The second CD from Killswitch Engage is metal at its finest and Darryl Worley's 'Here and Now' deserves attention for its fresh perspective.
The Clipse, "Hell Hath No Fury" (Jive)
The Clipse – "Hell Hath No Fury"
Incubus – "Light Grenades"
Killswitch – "As Daylight dies"
Darryl Worley – "Here And Now"
Four years ago, the Clipse almost found themselves in the rap dustbin. Following their critically acclaimed 2002 debut, "Lord Willin'," the Virginia-based duo got tangled in the music biz red tape of changing record labels.
But instead of letting their 15 minutes run out completely, rappers Pusha T and Malice released a series of mixtapes that demonstrated the witty brilliance of their cocaine raps ("Got more white in the hood than the KKK," boasted Pusha T).
Now, they're regarded as rap saviors from hip-hop's hipster underground. And on their second major label release, "Hell Hath No Fury," the Clipse fulfill the promise hinted at on their indie excursions, with grim rhymes almost singularly devoted to the spoils and struggles of the pair's dealer-turned-MC career arc. Whether wooing women ("Dirty Money") or exhibiting paranoia ("Nightmares"), the Clipse manage to inject their verses with gripping realism rather than party-starting frivolity.
On "Mr. Me Too," Pusha T snarls a drug-slanging metaphor: "Streets was yours, you dunce-cappin' and kazoo-in'/ I was just assuming you'd keep the coke moving/ But I got one question: —— y'all been doin'?"
Cynicism is only part of the album's sinister beauty. Beats provided entirely by the Neptunes elevate the disc above the hustler-rap fray. Accordion heaves accent "Mommy I'm So Sorry"; sprightly keys propel "Aint Cha" and haunting organ chords wash over "Hello New World" while Pharrell half-sings the hook. With friends like the Neptunes behind them, it's a good bet the Clipse won't soon be lost in the rap shuffle. (Brett Ratner)
Incubus has grown into that rarest of modern rock bands — one that continues to challenge itself and evolve without sacrificing massive appeal.
The band's sixth studio outing, "Light Grenades," is loaded with stylish, driving rock that guarantees another multiplatinum seller. This is easily the group's finest, most diverse and cohesive work to date.
Crafted over the course of a year — the band typically churns out records in a matter of months — each song has the feel of lengthy nurturing and fulfills the promise of previous hits like "Drive" and "Wish You Were Here."
Brandon Boyd's vocals are reflective and poetic. His smooth voice floats over the lighter tracks — "Earth to Bella Pts. 1 & 2," "Paper Shoes" — while he deftly powers the heavier songs — "Light Grenades," "Rogues."
Mike Einzinger turns in an amazing batch of guitar work, grabbing your attention without trying to do too much. Ben Kenney (bass) and Jose Pasillas (drums) provide loose, atmospheric rhythm, and DJ Chris Kilmore adds subtle electronic flourish.
First single "Anna Molly" laments Boyd's ideal woman — whom he thinks doesn't exist. "Dig" is a lush piece of acoustic beauty and one of the best songs they've ever recorded. "Oil and Water" and "Kiss to Send Us Off" showcase their overtly catchy soft-to-loud dynamics.
On the versatile "Diamonds and Coal," you'll hear what may be the perfect line to sum up five guys that started out with a few rough edges and grew into true artists: "Give us time to shine, even diamonds start as coal." (John Kosik)
Plenty of people feel metal is just a bunch of noise, that it requires no musicianship whatsoever. They need to have a good listen to the latest from Killswitch Engage.
"As Daylight Dies" is metal at its finest — engaging, intelligent, courageous. It definitely tops their 2004 breakthrough, "The End of Heartache."
It's scary to think that Killswitch may only get better after this.
The guitar assault of Joel Stroetzel and Adam Dutkiewicz is relentlessly impressive, with a pummeling wealth of riffs that hit all the more harder when juxtaposed with the softer passages. Justin Foley drums with machine-gun precision and Mike D'Antonio holds it all together with a thunderous bass.
For fans still lamenting the departure of former singer Jesse Leach: Just get over it! Howard Jones' vocal attack against moral decay is commanding from start to finish, with a mix of guttural growling and pitch-perfect screams.
You'd be hard-pressed to pick a standout track — all 11 could easily fit the bill — but first single "My Curse," "The Arms of Sorrow" and "Break the Silence" are highlights. But then I'd be leaving out "For You," "Reject Yourself" and ... you know what? Just listen to the whole thing. (John Kosik)
Early in his career, Darryl Worley's biggest hits tended to be departures from the amped-up traditional country music he excelled at. His mournfully tender "I Miss My Friend," a reflection on a lover's death, provided his first big break in 2002. The following year, he gained national recognition for his controversial anthem about 9/11 and war, "Have You Forgotten?"
After a two-year break, the rural Tennessee native returns with "Here and Now," his first album since leaving Dreamworks Records. There's little that's reminiscent of his best-known tunes, but plenty to suggest he's better than his reputation might suggest.
He begins with "Jumpin' Off the Wagon," a spitfire attack on his former label, and he ends with a poignant tune about returning soldiers, "I Just Got Back from a War," that mirrors how the nation's view of Iraq has evolved from gung-ho patriotism to concern for the troops and getting them home safely.
But the bulk of the album finds Worley offering substantial modern country music delivered with brawny vocals and a fresh perspective. From the ferocious groove of "Party Song" to the sensitive portrayal of pain in "Slow Dancin' with a Memory," Worley proves he deserves attention for what he does best — rather than his occasional diversions. (Michael McCall)