By Ray Van Horn, Jr.

Chain Border

One of the ugly parts of being a reviewer is having to be brutally honest despite the good one can find in certain acts. These little samplers give hope that there is great music quietly lurking around the scene, waiting to be discovered, yet the understanding that the potential for something lame also exists. In the case of the DV8 promo, both apply.

SMP delivers the goods with Acid Drop, gloried by its creeping, eighties-minded groove, boom beat industrial drive, smooth raps and hip vocals that are down with what's currently selling in the mainstream; kind of like a midline Dope track. The groovy sampling towards the end of the song really gives the song a special kitsch. Chemicals - Mindless Faith Mix is an infectious, energetic coldwave dance slam with migraine-inducing aggression, a belly-slapping breakdown in league with Meat Beat Manifesto. This one is all that and a bag of Cool Ranch Doritos; with one bite, you wish it wouldn't end. Reviewer's sidebar: this track got four repeated listens.

Julian Tulips Licorice is as wacked-out as its name suggests. With excruciating, droning vocals that obviously wish they had Ian Curtis' name tagged to them, this bizarre outfit struggles for a sense of purpose, despite some rather clever song titles. My Invisible Ashtray is a wallowing and muddled affair for the first half with a mediocre drumtrack and droll bassline that is saved to a degree by credible keyboards; while the vocals rip the track apart even worse. However, the second half of the song takes on a different identity as it remixes itself into something that no longer sucks, amazingly. Alas, the following track, Dolls Aren't Supposed to Bite which rings hilarious on the face, is sincerely torn by the intentionally cancerous vocals. Despite the nice keywork and decent sampling, the shticky vocals are too much of a detriment to be fun.

Pillars of Nein have somewhat of a potential, given the well-executed guitar work on both songs. Yet the structure of their songs lack credibility and discipline, leaving the guitar to sound strayed and aloof. Larry is a six-plus minute cycle of slugglishness saved by a hard chorus and guitar work that gives it some much-needed emotion. The vocals switch from keyed to sloppy, especially with the song's lyrical bitching in the second half. Epic sounds like anything but, even with good programming, sharp guitar notes and as on Larry a very driven chorus. Sadly, the vocals sound drunken and saturated on the so-so verses. The problem with Pillars of Nein is their pacing, which may work itself out the further they go with their craft. Again, the potential is lying dormant within their camp; they simply need to tap into it.

SMP has the biggest promise of the three on this sampler. Already having been selected as one of Idiot Stare's assemblage of remix artists, SMP seems on their way. Pillars of Nein seem to have a bit of a marketing push behind them, so chances are they're better than what shows on this sampler. Julian Tulips Licorice? Let's just say this: Sid Vicious doing My Way was equally dreadful, but at least it lent a sense of comical history to the music scene.

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