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Need a Boost?

By Bill Ketzer

Cannibal Corpse

Kill (Metal Blade)

In the ’90s, then-Sen. Bob Dole accused these Buffalo-based gorehounds of violating human decency, which immediately endeared them to me forever. Fans of this filthy, maggot-ridden trailblazer will not be disappointed. Although only two founding members remain, Cannibal Corpse have never released a stinker, and here they continue to pound the cosmos and horrify Christians worldwide with Kill, an extra-special order of (un)deadly metal-machine music, just oozing with gore. It’s good for what ails thee. If used as directed, pretty ditties like “Five Nails Through the Neck” and “Brain Removal Device” will:

• boost your immune system

• rejuvenate your body and mind

• reduce wrinkles and decrease cellulite

• restore your sex drive and vigor

• revitalize your heart, liver, kidneys and lungs

• refresh your memory, mood and mental energy

• help you sleep soundly and wake rested

• eliminate stress, fatigue and depression

Why wait? Act now. And as a special bonus, playing Kill at any reasonable volume in your office cubicle will probably get you fired from your belittling, unsatisfying and life-crushing day job, especially if you bare your chest while grunting along. This is a greater public service than any ward leader could ever provide. Go get some.

Thom Yorke

The Eraser (XL)

Do you get that feeling that Thom Yorke might be getting bored? I do. What tipped me off? I was maybe two or three songs into The Eraser when I realized that it sounded as if Yorke hadn’t bothered to wake up before singing the songs on his debut solo album. Yorke has become the above-average but bored student; his audience, the teacher who can’t quite keep the star pupil’s attention.

It seems Yorke has had his fill of toying with his devoted audience, which still, after all these years, doesn’t quite get it. Yorke likes to disappoint, or at least confuse. He tried to throw off the burden of his mainstream fan base with Kid A and Amenesiac, but some are still mindlessly picking up Radiohead albums, unshocked, still not turned away by Yorke’s contempt and his band’s experimentation. And a lot of their devotion has to do with Yorke’s tormented croon. And that’s why, with The Eraser, he has come off his pedestal to mock his audience to their faces.

The Eraser can very easily be compared to the Smashing Pumpkins’ Ava Adore or Billy Corgan’s solo album The Future Embrace. Gone are the epic guitar hooks, lush acoustic guitars, and driving percussion of the backing band. These are, instead, replaced by plodding background electro-beats, keyboard loops and runs that sometimes function as a moving hook when not serving as a drilling annoyance. Don’t be mistaken—this isn’t industrial, trip-hop or techno; this is plodding synthpop at its most twisted.

While Yorke has been known for his overly simplistic mantra-lyrics, the chorus to the first single from The Eraser seems particularly uninspired and coarse: “cause this is fucked up, fucked up.” And yet there are times on The Eraser when it is almost impossible not to be caught up in Yorke’s sweeping moan, his lazy despair, his hissed disdain; and it’s hard not to crack a smile when Yorke plaintively demands, “I hate to ask, but are you being nice ’cause you want something?” Has he ever been so coy? He spills classic moments onto this album despite himself.

No matter how hard Yorke tries to be someone else (Bjork, Satan, a DJ, etc.), he can’t help but sometimes still slip back into himself: the tortured lead singer of the best band in rock & roll for 10 years running. Yes, The Eraser may be Yorke’s temper tantrum, his one-off to his demons and despair, but if reports about Radiohead’s latest material are true, that their new songs are lighter, guitar-driven and most reminiscent of The Bends, that Yorke has actually taken to dancing—dare I say frolicking?—on stage, then this might be his last chance to choke out his spite without having to bend it to beautiful melodies, or wrap it in warm packages of riffs.

—David King

My Ruin

The Brutal Language (Rovena)

These female-fronted doom stoners from L.A. have suffered a number of setbacks in recent years, including unauthorized rereleases and the departure of two longtime members, which forced founders Tairrie B. and Mick Murphy to record all tracks on The Brutal Language themselves. Probably just as well, as they seem to be an item and we all know how annoying that can be to deal with (and not surprising, what with all this preoccupation with unreadable high-renaissance band lit and spoken-word side projects). Nonetheless, Murphy pulls it off, recording all bass, guitar and drum tracks with a dogged Southern-roots determination.

Sadly, the end product suffers accordingly. It takes an almost hallucinatory vision to make such an egocentric effort succeed, and theirs is limited to a very accommodating stoner-rock eye chart. Five fingers make a fist; My Ruin need more hands on deck. The songwriting flops around like a smallmouth in the bottom of a dinghy, relegating Murphy’s loin-quivering guitars to dishwasher status in the Kitchen of Killer. And for all the feathers in Nick Raskulinecz’s engineering cap (Foo Fighters, Rush, Fear Factory), the egregious volume of said warblings, coupled with an obnoxious snare drum, heartlessly snip the balls from the bottom end. I can see him now, tossing the forbidden kiwi over his shoulders, gazing disparagingly at the anesthetized hound on the table. “There’s nothing we could do . . . ”

—Bill Ketzer


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