Wednesday, September 9, 2009

A Monstrous Discovery

SHIFT – “Creating A Monster” CD ’06 (Private, US) – As you’ll recall, a few posts back I mentioned my wife in regard to my blistering run, galloping across genres to unearth a myriad kewl local-type albums. Well, I’m about to up the ante, as far as she goes. You see, my wife Jennifer is a completely awesome rock chick. She’s actually a metal chick full-on, because she is responsible for the fact that you’re even reading this review now. How so…you guessed it, Ray’s about to embark upon…Story Time!

Seems a year or so ago, my lovely better half re-united with some of her high school friends and they began a regular girl’s-night-out on the weekends. I was behind this 100%, as I do my music thing. Jennifer mentioned that she and the ladies had been frequenting some bars where live music was on offer, but I wrote this off to her other love – dance music – and didn’t pay it a whole lot of mind. One day, though, she was going on about this “heavy” band they’d seen the night before called DEADLOCK. Said they did stuff by Godsmack, Metallica and Pantera. Now you have to understand. Even hearing my wife say the word “Pantera” turned me on. I had to investigate…DEADLOCK. A quick look at myspace showed me this crew were playing the Barn in Parkville Md on Sep 5, so I put it in my datebook and in fact, the 2 of us went to check it out together. What I found myself faced with was the best metal cover band I’d seen in a long time. Sure, you gotta remember…this is a pretty hot nightspot and they’re trying to bring in the bizz, so you’re not going to hear me regale you with tales about ‘em whipping obscurities by Diamond Head or Legend here. What they did was absolutely get down to the maximum on super-heavy versions of stuff by people like Tool, Sevendust and yes…Pantera, with guitarists Doug Guthrie & Steve Shaffer doing the Dime some serious credit. What really had me were 2 things, though: First they did a massive cover of Metallica’s “Seek & Destroy” that would’ve had Hetfield wetting his pants and secondly, the 2 Tool songs were ridiculously well-played. I wonder if these cats have any original material? And, that’s where it started getting weird…. During the Tool stuff, I was paying pretty close attention to the drummer and I thought to myself…dude, you’ve seen this guy before. I filed that away, though, until the next day….the band was kicking butt, Jennifer was looking awfully good & I needed to pay a little attention to her….

So, you guessed it, it’s the next day and I’m surfing around. I’m looking at DEADLOCK’s drummer’s last name…Lembach. Hmm….familiar. Long story short (and you know I hate to do that, but…)….Turns out, Chris Lembach (said drummer) is the brother of a guy named Jarrett who I used to know back in my old record store days. In talking to him, my mind quickly made the association that his drumming bro Chris manned the tubs in local prog metal unit MYSTIC FORCE back in the day. And, to make the whole thing even more interesting, seems ex-MYSTIC FORCE guitarist Rich Davis also has a metal band called SHIFT which is fleshed out by DEADLOCK members Jeff Caudle (vocals), Doug Guthrie (guitar), Steve Shaffer (bass in this band) and, you guessed it, Chris Lembach on drums. What’s more, they had released a CD in 2006. You already know that within seconds I was out, on the prowl, finding a used copy of this within the hour, right? Ok, let’s get to the chase.

SHIFT’s “Creating A Monster” came out in 2006 and I’ll waste no time in saying that if I’d have heard it back then, it would have been at the top of The Realm’s albums of the year. Yeah, motherfucker, it’s that fucking good! Like Jeff Caudle himself said the other night at The Barn, throw in a couple “motherfuckers” and they’ll pay attention, so pay attention, motherfucker! “Welcome Change” opens this disc with Jeff’s aggressive scream of the title and a machine-like barrage of guitar riffage courtesy of Rich & Doug. Within an instant, however, the whole thing segues into a melodic-yet-heavy feel that puts right on the table just how versatile these guys are. Caudle makes an immediate case for being one of the best metal singers I’ve heard in recent memory and it’s a gauntlet he lays down for all 11 tracks on offer. The thing is, when the guitar solo (not sure if it’s Davis or Guthrie) hits in this song, all bets are off for me not creaming my jeans. This is one of those friggin’ solos that Shermann & Denner used to unleash in Fate and had me running for the repeat button every time just to make sure something could actually kick that much ass. Here’s the skinny, guys & dollies: there’s no let-up the whole way. For 42 ½ minutes, SHIFT gives a virtual clinic in complete nut-busting metal that sucks the breath out of me every time I hear it. Whether it’s the stop-start neck snapper of “Devil Beside,” the spiraling, pounding “Blood” or “To Have You,” almost starting like “Walk This Way” before shifting (ouch!) gears into crush-mode, this is an assault that never loses it’s melody nor it’s lethal power. Once again, from pillar to post, Caudle’s vocals are a masterclass in mid-range power, Shaffer & Lembach handle turn-on-a-dime rhythms like F-1 drivers and Davis & Guthrie hand down more guitar fireworks than Carter’s got liver pills. The bottom line is, if you like any of today’s metal but think it just isn’t good enough, this is. Buy now. And thank my wife, the awesome metal chick. Motherfucker…Got Your Attention?


The RIpple Effect said...

gotta hear this one

raysrealm said...

This is great shit that was right under my nose here in Baltimore for quite awhile. This kind teaches you that no matter how much you think you know, you don't.