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Back Stories | My Album Reviews from Sept. 18, 1998

Rewinding some old reviews of Gomez, Godsmack and more.

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Two decades ago, new albums from Gomez, Godsmack and others were spinning away in my portable CD player. Here’s what I had to say about them back then (with some minor editing):

Gomez
Bring It On
The title sounds like some sort of rap-metal album — and ironically, that may be the one musical genre Gomez doesn’t tackle on this mind-blowing debut. These five kids from Liverpool (average age: 22) somehow manage to sound like five wizened old southern Yanks. Their sound is a tasty gumbo of styles: The groove of Dr. John, the whiskey-smoke rasp of Tom Waits, the boho slackerism of Beck — and that’s just the first song. It gets even better from there. Buy this before all your friends do.

Godsmack
Godsmack
Don’t let the gothily pierced gal on the cover fool ya. This Boston foursome’s debut disc is heavy metal, pure and simple — and fairly conventional. There isn’t a buzzsaw guitar line, broodingly growled lyric, wah-wah solo or tom-tom fill here that you haven’t heard 100 times before. Oddly enough, you still won’t be able to remember any of these songs five minutes after the disc is out of your player.

Royal Crown Revue
The Contender
These days, the retro-swing ranks are crowded with contenders battling for the crown. Unfortunately, L.A.’s Royal Crown Revue won’t knock out any of the competition with this lightweight offering. Oh sure, they’ve got some good moves — solid, punchy horns, decent hooks and even a little fancy footwork. Ultimately, though, their tough-mug shtik, second-rate covers and predictable arrangements have no legs.

Voodoo Glow Skulls
Band Geek Mafia
Here’s an offer you can’t refuse from some godfathers of ska-punk. After 10 years together, this SoCal septet — led by three brothers — has honed its horn-driven sound to a pointed punch of pure punky power. The beat never lags, the energy never sags and the lyrics never aim higher than gloriously goofy songs like Human Pinata and Hit a Guy With Glasses. Just when you think you’re out, they’ll pull you back in.

Various Artists
Punk-O-Rama III
Back when lots of punk bands just recorded singles, compilations were the best way to keep track of the action. Now that everybody makes full-length albums, compilations like this simply offer the best bang for your buck. This who’s who of Epitaph artists includes oldsters like The Cramps, Wayne Kramer (ask your dad, kids), All and Bad Religion, along with younger turks like H2O, Union 13 and Zeke. And let’s not forget the mandatory unreleased cuts from NOFX and Pennywise.