Crucified Barbara

In Distortion We Trust

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Despite their youth, Crucified Barbara's debut, In Distortion We Trust, is obviously the work of a band already brimming with ideas and influences gained over years of hard graft in Sweden's rock & roll trenches. What it lacks is the songwriting maturity to match, resulting in a remarkably solid and occasionally thrilling collection of hard rock and metal, with glimpses of punk, grunge, and Sunset Strip-style glam metal peeking through. Part of the problem is that Crucified Barbara's songs usually live and die by their riffs, which are so ironclad and unforgiving, there's little room for anything resembling a counterpoint or a catchy lick to spice them up. This is especially evident on the title track, "I Need a Cowboy from Hell" and "Going Down" -- both of which suffer from spells of melodically stunted guitars alternately reminiscent of Swedish Alice in Chains wannabes Drain S.T.H., Southern-American nu-metal crew Stuck Mojo, and Stone Temple Pilots at their faux-grungiest. Others simply don't entirely fulfill the promise of their titles (see the suggestive "I Wet Myself") or lack the arranging finesse to back up forcibly clever lyrics like "Rock'n'Roll Bachelor." Then again, the band hits an inspired bulls-eye with these same ingredients on "Play Me Hard (The Bachelor's Guitar)," which makes one wonder what the deal is with these "bachelor" obsessions, but brings us to the "thrill" portions worth mentioning in this album. Chief among them is irresistible first single "Losing the Game" (far and away Crucified Barbara's best song), but the girls also prove they can drop their tough guy routine long enough to get sassy on "Hide 'Em All," and, though she's rarely flashy about it, frontwoman Mia Coldheart knows when to take over a song like "My Heart Is Black" or "Bad Hangover," and give it the necessary oomph of excitement over the cliff. In the end, it's arguably an album-closing cover of Motörhead's "Killed by Death" that best displays where Crucified Barbara want their sound to be, yet they still come off a little under-seasoned and wooden, instead of spontaneously out-of-control. The basic building blocks are in place, at least, so there's much that the band should be proud of in this first effort.

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