911 Entertainment, 1997

REVIEW BY: Christopher Thelen


I hate reviews like this...

One of the most difficult tasks any music reviewer has is taking a debut release by a band that shows quite a bit of promise and tearing into it. You see all the strengths the band has, but you also have to point out what you saw as the weaknesses. And while I hope bands who read these reviews see my words as constructive criticism, they most likely consider me to be an asshole by the time they've finished the review.

With this in mind, I must state that the debut release by Phoenix-based Crushed shows off a band that will be quite powerful one day - once they decide which direction their music should go.

You see, the band prides itself on a mixture of clean guitar sounds (provided by Mike Halland) and a crunching riff (provided by guitarist/vocalist Mark Lauer). When Crushed wants to, they can crank up a groove that rivals Pantera and Helmet, or they can create a nice textured melody that dares any pop song to follow suit. The problem is that the band wants to be able to enjoy both styles of music equally - this tends to weaken both camps.my_heart_sings_the_harmony_web_ad_alt_250

Lauer's vocals defy true categorization; one minute he sounds like Layne Staley, the next minute Mike Patton, the next minute Gordon Gano. This tends to throw the listener for a loop, as they can't really settle into a pattern with the album and get used to one vocal style.

The grooves, along with the song crafting, are what make Crushed so wonderful. Bassist Michael Brown and drummer Jeff Garten lay down a rhythm base that is simply incredible, though Garten occasionally throws in some double bass work when it's not really needed. Cuts like "Crescent Draggin Wagon," "Lit" and "Incandescence" had my 18-month-old dancing in the living room.

The best cut on this album, ironically, is the one the band didn't write - a cover of "Brimstone In A Barren Land." It is here that the amalgam of soft and crunchy guitar, along with one hell of a bass groove, truly mesh the best. This is not to say that the originals are bad; it's just that I found this song to be more entertaining.

In fact, this leads me to the main problem I had with Crushed - it tends to jump around so much style-wise that I found myself often losing focus. I tried on several different occasions to plow through this album, but often I found myself unconsciously tuning it out by the time "Whistling Past The Graveyard" was kicking in. (I consider myself to be a patient listener, but if I'm losing interest, one wonders what the typical listener would do.)

Does this mean that Crushed isn't a good band? Hardly - I do believe that given a fair shake, these guys have a chance of claiming the alterna-metal throne from bands like Alice In Chains and hitting the big time. But for them to accomplish this, they need to decide on one music style and, for the most part, stick with it. Once they do this, they'll have my full attention from the moment I slap the disc in the player for the first time. But this is something that will come with time and experience - formed just five years ago, Crushed is still a very young band that needs to earn a few battle scars.

Crushed does have some moments that set it apart from other albums in its genre, and for a freshman effort, it's okay. But I hear the possibility of what could be - which both excites me and makes me wish they had implemented it on this album. Still, it's worth checking out.

Sorry, guys - I don't say it to be an asshole... I say it because I care about what I listen to, unlike many mainstream critics.

Rating: C+

User Rating: Not Yet Rated



© 1997 Christopher Thelen and The Daily Vault. All rights reserved. Review or any portion may not be reproduced without written permission. Cover art is the intellectual property of 911 Entertainment, and is used for informational purposes only.