Featuring former UGLY KID JOE/LIFE OF AGONY singer Whitfield Crane, ex-MACHINE HEAD/SOULFLY guitarist Logan Mader, former ADAYINTHELIFE guitarist Blunt, and ex-SKREW/PIECE DOGS bassist Kyle Sanders, Los Angeles' MEDICATION (formerly MYSTRESS) have relied at least in part on their impressive resumes to establish a bit of a name for themselves before they'd even issued their debut five-song EP, and if this full-length release is anything to go by, it shouldn't be long before their impact is felt on a much wider scale.
Although early reports had described the group's musical direction as similar to some of the bandmembers' previous projects, MEDICATION's songwriting approach tends to follow a much less riff-heavy direction than that of MACHINE HEAD or SOULFLY, with Crane's excellent vocal work serving as the undeniable focal point of the band's sound, which is at once hypnotic and deliciously melodic.
Despite the fact that MEDICATION never approach the crushing brutality of Mader's past offerings or the bubble-gum silliness of Whitfield's first outfit, the quintet (who are rounded out on this CD by session drummer Josh Freese or A PERFECT CIRCLE/GUNS N' ROSES fame) are a musically diverse and relatively original-sounding bunch who seem just as comfortable churning out energetic, metallized rockers like opener "Loaded Gun" (which features Crane doing his best Keith Caputo impression during the chorus) as they are slowing things down and exploring a softer, more soulful side to their songwriting in tracks like "Underground".
A much stronger debut effort than anticipated by this writer, Prince Valium is one of those rare albums that pack enough power to appeal to the avid metal listeners while emphasizing the kind of quality hooks and musical versatility that give the quintet an advantage over most of their contemporaries. With a sound that is neither easily categorizable nor perfectly in synch with the current trends, MEDICATION stand a good chance of making a dent on their own terms, and it remains to be seen if they are rewarded with the kind of success that they so richly deserve.