This band frustrates me. They've got the tools, but consistency is often a problem. While "Amped" has its moments, there is never enough going for it to make it a well rounded, quality album of traditional heavy metal. One can always find some satisfactory Jack Frost riff heft here and there, but with a few very minor exceptions, the songwriting never quite cuts it, and in some cases is just plain bad.At least 2004's "Year of the Witch" came close, the high points more than making up for the few rough spots. Opening with "West Nile" and "Sunnydale High" made me think that there was hope, even though neither are much more than average metal fare. The rugged, mid-paced rhythm of "Dishonor Killings" achieves a measure of success, ultimately falling into the "not bad" category before a little riff nastiness and the hot soloing of "GP Fix" finally gets the head-nod going. The brooding opening section of "Fame Gets You Off" has a bit of an ALICE IN CHAINS vibe that leads into a half-way decent thrash riff, but here again it is difficult to feel anything but indifference. The vocalist change from James Rivera to Alan Tecchio only makes things worse. The piano-driven and ballady "BE" is the worst of the bunch, the off-key singing godawful to say the least. Tecchio's vocals are at least mediocre on the heavy material, but his delivery on this track in particular is intolerable. The re-introduction of piano amidst the MAIDEN-esque gallop and guitar runs of the tempo-shifting "Widows and Orphans" tries to be epic and falls flat as well, here again driven straight into the ground by Tecchio's second-rate vocals. "Red" wants to be a rugged metal jam and ends up an amateurish exercise. I'm thankful that the odds of me hearing the band's awkward cover of BILLY IDOL's "Flesh for Fantasy" are slim at best. Consider the rating generous.
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