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Friday, June 17, 2011

Album Review: Cellout - Superstar Prototype

Cellout - Superstar Prototype
2011 Nuerra Records
Ray Van Horn, Jr.



This clever name Cellout would indicate a jibe at the FM posterboy heavies (you know who you are, laddies), as in selling yourself out to the machine entraps you forevermore. There's a Lady Ga Ga spirit of humor in that. Stick with me, folks, because I know this is The Metal Minute, not The Ga Ga Parade. But do consider Lady Ga Ga first entered the commercial music arena with the intent to roast the entire pop scene. At least that was her motive until she bought into her own in-joke and now embraces the ceaseless media hype that has elevated her past pop prankster into veritable diva.

So are we to assume Sweden's Cellout is likewise coming into the metal foray with tongues rammed in cheek and gelled spikes and drippy curls spinning a yeoman's sense of nyuk nyuk chugga chugga about them?

Perhaps. Little is known about this band in North America. Their album title Superstar Protoype is as funny as their group moniker, yet they carry the dominant nihilism-is-chic swagger about them that has made Disturbed superstars along with Trapt, Hinder, Papa Roach, My Darkest Days and lately, Pop Evil.

Cellout brings the same blackened agro glam look (yes, it is glam, wake up, y'all) and they bring songs of self-stirred anger like "Dark Days," "All My Demons Inside," "The Tragedy in You" (which is more a case of the "me" lyrically) and "Set Things Straight." On occasion, Cellout brings some speed and double hammer. For the most part, Cellout blows up their amps and ride high on some meaty riffs. In the end, though, you've probably heard Papa Roach's Getting Away With Murder enough times that you don't want to hear it again on Cellout's "Breathe." Cellout hopelessly states their case "this is the way it's got to be" on "Breathe" and unfortunately, that begins to rule out any hope Superstar Prototype is a knee-slapping poke in the eyes against contemporary hard rock.

"Fake" belts out a few bursts of excitement in-between the forlorn drag of the verses and the jumpy choruses. You can hear the band trying to noodle between multiple variations of a pop metal theme with "Fake" and if there's a subliminal jab intended here, then it's pretty damned hilarious. Doubtful, though.

Doubtful, even, that Superstar Prototype is the Fame Monster of mainstream metal. As much as Cellout works around their bends with some heavier modes of conducts than corporate radio is going to feel comfortable with, there is a decided internal hopefulness that this group will catch on worldwide. They just might, actually, at least as openers on a Five Finger Death Punch Euro haunt or an American summer festival as a "new discovery." In fact, Cellout is working on landing a spot on this year's Warped tour and they're asking for your votes to get there.

In the end, does that constitute a sellout? Not necessarily, since mass promotion is more brutal than ever these days and if In Flames hadn't touched up their sound with a more rhythmic, less abrasive cadence, they possibly wouldn't have left Sweden and the European borders. Herein, you see what Cellout is attempting to achieve. When they throw in a softer, hookier ditty like "Flooded" in between punchy crowd pleasers like "The Gift" and "Set Things Straight," you know Cellout has been well-schooled in the game they seek as pliable entrants. Watch your backs, Alterbridge...

Too bad, because a band carrying the snarky handle of Cellout could've had a chance to smack up the scene as this exploded form of tough-guy hoser metal is 1987 all over again. Today it's just Affliction shirts, black jeans and faux hawks instead of spandex and Aqua Net. Again, I say it is glam.

Some band needs to step up and say no to it all. You want to buy in to this theory of an anti-deadman, but Superstar Prototype, for all of its professional chops, slick songwriting and occasional headbanging bliss, is just that: too professional.

Rating: **1/2

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