Incubus - Make Yourself.

There seems to have been an awful lot written about this album. So itís time for me to add some more worthless rhetoric. But a lot of stuff written kind of falls in two camps. One is "this is awesome", the other is "this is disappointing." Those in the disappointed camp seem to be talking about it all being "mature", even "emo". Well, first impression for me is that itís certainly different in that itís less frentic than before and has more of itís own identity. The EP and S.C.I.E.N.C.E were great - love Ďem, but partly I guess it was as much because they DID remind me of Faith No More (and Brandonís vocals brought Patton to mind), as much as because of what they were all about. This time round, although the references are still there, itís more of their own sound. And yeah, that does a little getting used to because Iím expecting one thing based on their previous output, and not entirely getting it. But you can either persever with it or give up. And as Iíve just paid near £12 quid for it, I donít intend having wasted my money just like that. Besides, I just know after only one listen that Iím going to grow into this one because theyíre still playing a style of music which I do love.

What does stand out from the off is just how positive this album is lyrically. It feels personal, but taking low points and somehow twisting them around to see some kind of positivity from the situations. The other thing is perhaps linked to this in that it feels like vocalist Brandon Boydsí album. The impassioned vocals marking his own identity and moving away from the Patton thing.

A perfect example of the positivity can be found in The Warmth. Vocally and musically itís a little different for the band, almost going down the dub or reggae path, but not the rather cheesy way that many of the pop-punk bands do. This is different. And as Boyd sings, there are times during the verses where itís almost like listening to say Benji, or HR from the Bad Brains during their reggae moments, or even Bob Marley. Itís got that tinge to the vocals. A real element of soul. The lyrics emphasise the positivity "donít let the world, get you down, not everyone here is that fucked up and cold". Itís a combination that works absolutely perfectly. In one moment they manage to encapsulate more attitude than a dozen angst driven bands can manage combined. On the other hand youíve got I Miss You, as self explanatory a song title as youíre likely to get with Boyd singing that To See You When I Wake Up Is a Gift I Didnít Think Could Be Real ... I Miss You.

On the other hand, the likes of opener Privilege sees Boyd emphasising that sometimes life does throw up problems to deal with, but itís possible to get through them. The likes of Nowhere Fast and Consquence arenít immediate, but after a few plays they wriggled into your mind The music itself is less frentic than in the past, for the most part itís more downbeat, contrasting with the positivity of the lyrics. It takes a little longer for the subtleties to seep through, but if you persever, and of course like what Incubus have done in the past, then it will work its way in - just give it time and savour it. When It Comes, Stellar and the title track itself are just well crafted rock songs - nothing more nothing less, and when itís good, like this, you donít need any more. A good song is always a good song, irrespective of time and trend.

Battlestar Scralachtica is an opportunity for DJ Kilmore to do his thing, a bit throwaway for me as I donít really understand that sort of stuff, but thereís a big funky bass line in there, along with the start of Clean which brings to my mind a 70s cop show style incidental music, there is a hint of the 70s in it all. Out From Under offers a classic lyric of To resist is to piss in the wind, Anyone who does will end up smelling.

Quite right too. To resist this album, well you may end up smelling too.


Wizards And Demons.

Sorry, but that really is a dreadful name. This does not inspire confidence. Apparently itís a duo featuring one member each of Iced Earth and Blind Guardian. If those bands mean anything to you, then I guess youíve got a reasonable idea of what this will sound like. If you donít know, well itís metal. Kind of from the 80ís. Thereís all those triplet guitar riffs, you know the ones that were the staple of the thrash movement. Married in with the gallop of the Maiden. Itís all very accomplished, but my tastes of moved on. In fact it made me wonder what Iíll make of the new Maiden album. Whether Iíll like it because of the music or because of the past. If I applied that to this album, then itís pretty good. But I donít really get off on it any more. The vocals are annoying. At times it feels like theyíre looking towards say the Geoff Tate school, but itís just not as clean as that, and as a result feels strained and just a little embarrassing. High, go for the notes. I guess that and the solos are one of the things that looking back I find hard to deal with. Even if I did used to like them. They say grunge killed this sort of music. For me it was Mike Patton that did. That was the turning point of knowing what vocals I really like, what I tolerate because of the music, and what just annoy.

This is also another one of those supply it without a track listing jobbies. According to the bio thing, the last 3 songs make some kind of trilogy telling a tale. Well the last one is under a minute, so itís just really the 2 that prelude that.

The rest of the stuff is power metal - at least to me. Iím sure there are puritans that will point out itís anything but power metal. Much like the core brigade these days well tell you itís not acore itís bcore. Thereís some acoustic flurries, plenty of riffs, decent playing, and just not a lot of excitement. Thereís nothing that sticks in the mind even to write about.

I still love me metal, but all in all this a bit boring and bland and Iím not sure it wouldíve even excited me 10 years ago.

Available on SPV.