Los Gusanos

Los Gusanos

Mayhem Records, 1998


REVIEW BY: Christopher Thelen


For eight years, C.J. Ward experience both the world of punk and the world of rock first-hand as the bassist for The Ramones. The lessons he learned onstage with one of America's best-known punk acts were incredibly valuable - and now, he's ready to show the end result of those years of schooling.

Ward's band, Los Gusanos, takes the best parts of the Ramones, and dares to add something else into the mix - real chord structures! The songs on their recently-released debut album Los Gusanosmy_heart_sings_the_harmony_web_ad_alt_250 demonstrate that this band is the next step forward from the ashes of the Ramones, if not a little rougher in the sound.

In Los Gusanos, Ward trades in his bass for the double-duty of rhythm guitar and lead vocalist - and one would be a liar if they said that Ward didn't sound a little bit like Joey Ramone. Lead guiarist "Dirty" Ed Lynch, bassist "Big" John Chadwick and drummer Bo Matheson round out the quartet, all of whom add just the right amount of punch to the mixture to make this band sound unique and fresh.

Unlike what you might expect from Los Gusanos, the band actually takes the time to develop the songs on this one into some occasionally heavy, often powerful works. The difference is heard - as well as the eventual similarities - right from the word "go" on "Bad Day". Ward and crew go after your eardrums with a 2-X-4 and they don't stop for forty minutes.

The development of songs instead of teen anthems is a refreshing change of pace, as heard on cuts like "Strip," "Reciprocal" and "Helldorado". In fact, when listening to this, one wonders why Ward wasn't given the chance to express himself more in The Ramones. Even "Blue Sky" might shock the by-the-rules punk fan - this wasn't a song the boys thought up just before they strapped their instruments on.

There are only a few letdowns on Los Gusanos. "Burnin'," an ode to wonder weed, might be a favorite of Howard Stern's, but to my ears, it was an under-two-minute waste of time. The overall groove of the album lets up a bit near the end, even though it picks up significantly on the final track "On My Way". And, perhaps the greatest disappointment - why didn't they include their cover of Ten Years After's "I'd Love To Change The World" on this one? I really would have liked to have heard what they did to it.

Los Gusanos is a natural progression from Ramones to new-punk, eventually to a sound and style all its own. While Ward and crew still have a little work to do, this is a solid first effort that is worth checking out.


Rating: B

User Rating: Not Yet Rated



© 1998 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 Mayhem Records, and is used for informational purposes only.