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F5

A Drug For All Seasons

Review by Lisa Palmeno

Heavy Metal bassist Dave Ellefson is bandleader of F5, a new group that just released A Drug For All Seasons. Ellefson's masterful work on 4-, 5-, and 12-string basses (and rhythm guitar) provides the foundation for this merger of fine talents. Ellefson teamed up with John Davis (rhythm, lead and acoustic guitars); Steve Conley (lead, rhythm, and acoustic guitars, and sitar); Dale Steele (lead vocals); and Dave Small (drums and percussion). The result is a solid and unique album about disillusionment in love and life and misspent years.

The lyrics are short; each song consists of a single verse and a brief chorus. Comprised of the deep, dark side of emotions, topics are true to metal form, and the focus is on the musicianship. The intros are rough, the endings are abrupt and to the point, and thematic material is versatile and varied throughout the songs.

The production of the album is excellent. The mix is great, the mastering is clean, and the presentation is professional. It looks like the boys did their homework on this one and, hopefully, F5 will get the credit and the airplay they deserve.

This review is available in book format (hardcover and paperback) in Music Street Journal: 2006 Volume 1 at lulu.com/strangesound.

Track by Track Review
Faded
The first tune features guitar solos and nice bridges and shifts. The overall feel is hopeful, not dark with "Don't worry, I won't die." Mature metal fuses early '90's metal with a millennium sound.
Dissidence
"Dissidence" has a very 1980s, Iron Maidenish/Guns N'Roses character on the introduction and approach. Tons of syncopation and a consistent beat render a heavy and melancholy mood. Imagery plummets the listener into darkness and lifts him back up through the use of two alternating chords. Antagonism is aptly expressed.
Fall To Me
This one sounds similar to "Dissidence," with the same up-then-down feel. The tambourine adds color to the song, minor chords are mingled with major, and a very modern bridge offers a diversion from the main thematic material. The variations create a roller coaster ride of emotions, depicting the ups and downs of depression.
A Drug For All Seasons
The title song's style is in keeping with "Dissidence" and "Fall To Me," again with ups and downs. Drawn-out vocal phrasings add more angst to this one about addictive love and strains on the heartstrings.
Bleeding
A feature of the CD, "Bleeding" has metaphorical lyrics that contemplate the pain of desperate love. High points are an enjoyable melody line and smooth vocals. The overall sound is consistent and more radio-playable than the others.
What I Am
This track is seriously modern, with "What I am is what I am" called out repetitively. Alternative fans will dig it.
Dying on the Vine
Old-fashioned metal is on the agenda here with plucky guitar parts, whining riffs, and a fast beat. Punk undertones are detectable as "Dying On The Vine" slams losers who take the easy way out, never shooting for the big time. The message is about one who won't be "content to die on the vine" - excellent!
Hold Me Down
This song is an amalgamate of styles. A hard metal melody shifts from roughness to the soft, light, and somewhat pensive delivery of instruments and vocals, and then back to a rough rock sound. Critical of an oppressor, Dale Steele cries out "You try to hold me down anyway you can." Nice back-up vocals from the band work well here.
Defacing
"Defacing" is hard-driving, swift, and sharp. Ozzy-like vocals and attitude permeate the air just before harsh effects unearth the macabre with lyrics such as "betrayed," "vacant," "morbid," "waste," "defacing," etc. Like many of the other tunes on ADFAS, there is a style shift. Then, the piece has an almost techno-sounding ending.
X'd Out
Coverage (no pun intended) of the life of a porn star reinforces the male-dominated world of metal music, even throwing in a degrading remark about pop icon Paris Hilton. The dark underworld of self-depreciation for the thrills and the money is effectively revealed.
Look You In The Eyes
In a dreamier, more haunting selection with whispering echoing vocals, accented darkness is interchanged with melodic, faraway thoughts, back and forth, back and forth, giving breaths between fights and crying.
Forte Sonata
Only a half-minute long, "Forte Sonata" picks up the dreamy sound from "Look You In The Eyes" in an easy way, ending with a soft guitar strum.
 
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