Kill Rock Stars

Bombastic, robotic, and weird as hell, Thrones sounds like prog-rock from Cybertron - you know, the planet of the Transformers.

This gang of robots-in-disguise is actually the side project of Joe Preston from the mighty Melvins. Some songs, like "Oso Malo" and  "MANMTN", remind one of Joe's day-job, with bellowing bull-god vocals and monolith monster beats, chthonic bass and guitars like the fingernails of heartless fate dragged across the chalkboard of eternity.

But it's not all Autobot-stompin' thud'n'grind. A compilation of two previously released EPs, Sperm Whale and White Rabbit, this eponymous disc has moments of discombobulating artiness. Two tunes eschew brutalitarian dunt altogether. 

With its eerie dopplered organ, "Acris Venator" is the soundtrack to a Martian ghost story, and "Django" is a tweaked piece of dolorous Gypsy schmaltz.

The final three tracks are the best, blending art and brut with epic flair. Bassfiddles the size of zeppelins thrum and cry in the deeps of "Ephraim"; the whitewhale cruises cyclopean ruins, bolting like a startled sparrow when Great Cthulhu thrashes in his sleep. "The Anguish of Bears" is a technozoic Passion Play. Tobor the Great drags his cross to the summit of Megagoltha, the lash of empire falling upon his ravaged, oil-slicked back. In the climactic hymn of redemption, "Obolus", adamantium angels sing the metal messiah home, dancing in slow, majestic circles while Vulcan pounds out the beat. The cyborg choir winds down as Nature reasserts herself, the record ending with the song of crickets and tree frogs. For another twenty minutes. -Bill Widener

Pure Rock Fury
Atlantic Records

Why is there an abundance of unoriginal, insipid neo-hard rock/punk bands in America? Whereas the highly overrated act At The Drive-In is just now receiving unwarranted notoriety, the band Clutch is a stagnant band that's been putting out albums for eight years. Their fourth LP, titled Pure Rock Fury, definitely tries hard to be pure rock, but it contains none of the fury that its influences in Black Sabbath and Led Zeppelin possessed.

Lead singer Neil Fallon can't hold a candle to Robert Plant, and he sometimes sounds like a version of Ozzy Osbourne minus all the necessary drugs. "Open it up, open it up, open it" is just one example of Fallon's inability to craft lyrics above a first-grade reading level. Fortunately, his incessant screaming should limit any chance he has at a long career.

Guitarist Tim Sult owes all his licks to Jimmy Page, but tries to add a little funk in hopes of creating something original. Instead, the song "Careful With That Mic" sounds like a really bad Faith No More or Primus outtake. Even worse on that song, Fallon sings more moronic lyrics about a guy who can't get any girls because he's lactose intolerant.

Bands like Clutch and At The Drive-In aren't breaking any new ground in rock music, which is where the main problem lies. By the sixth track on Pure Rock Fury, "The Great Outdoors!," it's apparent that nothing other than classic rock rip-offs and bad funk riffs exist on the rest of the album. -Chas J. Hartman

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Crown Royal
Arista Records

I believe it was the summer of eighty-pho, kangos, cardboard, and the sweet rhymes from Run DMC pumpin' from the box two inches from my grill. The album was Raising Hell, and everybody was sweatin' the boys from Hollis, Queens. Pioneers of rap and they hooked me from day one. No one can ever reach the accomplishments of this group, recording platinum records through three decades. Destined for greatness by making music that a diverse community could relate to.

Now it's 2001 and Run DMC relights the fire under their ass, converging after a long dryspell to release the album Crown Royal. I use the word converging extremely loosely due to the lack of the DMC substance in the group. Did you watch VH1's Behind the Music? Darrel Mac's voice changed as he kicked his drinking habit, which did not go well with the group. He now spends little time with Run and Jammaster Jay due to his different lifestyle. In fact, he only raps on one song, "Ay Papi,", on this album. What's the dilly?

I'll tell you who is on the album though, and that's all of the natural born pop fudgers known to mankind (Fred Durst, Kid Rock, Everlast, Stephan Jenkins of Third Eye Blind, and Sugar Ray). Run raps with these guys which relates to a "Walk This Way" connection of rock and rap, but that played out in '88. Other cameos consist of Jermaine Dupri, Nas, Fat Joe, and Method Man, which has much more success than the NBP fudgers.

The Dope to Dooty Ratio® says 2-10 in favor of the dooty. The team is not a whole and I personally think that they should have stayed down and not ruined their rep. If you do scoop this, do not listen to the Everlast song or you will shoot yourself in the foot, just to hear whaling worse than this song. -Michael Geneve

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