open & Come Back Clammy Lammy. There's manic little guitar solos going on in there, the leyboards are raging, and the vocals make me think a little bit of the Sparks (who I only know and therefore can only compare with for their collaboration with Faith No More). It's all over the place, a bundle of nerves and energy that shouldn't work. Maybe for many people it won't work. But it all finishes on a highlight with Will Bleed Amen which is also features some chunky guitar work as well.
I have no idea if the Cardiacs are "unique" or not. But they certainly are within my 'lil ol collection of shiny circular objects. Whether you'll like them or not I couldn't tell. If you're a heavy person, then it's going to take a bit of open-mindedness, or at least the ability to be persuaded, but if you do, well you're off on a strange strange journey.