Album Review – Clawfinger / Use Your Brain (1995)

Use your brain and listen to the cult album by this distinct Swedish act, presenting an austere and impactful fusion of Rap and Heavy Metal.

Rating4

use-your-brainA few years before Limp Biskit, Slipknot or any other band considered part of the Nu Metal scene from the 90’s/2000’s started, there was already a Swedish band called Clawfinger playing a very original mix of Rap Metal, Hardcore, Rapcore, Funk Metal and even Industrial Metal in a very aggressive, politicized and anti-racist way. Although the band was formed back in 1989, it was just in 1993 that they launched their debut album called Deaf Dumb Blind (which included a very controversial song called “Nigger”, but again, in the most anti-racist way possible), and a couple of years later, in 1995, they launched their most interesting album in my humble opinion, titled Use Your Brain. If you hate Rap by all means and/or if you’re too narrow-minded to accept it mixed with Heavy Metal, don’t even bother listening to it. However, if you enjoy heavy music no matter what, then Use Your Brain might be an amazing addition to your day-to-day playlist.

Use Your Brain starts at a high note with my favorite song from the album, Power, which talks about exactly the opposite of most songs with the word “power” in their names: power can be really harmful to anyone who doesn’t know how to use it properly, which happens to the majority of the people that have it anyway. “Power to the one who doesn’t want it / Do you want it why do you want it”, screams lead singer Zak Tell, accompanied by some excellent heavy riffs by Erlend Ottem and Bård Torstensen and keyboards by Jocke Skog. The song is followed by Pay the Bill, which keeps the energy level up, and Pin Me Down, a more rhythmic track with strong lyrics that ended up becoming one of the band’s biggest classics.

ClawfingerThe next song is called Wipe My Ass, a good example of how the band was able to unite Rap and Metal in a very solid way. The only thing I don’t understand is why sometimes I find this song with a different name, “Waste My Time”. Well, it’s probably due to the “beautiful” expression used in the original name, but honestly, who cares about that? Anyway, the next two tracks, Die High and It, are just average songs, especially the second one which is quite bland compared to the rest of the album. Fortunately the next song, called Do What I Say, takes the album back on track with its simple but strong riffs and amazing lyrics about the emotional and sometimes physical (and endless) war between parents and their kids, acidly declaimed by Zak Tell and his hostile vocals. I normally don’t add a huge chunk of any lyrics in my reviews, but this one is so good that deserves to be appreciated almost in full. Besides, although this song might have been recorded over 20 years ago, it still sounds fresh and contemporary, just to show you how parenting will never, ever be an easy task to anyone.

“I‘ve paid to raise you good
Done everything I could so don’t you dare to say
That I ever cared about you anyway
I gave you good food to eat
I kept you on your feet
I gave you all my good advice
Not once did I hear you
thank me for all that I’ve done
You don’t know anything
About my suffering
I went through a lot of pain
Just to get you where you are today
If I ever hit you
It’s because I have to
You have done something wrong
And you deserve the punishment, you’ll have to pay”

The rest of the album doesn’t have anything too special: Undone is considerably tasteless, while What Are You Afraid Of doesn’t do any good but at the same time it doesn’t harm the album. Things get a lot better with Back to the Basics, especially the eerie sound the band created with the guitars and keyboards working together; Easy Way Out with its addictive chorus and the groovy drums by Ottar Vigerstøl; and Tomorrow, a very good Rap Metal track that powerfully ends this very original and catchy album, with highlights to the rumbling sounds generated by Ottar and bassist André Skaug. In addition, the front cover is absolutely precise in summarizing the content of the music in the album (despite being fairly simplistic), and that “less is more” type of art is most probably the reason why I love it so much.

Use Your Brain_remastered

Use Your Brain 2004 Remastered Edition

The 2004 remastered version of the album also includes 3 bonus tracks and 3 bonus videos, so if you’re interested in buying it I suggest you go after the remastered one (which by the way is a lot easier to find in any webstore). Clawfinger released a statement around August 2013 saying they split up, which was a bummer at that time based on the quality of their music, but fortunately it seems those Swedish metallers are back in action and ready to deliver us another blast of their venomous music, going against the sea of boredom that dominates the scene nowadays. Hence, Use Your Brain (which can be enjoyed in its entirety HERE) is far from being a true masterpiece, but it’s an extremely enjoyable album with meaningful lyrics crafted by talented musicians and, above all, an excellent option to expand your horizons in the world of heavy music and a lot better choice than most of the crap the media makes us swallow every single day. In other words, use your goddamn brain at least once and enjoy the austere music by this unique band hailing from Sweden, alright?

Best moments of the album: Power, Pin Me Down, Do What I Say and Back to the Basics.

Worst moments of the album: It and Undone.

Released in 1995 WEA/MVG (Warner Music Group)

Track listing
1. Power 3:14
2. Pay the Bill 4:20
3. Pin Me Down 4:10
4. Wipe My Ass 3:13
5. Die High 2:34
6. It 5:21
7. Do What I Say 4:25
8. Undone 4:11
9. What Are You Afraid Of 3:47
10. Back to the Basics 2:27
11. Easy Way Out 2:39
12. Tomorrow 4:09

2004 Remastered Edition bonus tracks & videos
13. Better Than This 3:36
14. Three Good Riffs 3:56
15. Armageddon Down 3:36
16. Pin Me Down (Video Clip) 4:10
17. Tomorrow (Video Clip) 4:09
18. Do What I Say (Video Clip) 4:25

Band members
Zak Tell – lead vocals
Jocke Skog – keyboards, vocals
Erlend Ottem – lead guitar
Bård Torstensen – rhythm guitar
André Skaug – bass
Ottar Vigerstøl – drums

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Album Review – Body Count / Bloodlust (2017)

Controversy, acidity and hatred are just some of the main ingredients in one of the heaviest and most complete albums in the career of the bloodthirsty Ice-T, Ernie C and Co.

We as human beings all got a deranged sickness deeply rooted inside our minds, a will to kill for sport and for revenge, an inner desire to make the ones who disagree with us or who hurt us suffer in pain, and that’s exactly what the iconic Ice-T and his henchmen, collectively known as American Thrash/Groove Metal band Body Count, have to offer us in their new installment, the excellent Bloodlust. Since their inception in 1990 in Los Angeles, the band has been delivering a high quality hybrid of Groove Metal and Hip Hop, but in Bloodlust they managed to increase the heaviness of their compositions significantly, resulting in what can be considered their most metal album of all time.

Not only Bloodlust is the sixth studio album in their solid career, but the controversy, acidity and hatred flowing from each one of the album’s 11 tracks puts it almost side by side with their cult self-titled debut album, from 1992. That only shows how passionate Ice-T and the other are about heavy music, always playing it with a lot of energy, trying to send a clear message to their fans and showing the bitter truth of the lives of the less fortunate people in the United States and all over the world. Besides, when you have guest musicians the likes of Dave Mustaine (Megadeth), Randy Blythe (Lamb of God) and Max Cavalera (Soulfly, Sepultura), you know the music will hit you in the face like an uncontrolled bulldozer.

Loud sirens and the more-than-special guest Mr. Dave Mustaine himself declare martial law, before Body Count begin delivering sheer heaviness, chaos and groove in the opening track, the awesome Civil War, with Ice-T having a fantastic performance with his hostile rap-like vocals, resulting in one of their darkest compositions to date; and keep banging your head to the always boisterous riffs by Ernie C and Juan of the Dead while Ill Will smashes his drums mercilessly in this Groove Metal anthem The Ski Mask Way. Needless to say, the song’s lyrics are as aggressive as hell (“I’m in your rear view, when you leave the club / How cold could I be, you look like food to me / All on instagram, showin’ that cash off / What you really hope, is I don’t take this mask off don’t make me punish you don’t want to hurt your wife / Come up off that watch, it ain’t worth your life / I gotta crew of wolves, life has no meaning / We roll late night and hunt human beings”). Slowing the pace down a bit and increasing the groove considerably, This Is Why We Ride is a song where Ice-T is nicely supported by the excellent job done by Vincent Price on bass and Ill Will on drums, not to mention that the sounds of the shots and the sirens of the cops together with the insane heaviness blasted by the band will crack your neck mercilessly.

If you’re already feeling that pain in your neck after such intense headbanging music, All Love Is Lost will terminate it for good. Featuring the unparalleled growls by guest Max Cavalera, the vocals in this song burst with acidity while the instrumental pieces are a work of anger. Moreover, Ernie C and Juan sound like two serial killers slitting throats with their bestial riffs. Then the band offers us a fantastic version of two all-time classics by Slayer, Raining In Blood / Postmortem 2017, with Ice-T kicking ass on “Raining Blood” while Vincent Price takes care of the vocal duties on “Postmortem”. Furthermore, the intro to the song is already a lot of fun, with Ice-T explaining the origins of Body Count saying he wanted to have a Heavy Metal and Hip-Hop band by blending the music by Black Sabbath, Suicidal Tendencies and, of course, Slayer. God, Please Believe Me works as a poetic bridge by Ice-T and his crew to the fulminating Walk With Me…, one of my favorite songs of the album where guest singer Randy Blythe vociferates like a beast, while Ill Will sounds insane on drums and Ice-T is just as rabid as Randy. This is a flawless hybrid of Thrash, Groove and Rap Metal, showcasing even hints of Death Metal, perfect for stage diving, mosh pitting and sick headbanging due to its beyond brutal rhythm.

Here I Go Again, a re-recording of a demo track from Ice T’s Return of the Real sessions, brings a somber ambience with Ice-T delivering some darker-than-usual vocals, with its instrumental being pretty solid which results in an effective support to the craziness flowing from the song’s lyrics and the demented screams in the background. Then we have the controversial No Lives Matter, another high-end explosion of Groove Metal by Body Count which blends their heavy music with an austere discussion about the issues surrounding the “Black Lives Matter” initiative. Put differently, it’s an extremely politicized tune with insane bass lines by Vincent and a great performance by Sean E Sean with his samplers, paving the track for the title-track Bloodlust, a song about our attraction for death and brutality, about the inner desire of mankind for killing, portraying it as a sickness inside our hearts and minds. While Ernie C and Juan fire fierce and melodious riffs, Ill Will continues his technical and groovy attack on drums, showing how amazing this song will sound when played live.

And if you think Ice-T and his henchmen would give you a break from all their sonic havoc, they come crushing one last time with the best song of the album as their closing act, the flammable Black Hoodie, an amalgamation of their past, present and future where poetry and violence are powerfully united (“Got on a black hoodie, its hood up on my head / I didn’t have a gun so why am I dead / You didn’t have to shoot me and that’s a known fact / And now I’m laying face down with bullets in my back”), with all instruments exhaling metallic and belligerent sounds while Ice-T keeps rapping nonstop.

It deosn’t matter if you are a metalhead that’s not very fond of rap or a rapper that doesn’t get too excited to the sound of a heavy riff, when you have an album like Bloodlust (which by the way you can find in different bundles at the Control Industry webstore) on your hands it’s almost mandatory that you start banging your head to Body Count, acknowledging they are indeed the biggest exponent in the history of Rap Metal and one of the most fun acts from the 90’s that’s still alive and kicking without sounding Jurassic. And I’m pretty sure the counting of bodies done by Ice-T, Ernie C and Co. is far from being over.

Best moments of the album: Civil War, Walk With Me…, Bloodlust and Black Hoodie.

Worst moments of the album: None.

Released in 2017 Century Media

Track listing   
1. Civil War (feat. Dave Mustaine) 4:23
2. The Ski Mask Way 3:36
3. This Is Why We Ride 5:26
4. All Love Is Lost (feat. Max Cavalera) 3:36
5. Raining In Blood / Postmortem 2017 (Slayer cover) 4:31
6. God, Please Believe Me 1:23
7. Walk With Me… (feat. Randy Blythe) 3:07
8. Here I Go Again 3:32
9. No Lives Matter 4:23
10. Bloodlust 3:34
11. Black Hoodie 3:29

Band members
Ice-T – vocals
Ernie C – lead guitar, backing vocals
Juan of the Dead – rhythm guitar, backing vocals
Vincent Price – bass, backing vocals, lead vocals on “Postmortem”
Ill Will – drums
Sean E Sean – sampler, backing vocals
Little Ice – backing vocals

Guest musicians
Dave Mustaine – spoken word and lead guitar on “Civil War”
Max Cavalera – additional vocals on “All Love Is Lost”
Randy Blythe – additional vocals on “Walk With Me…”

Album Review – Dirty Machine / Discord (2017)

Enjoy the debut album by a tenacious Nu Metal outfit that has all it takes to successfully spread their metallic and groovy wings all over the world.

Hailing from the rockin’ Los Angeles, California, a city that never sleeps, Nu Metal outfit Dirty Machine has been proudly carrying the flag of Alternative and Nu Metal since their inception in 2012, pulling major influences from bands such as Korn, Limp Bizkit, Slipknot, Linkin Park and Sevendust, having already shared the stage with renowned acts like Ghost, Sixx AM, Disturbed and Trivium. The band has quickly built a rabid underground following, especially in the Kansas City area due to getting regular airtime on the leading Kansas City rock station 98.9 The Rock and headlining the Jägermeister Stage at the 2016 Kansas City Rockfest.

Now in 2017 the band has joined forces with Zombie Shark Records to release their debut album, entitled Discord, featuring eight uproarious composition (plus three bonus songs) blending the most electrifying elements from Groove and Rap Metal that will inspire you to jump up and down and have a very good time with your friends. Moreover, Dirty Machine’s music is so cohesive and catchy that you’ll find yourself singing the songs along with the band and tapping on your desk even if you’re not a fan of Nu Metal at all, and that says a lot about a band that has all it takes to successfully spread their metallic and groovy wings all over the world.

Their modern fusion of the Nu Metal by Limp Bizkit and the Rap Metal by Bodycount is crystal clear from the very first second in the exciting title-track Discord, showcasing great sync between the aggressive rapper lines by lead singer David Leach and the clean vocals by guitarist and vocalist Darren Davis, as well as endless heaviness boosted by the song’s solid melody. The next tune, titled Seeds, is ready to be played on any radio station, where not even the harsher vocals by David make it too aggressive for some air time, while the guitars by Darren and his bandmate Arnold Quezada bring the right amount of fire to their musicality. And taking their pugnacity to a whole new level, Self Made Hero feels like an alternate version of Slipknot led by the song’s blazing guitars thoroughly blended with the wicked samples by DJ Ecusa. Put differently, this is one of those songs to keep jumping up and down nonstop during their live concerts.

Social Recoil is another excellent display of fresh and thrilling Nu Metal, with Mike Weekley smashing his drums while Arnold and Darren follow him with their crushing riffs, not to mention the insane amount of groove coming from the low-tuned, metallic bass by Nathan Young. Now, are you ready for a “fight” with DJ Ecusa? That’s what you’ll get in Ecusa’s Nightmare, a three-minute whimsical party full of weird noises and voices, with the rest of the band effectively supporting this talented DJ and his “stunts”; and connecting instantly with the wicked feast led by DJ Ecusa we have Built, bringing more of Dirty Machine’s Limp Bizkit-Korn-Sevendust-inspired sounding, where the duo David and Darren keeps delivering amazing vocal lines, powerfully complementing each other, while Nathan and Mike sound as thunderous as possible with their bass punches and beats, respectively.

Although C4 is as heavy and groovy as the rest of the album, for some reason it doesn’t click to me, with its vocal lines being a bit disconnected from the instrumental pieces. Not only that, the guitars don’t sound as inspired as in the rest of the album, which makes me agree with the funny message sent by David at the end of the song saying not-so-nice things about the song itself. Fortunately, everything gets back on track with Wonka, where the band sounds faster, crazier and heavier than ever. This is what Dirty Machine need to do to really pump us up, providing a balanced mix of heavy riffs from Alternative Metal and witty vocals from Rap Metal and Hardcore. Not only this is a wise choice to close the album, but the demented screams by Darren add a lot of anger to the overall result, turning it into one of my favorite compositions in Discord.

If you want to know more details about the music and career of Dirty Machine, go to their Facebook page and YouTube channel for an overdose of high-end Nu Metal, and you can also support this dirty sextet by purchasing Discord at the Zombie Shark Records’ BandCamp, on iTunes or on Amazon. As Dirty Machine are a very active band, who knows, you might even get them in action in LA or any other city in the United States blasting their Nu Metal in one of your visits to their homeland, and I bet you’ll get addicted to their catchy and groovy music without even noticing.

Best moments of the album: Discord, Seeds, Self Made Hero and Wonka.

Worst moments of the album: C4.

Released in 2017 Zombie Shark Records

Track listing
1. Discord 3:18
2. Seeds 4:15
3. Self Made Hero 3:22
4. Social Recoil 3:42
5. Ecusa’s Nightmare 2:55
6. Built 3:32
7. C4 2:45
8. Wonka 3:47

Bonus tracks
9. Refuse To Follow 3:46
10. Victory 3:47
11. J-Dead 3:58

Band members
David Leach (Dirty Davo) – vocals
Arnold Quezada (Hedge) – guitar
Darren Davis – guitar, vocals
Nathan Young (Youngblood) – bass, backing vocals
Mike Weekley (Nightmare) – drums
DJ Ecusa – turntables & samples

Album Review – Chip DiMonick / Uncaged EP (2015)

Everybody break out and raise your fists and glasses to this electrifying mix of Hard Rock and Punk Metal.

Rating4

ChipDiMonick-Uncaged-CoverI’ve been receiving some feedback on the material added to The Headbanging Moose, saying this webzine is getting too “evil” with all the Death and Black Metal bands recently reviewed. As this is a very democratic webzine (and to avoid becoming “The Demonic Moose”), it’s time to soothe the mood a little with the top-notch Hard Rock by Pittsburgh-based band Chip DiMonick and their brand new party-all-the-time EP entitled Uncaged, the fifth release in their career. However, that doesn’t mean things are not going to get loud or nasty, so you better be ready to break out and enjoy the music by Chip Dimonick and his notorious crew.

Formed in 2005 and being voted “Best Punk Band” in the Iron City Rocks Pittsburgh Music Awards for the past three consecutive years, this Pennsylvanian quartet is back with two new members (DJ Carothers on lead guitar and Gregg Livengood on drums) and, of course, more of their Hard Rock/Punk Metal music, offering us all catchy tunes talking about love, hate and revenge, among other bitter topics. “Uncaged is all about breaking down the barriers that restrict who you are, whether imposed by yourself, society, or whomever”, said Chip DiMonick, founder of the band.

From the very first notes of the title-track, Uncaged, you can already get a sense of how interesting the mix of Hard Rock and Punk Rock in their music is. It’s gripping “pub” music, perfect to be played on any radio station, where Chip commands the festivities with the song’s sing-along chorus (“Hey, tonight we’re uncaged / You can’t hold us down / Hey, forever uncaged / Everybody break out”) while the rest of the band delivers solid Rock N’ Roll lines. And they keep rolling on with You Ain’t Punk, a message to their haters due to their aforementioned awards as “Best Punk Band” in Pittsburgh (“You ain’t punk, you ain’t punk, I bet you never saw the Misfits once…”). Talking about the music itself, it sounds like if Green Day (especially the riffs found in the classic “Welcome to Paradise”) met Motley Crüe: they managed to stay heavy even adding that specific Punk Rock sounding we’re used to listen on the radio, leaning towards fresh and exciting Punk Metal with highlights to the strong bass lines by Joe P.

ChipDiMonickPressPhotoThe band gets heavier and slower in That’s How Much I Hate You, a pure Rock N’ Roll tune thanks to DJ Carothers for his awesome guitar riffs and solo which would definitely be an excellent song for a strip-tease, despite its acid lyrics. Actually, I guess the lyrics would also be perfect for that special “presentation”, don’t you agree? Anyway, the following track, Lightning Bolt, is a smooth Hard Rock ballad that seems to have been crafted in the 80’s or 90’s so classic it is, with the great vocal performance by Chip adding the emotion the song demands. Girls will fall in love for this ballad, no doubt about that.

The last two songs in Uncaged are just as good and catchy as everything else, starting with Hand Grenade (check out the acoustic version HERE), another incredible radio-ready tune where all band members are throwing their “hand grenades” in the form of fast and heavy riffs in total sync with the drums by Gregg, boosted by huge doses of energy. Let me say that the fact it’s the heaviest of all songs has nothing to do with it being my favorite of all tracks. Or maybe yes? Well, the last track of all, Dig Deep, is yet again a melodic display of pure Hard Rock enhanced by hints of Rap Metal. And how not to feel inspired by these simple but very effective lyrics (“You gotta dig deep, you gotta have faith / Put all those doubts right in their place / When you’re dead and gone, you can finally sleep / But you’re alive right now so you gotta dig deep”)?

In a nutshell, pick any song from Uncaged, play it on the radio and you have an instant hit. As simple as that. And if you like what you see, go check their official Facebook page and also grab your copy of Uncaged on CD Baby, Amazon or iTunes. Let’s break out and raise our fists and glasses to the heartening music by this awesome American band.

Best moments of the album: Uncaged and Hand Grenade.

Worst moments of the album: None.

Released in 2015 Independent

Track listing
1. Uncaged 4:09
2. You Ain’t Punk 3:47
3. That’s How Much I Hate You 4:02
4. Lightning Bolt 3:39
5. Hand Grenade 3:04
6. Dig Deep 3:01

Band members
Chip DiMonick – lead vocals, guitar, keyboards
Joe P. – bass, backing vocals
DJ Carothers – lead guitar
Gregg Livengood – drums