Sound — 9
While you're awaiting the arrival of this year's Sounds Of The Underground to hit your town, a CD/DVD compilation has been put together that offers up a well-rounded look at what you're likely to see and hear. This year's lineup includes some of the best bands in metalcore, black metal, and even death rap, and you'll definitely get your money's worth with the 31 audio tracks and 15 videos on the compilation Sounds Of The Underground: U.S./Canadian Summer 2007 Tour CD/DVD, sold exclusively by Hot Topic.
With Gwar, Shadows Fall, Goatwhore, and Chimaira among the bands that are featured on both the CD and DVD, the listener is rarely given a breather from the aggressive playlist, which is likely what the fans of the tour want. Gwar starts everything off with Eighth Lock, a dark ode to a prison found in the depths of hell. You don't get the full experience until you watch the video to Eight Lock, when you're able to see all of the costumes and gore in their full glory. Considering the fact that many of the bands on the tour seem to take themselves pretty seriously, Gwar is the perfect addition to inject a little humor into it all.
Every Time I Die's The New Black (which also gained superstar status in Guitar Hero II) made the cut on the CD and DVD, and the video is just as entertaining as the song with it's Beastie Boy Sabotage feel. 2Cents delivers the most authentic video performance with no frills and few low quality cameras. Their song The Wedding Dress is allowed to have the full focus, with no special lighting or storyline to distract from it. Vocalist Adam O'Rourke does double-duty by playing drums as well, which gives the band a unique twist.
The Number Twelve Looks Like You provides what could be the most manic track in the entire collection. Between the multiple tempo changes, seemingly disconnected guitar riffs, and alternating vocal styles, Sleeping With The Fishes is a fairly exhausting number. The band's video Like A Cat is also featured on the DVD portion, and although not quite as frantic, it comes pretty close. You're either likely to love or hate The Number Twelve Looks Like You, but the band does make a pretty strong impression either way.
The 2nd CD features up-and-comers that aren't on the tour but are signed to the labels that are connected with Sounds Of The Underground. Obviously most people will be interested in hearing the tour's featured lineup, but definitely give a listen to the 2nd disc. The song Holy Roller comes eerily close to sounding like Pantera, from Dave Peters' roaring vocals to the Dimebag-like guitar stylings from Mark Choinere. In terms of riff work, disc 2 absolutely matches up with disc 1. And for some crazy tempos that almost sound like your CD is skipping, check out Firewater Joyride by A Life Once Lost.
Lyrics — 9
With 31 bands featured, listeners can be assured they're in store for a very, very wide array of lyrics (you can find many of them on www.darklyrics.com). But in general themes of death abound, and that should cater to a very specific audience. Gwar does provide some tongue-in-cheek lyrics, but it still doesn't hesitate to give audiences their fill of guts, blood, and horror.
Amon Amarth's Runes To My Memory is just one example of this tour's infatuation with death and other foreboding topics. The band's genre has been described as viking-themed death metal, and the songs definitely have their share of Norse mythology. Vocalist Johan Hegg sings, When I am dead; Lay me in a mound; Raise a stone for all to see; Runes carved to my memory. Behind the talk of death, it's one of many songs on the compilations written in a rather eloquent way.
Overall Impression — 9
The value ($9.99 for 2 CDs and 1 DVD) is a pretty big selling point, although you will have to stop by Hot Topic's store to buy the compilation. While there aren't any tracks by the special guests who are only doing limited shows (Suicidal Tendencies, Lamb Of God, Mushroomhead), there are quite a few bands that could easily be propelled to that kind of status down the line.
There are some surprises along the way on Sounds Of The Underground: U.S./Canadian Summer 2007, with a Valient Thorr-like addition from the band Maylene and the Sons of Disaster and the synth-metal of Autumn. It makes for an eclectic mix, particularly when it is squeezed between growlers and screamers. Given the large number of metal bands on the collection, it's more than likely that listeners will find more than a few bands that appeal to their tastes.