Down to Zero

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Tasmanian devils Dreadnaught walk the fine line that is alternative metal -- meaning their music is surprisingly conscious of commercial trends, amazingly heavy but free of metal's conventional clich├ęs and posturing. Originally recorded in 1999, their second album languished for almost two years before receiving a stateside release at the hands of The Music Cartel, only to vanish without a trace after finding little sympathy in these here parts. Still, for what it's worth, this is a collection of sharp, carefully conceived tunes, thankfully performed without any of the hardcore/metal hybrid mucky muck that staled the turn-of-the-millennium alt-metal scene to unbearable proportions. Impressive opening trio "Dead in the Dirt," "Scumbag," and "Moving Target" are built upon bludgeoning riffs and complex guitar textures, but parts of the latter and the subsequent "The Complex" see the group's intensity beginning to taper off, as Dreadnaught succumb to their wilder instincts with somewhat overwrought songwriting. "Game"'s swirling guitars and unbelievably heavy middle-riff temporarily rediscover the group's strengths: primal aggression and power. But sadly, Down to Zero quickly unravels into more experimental, unfocused material following the amusingly titled "Fast Food on the Streets of Gold (And the Way was Paved with Shit)," coming to an inauspicious end with the piano-tainted "Blue" and the gentle co-female vocals on the Alice in Chains-reminiscent "Someday." Victims of their own creative overreaching, Dreadnaught bleed potential here, but could probably use a good producer to reign them in and give them some pointers.

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