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As I Lay Dying - 'Decas' (metalblade) 1.5/5

Hum, this latest offering from California metalcore merchants As I Lay Dying is a bit of a weird one. Basically it can be split into three sections, Three new tracks, three covers and then five remixes from their back catalogue.

Things start of promisingly enough. The three original new tracks are good enough slices of passably good metalcore that tick all the right boxes for the genre; nice crunchy pit friendly riffs, pig grunt verses, big clean harmony choruses, nothing too earth shattering over all but good enough to pass muster, especially Moving Forward, which is raised above the ordinary with some impressive guitar work

Then we move onto the covers section, and things here are not so hot. Now I'm of the opinion that classic tracks should only be covered if your gonna go and do something interesting with them, and sadly that is not the case here. The rendition of the Slayer classic War Ensemble comes over like an iffy tribute band, Judas Priests Hellion / Electric Eye is a bold attempt that is destined to fail, the Hellion works well enough but Electric Eye falls flat as with core style pig grunts on the verse just doesn't work and the clean vocals on the bridge bring back horrible nightmares of the Ripper Owens days (shudder). The Descendants Coffee Mug  is a nice bit of hardcore thrashage, and I'm not that familiar with the original so will refrain from making any more comments on that front.

Then we have the remix section. This starts off surprisingly enough with a medley of old AILD tracks entitled Beneath The Encasing that is pretty nifty and is probably the best track on offer on the entire album. However then things really go tits up.I have never got on with dance music, I find it messy and the inane repetitive drum pattens bring a psychotic reaction in me. It really does make me want to commit acts of brutal and bloody violence on who is ever producing the racket in order to make them stop.

I did force myself to listen to the last four tracks here to try to get a handle on them, but I only ended up feeling sick and wanting to turn the mindless crap off. If you like this sort of thing then more power to you but as for me.. I like my rock rocking and not butchered by monkeys with drum machines.

Over all this album is a bit of a waste of time if you ask me, and not one I'll be keeping in the collection or giving air time to.

for fans of... As I Lay Dying (everyone else should give this one a miss)

Wheres Billy - 'The Truth Hurts' (controlled volcano) 4/5

London quartet Wheres Billy have been together for a few years now and have been building a fair rep for themselves with a fairly hefty gigging schedule that so far has taken them all over the UK, into Europe and even a few experimental trips stateside, and now they are hitting us with their debut ep.

Now on first listen I can see why they are getting quite popular on the uk scene, cos this ep is a nice little package of five choice cuts of fairly commercial and mainstream but hellishly infectious pop rock that bats from the same wicket as the likes of Kids In Glass Houses, Funeral For A Friend, Mind Machine etc; it's not the most original of sounds, but I will say they are good at it.

They lay out their stool with a niffy little track that goes by the name of Anxiety, that has some nice angsty and angry lyrics 'You are my reason to fail... BUT I WONT', and wraps them up in some nice driven riffage and a sweet short but slick lead solo. With the goods laid out they carry on in a similar vein  for the rest of the release, but each track does have something to offer. The solo on the title track has shades of Dave Gilmore about it, Escape Form The Darkest Mind (my fave cut of the five) has a cool interplay between some sweet jangly almost indie rock moments and some good old school hard rock crunch and chug riffing. Thoughts And Fears has another killer riff, this time sounding like a toned down Megadeth and closer is a real rocker that has shades of The Crave about it.

The vocals are good and powerful if a little derivative of many other singers fronting this kind of outfit, and the band are more than competent at their jobs as well. Over all this is pretty good stuff and an enjoyable if not very original.

Basically Wheres Billy show a fair bit of promise here, but whether they have the legs or the creativity to last the course in a scene already full of very talented bands in the same style remains to be seen.

Pretty good and well worth a listen.

For fans of.... The Crave, Kids In Glass houses, Mind Machine, I Divide, etc....

Nag The Horse - 'Nag The Horse (demo)' (self released) 4/5

Nag The Horse are a young power trio from Llandeilo from deep in the valleys of South Wales, who site their influences as ranging from Jimi Hendrix and Tina turner through to Muse and The Darkness, and this is their latest demo release.

Now this is interesting, there are four tacks on offer here and I will be honest and say from the off the production is a little rough and ragged, but hey I'm not gonna let stand in the way. After all this is grass roots music, home recorded and besides there are times, such as this when a little rough edge to the sound only adds to the effect.

As I said there are four songs on this one, and the over all result is a bit of a merry mix of 'class of '77' old school punk, late 60's stoner rock and 1981 style indie label NWOBHM, all are styles of musical edification that put a smile of my face and so I'm not that surprised I'm liking this.

Of the tracks themselves we have Cinderella Who? which comes over like Sham 69 jamming with Jimi Hendrix, Hey You which starts out all nice and clean and ends up sounding like James Blunt being gang raped by Motorheads road crew. (which is a good thing!!). Rodeo Prom Queen that has a Tom Waits meets Ten Years After feel, and my fave cut on offer Justin which sounds like a punked version of cult NWOBHM legends Split Beaver.

Top marks for the musicianship on show here, the rhythm section of bassist John Sadler and drummer Scott James are as tight a sparrows back passage and serve up some very juicy lumpy chunky rocky goodness indeed. And all hail guitarist / vocalist Dewi Jones, who not only has a delicious sneering quality to his voice but also has one of the dirtiest sleaziest shag your mother guitar sounds I've ever heard, and he can bring the best out of it as well, all good stuff all round.

In short this is a very enjoyable offering from a band that has a lot of promise.

For fans of... Bambi Killers, The Kix, Dumpys Rusty Nuts, Engine....