Record Reviews: December 1990

National Music Reviews

Agony Column
Gods, Guns & Guts

They refer to themselves as “hillbilly death-metal,” and we think that title isn’t far off. At times, the result sounds almost as if it were put through a thresher before being recorded. Pawl’s bass lines are the highlight of this tape along with the two little ditties on the back side, “Blackjack” and “Bag O’ Bones.” Also, a sense of dark humor is displayed, which fits in well with the artwork and general ambiance of the cover. If anything, they could have left out a couple of the pentagrams.

This tape warrants a listen, and headbangers may just want to include it in their collections. It moves along quite well and doesn’t leave the listener waiting for the hook. It reaches out and grabs you by the ears and shake, shake, shakes you to the bones. They are about to release a second work on Warner Brothers Records, Brave Words & Bloody Knuckles. We think (no, we do) we’ll have to give that one a twist when we get it. Come to think of it, the way the first one grabs you, the second one may just twist us in return. –Sly & Wiz 

Don Dokken
Up from the Ashes

Burn ‘em again. If this is what they call up from the ashes, perhaps they should be set afire again. Don Dokken’s metal work has never really been questioned with his former group, but this one is geared strictly for kiddies. We started to get cavities just from listening to it. The syrup flows from the tape and we had to break out the rubbing alcohol and freon to clean the gunk out of our speakers. The best cut on this album is probably “The Hunger” but it’s not good enough by itself to go out and buy the CD. Maybe if you are twelve or thirteen and enjoy garbage like Anchovy (Bon Jovi) or the new Kiss, you might like this one as well. We don’t. Track one side two says it all for this effort. Give it up! –Sly & Wiz

100 Crowns
American Queen

I recently had a chance to see 100 Crowns play live. While I was there there were giving away free copies of their new tape, American Queen. This little ditty contains six of the best-produced songs I have heard in a long time. This type of techno-pop music isn’t exactly my slice o’ pie, but because the songs are written and arranged well and the production value is incredible—I gave it a whirl.

Eric Slaymaker’s (vocalist/writer/guitarist) voice reminded me of my old Sparks albums. Eric uses dynamics to his advantage, creating songs that flow well and are easy to listen to. This is a great advantage when dealing with mostly synthetic sounds. I must say, however, that I preferred hearing them live because of the heaviness of the guitars. The tape is very clean, tight and a bit too mechanical. Playing the songs live made them seem more realistic and down to earth.

This three-piece band is serious about their music and has a very good chance to make a great impression in this local alternative music scene. If you see the tape for sale anywhere, you ought to pick it up or write to ESA Records at 72 E. 400 S. # 300, Salt Lake City, Utah 84111, and I bet they will fix you up. –Less Nessman

God’s Acre
Ten Gospels Greats

 If you think Wax Trax! records are just another industrial label, then you might be surprised by the label’s latest release. God’s Acre breaks the industrial trend and is a full-fledged three-piece rock band, not unlike something you’d hear on Sub-Pop. Comprised of Peter Houpt, guitar and vocals; Mark Blade, bass and vocals; and Brendan Burke, drums and logic, God’s Acre rocks hard.

Bass lines are intricate and add depth to the songs, filling in where just one guitar isn’t usually enough. The songs are very intricate —bridges are often quiet or melodic, rising into fevered guitar overlays and jazz vocals. “Riff ‘O’Rhama” is a personal favorite, where the guitar changes riffs so often it is hard to keep up. God’s Acre is a step beyond the Seattle sound, using tempo changes to keep the listener guessing, always on his/ her toes. So, if you’ve been hesitant to check out Wax Trax!, now may just be the time for you to do it. –Matt