Nine

Killing Angels

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This is the first U.S. release by Sweden's Nine, a band that generates something of a Motörhead-meets-Pantera vibe -- slower than the former, maybe a bit looser than the latter, but as devoted to pure heaviosity as both of them. Nine deserves praise for not confusing speed and volume with energy; these guys move the music forward on pure spleen and brute sonic strength. They even mess around with the formula, with interesting results: occasionally (note the swaggering "Strategy of Fear") they deign to swing, and "The End" is actually written in jig time! The problem is, the songs aren't very interesting. Lack of melody isn't the problem -- recognizable tunes would be weird, even grotesque in the context these guys have created for themselves -- but the lack of hooks definitely is a problem, and as both Motörhead and Pantera have demonstrated, you can have hooks aplenty without much in the way of melody.

The real problem is sameyness, which is sometimes a virtue in heavy music, but not in this case. Not only are almost all of these songs set at exactly the same tempo, most of them seem to be in roughly the same key -- which you might chalk up to the singer's limited range if this band had a singer. But since Johan Lindqvist is really more of a tuneless shouter, it seems to come down to a lack of creativity. The exception to all three rules (tempo, key and tunelessness) is "Anxiety Report," which plods significantly more slowly and incorporates an actual singer into the mix, to impressive effect. Not bad at all, but not essential.

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