A few days ago I decided to set myself a challenge. Go on to Amazon.co.uk and select bargain cds, click on the hard rock and metal section and then select ‘price: lowest to highest.â€™ My next task was to buy 3 albums as long as the total cost wasnâ€™t over Ã‚Â£5 (not including postage and packaging: hey, it would have impossible â€â€œ have you seen some of the tat on the marketplace section? Itâ€™s all punk rock sample cds and Green Day singles!) With my purchases made and the deliveries final, I am now able to sit down and listen through each musical ditty in one take and form an incredibly skewed opinion of each. Letâ€™s see the spoils of warâ€Â¦
Band â€â€œ downset.
Album â€â€œ Do We Speak A Dead Language?
Release date – 1996
Price â€â€œ 39p
Notes â€â€œ Iâ€™m actually familiar with the work of downset; their self-titled album is a decent listen; especially if you like the sound of a badly-tuned nu-metal band trying to play punk rock. Essentially itâ€™s rapcore. To put it into perspective, imagine a diet version of Rage Against The Machine without the guitar solos, more fist-in-the-air gang chants and a distinct ‘fuck the man!â€™ message. Like other music of this ilk, it retains the inherent anger towards the system and happily lacks the poseur attitude. Imagine two rival gangs in some backwater American city limbering up in some alley, getting in each others faces. One of them is all talk and no action; content to take part in simple school boy shoves, whilst the other would shoot them in the kneecaps and stub cigarettes out on their foreheads. To me, downset fall into the latter category; despite their somewhat repetitive nature, they sound like they really fucking mean it. Itâ€™s too bad Iâ€™m having to resist the urge to conduct various heel flicks during ‘Sicknessâ€™, which sounds like something Papa Roach wished they had recorded but couldnâ€™t because theyâ€™re shit.
Verdict/Worth the price? â€â€œ I think so. For 39p I got an incredibly indignant selection of songs, however, I canâ€™t see it going on the stereo at parties unless I was organizing a rally against the LAPD or social injustice.
Band â€â€œ Panthers
Album â€â€œ Things Are Strange
Release date â€â€œ 2004
Price â€â€œ 79p
Notes â€â€œ Apparently half of Panthers are made up of hardcore upstarts, Orchid. Anyone thinking there to be any similarities can immediately remove that thought from their mind. I suppose the same passion and intensity is there, but in all respects this is very different. Opening track ‘Legally Tenderâ€™ is soaked in cocksure swagger, it could be Mick Jagger and Matt Caughthran fighting for control of the body of a rooster. It all goes bat shit insane on ‘We Are Louderâ€™ which couldnâ€™t be a more apt name â€â€œ sounding like a musical instrument shop being thrown off a cliff. The rest of the track creeps around like the Alien, stalking itâ€™s prey under a wave of spaced out rock ‘n roll, which eventually lurches into an incredibly filthy riff that feels like itâ€™s been soaked in dirt and expensive whisky. ‘If You Were Once Young, Rageâ€™ features a decidedly sinister bassline juxtaposed with an eerie space-rock quality, which makes up much of Panthersâ€™ erratic and acerbic sound. Why Iâ€™ve never heard of this band before is a mystery; itâ€™s the kind of fiercely deviant rock music that punches a giant fist-shaped hole in any notion of conforming to a ‘scene.â€™
Verdict/Worth the price? â€â€œ Hell yes. I almost feel guilty for paying such a low price for this. Seriously, pick up ‘Things Are Strangeâ€™ if you can and marvel in its majestic guitar scrawl of vibrant colour.
Band â€â€œ Sona Fariq
Album â€â€œ Sona Fariq
Release date â€â€œ 2000
Price â€â€œ 73p
Notes â€â€œ Itâ€™s like The Red Hot Chilli Peppers never happened! We can but dream- (seriously, they were utter gunt) but what Sona Fariq are doing is quite puzzling. From the opening track ‘Drop The Bombâ€™ it splices the Californication 4 piece with horrendously lumpy sounding nu-metal and the kind of dire rap-rock favoured by Hot Action Cop (imagine a really, really and I mean REALLY shit version of The Bloodhound Gang.) Okay, Iâ€™m being a bit harsh. It picks up on ‘We Be On Fireâ€™ (groove-metal meets street punk) and the almost ska-guitar ‘wacka-wackaâ€™ of ‘Do Not Returnâ€™ is a grateful step away from the sub-standard funk-rock opening. Itâ€™s amazing how music has changed since 2000 though. Anyone trying to peddle this now would be taken outside andÃ‚Â put down likeÃ‚Â Old Yeller. Strangely, Iâ€™m warming to this, despite the hilariously terrible â€œWOOHA! WOOHA!â€Â vocal chant on ‘Killa Bâ€™ which sounds like the clanking chains of the ghost of nu-metal past. ‘Love You Crazyâ€™ is perhaps the highlight; all latin-meets-metal guitar licks with the odd classic rock flourish, buried beneath some solid rhythm and of course, the enthusiastic but rather stilted vocals. Mad props for the horns on ‘So Perfectâ€™ â€â€œ an expected treat.
Verdict/Worth the price? â€â€œ I wouldnâ€™t have wanted to pay any more, put it that way. However, if Iâ€™d have heard this back when I was 16, Iâ€™d probably be proclaiming it as the best album ever.
By Ross Macdonald