Vocalist, public speaker, and social critic Henry Rollins wouldn't approve, but not everyone agreed with his decision to break up his band after the experimental 1997 Come in and Burn CD. Rollins has gone on record as saying that his mid-'90s unit of guitarist Chris Haskett, bassist Melvin Gibbs, and drummer Sim Cain erred in not wanting to be a standard, hard-driving rock band like Rollins' heroes MC5 and Black Sabbath. But in effect, Rollins broke up this open-minded band because of, rather than for lack of, brilliance on their best and final CD. Come In and Burn took the blueprint from 1994's far-reaching Weight CD and went even further. After the metallic opener, "Shame," the disc unveils 11 other tracks that serpentine between rock and funk, jazz/fusion, and metal. The single "Starve" featured an insistent, inside-out rhythmic pattern that showcased the strengths of both Gibbs and Cain. Haskett's Wall of Sound guitar tone is muscular throughout Come In and Burn, yet the instrumentalists' strong sense of whisper-to-a-scream dynamics is also on display. Somehow, despite Rollins' powerful yet one-dimensional vocal yells, the musicians allowed Rollins Band to go beyond rock, ultimately earning them a pink slip before Rollins recorded his streamlined yet subpar 2000 CD, Get Some Go Again. Gibbs' previous history on the New York avant-garde jazz scene might've made him a strange choice to join Rollins Band, yet his tones (underwater funk on "The End of Something"; distorted metal on "On My Way to the Cage") and further involvement are what elevate this CD past Weight. The equally brilliant Cain alternately swings and rocks on separate sections of "During a City," which segues into the calm intro (before the storm) of "Neon." Most of Rollins' strong political statements are saved for the final turn. "Inhale Exhale" features thought-provoking, philosophical lyrics ("Inhale -- what I wanna be/Exhale -- how I wanna be seen") over Cain's shuffling drum pattern; "Saying Goodbye Again" is an autobiographical tale of friends lost. But the closing track is even more ironic, ending the brief, two-CD career of this incarnation of Rollins Band, who also put on a dominating performance at Woodstock 1994. In the chorus to "Rejection," Rollins bellows "You did me a favor when you left me behind." He didn't quite burn with this intensity after.
AllMusic Review by Bill Meredith