In This Life

Real soon, you can expect plenty of young metal bands to start chopping up their guitar chaos with the abrupt editing technology they’ve picked up from ’80s dance music. This underground San Francisco art-thrash sextet is ahead of the game — they already employ a hip-hop-style turntable jockey (Aaron Vaughn, who doubles on keyboards). On In This Life, the band’s second album, Vaughn scratches pieces of a Funkadelic dance anthem into the mix, a 1976 Thin Lizzy song that combined metal and what we’d now call rap, and an oft-sampled James Brown grunt, not to mention police sirens and stereo demonstration records and a newscast about our boys in the gulf. Around him, two guitarists grind out grungy-to-lovely dissonance that reaches toward classical-music climaxes. Meanwhile a rhythm section aims for funk and reggae and doesn’t come off as repressed as most of its competition; compared with Mordred’s Art Liboon, the bassists in fellow groove-thrash ensembles such as 24-7 Spyz and Primus and the Red Hot Chili Peppers slap their strings like they’re milking a cow. Singer Scott Holderby mines more than a few shades of demented feeling out of his adenoidal chalkboard-scratch screech. And though his barely comprehensible whines too often wind up revealing silly poetic misconceptions about ”keeping integrity” and ”reality slipping away,” if you exert the undue effort it takes to decipher them, you’re missing both the point and the fun of this kind of rock. The thrill comes from how the shrieks sound, not what they say. B

In This Life
  • Music