Clutch - Strange Cousins From The West, Weathermaker Music
“Anthrax, ham radio and liquor!” Such is the battle cry emanating from “50,000 Unstoppable Watts,” the first single from Strange Cousins From The West. Words fail me vis-à-vis how to describe the magnitude of Clutch’s mad genius. There are some moments on this disc that are pretty f#ckin’ metal, but there some bluesy grooves that are so goddamn good, they’ll mess up your equilibrium, give you Turrets Syndrome or hell, maybe even Epilepsy. At this level, there is nobody better. There is only different. The only drawback with Clutch is this - sometimes Neil Fallon’s lyrics go over people’s heads, which is understandable because you can’t categorize genius. By the way, check out “Sleestak Lightning” and try to sit still. It’s just not possible. In any friggin’ genre, this is the best album we’ll see in 2009. I gotta catch my breath.
Trey Johnson - Mount Pelée, Idol Records
Thank you, Trey Johnson. Thanks for giving Dallas yet another reason to be so proud of its underrated music scene. Right from the start, Mount Pelée captivates. Sounding like a distant relative of Sorta (Trey’s previous band), the disc is both familiar yet fresh. It’s also more mature than anything Trey has released to date, which is nice. Since the aging hipsters that grooved to Sorta’s songs a decade ago now have families and regular 9 to 5’s, they need a balladeer that can speak about their post-bar and beer college days.
Sorta was Dallas’ answer to Wilco, but Trey’s solo disc sprinkles that alt-country sound on just a few songs for flavor. Most lean more towards earlier influences, such as Bob Dylan and The Beatles. Acoustic guitars take a backstage to a softly stroked piano, making for a very mellow disc.
The best tracks are “Old Reactions” and “Bragging Type.” Of course, it’s hard to find fault with any of the eleven songs found on this 44-minute masterpiece. (Jason Janik)
Elliot’s Keep - In Medias Res, Brainticket Records
The namesake of this project, Glenn Riley Elliot, would have been proud. This much anticipated debut from local doomsters, Elliot’s Keep, is chock full of the traditional doom you have come to love. Echoes of Solitude Aeturnus and Candlemass are stamped all over In Medias Res, but the abrupt time signature changes will set them apart. Ken on vocals/bass goes from a Robert Lowe meets Mike Patton howl to demon-conjuring growls, while Jonathan churns out low and slow guitar riffage. This is a more than noble effort that shows, that yes, doom is alive in DFW. (D.J. Ivie)
Destrag - Urban Being, Coroner Records
This debut from Italy’s Destrage is an exercise in mediocrity. For one, the songs go on much longer than necessary. Each track is as monotonous as the next. The only breaks come from one of many poorly recorded, yet well executed, lead guitar lines. These guys seem to be going for that Unearth/In Flames, nu-metalcore feel but fail to bring anything truly interesting. True, there are intricate nod-worthy parts, but much of the disc is plain forgettable. If Mudvayne is the heaviest band you listen to, these guys will blow your mind.
Lapse Of Sanity - Self-Titled EP, Self-Recorded
It should be no surprise that this three-song EP from Grand Prairie’s Lapse Of Sanity is explosive. These scene vets have built their reputation as a bombastic live act whose powerful mix of old-school thrash and new metal attitude never disappoints.
On tracks, “Mass Destruction,” “Backstab” and the instrumental highlight, “Steamroller,” LoS leave no doubt as to their intention - the total demolition of everything within earshot. Frank (guitar/vocals), Adam (bass/vocals) and Brian (drums/insanity) can bring the pain with the best of them on the D/FW scene. Look for LoS playing all over the damn place soon and demand your own copy of this disc! (Kevin White)
Mile Marker Zero - MMZ, Big Machine Media
Somewhere between the radio-tuned rock of Shinedown and the maniacal metal of System Of A Down, there’s a nice niche for Mile Marker Zero. The band clearly knows that keeping things on the heavy side does not necessarily mean melody must be sacrificed.
Tracks like “Reaping Tide,” the haunting “Passive” and the highlight, “Laceration,” exemplify MMZ’s commitment to being as musical as they are powerful. If this band can get a break on a package tour or video game, they could break out in a big, big way. Catch the buzz at milemarkerzero.com or myspace.com/mmz
The Sever Display - A Ravens Eulogy, Sound Mind Studios
If you’re a fan of righteous thrash/death metal, then this CD is for you. Recorded at Sound Mind by Eric Zotigh, this one really packs a punch. It offers 10 brutal tracks that would turn any mosh pit into the mother of all mosh pits. With songs such as “Gift Upon Havoc” and, my fave track, “The Witching Anthem,” this CD contains rock-solid melodies and haunting riffs.
The Sever Display is not for the innocent. With Chase on vocals, Chris and Dave on dueling guitars, Clint on the bass and Brandon Sparks on drums, A Ravens Eulogy is some heavy hardware! (Ray Infante)
The March of the Bull Demo, Self-Released
In anticipation of their forthcoming debut EP, Denton's The March of the Bull have released a three-track demo. Local producer extraordinaire, Alex Gerst, recorded it, and it’s sure to turn heads. On opener “Newton's Song,” vocalist Ryan Westbrook intersperses Davey Havok (AFI) style wails with a Mike Patton cadence, while the band hits like Taking Back Sunday with balls. The At the Drive In-approved guitar riffs of Shaun Carter in “Standard Song” give way to a catchy-as-hell chorus not too far removed from The Used. It’s obvious that this band, which includes a clock-tight rhythm section of Brad Dougan on bass and drummer Mickey Matthews, has been together for years because of their strong sense of song structure and overall cohesiveness. Be sure to catch them at the soon to be reopened Trees on August 27. (D.J. Ivie)