The Downside

Hades

Metal Blade Records, 1999

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REVIEW BY: Christopher Thelen

ORIGINALLY PUBLISHED: 02/29/2000

Hades is a band that confounds and confuses me.

On one hand, this New Jersey-based band takes the concept of metal and tries to put a new spin on the genre. At times on their fifth album The Downside, this works and it works well. On the other hand, they fail to keep things interesting throughout the album, leaving this disc in the end to fall a bit flat.

That's a shame, in many ways. For one thing, when you have guests like S.O.D.'s Billy Milano (vocals on "Ground Zero (reprise)") and D.D. Verni (one of the numerous bassists, he plays on "Bitter Suite #1"), you expect the bar of excellence to be raised. To Milano's credit, he injects some life into the album - pity it's right at the end.my_heart_sings_the_harmony_web_ad_alt_250

Hades - vocalist Alan Tecchio, guitarist/vocalist/bassist Dan Loranzo, guitarist/bassist Ed Fuhrman and drummer/vocalist Dave Lescinsky - do intrigue me in that they could have easily gone with the pissed-off, balls-to-the-wall type of performance with song titles like "Hoax," "Shove It" and "Hail To The Thief". Instead, the band chooses to take a more controlled route with their performances, emphasizing the song and melodies and not necessarily the message.

An interesting concept, no? Thing is, it works well in the first part of The Downside. Tracks like "Align The Planets" captivate the listener with their powerful musical statements, all the while the messages (some even back-handed commentaries) of themes of doom and gloom make the listener think. Listening to to "Align The Planets," for example, made me think of all the overhype regarding the millennium bug.

But something happens along the way on The Darkside - namely, the band hits a comfort level, and they appear to cruise through the rest of the album. As a result, tracks like "It's A Wonderful Lie" and "The Me That Might Have Been," tracks that should have stood out on their own, get lost in a sea of distorted guitars. While the material is similar to the tracks that grab the listener's attention at the start of the album, the challenge level of the material falls flat.

The Downside is not a disappointment because of what it contains; rather, it's a disappointment because of what could have been. It's still worth checking out, and I have no doubt that Hades is primed to be a major player once metal makes its comeback. But they're not there yet.

Rating: C+

User Rating: Not Yet Rated


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