With his best album since Over the Edge, and his second-best LP out of his ten releases (behind Youth of America), Phoenix guitarist-magician Greg Sage restakes his claim as America's most committed, most uncompromising, most important rock artist: After laying low through his last two refreshing, moody LPs, Sage and drummer Steve Plouf flex the old musical muscle for the first time in seven years and come out swinging. Raining blows all over the place, particularly on the first five songs, The Herd reveals a man with aural fire burning in his fingers. A mixture of aggression, moxie, mastery, and doomsday warnings, the LP thunders right from its opening snare crack, on the astonishing, staggering "Psychic Vampire." For the entire 43 minutes thereafter, Sage piles on outrageous, piercing guitar runs on feral, short passage after passage, the strings bending brutally under the strain of Sage's wild left hand. Apart from the daring ride of the melodic songs themselves, his striking, sensational, six-string manipulations transform already strong material into mini-epics. The delicately fingered leads are laced with reverb and feedback, trumpeting in paranoid, turbulent, and often indescribably beautiful fashion, mature themes of a society run amuck. Furthermore, Sage continues his knack for dive-bomb, dramatic chord changes (his penchant for non-traditional chord patterns is remarkable). Add Sage's voyeuristic, troubled, Father Time voice, and The Herd is a battering experience, a harsh, power-driven, insane wonder-record that compares well with the book/film On the Beach for its combination of intelligent sci-fi alarm and the raw, mainlined savageness of the music that reflects it. The Herd is a compelling triumph, a supreme accomplishment from one of the true giants of our generation.
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AllMusic Review by Jack Rabid