Headtrip to Nowhere

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Canada's Flybanger has many of the standard elements of garden-variety heavy metal. Singer Garth alternates between a gruff baritone and a standard-issue enraged howl, singing lyrics full of extreme pessimism and condemnation. (Though the expletives come frequently, the album has not been given a parental warning sticker.) Guitarist Bryan Fratesi, meanwhile, plays a series of simple power chords. But what sets Flybanger apart from other heavy metal bands is its rhythm section, particularly drummer Rob Wade. Where too many bands indulge in plodding tempos and simple patterns, Flybanger always has a propulsive bottom, as Wade continually pushes his fellow musicians forward and manages some surprisingly agile playing within the relentless patterns of the songs. His work makes the band's music far more impressive than it would be otherwise. Whatever nonsense Garth is going on about and however conventional Fratesi's playing, it's hard to avoid moving to Flybanger because, like the rest of the band, the listener is continually prodded by the drumming. That may mean that Flybanger has a long way to go to catch up to its most gifted instrumentalist, but it also means the group has something to build on. (The CD is enhanced to include a video of the song "Outlived," not otherwise heard on the album, that can be played on a personal computer.)

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