Group Therapy

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Dope's third full-length appears through Recon, an N.Y.C. upstart affiliated with frontman Edsel Dope through management ties. In addition to producing Group Therapy, the dreadlocked kingpin directed and/or conceived of videos for each of the album's 13 songs, including them here as DVD add-ons. The bulk of additional content is a nice touch, and should be appreciated by the group's core fan base. And Group Therapy is much stronger than 2001's flawed Life. Unfortunately, its overdriven, incessantly processed hard rock sound is still a derivative of industry leaders like Korn, and largely indistinct from its aggro-metal peers. The formula is familiar. Pounding, hard-charging percussion and rumbling, near atonal guitars are garnished with the occasional electronic flourish to form a base for Edsel's guttural yawp and rudimentary singing. He utilizes both on the obstinate "I Am," which crosses emotive Linkin Park-style verses with the double-time chorus shout of "F*ck it, I am what I am." This dirty-mouthed mulishness is typical of Edsel's lyrical muse, which leans heavily on both the F word and themes common to the genre. Remember "Die MF Die" from Life? That song's rallying cry here as been recast as "burn motherf*cker, burn." Elsewhere, Dope grapples with depression, the everyday grind, and haters. But his lyrics reek of insincerity, since their glaring repetition suggests he's only screaming the same old slogans: "Today is the day I will let it go away"; "I got a lot to do I got a lot to do"; "Is this going down...down/Or is it/Para-f*cking-noia?" We've heard this all before, and the ceaseless clutter of aggravated guitars is equally tedious. "Sing" is a bold yet banal attempt at social comment, and the acoustic rocker only exacerbates Dope's lack of vision, since it's so obviously a plea for radio airplay. Dope has focused its fiery attack on Group Therapy, and that should at least get the pit roiling at shows. But Edsel's agenda is still riddled with cliché, and this fact robs the record of any lasting spark.

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