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Non-Prog CD Reviews

Neal Smith

Killsmith Two

Review by Gary Hill

Some albums seem better suited for the modern era where people just download the songs they like than do others. It’s safe to say that the idea of producing an album that plays well from end to end seems to be getting lost by many artists these days. That’s an art form I hate to see vanishing. This new album from original Alice Cooper band member Neal Smith is certainly a disc that will do far better taken song by song. That’s because the chugging guitar driven sound that makes up the music here doesn’t vary much from track to track. Sitting down to listen to the whole thing in one shot it begins to feel pretty monolithic. Yet any one song pulled off and taken alone is cool. The music here sits somewhere between punk and metal and seems to have nods to groups like The Misfits and artists like Rob Zombie.

This review is available in book format (hardcover and paperback) in Music Street Journal: 2012  Volume 1 at lulu.com/strangesound.

Track by Track Review
2000 Miles from Detroit

The sounds of an ocean lead this off. Then we get some hard edged rock with a spoken vocal section. In some ways it reminds me of WASP. Then it powers out from there into the song proper. The vocals are more sung, but there’s still a bit of a spoken element to them. There’s a punk meets psychedelic edge to this cut.

Suicide Highway
Somehow I’m reminded a bit of early Kiss on this. It’s got similar influences on this number as we heard on the opener, but this is a bit more straightforward and energetic. It’s kind of like the love child of the Ramones and Clutch.
Cemetery of the Damned
Here’s an extremely cool tune. It’s got a lot of horror rock built into it, but it also has a real raw metal chugging and some punk. It’s one of my favorites of the whole set. The later parts of the arrangement, including a section that feels like a choir of the undead, is very cool.
Evil Voodoo Moon
There’s some tasty guitar work on this. It’s like an old school rock and roll tune with a punk rock sneer.
Death By the Numbers
A cool punk meets metal groove makes up this tune. Drums segue this one into the next piece.
Crimes of High Passion
Rob Zombie meets the Misfits here. It’s another cool tune, but the formula is wearing a little thin by this point. Some horns later bring a twist in to freshen it up a bit.  There’s a bit of a cheerleader romp later in the piece for some camp elements further down the road.
Legend of Viper Company
Unaccompanied vocals open this and the next vocal section is just percussion and vocals. From there we move out into something closer to the sounds of the rest of the album.
Die for the Night
There’s more of a pure rock feeling to this one. It’s still got that same chugging punk meets metal sound, but with a more catchy classic rock chord progression.
Strip Down
This one’s built on a catchy grind. It’s another cool tune with definite nods to Rob Zombie.
Kiss My Rock
Although the earlier sections of this have too much of a “more of the same” feeling, it works out to some cooler stuff later for a bit of a change.
Anything
This is not a bad song, but by this point the whole punk metal chugging is getting tedious and repetitive to the level of becoming mind-numbing.
Squeeze Like a Python
While this song is more of the same in a lot of ways, the retro keyboard sounds make it feel a bit like Lords of the New Church, and that’s a good thing. There’s even a cool keyboard solo.
 
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