Better Mad Than Dead

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Extrema's third full album, 2001's Better Mad Than Dead, arrived a full six years after their second, 1995's overwrought The Positive Pressure (Of Injustice), and denoted just how far the once highly touted Italian group had fallen from domestic popularity's graces during the intervening years. What's more, it also proved conclusively that the creative extremity suggested by the band's moniker was nothing but a ruse, since they actually seemed more interested in glomming onto whatever heavy metal gimmicks were in vogue at that particular moment, rather than carving an identity of their own. Check that: whatever heavy metal gimmicks were in vogue a few years earlier, since Extrema also seemed prone to crash any given party just as most of the participants were already heading home with nasty hangovers. In the case of 1993's Tension at the Seams, the outdated style focused on had been funky thrash metal (latest sell-by date circa 1991); for 1995's aforementioned Positive Pressure it was thrash and Pantera-style groove metal (commercial peak circa 1993); and for Better Mad, it was a little more of the same, plus lot's of nu-metal's clunky, detuned riffs and white-boy rapping, finally topped with electronic quirks borrowed from latter-day White Zombie circa 1995 -- yeesh! All these traits are profiled across opening gambit "Generation" and extrapolated to Korn-derived extremis by third track "Another Nite" (which rips off "Got the Life" but at least features a decent hook); but it's all downhill from there, with offerings like "All Around," "Sanity," and "Some Faith" simply diluting the band's Korn/Slipknot imitations even further. Another grouping of songs, including "Too Late," "W.A.S.T.E.D.," and "The Brawler" take another route and borrow extensively from the Biohazard nu-hardcore handbook; and even the psycho-thrash wig-out undertaken by the prophetically titled "Wannabe" cops its spirit from Sepultura's Chaos A.D. In sum, Better Mad Than Dead made listeners question the validity of its title and ushered in another half-decade of silence until Extrema's next album...or should we say, their next attempt to catch up.

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