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Friday, March 06, 2009

CD Review: Idols Are Dead - Mean

Idols Are Dead - Mean
2008/09 Scarlet Records/SPV
Ray Van Horn, Jr.



The way the dial turns in metal music these days, you're never quite sure where trend indicators are going to settle. For most young bucks entering the metal game, metalcore has been a token entry vibe, but the form is starting to play itself out, if not to the ears of critics and the older set of metalheads, but even the newbie practitioners themselves.

Don't get me wrong; metalcore has its qualities when performed with care and an interest in elevating past the style's prototype scriptures. However, it's safe to say there's a bit of a stale conundrum left in the wake of these inferred chugging interruptions and exiled fret articulation that marks your average breakdown-ensconced band. Thus you have to give a band like Italy's Idols Are Dead a hand for their courage in belting out streamlined rockout tunes with little interest in showing how many differing algorithms they can court with and more into learning how to make an album's worth of songs.

Mean is a cruiserweight foot-tapper of an album with maybe a breakdown or two to be found, yet they reside within the flow of the primary throb of the band's no-nonsense tunes instead of skidding and careening them to the point of disjointedness. That being said, Mean's biggest asset is unfortunately its detriment, but only to a point.

Repetition is Idols Are Dead's lone Achilles' Heel as a singular rhyhtm largely dictates the course of Mean. Granted, you can't slap demerits on the band for their tasteful devotion to pounding rock that includes affinities for Metallica and the mid-tempo points of Trivium, not to mention a love of old school piss 'n vinegar rock courtesy of everyone from a stepped-up Alice In Chains to Velvet Revolver to Bang Tango and especially Guns n' Roses. Let their cover of GNR's "It's So Easy" be your indicator.

Guitarists Alley X and Ico peel chunk chords like bags of tangerines while cutting a number of impressively raunchy solos on songs such as "Pain For Sale," "Dirt" and "The Name of My Rage." The latter song features a particularly nasty groove, while Mean's slickest song, "Proud to Be Sick" steps on the gas in the opening stanza, then turns the track on its ear with a grinding Godsmack feel that's nonetheless too heavy to be AOR, particularly with Idols Are Dead's blindsiding riffs.

As Mean explores more of Idols Are Dead's capacities in the latter portion of the album, we're left with a notion this band is still dickering with their identity. An interesting listen for development purposes, Mean is like a bag of Cheetos you'll be wanting to comfortably dip into a number of times because that agreeable taste prevents you from cutting yourself off along the way.

Rating: ***1/2

2 comments:

Metal Mark said...

I thought that if you eat too many Cheetos that you just end up with fingers covered with cheese dust?

Ray Van Horn, Jr. said...

that's an insinuation I left to the readers...at least the album isn't cheesy