Think what you will about the record label, band name, cover art, and album title, but RUMPELSTILTSKIN GRINDER's "Buried in the Back Yard" is not a grindcore album. It's a dynamic thrash album with roots in crossover, a musically talented cast, and loads of tongue-in-cheek cleverness. MUNICIPAL WASTE's "Hazardous Mutation" was the first thrash/crossover class act of 2005; "Buried in the Front Yard" is the second.Let me start out by telling you about the players. Guitarists Matt Moore (Red Candle Records, XXX MANIAK) and Ryan Moll make one hell of team churning out white-hot buzz saw riffs and fiery fret work. The pair goes at it for eight rounds, hacking and slashing as though fighting to the death in an axe-wielding death match. Moll shreds all over this bad boy, his screaming solos gracing every track (Moore performs one solo on "Stealing E.T."). Just to keep you guessing, the band even throws in an acoustic break on "The Day Merman Met Todd 'The Harpoon' Wilson" that comes from out of nowhere. Like a breath of fresh air, lead throat Eli Shaika uses an aggressive, enunciating style of vocal that at times reminds me of a cross between a much less guttural Diabolical Slaughter (ex-USURPER) and James Hetfield (when he played in an actual thrash metal band). I'll kick myself later for not being able think of the singer the guy most sounds like (it's on the tip of my tongue as I write this). Drummer Patrick Battaglia plays a brutal kick-drum driven style, knowing when to hold back and when to go for broke, while bassist Shawn Riley shows off some fleet-fingered work of his own. And the tunes? Every one is a neck-snapping good time, from the alien invasion firestorm of "Stealing E.T." to the hardcore-infused "Grab a Shovel (We've Got Bodies to Bury)" — complete with hardcore gang shouts — to the stomp and circumstance of "Orange & Black Attack" (featuring memorable lines like "No! We're done fucking around!"). Going back to a time when bands that mixed metal and hardcore didn't take themselves quite so seriously, songs like "Unleash the Troll" and "Ode to Tanks" are rife with comical tales of vicious beasts and battlefield bliss. It's tons of fun and balls-out stomp. The animated scenes (in the booklet and inlay) of the band members playing a game of front yard football with a skull speaks volumes. I've not heard anything quite like "Buried in the Front Yard". This is meat for the thrash-hungry and a guitar clinic for the budding virtuoso.
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