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Viktor Vaughn - "Vaudeville Villain"

I've been a fan of MF DOOM from way back when he went by the name of Zev Love X in KMD. King Geedorah and MIC, Metal Fingers and Victor Vaughn. Madvillain and DangerDoom... he is one of the most creative lyricists I have ever heard, as is evidenced in one track, "I Hear Voices", from the album "Operation: Doomsday". in that song, he successfully uses "Slobodan Milosevic" and "Ortho Trycyclen" in separate rhymes.

MF DOOM models his hip-hop persona off of Marvel Comics villain "Doctor Doom", hence the sub-pseudonym Victor Vaughn. He wears a metal mask when performing and will not knowingly be photographed without it.

He often fills his albums with samples from old Fantastic Four cartoons, or anything with references to Doctor Doom and villains. Some of his albums have not been welcomed by critics and fans of mainstream hip-hop because of this very feature; a couple of his releases may go on for 30+ minutes, with only 10 minutes of rapping. The rest of the album would be beats and samples.

The album "Vaudeville Villain", or "VV" - as it is sometimes known, is probably the most widely accessible release MF DOOM has put out, as there are fewer samples and the beats are more cohesive and less bizarre then have been on other albums. And every track, other than the short opening "Overture", features a vocal track.

His lyrics are outstanding, as always. I would provide a sample, but there is simply too much to condense, and singling out a couple of lines from any one song would be pointless. His lyrical prowess is something that should be heard. There are a few guest artists, such as Lord Sear and Creature on the track "Open Mic Nite, Pt. 2".

Some of my favorite tracks: "Lickupon", "Raedawn", "Saliva", "Mr. Clean", "G.M.C." and the hidden track "Change the Beat".

Other DOOM albums worth noting: "MM...FOOD?", "Madvillainy", "Operation: Doomsday" and "DangerDoom".

deftones - "saturday night wrist"

deftones are one of those bands that, for me anyway, need to be listened to a few times through before they can be fully appreciated. they have been and still stand today as a predominantly metal band, though there is so much more to their music than just metal. the group is constantly reshaping and experimenting with their sound.

"saturday night wrist", their newest effort, is no exception. it seems that the more years they put between themselves and "adrenaline", their major label debut album, the farther they get from that uniquely aggressive sound they captured so well at the time. as the band has grown over the years, they have been moving toward more pop-like songs, really giving singer chino moreno an opportunity to flex his vocal muscle.

his voice is at times haunting, captivating and soulful, at other times anguished and manic, yet controlled. at times, it's all of these wrapped into one intense bundle. truly an amazing and distinct voice.

drummer abe cunningham is such a defining aspect of the whole deftones sound image, keeping a simple, steady pace to keep those ballads rolling. when it comes time to flourish, he really pours himself into those fillls and can really bring the songs to life.

the combined guitar work of chino, chi cheng and stephen carpenter definitely impresses me. deftones have never really been technically complex as a band, but they have a sound i feel could never be duplicated. from the drifting melodies layered with frank delgado's sampling and keys, creating a cloudy, dreamy feel, to the rapid fire attack and the crushing weight of the metal riffs, "saturday night wrist" is one album that should appease deftones fans and metal fans alike, as well as make them more accessible to a larger crowd of our music-loving culture. they truly defy genre, and create a sound one can only call "deftones".

some key tracks: i would not miss out on the stellar track titled "beware". with chino's voice exploring all corners of the vocal map, delgado's ethereal piano coupled with those big guitars, that is one track i can safely say will be widely appealing, accessible and truly expresses the deftones' sound. also, look for "mein" - a collaboration with system of a down's frontman, serj tankian, and "cherry waves".

check them out on myspace:

converge - "no heroes"

okay, i picked up the new converge album today. i'm not too impressed. it sounds similar to "you fail me", which is a good thing, because i like the direction they took with that album, but it seems to me this new album is not so much a step backward, but not so much a step forward, either.

the recording is of good quality, a lot better than that mess "jane doe". i really like the jane doe album, but at times you couldn't hear the instruments distinctly. this album is clear, the "singing" (read: screaming) is good... a note on this, there is a song in which there is actual singing. the vocals were done by guitarist and main songwriter kurt ballou. i guess j. bannon just likes to stick to what he's good at: screaming like he's burning alive in line at the DMV.

there are a few standout tracks. i like the opening song, "heartache". "sacrifice" and "trophy scars" are among some of my other favs.

listen to the album on myspace. i don't know how long it will be up.