High Anxiety

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High Anxiety is Therapy?'s first set of new material since 2001's Shameless, the band's first for Spitfire, and the debut of ex-Beyond basher Neil Cooper behind the drum kit. It might be the best example yet of Therapy?'s sound, which can only be described as literate metal. Cooper, guitarist/cellist Martin McCarrick, bassist Michael McKeegan, and guitarist/mouthpiece Andy Cairns have always been courageous enough to sludge through the swamps of Black Sabbath and Motörhead while holding melody and intellect high overhead. High Anxiety's "Nobody Here But Us" and "If It Kills Me" are driven forward by hard-edged, unforgiving riffs and concussive reports from Cooper's drums. But despite limited vocal range, Cairns pulls off melodies that make the songs much more than simpleton soundtracks for crushing cans on foreheads. Similarly, Cairns' lyricism straddles the line between metal midget and genre-busting brainiac. The biting, cynically funny "Hey Satan -- You Rock" brilliantly skewers heavy music's penchant for religious controversy while it tramps through the cathedral with muddy boots and a lit cigarette. "Wanna storm the gates of heaven, backstage pass in hand," grumbles Cairns. Later, he sends a postcard to hell, flirts with the Virgin Mary, and breaks into God's liquor cabinet. But as each verse begins with "I wanna," it's clear that the song is a dream, a fantasy. The song extinguishes metal's flashpots and bombast and replaces them with a cerebral sound that can still spar with the toughest of strutters. After a ten-plus year career that has seen them outlast competitors and outwit industry attempts at categorization, High Anxiety proves that the members of Therapy? are still headbangers with their thinking caps screwed on tight.

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