Straight A's "Self Help"
It's a curious conundrum, a frustrating puzzle of heavy music. With so many finite rules - driving beats, ferocious guitars, shouty lyrics - how can heavy metal be creative and original and, most importantly, interesting to listeners who want more than a soundtrack to knock people down to? This debut LP works from a formula that may solve the riddle. Straight A's are not there yet, but the band experiments enough with tempo, sounds and melodies to be interesting outside of the hardcore scene. This doesn't mean "Self Help" is accessible to everyone, nor is it different enough to be a landmark record. But it's a good start from a promising band.
- Joseph Lord