Clawfinger

Hate Yourself With Style

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When Sweden's Clawfinger first burst upon the international scene with 1993's caustic Deaf Dumb Blind album, they brought the harsh and extremely cynical world perspective of two former hospital orderlies into an alt-metal scene already rich with controversial thinkers like Rage Against the Machine and Faith No More. That they managed to briefly rub shoulders with these acknowledged musical titans is impressive enough; that they've persisted with their mission throughout and beyond those bands' unfortunate demise (even if with significantly smaller record sales) is something to be proud of; whether their methods still merit the same respect, or have escaped becoming irrelevant is the real question. 2006's Hate Yourself with Style is Clawfinger's latest bid to answer this question, and that answer is a very definite, errrrr, "maybe." On the one hand, if you take away guitars produced to sound like a Ross Robinson-made nu-metal record, what you have are mostly musical devices from a bygone era. The title track and "Breakout (Embrace the Child Inside You)" peddle thrashy hardcore topped with hooky but rather obvious choruses, "Hypocrite" grooves on nearly industrially precise riffs and words the band could have written in their sleep, and "Dirty Lies" borrows lyrics from Nine Inch Nails so blatantly, the act can only be intentional. On the other, when Clawfinger is at their most inspired, tracks like "The Best & the Worst," the cleverly role-swapping "Right to Rape," or the Faith No More-channeling "God Is Dead" remain just as striking and thought-provoking as in yesteryear. And, as proven by controversial opener "The Faggot in You," the Swedes have obviously lost none of the taste for polemic that inspired their original definitive song, 1993's racially charged "N**ger." And perhaps such brief but intense moments offer the ultimate justification for the band to carry on -- plus it sure beats the hell out of going back to work in the hospital.

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