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Review by Brad Green:
Let us delve into the profound spirituality of the mosh pit: that sublime and singular sanctuary of the dedicated headbanger, the post-punk rebel, the gothic rave zealot and the neo-grunge disciple. Who can doubt the piquancy of emotion and the uplifting of artistic sensibility to be found deep within the frenzy of the stage-front crush? Who can imagine such epiphanies as those to be experienced amidst the tight squeeze of sweaty, noggin’ shakin’ connoisseurs, each brandishing a refined appreciation of music played at mind-shattering volume and marked by instrumental timbres akin to a symphony of threshing machines? 

As you might guess, I haven’t been there and done that. I have only looked on with sadness. And despair. And festering facetiousness. Is it fair to lambast and stereotype without getting one’s feet wet? I believe so. I have seen and heard enough to know that the mosh is uninviting for even the most timid wade. 

Nor have I had the dubious pleasure of digesting a whole album of the likes of Disturbed, the charmingly named Kidneythieves, or even the notorious Marilyn Manson. I, therefore, admit wholeheartedly (at least there isn’t any group here threatening to steal my pumper) to being unable to wax knowingly on the relative merits of this particular collection of death-thrash-alt-grunge-metal, call it what you will, but don’t call it good music. Alas, we are dealing here with that saddest of creative categories: an entire genre lacking in merit. Punk and extreme techno being the other musical examples. Each shares the characteristics of a stylistic mould so cramped that nothing of value can push its way in, and might explain why the vocalists are screeching . . . to get out? They also share a fan base built on attitude and image and an illusion of a higher realm of counter-culture. Hence my reference to the mosh pit, even when dealing here with sounds on CD. 

Still, to assure you that I granted these execrable cacophonies a fair hearing, I will concede that some have glimmers of potential. Particularly in the rhythm sections. If this sort of sonic mayhem is going to be effective, even for a forgiving target market, it needs plenty of fire in the engine room, and the drums on most of these tracks are as punchy as a heavyweight title fight, the hi hats stutter in some rather cool, quick patterns and the bass lines are tight and authoritative. None of which makes up for the fact that a high-powered chain saw is mellifluous to the ear in comparison to the amorphous guitar fuzz and horrific squawking that basically comprises each of these “songs”. 

The dirtiest guitar and the hardest-edged voice are valid instrumental tones, but their pure energy can never successfully substitute for composition. While melody mightn’t count for much in the mosh pit, I can’t help but suspect that it would be so much more pleasurable to bang one’s head to a damn good tune.

Published April 4, 2002

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TITLE: Queen Of The Damned 
ID: 9362482852/Warner 
SONGS BY: Jonathan Davis and Richard Gibbs
FEATURED ARTISTS: Wayne Static of Static-X; David Draiman of Disturbed; Chester Bennington of Linkin Park; Marilyn Manson; Jay Gordon Of Orgy
ADDITIONAL MUSIC BY: Papa Roach; Deftones; Disturbed; Static-X; Earshot; Godhead; Kidneythieves; Tricky; Dry Cell


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