BRICK BATH
"American Currency"

(Crash Music, Inc.)

01. American Currency
02. Bleed with Me
03. Religious Experience
04. Victim Again
05. No Mercy
06. Memories
07. She Had to
08. Don't Provoke
09. Slave to Life
10. Down are the Ways
11. Dollar Signs
12. Storybook Ending

RATING: 6.5/10

Much like PISSING RAZORS, I always had the feeling that BRICK BATH never got much love; maybe I just happened to come across a few particularly scornful reviews. The quartet never tried to be anything but a blistering American metal band with heavy grooves, hard-ass vocals, and screaming solos. And yes, they wear the PANTERA influence proudly on their sleeves. And why shouldn't they? The rip-snortin' tradition started with "I Won't Live the Lie" continued with "Rebuilt" (and the entry of vocalist Cody Hubbard), and forges ahead with "American Currency", an album that may be predictable and slightly flawed, but is still a no-bullshit, headbangin' affair.

It's the story of two duds, a couple of monster jams, and eight respectable rockers. "Memories" (sounds like an outtake) and "Dollar Signs" (weak "melodic" chorus) prove that the album isn't perfect, but two badass, up-tempo boot stompers in the title track and "No Mercy" more than make up for the low points. Both tunes are high-speed assaults with catchy choruses and all kinds of bad attitude. Switching effects pedals on "She Had To" and "Down are the Ways" works to offer the listener a tad more variety and never squelches the slam factor. Others, like "Don't Provoke". are all slice 'n' sever. The clean backing vocals on "Bleed with Me" take a little getting used to, but do work in the end. The light guitar break in the middle with a whiny Eric Meyer solo that eventually explodes into full-throttle shred is just dandy. Throughout the album, Meyer (who also produced and recorded the disc) swings his down-tuned axe with abandon and cranks out some fine riffs. His squealing solos are unabashedly Dimebag in style. And I've always liked the band's guitar tone and natural drum sound.

As much as I'd like to give this one a 7, the album's weak spots and the failure to match the same level of intensity as the title track and "No Mercy" knock it down a notch. I still find it invigorating in its unapologetic metal aesthetic.

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