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Music Reviews

Screaming Females - Castle Talk
»Screaming Females
Castle Talk
Don Giovanni
Trent Reznor & Atticus Ross - The Social Network [Original Soundtrack]
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The Social Network [Original Soundtrack]
The Null Corporation
Deerhunter - Halcyon Digest
Halcyon Digest
No Age - Everything in Between
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Everything in Between
Sub Pop
Robyn - Body Talk Pt. 1/ Body Talk Pt. 2
Body Talk Pt. 1/ Body Talk Pt. 2
The Walkmen - Lisbon
»The Walkmen
Fat Possum
Early Man
Closing In
Matador Records

Rating: 6/10 ?

November 10, 2005
Everyone knows someone who loves heavy metal, especially if you still keep in touch with your high school friends. Metal has been around long enough to become its own sub-culture, and the genre has split up into multiple sub-genres, some incorporating gratuitous umlauts: speed metal, glam metal, nü-metal and death metal to name a few. I was never sucked into this alternate dimension rife with dropped-D tuning and long, curly hair, but enough of my buddies were to keep me exposed to pre-Napster litigation Metallica, Iron Maiden and Motörhead.

Early Man's debut full-length is a celebration of these, well, early groups who laid the groundwork for a sound that continues to frighten middle-aged folk everywhere. Closing In has it all: thrashing riffs, Marshall stack enormity, flying-V guitars and lyrics about paranoia and metallic birds of prey. Mike Conte and Adam Bennati have done their history lessons and let influences like Black Sabbath and Metallica run wild over the eleven tracks without breaking an ironic smirk.

"Four Walls" introduces the duo as backward-looking apprentices who respect their elders. It's a brisk three minutes of shredded riffs and echoed vocals that is rich in the same dramatic flair that permeates the best metal songs. Early Man then turn it up to eleven for "War Eagle," which is even louder, faster and more fanciful than track one. You gotta give these guys props for writing a song so authentic it borders on camp.

The momentum of tracks 1 and 2 takes a nose dive by track 3; "Death Is The Answer" isn't like a Black Sabbath song, it is a Black Sabbath song, for all intents and purposes. Ozzy didn't write it and hasn't performed it, but you'd never know by the way Conte cops Osborne's voice and Black Sabbath's sound. Except for a pretty awesome solo section in the middle, "Death Is The Answer" is nothing special, and you have to wonder if more of Early Man's music will be mired in the same shameless mimicry.

It is - some of it at least. "Evil Is" is another example of the band's timidness when it comes to departing from their influences. This time, it's Metallica the duo can't seem to shake - so much so that Conte strains his vocals in a conscious effort to sound like James Hetfield just for this song. It's probably the best imitation of Hetfield I've ever heard, and it could easily pass as a Metallica song to the metally-challenged, but this isn't what I want from a new band playing originals.

These are the most blatant examples, and yet there are still quite a few solid tracks on Closing In that don't lean on Ozzy and friends so much. "Like A Goddamn Rat" has a great shout-along chorus and a slightly faster tempo then most songs on the disc. "Feeding Frenzy" also benefits from a burst of speed. It seems like Early Man are at their best when they hit an all-out sprint; the mid-tempo numbers tend to be the most derivative.

For devote metal heads, Early Man may represent a renaissance of the original, pure metal sound that started it all. For everyone else, Closing In will be received as a retro novelty rather than a serious musical accomplishment.

Reviewed by Andy Brown
A regular contributor to LAS, Andy Brown lives in the frozen tundra of Minnesota, but doesn\'t think he has an accent.

See other reviews by Andy Brown



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