Rumpelstiltskin Grinder

Buried in the Front Yard

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Because their chunky, modern thrash comes inextricably laced with an at times overbearing taste for comedy, Rumpelstiltskin Grinder's 2005 debut, Buried in the Front Yard, is bound to divide metalheads both accepting (a minority) and humorless (a majority) into love/hate camps -- even before they give the music a fair shot. This would be a pity since the album is, for the most part, pretty entertaining and certainly very well executed, without ever trying to reinvent the wheel. Behold semi-normal tracks like "Let the Fools Cheer," "Ode to Tanks," and the Stryper-lampooning "Orange and Black Attack" for solid examples of the band's tightly controlled, Annihilator-like delivery; then prepare for much eyebrow-raising confusion (or hilarity, as it were) as they grow steadily wackier thanks to self-dubbed "criminal thrash" workouts like "Stealing E.T." and "Grab a Shovel (We've Got Bodies to Bury)." Moving right along, "Grinder" reigns in the silliness just enough so one can appreciate the group's lightning-fast interplay of melody and rhythmic riffing; "Unleash the Troll" challenges Three Inches of Blood to a game of headbanger's Dungeons & Dragons, and the improbably named "The Day Merman Met Todd "The Harpoon" Wilson" (oh, brother!) would demand a "no comment" if it didn't add contrasting acoustic guitars to great effect. And that about wraps it up for Buried in the Front Yard, since its scant eight tracks amount to no more than 35 minutes, thereby sparing haters any more pain at seeing otherwise fine thrashers being done a disservice by forcedly silly titles, while leaving supporters undoubtedly asking, "Got another one?" Clearly, the album's merits as a modern thrash opus simply aren't so overwhelmingly positive that they help resolve the original dilemma of humor versus metal, so unless you subscribe to the theory that most metal fans don't really pay attention to lyrics anyway, this debate could rage on and on and on.

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