CD Review

V/A – “Ursa Major”

By Marcus Pan

Ursa MajorI almost booted this from the review schedule because it is, well, a bit black metalish. But it's tracks by groups like A New January, CEOXiME and Flood Damage that made me change my mind enough to not do so. There's some here that would fall better in a metal review magazine, but we'll give it a go because we have been known to occasionally wander into other genres.

Made in Canada, Ursa Major is a compilation made by Inner Venus, complete with a jacket that talks about all of the eighteen bands showcased. It's put together quite well, very professional, and I give a thumbs up to the production staff. Since it's a compilation, we talk about the tracks:

Flood Damage – Turn On the Ugly Lights
Very dark, black metalish in a way, laced with raunchy guitar licks and fat back mic'ed drums. It's electronic lacing to the metallic riff work makes this cross genres into the realm of Ministry-like industrial music as well. And not half bad.
Web: http://minot.com/~slasher

Reducer – Back Bone
Psycho-pissed bitch rock 'n roll in the vein of Hole or a heavier Letters To Cleo. Not quite Legends-centric in its format, but for those that like this sort of dirty-girl-yell-at-me-until-I-cream thing, rock on.
Web: www.innervenus.org

Casting Method – Gods 'N Monsters
Heavy metal. Pure and simple. Tool, Metallica...you get the image. Is it good? Well...it's a bit standard, but the slap-pop bass isn't half bad at all. Otherwise, a little dirtier than KRock, but otherwise same same.
Web: www.castingmethod.com

CEOXiME – Stop In Your Tracks
The inclusion of a track by Detroit's CEOXiME outfit is probably the reason why I received this compilation in my mailbox for review (from DEC if memory serves). An interesting segue from the thrash of Casting Method to the floaty synthetics of Stop In Your Tracks. A sliding bass groove anchors the track while the synth melodies swirl above. A bit minimal, but cute...picks up a static-laden approach near the end as it grates to a stop.
Web: www.ceoxime.com

Q – Fade
Fade is a good follow to the previous CEOXiME track as it blows up on you with windy synthetics and the sultry vocals of Melissa Benerakis. But it quickly surprises you with very heavy guitar work with the continuing brilliant and bright keyboard melodies. This is one of the highlights of Ursa Major. The only thing holding Q back from stardom is that it's a bitch to search for them on the web.
Web: www.thisisq.com

Bottomfeeder – Hypochondria
From looking at the band photo in the liner notes of Ursa Major, Bottomfeeder seem to be an eight person band. I don't know for sure, since the notes on the band themselves are nothing more than binary digits with the occasional kewlio word thrown in (i.e. evolution, armageddon, etc.). Hypochondria is a very garage sounding outfit – a dark metal / thrash core sound with your standard screaming, power chords, etc. The sudden shift into a softer setting comes out silly.
Web: www.emayhem.com/bottomfeeder

Trak Addikt – Nothing's There
Slowing down and infusing a swirly-yet-guitarish 311 sound, Trak Addikt aren't half bad at all. Switching between heavy riff-laced choruses and lighter progressive lyrical sections, their blending of heavier metal-industrial sounds with electro-pop styles and in your face rap-like vocals create a very interesting track.
E-Mail: trakaddikt@comcast.com

Ogden – Dictionary
We suddenly find ourselves being crooned to by Ogden, who seem out of place following the smattering of electro, metal and industrial metal that preceded them. That's not to say that Dictionary is a bad track – it's actually not bad at all. A very shoegazery feel, pack yourself a few joints in the cig. pack and chill out.
Web: www.ogdensongs.com

Killing the Messenger – Less Chat…More Hat
Feel good rocker foursome Killing the Messenger, complete with Metallica-like logo, join us with their interestingly titled Less Chat…More Hat single. They have an expectantly similar sound, as well, which is quite do – remarking strongly on Garage Days gone by.
Web: www.killingthemessenger.20m.com
E-Mail: killthemess@hotmail.com

Bunny Five Coat – Sweet Honesty
BFC are a bitchy female band and one of the few tracks off of Ursa Major that I tried adding to the upcoming Legends Net.Radio playlist (unfortunately, they never got back to me). Simplistic but catchy, Erica’s lead vocals rasp the lyrics at you in true femme fatale manner. Web: www.bunnyfivecoat.com
E-Mail: bunnyfivecoatband@hotmail.com

Motorpsychos – Aborist
Lots of angry chicks on this compilation. This time we have Rachel Cassady, sounding very much like Janice Joplin with a heavier background, crooning Aborist. It’s not bad, but a little standard – all around, really. From Rachel’s leather pants, to the band name Motorpsychos, to the common riffs and chord progressions on Aborist.
Web: www.motorpsychosrock.com
E-Mail: insanity@motorpsychosrock.com

Despite Best Intentions – Sketching Picaso’s Skull
Trying to keep it a little interesting, Despite Best Intentions mix up time signatures often and come out sounding curiously like a cross between the Red Hot Chili Peppers and Primus. Unfortunately, Sketching Picaso’s Skull suffers from too many rhythm changes and instead of coming out like a solid song is instead split apart and non-cohesive. The production leaves a bit to be desired as well.
Web: www.guerrillaunderground.com
E-Mail: dbicult@yahoo.com

The Bully Cats – Asphyxiation
Besides being a sometime fatal way of jerking off, asphyxiation is now a song title as well. I assumed The Bully Cats were a bit rockabilly when I saw their name, but they don’t look it. Nor do they sound it. Their curiously interesting use of fake addresses and website URL (i.e. 666 Hell Mother Fucker Ave.) comes out like mommy’s little boy threw a temper tantrum than anything else. I’m unimpressed – both aesthetically and musically.

Yigga Digga – Black
Finally, some well-produced metal strains find their way onto track 14 of Ursa Major. Yigga Digga was at first guessed at to be a drum ‘n bass outfit due to their name, but it turns out “yigga digga” is actually the sound you make when trying to describe a guitar riff. So yes…they’re rock ‘n roll. Stoner rock in fact, and good enough to be picked up soon for a full release. Solid production, solid riffwork, solid playing, tight musicianship. I say YD should drop a line to Meteor City Records and get something out there.
Web: www.yiggadigga.com
E-Mail: randy13@yiggadigga.com

Invizable Munkee – Slave of the New World
At first glance, what we have here is your Trent Reznor clone. A tortured soul seeking his escape through music. Also extremely out of place on Ursa Major following the long period of heavy metal and rock ‘n roll. He does have an interesting take on electro-pop though, creating a laid back chill out tune with Slave of the New World. He tends to mix it up strongly with a lot of misplaced samples that tend to break the song up a bit too much – but not as badly as some of the sample jockeys I’ve heard in my time.
E-Mail: invizablemunkee@hotmail.com

A New January – Outburn
Alright, a name I recognize! Outburn is also a track you’ll find on the upcoming Legends Net.Radio play list as well. ANJ show serious improvement over past releases, and have gotten heavier, grittier, edgier and much more interesting. Nice work from this foursome.
Web: www.anewjanuary.com
E-Mail: info@anewjanuary.com

Hypoid – Halflife
Less than 24 hours ago, I was playing Half-Life against Legends’ producer, the Mean Little Man. Needless to say I pretty much kicked his ass all over the deathmatch boards. But that has nothing to do with the track Halflife from Hypoid, of course. Berend Nieuwstraten III is the brains behind Hypoid, and this – one of his many projects – is his industrial-techno outfit. It’s not bad, but it just doesn’t grab you too much.
Web: www.hypoid.net
E-Mail: barend3@iprimus.com.au

Black Moth Super Rainbow – The Magical Butterfly Net
An attempt at winning the “most fucked up band name,” I’m sure, Black Moth Super Rainbow’s The Magical Butterfly Net closes Ursa Major. Short, slow, brooding and minimal. A little too minimal, but it closes Ursa Major in a nice way.
Web: www.blackmothsuperrainbow.com
E-Mail: blackmothsuperrainbow@hotmail.com