Grind it out!

Circa Survive
Equal Vision Record

Hardly a year-and-a-half old, this American five-piece has quickly built up a fan base of hardcore kids who want something more than a bunch of screams and fist-pumps to go with their sonic blasts. And for good reason, ’cause Circa Survive manages to satisfy with actual melody, mood and songwriting. Band singer Anthony Green belts out constantly moody and emotional performances while the guitarists balance spontaneous bursts of busy riff work inside the din, which runs the poppy hardcore-to-prog gamut. The melodic bass runs uphold the guitars and vocals, while the drums stay loose but steady on a heady beat-pound track. As the pop media rushes to reward the overtly commercial and the fakes, Circa Survive might, with any luck, survive the glossy morass. We hope so, anyway.

Bleed The Dream
Built by Blood
Warcon Records

Yet another "product" from Band Factory, Southern California, Bleed The Dream has arrived just in time to impress a new breed of Hot Topic puppets. Where the hell do all of these emo kids come from, anyway? Most songs here come packed with tired tales of love-stricken suburban wimp-boys, any of which could make swell MTV2-rotated videos. In fact, you can almost hear the hyperactive and hopeful critics rushing to call these reduplicating O.C. natives "the next Metallica." Picture this: unimaginative guitar lines looped from last year’s emo greats (see the Victory Records roster) beneath self-loathing moans and half-assed screeches. And, God, when does one hear too much of "you left me and now I’m empty" lyrics before one starts actually feeling empty? The first few seconds of this is all you need to justify hitting the eject button and whizzing Built by Blood against that prized James Hetfield poster adorning your wall. Shit, BTD won’t even have to think about making it on next year’s Warped Tour.

Napalm Death
The Code is Red … Long Live the Code
Century Media Records

Grindcore is a kind of genre that represents brain-taxing blasts, beats, labyrinthine guitar lines and screams that’ll grate you to death. Napalm Death, the Overlords of the Grind, have squeezed out another snarling beast of tortuosity. This, their 12th album to date, is a collection of ominous, yet breakneck, bursts of energy, chock-full of six-string abuse and drum patterns imported straight from hell. A maelstrom of mayhem, sure, but overall the grindlords come up a bit short here. In the end, only a few songs forward new ideas (though, while going off about what democracy means, shouter Mark "Barney" Greenway shreds you to pieces with his frantic, abrasive vox). Having said that, age hasn’t tempered Napalm Death’s intensity. That fact should be encouraging to countless crappy young bands festering in hundreds of Midwestern basements.

Death Angel
Archives & Artifacts

For the new wave of metalheads my age, kudos to Rykodisc for preserving Death Angel’s few early recordings. Granted, Death Angel had a landmark achievement with their debut album, but there’s been nowhere to go but downhill since. This set includes their first two albums, a "rarities" collection (11 tracks of demos and garage recordings that balance magical musicianship with wonderfully god-awful production values) and a career-spanning DVD, which includes a trio of videos plus a press kit they made in the early 1980s. The DVD offers rare insight into a bunch of guys still in their teens. Overall, this box leaves you cold; although Death Angel once made history with The Ultra-Violence, everything else just tastes like icing with no cake.

Fifteen-year-old Kent Alexander is a Metro Times intern. Send comments to [email protected]
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