House of Broken Promises

Using the Useless

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Using the Useless Review

by Eduardo Rivadavia

A band housing three out of four musicians who briefly made Unida such a promising threat to take over the stoner rock universe, before being broken by the most heinous major-label machinations, Palm Desert's aptly named House of Broken Promises attempt to go Garcia-less (as in without missing former colleague, singer John Garcia) on their 2009 debut, Using the Useless. And after just a few songs, it's pretty safe to say that the first question most listeners will be asking is, "Garcia who?" Not only does bassist/vocalist Eddie Plasciencia step up to the plate with an impressively soulful snarl, reminiscent at times of the band's former frontman, as well as Corrosion of Conformity's Pepper Keenan, but his rhythm section partner, Mike Cancino, and guitarist extraordinaire Arthur Seay respectively pummel and shred their instruments, as though channeling a half-decade's worth of bitter frustration. For his part, Seay also seems motivated to revive the guitar hero role in stoner rock after years of virtuosic scarcity on a level with Monster Magnet's Ed Mundell or Solace's Tommy Southard; this while churning out the thickest, chunkiest six-string tone from his rig this side of Zakk Wylde (wailing harmonics included). The really good news is that, unlike Wylde's Black Label Society, thunderous House of Broken Promises songs like "Blister" and "Buried Away" don't suck! And along with additional riff monuments such as the groovy "Obey the Snake," the jerky "Highway Grit," and the Spanish-sung "Ladron," they bulge at the seams with a level of aggression, desire, imagination, and -- how's this for a shocker -- good hooks and choruses that may actually be strong enough to finally dredge the stoner rock scene out of its widespread new millennium morass. Just like Unida was supposed to, come to think of it, so take heeds, long-suffering fans of the genre; Using the Useless finally gets that sadly doomed band's mission accomplished, by hook or by crook!

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