Speak No Evil

Speak No Evil

Universal Records, 1999

REVIEW BY: Christopher Thelen


I'm not completely sure that the world is ready for retro-alternative rock, but Los Angeles-based Speak No Evil is poised to strike as the leader of this new phase of musical history.

With a sound that combines the work of Alice In Chains and Soundgarden (albeit without the rhythmic challenges of the latter), Speak No Evil's self-titled debut album has the grooves down, but needs to inject a little more originality in the mix if they're going to stand out in the long run.my_heart_sings_the_harmony_web_ad_alt_250

The band - vocalist Curtis Skelton, guitarists Lisardo Rios and Danny Gill, bassist Greg Weiss and drummer Chris Frazier - are a cohesive musical unit, and they do try to push the envelope in their own unique way by introducing rhythms and sounds that one wouldn't normally expect from this genre. "Small Words" illustrates this style, by combining an Eastern rhythm with a hard-rock nervous system.

For the most part, Speak No Evil is a decent enough album, and the first half of the disc is enough to suggest a strong future for the band. Tracks like "Lock You In", "Stand Low" and "Hold Your Breath" are tracks that are sure to win them many fans. Skelton is a powerful vocalist, and he does help to propel many of these tracks into realms previously unknown.

But what Speak No Evil needs to do is to figure out a way to carry that enthusiasm throughout an entire album; by the second half of the disc, things start sounding a little old. While tracks like "All Is Well" and "Get Off" are not terrible by any means, they do lack a sense of originality. This is something that will be gained only be experience, so I'm willing to give the band the benefit of the doubt.

I'm also willing to guess that the music featured on Speak No Evil takes on a whole new dimension in the live show; I've seen band after band deliver the goods onstage but have trouble carrying that momentum into the studio.

Speak No Evil still is a band that deserves to be watched, and Speak No Evil is an album that should attract a fair amount of attention. But I'm more interested in seeing what this band is capable of in the long run.

Rating: B-

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© 1999 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 Universal Records, and is used for informational purposes only.