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Metal/Prog Metal CD Reviews

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Beale Street To Oblivion

Review by Gary Hill

When I put together my list of top discs of 2007, I think this one is going to be the one to beat. With their retro groove textures and stylistic nods to classic musical giants like Black Sabbath, Mountain and Led Zeppelin you just can't go wrong. These guys are the kings of the tasty riff and everything is delivered with style and finesse. If you are a fan of old school metal and hard rock, you really have to pick up this disc. It's a “must have.”

This review is available in book format (hardcover and paperback) in Music Street Journal: 2007 Volume 3 at lulu.com/strangesound.

Track by Track Review
You Can't Stop Progress
After a drum intro a meaty, thick riff that's one part Black Sabbath and one part Mountain takes over to lay down the song proper. This is a great groove with retro hard rocking textures and an almost rapped lyrical line. The chorus is really catchy and I can't imagine a stronger opener.
Power Player
This has a faster feel to it, but in many ways is quite similar to the opener. The vocals are more sung than rapped, though. This thing is another smoker and makes a great continuation of the opening one-two punch.
The Devil and Me
This one has a slower groove to it and is another healthy slab of retro textured hard rocking music. I love the vocal performance here and the riff (like pretty much all of them on the disc) is killer. I hear some Kiss on this along with Sabbath, Mountain, Led Zeppelin and others. The retro keyboards are a nice touch. They speed it up as it carries on and the “I'm going back to Tennessee...” section is just plain incredible! The guitar solo that follows it is especially tasty, too.
White's Ferry
Now here we get a real change of pace in a slow bluesy jam that is full of drama. They keep it in this manner for quite some time, but eventually explode out into more frantic jamming. The two modes are alternated to create the bulk of the piece. The slower section, with it's slightly echoed textures and more laid back vocals remind me of an almost psychedelic take on old Black Sabbath. There is a killer faster jam that almost falls into the progressive rock category with twisting changes and some interesting keyboard layers. This is another winner on a disc that is purely full of them.
Electric Worry
Odd sound effects lead this off. The guitar sound that enters reminds me a lot of something from Sabbath's Paranoid album. They turn it more groove oriented at times, too. This one is perhaps the most catchy on the CD and is definitely stands tall amongst a sea of giants. It might be my favorite track on the disc.
One Eye Dollar
Another bluesy riff, but more down home in texture, brings this one in. The vocals come in over the top in an old school blues style, sort of like Muddy Waters meets Black Sabbath. As they bring it up after the first verse that musical vision still remains in part. This is another extremely catchy chorus and overall this song reminds me of old ZZ Top more than anything else (mind you ZZ on steroids). They drop it back to the opening grind later.
Child of the City
The opening chord here is about as much in an old school Sab vein as you can imagine. As they kick into the song proper, though, this more closely resembles Mountain or maybe even a turbo charged Grand Funk. It's another smoker, but by this point how could you expect anything else? At less than a minute and a half this is without question a short one.
Rapture of Riddley Walker
Black Sabbath meets Jimi Hendrix and Mountain on this killer grind. In fact the opening lyrics even seem like a bit of a nod to Sabbath's “Fairies Wear Boots.” The wahing guitar solo later is a great touch. 
When Vegans Attack
Bonus points are issued for this title alone! This one is the least metal cut on the disc, leaning more on a killer hard rocking groove that even feels at times like Cheap Trick to me – mind you that's only the intro and bridge. At other times this is a traditional electric blues jam. Slide guitar accents are used for great effect. There is also a cool instrumental break that feels more pure '70's rock in tone.
Opossum Minister
Where do these guys come up with such killer riffs? This is another smoking number that shows they are in no danger or running out of inspiration or fire. There are moments late in the track that remind me of Captain Beyond quite a bit. This is another that manages to rise even higher than the towering power of the rest of the disc.
Black Umbrella
A military type drum beat starts off the festivities. A bluesy riff comes in to carry on. There is a mention to Pistol Pete in these lyrics. That guy is a local musician around here. My thought is, that isn't who they are referring to, but you never know. They deliver another killer helping of smoking bluesy hard rock with this one. This turns into more traditional blues later for a while.
Mr. Shiny Cadilackness
This has more of a pure groove sound. The bass line is driving and very tasty. The vocals come in with another “rap” style – but more like old rock rapping. No, rap didn't start with hip hop – a lot of old rockers used to talk rhythmically over the music. This powers out in another scorching hard rocking riff and then resolves out into something more expansive. It's amazing that these guys could keep the intensity and quality up for the whole disc, but this one proves that they pulled it off with style. In fact, this is another of the standouts here. This is also one of the more dynamic pieces moving through a series of intriguing changes and modes. It's a great disc closer.
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