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How about this for the name of a rock singer -- Johnny Strong (!). That's one helluva name -- as is guitarist Rikki Lixx -- both of which are linked to classic rock/metallists Operator. On the group's major-label debut, 2007's Soulcrusher, Strong quickly shows off that he can shapeshift his voice from Chris Cornell's melodic croon to Bon Scott's whiskey-soaked growl. And the music follows suit -- mining the same blues-metal goldmine as AC/DC and Guns N' Roses did years ago -- but with enough melody so that the album should appeal to more than just metalheads. But getting back to the Chris Cornell similarity, tracks such as "Make 'Em Pay" and "Delicate" will lead many to cry "rip off" (perhaps it's not a surprise that a former guitarist of Puddle of Mudd -- a group whose singer sounded an awful lot like another grunge era notable, Kurt Cobain -- is a also member of Operator). Nothing original here, but if you need more Chris Cornell-sounding tunes than are currently out there (and 2007 surely met its "Cornell quota," as the former Soundgarden/Audioslave frontman released a solo album, Carry On), Soulcrusher may serve as a substitute for some.

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