Thrall CD review [Alternative Tentacles]

Music Reviews
Thrall CD review [Alternative Tentacles]
Oct 14, 2003, 02:11


OK, so I'm partial. I've known Mike Hard for about 15 years now, many of which were spent in the same band; we have variously written some kick ass music together and come close to flinging each other through windows (typical band behavior, obviously). But regardless of how well we might or might not have been getting along at any given time, I have never doubted the man's genius as either a performer or lyricist. Lifer, the latest (and maybe last?) outing from his bad-ass current band, just cements his reputation for full-on mania and lyrical brilliance. In recent years, Hard has been moving in a steadily more political lyrical direction, focusing his verbal gifts upon abuses and misuses of power, government deceit, and brutality at large, shining a sarcastic spotlight upon state and corporate brutality and cultural stupidity with the same jaded, unforgiving eye. Over the course of ten cuts here, a multitude of sick aspects of Amurrican life come under Hard's gaze, from the concrete to the fantastic: Titles such as “I Blame Myself,” “Light Skinned Alien,” “Kill It,” and “Petrochemical Pharmaceutical Military Industrial Complex” largely speak for themselves.

Musically, Scott Kodrick, Cliff Carinci, and Johnnie Johnson clock in with the crunchy metallic precision they're infamous for, dropping ten hard 'n' heavy cuts without coming up for air. Nicely chosen samples about space aliens and helicopter attacks bubble to the surface periodically, between the midrange klang of the guitars and the Carinci/Johnson riddim-pummel while Hard's voice slashes across the surface with sarcastic fury. It all peaks in the anthemic “How Does It Feel,” a badass one-two punch of a song that, live at least, is virtually impossible not to bang yer head to. Rumor has it that Thrall might be calling it quits (haven't talked to Hard lately, so don't know for sure), but if so, it's damned unfortunate—this is a heavy rock band in full stride, and while they may self-destruct, ain't nobody gonna stop 'em. [Alternative Tentacles]

-David B. Livingstone

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