DANKO JONES – “Below The Belt” (Bad Taste)
How good is this dude? I mean, really? Oh, if you live in any country that isn’t either in Scandinavia or Europe, you probably have no idea who Danko Jones is and that’s a shame. Mr Jones seems to play primarily in those regions these days… kinda like how Manowar don’t play in the USA or any other country where English is a first language. The mind boggles… I am not sure why DJ isn’t one of the biggest names in rock. He has it all; the songs, the style, the live show… it’s a great combination. Maybe it’s cos he’s Canadian cos nobody really knows who Devin Townsend is either these days.

I remember when Danko Jones toured Australia on the ‘We Sweat Blood’ tour. My band, Muscle Car, got to open for them. There were around 30 people there. Serious! A measly 30 payers! Granted it was a Wednesday night and it was in Adelaide, but still, I knew right then it was going to be one of those gigs that people would talk about and people who didn’t go will say the usual “Yeah, I should have gone to that… I dunno why I didn’t” Um, cos you have no fuckin’ taste? Yeah, exactly! ANYWAY, I remember watching the show and being completely blown away. It was unlike anything I had ever seen. For a trio, the power coming from the stage was just over the top. It just sounded unlike any other band playing live at the time, and to this day, Danko still sounds like Danko. He’s one of those artists that keep on releasing quality albums, one after the other. It’s like the dude just knows how to write a good tune.

‘Below The Belt’ kicks off with a quality balltearer titled “I Think Bad Thoughts”; a lyrically awesome track of guts and glory. I have felt and thought the same things. It’s good stuff. “Tonight Is Fine” brought back shades of KISS for me which is cool cos at least Danko’s albums aren’t filled with filler and his lyrics are 1000x better than Gene’s will ever be. Really, the dude’s a lyrical genius. I used to think he hated women but further investigation had me realize he doesn’t hate them all, he worships them; just not those lying, cheating bitches who like to fuck up people’s heads and cause bullshit. But I could be wrong. This is just speculation, after all.

There’s a song called “I Can’t Handle Moderation” which I found amusing as I have always believed Danko to be straight-edge. When we did that show with him, we never saw him indulge in anything except awesomeness. He stayed calm and collected and most quiet after the show while everyone else was in party mode. I think my favourite tune on this album is “Full Of Regret”; I love that use of the cowbell. I’m a sucker for good percussion, plus, the song kicks serious amounts of ass.

I gotta hand it to him, Danko Jones is one talented guy and ‘Below The Belt’ is another fine edition to his catalogue of cool. If you’re a fan of rock, no, I would go as far as to say that if you are even a fan of music, you are already diggin’ his shit, am I correct? If you answered ‘no’ then you seriously need to re-evaluate your loyalty to the rock!

Side note: I wonder why he has never recorded the song ‘Mountain’ on any of his albums. If you don’t know the song, here’s a YouTube video. He played this at the show in Adelaide and I remember my drummer’s girlfriend freaking out when he started hitting himself. Good times!

KLONE – “Black Days” (Season of Mist)
Whenever I see a band line-up and a dude is credited as to playing “atmospheric guitar” I know I’m gonna be subjected to a bunch of arty wank. Well, I had never heard Klone before (that’s a terrible band name although I am thinking Klone probably means something weird and wacky in their native tongue… which is French. Trop bien!) but I read the back of the promo disc and immediately saw in capital letters the word TOOL. Now, I am by no means a TOOL fan so I was getting’ kinda worried. What was I getting myself into here? Still, I had to have an open mind so the disc was played with open ears.

Some describe this band as prog-rock, others call them a stoner rock band, and well, to me they’re kinda both but I also hear a lot of 90’s grunge in there too. A weird mixture of Neurosis meets Pearl Jam cross genre heavy music. I like Neurosis but never got Pearl Jam. I know, I was one of those guys. I did like Green River though and Mother Love Bone were heaps awesome, and of course, Mudhoney were the cream of the crop, but I digress… this is about Klone! These guys started in 1999 and I had no idea they existed until today when this appeared for review. I’m glad it showed up too cos it was good to hear something so different to the blasts of grindcore I was also sent (which you can read about following this review).

For me, this album was a bit long to sit through. Yes, I know it’s a bit double standard of me to say such a thing after praising Watain for their 80 minute long opus “Endless Lawless” but you gotta understand, they’re heaps evil and might stab in the neck with an inverted cross. I would have preferred more of an EP cos this album’s 54 minutes long and you gotta keep in mind that I think Screeching Weasel’s “My Brain Hurts” is one of the most perfectly crafted albums of all time with it’s fitting nicely on to one side of a 60 minute tape. Still though, I toughened up and sat through all 54 minutes of it. I found that some of the songs just dragged on a bit. Like they mean well and they have the right ideas but I guess you need to be in the right mood to enjoy Klone at their best… or a hippie stoner (of which I’m not).

I was quite impressed though with what they did with the Bjork cover, “Army of Me”. Even though I went to University and studied an arts degree, I am not a fan of Bjork’s music at all but I do think she’s an interesting character and her music videos are always unique and something outside of the standard music video formula. This cover by Klone made me want to check out the original just so I could see how different it sounds. I like it when that happens cos it gets me listening to other bands and I may end up liking it (although this is Bjork and I doubt I’ll be rockin’ away to the Icelandic princess anytime soon).

This Klone album was alright. It wasn’t a smashing success but it will get a bunch more plays around the office, albeit in parts. I think fans of grunge and stoner rock will really enjoy this one.

LENG TCH’E – “Hypomanic” (Season Of Mist)
I always know I am in for a big night when a Season of Mist release winds up on the desk and this one comes from grind kings, Leng Tch’e. You see, when I was in highschool, there was this dude named Stuart and he had a holiday in the UK and came back with this video that had this TV program hosted by Elvira that was about the history of metal. The buxom beauty sat on her couch and told us random facts about the metal bands she played. The highlight for me was a double header segment on Slayer and Napalm Death. Especially the Napalm Death segment. This was the real deal line-up of ND. The one that I believe was the best one; Lee Dorian, Bill Steer, Mick Harris and Shane Embury. Keep in mind that I haven’t ever seen ND live (this will soon change though come September), but the line-up has changed so much that I am sure it isn’t at all like what is seen in this video. It’s brutal. They’re all so young and they only play songs from “Scum” and “From Enslavement to Obliteration”. The real brutal stuff! ANYWAY, my point of this is that there’s this dude down the front trying to light a cigarette on the monitors and this proves unsuccessful but he doesn’t care and starts headbanging anyway with the unlit cigarette in his mouth. Oh and I should point out that there is usually more people on stage than in the crowd while ND pound out songs like “The Kill” and “Control”. So why all this Napalm Death malarkey? Well, that is how I discovered grindcore. All thanks to that video tape.

Leng Tch’e I am sure listen to tons of ND. Probably not so much the “Scum” record but no doubt the “Massappeal Madness”-era. And I am guessing Pig Destroyer are one of their favourite bands too. But hey, who doesn’t list Pig Destroyer as one of their favourite bands? I mean, isn’t that the given thing? Like, you go to a bar and you see a nice lady having after work drinks with her friends so you strut up to her and say “Why hello there… I saw you from across the room and was wondering if you’d like to come back to my house and listen to some Pig Destroyer?” I am sure it works everytime. That’s like heaps sexy. Well, my friends, now you can use the new Leng Tch’e to add to your pick-up lines and draw the ladies in. This stuff will hook ‘em by the truckloads. Not that I have tried it or anything but I’m sure it works. How could a girl resist the chance of a night at your house while “Death’s Head Cockroach” blasts through the speakers at breakneck speeds? Or what about the soothing sounds of “Refined Torture”. Sure, they’re clichéd song titles for a grind band but if it’s fine for Manowar to use hammer or steel in every song title then it’s ok for Leng Tch’e to crank out happy numbers like “Anthropocentric Suicide” or “Corrosive Rotgut”. The latter has me just itching to say to someone “you’re a rotgut!”

Leng Tch’e are one of those bands that you either love or hate. There’s no sitting on the fence with this one so don’t bother trying. It’s grindcore metal; fast as fuck, full of riffs, and indecipherable lyrics. Yep, you love it.

SEVERE TORTURE – “Slaughtered” (Season Of Mist)
This album was heaps funny. It was grindcore death metal from some Dutch dudes. Very well produced / recorded with a big beefy slick sound n stuff. I totally don’t listen to this type of music unless I am sent it to review so sometimes sitting through an album like this is a hard task for me. This was one of those times. I am a big fan of harmonies and melodies (of which this album has none) so when I just hear a bunch of fast riffage and lots of gruffy vocals that I can’t make out a single word from, I do kinda get bored and just phase out. I know, totally not cool of me and I should be paying attention if I am writing a review but I can’t help it. I’m a fan of Cheap Trick and Redd Kross, not Severe Torture. I ain’t saying this band is terrible or anything, it’s just not doing it for me. I need more variety in my grindcore; especially if I am expected to sit through a song that goes for 4 and a half minutes. That’s a real chore for me. My attention span is too short and I usually find myself shopping on eBay for Motley Crue action figures or a new skateboard deck. It’s a bit like that Leng Tch’e album, only not as good for some reason. The drummer plays like a motherfucker though. So fast and his blast beats are out of control. I wish I could steal him for my band. I am sure live this band would be pretty good. I like seeing grindcore live cos the sheer power of it is something to witness. As for this album? Well, I made it about half way and needed a break from it; just after the guitar solo in the album’s title track (which I might add was about the most melodic thing on the whole album).

All of these albums can be purchased from Riot! Entertainment.

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