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Non-Prog CD Reviews

Guards of Metropolis

Alligator

Review by Gary Hill

This band should be huge! Seriously, if there were any justice in the world, they would be getting airplay on Top 40 radio right now. Their sound is not all that different from some of the female fronted alternative rock that’s already on the airwaves. They just do it a lot better. Guards of Metropolis combine hard edged rock sounds with definite punk tendencies with Gwen Stefani meets Dale Bozzio type vocals. All of this is held together by strong songwriting and performance. The result is a CD that’s entertaining and accessible while still having a lot of musical meat on its bones. I like this one a lot.  The truth is, the one track that breaks from the tradition of the rest of the album, the closing title piece, is a masterpiece that’s on an equal level with many of the classic songs of all time – and that’s not an exaggeration.

This review is available in book format (hardcover and paperback) in Music Street Journal: 2008  Volume 3 at lulu.com/strangesound.

Track by Track Review
Perfect World
This has a killer alternative rock meets modern pop rock sound. It’s got a bit in common with Garbage and even No Doubt, but has a hard edged texture, too. This is cool and a good way to start things off nicely. 

Exhole
“Exhole” has a harder edge to it – at least in some ways. It feels a bit punky in terms of its musical arrangement. I guess you could lump it into emo, but the vocals are more like Garbage. I even hear hints of early Blondie on this. The fast paced side excursion later is a great touch.
Don't Wanna Be Like You
This rocker has more of a stoner rock texture, but the vocals move it in an entirely different direction. It’s another strong piece of music on a CD that has no weak material. There’s a weird little bubble gum meets psychedelia section mid-song to lend a different flavor to the proceedings.
Down
The funky texture that leads this one off make you think you wound up in the middle of some 1970’s cop TV show. They move this out to a cool, bluesy groove that has definite Garbage leanings, but the vocals seem to have more of a modern pop rock texture.
How Does It Feel (To Be Unreal?)
Some unusual sound effects and “whacka whacka” guitar leads this off. The group launch out from there in an angry sort of jam and the vocals pull it nicely into a cheery sort of texture. This goes through a few changes, but never fails to entertain.

The Way You Are
This comes in with a punk rock sound laced with keyboards. They drop it back to a stripped down approach for the verse and then power it back out for the chorus. It’s another great tune. I love the lyrics, “I don’t like you, just the way you are.”
Postcards From Heaven
Starting out in a psychedelic, mellow motif, this one mutates into another catchy pop rocker that’s just plain fun.

On My Own
Here they give us another slice of their particular blend of accessible alternative pop rock. This has a great central riff and an unusual mellow motif for the bridge. I like it a lot. This is my second favorite track on show here – and since everything on the disc is great, that says a lot. I also love the powerhouse guitar solo.
Tired
This one is a bit mellower, with a rather psychedelic pop texture. It’s still got a modern alternative pop sound, too, though.
Fadeaway
The musical motif that makes up the verses here is especially tasty. This is a great tune and another highlight of the CD.
Already Gone
A cool fast paced riff leads this one off and we are on a great frantic rock and roll journey. This has more energy than a lot of the material here and is also one of the best tracks on show. There is a cool progish, mellower segment mid-song.  The retro guitar solo that runs alongside the last chorus is a good touch.

Why
This one doesn’t differ a lot from the rest of the material, but frankly, this band’s blend of sounds is so strong, who needs a change?
Alligator
They saved the best for last. Here we get a mellow jam that reminds me musically a bit of The Lords of the New Church’s “Gun Called Justice.” They power this up into more psychedelically tinged rock as this grows upward. The layered vocals and piled on sounds just add to the mix here. This keeps building song structure wise, too. At just a bit before the two minute mark they drop it back to the opening motifs and begin the ride all over again. This one by itself is worth the ticket price. It turns a bit prog-like at times, and is not only my favorite song here, but one of my favorite songs of all time. This is simply a masterpiece.
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