Heads Will Roll
Nuclear Blast Records, 1998
REVIEW BY: Christopher Thelen
ORIGINALLY PUBLISHED: 05/10/1999
I don't claim to be the world's expert on heavy metal - in all honesty, I had fallen away from the scene until I started doing this site. But one thing that has stayed constant in all the years I've listened to metal is that there are two distinct camps (amongst others I could name): the grindcore/death/thrash scene and the pop/hook-oriented scene. Trying to merge these two sides would have been like trying to solve the Civil War using Greco-Roman wrestling.
Germany's Crack Up seems to try and pull these two unique flavors together on their latest album, Heads Will Roll. It's not that they didn't try hard enough, but musically, this band leaves me wondering why I should care about them. Even after multiple listens to the disc, the one question that kept coming into my head was, "So what?"
Visually, this band's disc tries to entice the listener with the promise of three things: sex (all the cheesecake models in the liner notes - including the classic Betty Page), violence (images of race cars) and rock and roll. (Side note: My press copy has a sticker on the back that covers up the silhouette of a bare-breasted woman. In the stores, I understand... but why censor a press copy?) If only the final product lived up to the hype; very little of the teaser material makes it onto this disc.
The group - lead vocalist/bassist Tim, guitarist Helvin, guitarist/vocalist Torben and drummer/backing vocalist Frank - have a sound that, in many regards, could have a commercial bend to it. This is not a negative feature of Crack Up; rather, I find it interesting that a more mainstream sounding metal could have the growls often associated with death metal and grindcore.
The problem is that, at least in Crack Up's case, the two don't go together like ham and eggs. Some tracks, like "Well Come", "The Assassin" and "Only W/ The Devil", do stand out among the 14 listed (plus one hidden) tracks on Heads Will Roll. But more often than not, the final product ends up sounding like everything was put into a blender; what you end up with is a glop that is unrecognizable from what it started out as being.
Tracks like "Modern Art," "Next Big Thing" and "Demon" all seemed to have some promise at the start, but even after several listens to the disc, I found it very hard to get excited about what Crack Up was trying to accomplish.
This isn't to say that Crack Up doesn't have at least one good album in them. Even through the mish-mash of metal on the disc, I did hear enough to keep me interested down the road. But Crack Up is going to have to decide which direction they want to take musically, and not deviate from that path. I do believe this is the biggest problem with Heads Will Roll - that and a nine-minute pause between the last listed track "Bad Mongo" and the "hidden" track.
Heads Will Roll is the kind of CD you will either like or hate; there's very little middle ground that Crack Up has to offer. There are a few tracks worthy of your attention, but for the most part, you may wish to give your skull a rest.