• Axl Rosenberg

With our first tastes of new offerings from Shadows Fall, Nine Inch Nails and Machine Head, it’s a pretty sweet week for headbangers everywhere.

NEW SINGLE TUESDAYSHADOWS FALL, “REDEMPTION” The first single from their upcoming major label debut, Threads of Life, suggests that The Shads plan pick up exactly where they left off The War Within. Old-skool ‘Thrax and Testament riffage, killer shredding (check out that solo), and perhaps a bit more singing and a bit less growling from Brian Fair, but nothing too far out of line from, say, “Inspiration on Demand.” The chorus is vaguely reminiscent of 80’s cock-rock, which should surprise no one who heard the band cover Dangerous Toys as a duet with Toys vocalist Jason McMaster, but, hey, it worked for Trivium. Blabberbrats will inevitably accuse these Mass-metalheads of selling out, but there’s no more evidence of that here than there was when Lamb of God or Mastodon switched to the majors; this track doesn’t exactly break any new ground for the band, but that’s more than made up for by the fact that it’s, y’know, good.

NEW SINGLE TUESDAYMACHINE HEAD, “AESTHETICS OF HATE” Not as easily palatable as the new Shadows Fall cut but twice as heavy, this should satisfy anyone who thinks that Bittner and the boys are mallcore pussies (never mind that there’s nary a breakdown in sight, but instead something we knew in my day as a “bridge”). A diatribe directed at William Grim and the right-wing website Iconoclast for the article Grim wrote suggested Dimebag’s fans are “depraved” and “ugly” and that the “filthy” guitarist invited his own assassination, the song is a five and half minute slab of raw rage (“You spit in the eye of a demon,” vocalist/guitarists Robert Flynn howls). Though perhaps not as complex as the hype would have had us believe, the production is nonetheless creative (listen to the guitars switching channels), the songwriting challenging and rewarding to multiple listens, and the overall effect completely brutal. Flynn and company continue to make metal like it’s still 1987, and “Hate” is rousing return that should please fans of Exodus’ recent output.

NINE INCH NAILS, “SURVIVALISM”/”MY VIOLENT HEART” These two deliberately leaked tracks from Trent Reznor’s upcoming Year Zero, which are now avail for a listen on the band’s MySpace page, suggest that Interscope have a hard sell on their hands. Reznor has always relied heavily on computers to make his music, but not since Pretty Hate Machine have NIN substituted so many bleeps and bloops for guitars (What the hell does Reznor’s glorified back-up band do these days, with so little live music for them to play? What a supreme waste of Josh Freese and Jeordie White). The spoken-word verses on “My Violent Heart” (the better of the two tracks) would all but render the music avant-garde, a tough listen for even the most die-hard of the goth legions- but then the chorus kicks in, and Reznor reminds us that he knows how to write an arena anthem with the best of ’em. Intriguing, if not a home run. But if the whole album sounds like this, it will easily be the lowest selling NIN disc in history- not that that means much in the long run.


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