Saturday, January 24, 2009

Review: Slug - Not For Sale (2005)

Slug [ Website | MySpace ]
Not For Sale

Brazil's Slug formed in 1992 as a straightforward thrash outfit, but their second full-length release (2002's Points Of View) marked a decline toward unapologetic Load-era Metallica worship. Not For Sale, released three years later, shows that little about Slug's style has changed since the previous album.

Frontman Carlos Andre Cascelli does a fine impersonation of James Hetfield, albeit with a heavy accent and occasionally broken English. While his vocal performance is the most obvious Metallica trait heard on Not For Sale, the overall structure of the songs are distinctly reminiscent of the material spewed forth by the Californians in the 1990s. Fully half of the ten songs on this album can be written off as clones. Sure, Cascelli and Guilherme Negrão lay down some flashy leads and scorching solos, but the bottomed out riffs and frequent time changes have Metallica worship written all over them. Even the power ballad "I Always Wanna Change" can't escape this criticism, sounding quite a bit like "The Unforgiven II".

With half the songs being the same sort of Metalli-drivel that still floods the radio airwaves to this day, there are five tracks on which the members of Slug attempt to break away from the norm and exert a bit of originality. "Oasis" is the song that I found to be most interesting, as it opens with a slight Middle Eastern flavored guitar lead that soon gets knocked aside by some seriously powerful riffs. Cascelli and Negrão display considerable skill as they weave solos and leads together, but the song never seems to gain momentum. The same can be said about all of the songs on Not For Sale, actually. The band has some good ideas, but just about when you expect a track to really kick you in the ass ... nothing. As for that originality I hinted at, "Alone" features an acoustic guitar intro over which Cascelli adopts a Gothic, almost spoken word style that lends a sinister air to the track. Some Satriani-like melodic soloing makes an appearance on "The Loss", and the pummeling double-bass from Ricardo Coura is a highlight on "Pearls Before Swine", but these moments are ultimately overshadowed by the Metallica-isms that are never far from the surface.

In the end, if you're a fan of that less-than-impressive period of Metallica's career, then Slug's Not For Sale is right up your alley. These Brazilians displayed a knack for some serious melodic thrash on their debut album, so for me it's disappointing to find them wallowing in Metallica's shadow. Hopefully they can capitalize on the bits of creativity shown here and pull themselves back into the light.

Track Listing
1 I Believe My Lies 3:16
2 Salvation 4:08
3 I Always Wanna Change 5:09
4 Not For Sale 5:33
5 Oasis 6:27
6 The Loss 3:20
7 I'm Trying 4:12
8 Waiting To Die 3:51
9 Alone 4:51
10 Pearls Before Swine 4:07
Total Runtime 44:54

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