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Non-Prog CD Reviews

Gravity Kills

Superstarved

Review by Mike Korn

Gravity Kills emerged in the mid-90's as part of the horde of bands inspired by the success of Nine Inch Nails. That hungry mob also included acts like Stabbing Westward, Sister Machine Gun and Filter. GK looked like they would be the best of the lot...and then seemed to disappear. Now, the band has returned, but the ghost of Trent Reznor still haunts Gravity Kills much like Marley bedeviled Scrooge.

"Superstarved" is a very listenable disc that fits right into much of the current hard music scene. It features 13 punchy songs (none over 4:21) that all have memorable hooks. What the record lacks is any sort of freshness or identity outside that of being a combination of other bands. The NIN influence is spread pretty thickly over most of the music, especially the vocals of Jeff Scheel, who might consider looking at his family history to see if he has any hidden Reznor blood in his veins. There's that same contrasting style of danceable electronic beats and huge distorted guitar riffs, with plenty of clicks, whirrs, and chirps to remind us that this is "industrial" music we are listening to. The simple, staccato guitar riffs will please any nu-metal fan.

To be fair, these guys are not out to shock the world with their inventiveness. They deliver some hard and heavy tracks that should appeal to both industrial fans and the larger universe of metalheads. The record is certainly well-produced (by Martin Atkins) and has a strong sonic pedigree. But after such a long layoff, one could have hoped for something a bit more chancy than what we hear on "Superstarved".

This review is available in book format (hardcover and paperback) in Music Street Journal: 2002 Year Book Volume 2 at lulu.com/strangesound.

Track by Track Review
Love, Sex, and Money
The opener belts out of the gate in pretty strong fashion, with a very familiar power riff and an in your face guitar sound. This shows Gravity Kills' talent in mixing catchy, almost poppy hooks with plenty of crunch.
Take It All Away
More subdued than the first track, this has a moody beginning with acoustic guitar and understated sampling before heavy riffing comes in.
Fifteen Minutes
Thankfully, the band doesn't rap, but this song does have a funky tone to it. The chorus is really catchy on this one. It is possibly a good choice for radio airplay.
Forget Your Name
This evolves from a quiet beginning into the heaviest song on the disc. The bass is really throbbing and the guitar just absolutely kills. Another outstanding chorus, this has Scheel yelling "I forget your name/But I love you/I forget your name/But I want you". It is really good industrial-strength metal.
Enemy
The riffs on this one remind me of prime Prong but with a more commercial edge.
Breakdown
A hard-charging tune with a danceable feel to it, this would be pretty good live.
Beg And Borrow
This really cuts too close to NIN. Scheel's quiet but "scary" vocals just ape Trent's approach too much and the tune's combination of creepy but subdued synth tones with dark heavy riffs comes across as generic.
One Thing
"One Thing" kicks in with really heavy guitar, but the riffs are again rather familiar. This kind of reminds me of Killing Joke in a way. It is a commercial track.
Personal Jesus
This cover of the Depeche Mode classic emerges as one of the quirkiest and most enjoyable tunes on the disc. It has that kind of 80's New Wave feel to it, with some acoustic mixed with subtle sampling. Then that rolling riff kicks in, only with crunchy guitar instead of the layered synths DM used. They keep it short and sweet.
Wide Awake
This one has a bouncy guitar hook that's a little different from the rest but the whispered vocals and over-abundance of sound effects detract from it somewhat. It's a serviceable tune but nothing special.
Suffocate
Pretty formulaic modern industrial rock, the riff has been heard many times before. It leaves little impression on the listener.
Love, Sex, And Money (Reprise)
This instrumental re-working on the opening tune is quite strong on its own and I dare say I even liked it more than its original version. It has quite a different feel to it, more spacy and heavier, and ends the album on a strong note.
 
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