I read the band info, I could hardly believe the band got so far with
just an album; usually it takes time to take off but there is a strict
number of cases where a worthy band can sell much from the beginning
or become popular quite fast, as it was with the first EP of Ugly Kid
Joe, just to name one. Now we aren't in the 90's any longer and - most
of all - we deal with a mature 6-piece (or more precisely a quartet
with guest musicians on some tracks) at its second CD and playing a
steady, yet diverse high-quality music style.
These US anti-heroes may boast songs featured in hit flicks or TV shows
such as "Las Vegas" (NBC), "Tru Calling" (Fox),
"Sex and the City" (HBO), "America's Next Top Model"
(UPN), Standard Snowboard Show (Fuel TV), and the Mike Figgis-directed
motion picture "Cold Creek Manor", starring Sharon Stone and
produced by Touchstone! Moreover, their t-shirts, posters and logo cropped
on programs like "Dead Like Me" (Showtime) and the NBC movie
This doesn't mean they own a Hollywood-esque sound, but only that they
produce an urban, dark and ballsed-upsoundscape suitable for certain
nowadays soundtracks and live shows; now, this is what I call smartness!
As if it weren't enough, our duty of information obliges me to finish
the prolog by acquainting you with the sponsorship deals the band signed
with Monster Energy Drink and Whiteboy Clothing.
Regarding the music analysis,
opener "Nothing Box" displays the great vocal modulations
ShyBoy is able to perform, smoothly ranging from soaring to melodic
tones. The chorus stresses out the care in the recording and the perfection
of the overdubbed vocals; right are the comparisons with Staind, but
here I'd add Linkin' Park and Sevendust for the way the scratches are
used, and a little of early Incubus.
The turntables are protagonists of the beginning of "Need To
Believe"; simply belting the riff and the interlacement with
the supreme vocal hooks; this song is full of not abrupt stop'n' goes
and it grows piece by piece; the vocals are first disappointed, whereas
after the indelible refrain, the bridge and the scratches, they sound
like poetic and dilated. Anyone who catalogs this as an average track
should meet the bottom of a steamroller.
"Home"? Contains a gigantic refrain and a Staind-like
bridge. Radio stations can choose blindfold a hit from any of the seven
tracks of the CD.
"Crash" is a modern metal song opened by a scratching
riff later disappearing; rapping vocals and hip hop bases are alternated
by more and more lively vocals and distorted guitars; think of Beastie
Boys jamming with Sweet Lizard Illtet and Methods of Mayhem.
The intimate side of Hypnogaja is shown in "The Spaceman",
acoustic, with dreamlike vocals, a violin, some piano notes; it's since
Extreme came out with "More Than Words" that I haven't
heard such class and capacity of thrilling my spine. DIVINE!
Gentle are also the first seconds of "Nowhere", quickly
turning into a tough and groovy; the refrain is once again debtor to
Staind's or Drwoning Pool's songbooks but my mental archives suggest
me a sort of kinder Slipknot or Stone Sour paired with Saliva's vocals.
Nth masterpiece is "Lullaby", contrasting the classicality
and symphony created by violins with the heaviness of E-tuned guitars;
electro beats and liquid samples come and go, but the peak is achieved
when all of the instruments play together; there are some filtered vocals
too, and afterwards a fading refrain with delicate keyboards. My own
The opening track is also present in a black and white nice video in
its prime form, but there are also two alternative versions in the hidden
track; the former is the acoustic one with one guitar, voice and piano;
the versatility of Shyboy is confirmed even more on this occasion and
I guess his particular voice can be distinguished among 1,000. The latter
shapes "Nothing Box" in a hip hop manner, following
a beating base with the needed samples and saturated guitars. Were I
the Dj of a freestyle motocross contest (or snowboard, kite-surf, sandboard,
wakeboard, whatever showy sport you prefer), I would see it well in
my list among the usual pop emo punk/HC set list.
Inspired, well-played, yet
not skillful; the two guitarists, the vocals and the turntables definitely
are the lion's share; if the major points you're looking for in a Nu-metal
CD, then "Kill Switch" could be a delightful surprise
and to many even a must in 2004.
Linkin' Park, get worrying; your throne is not as safe as before!
MARKUS GANZHERRLICH - 9/03/05
c/o John Scott
2328 Cove Ave., Los Angeles, CA 90039 - USA
Tel: +1 213 446 0500