Friday, June 6, 2008

Fear Nuttin Band - Yardcore

What do you do if you have an eclectic range in musical tastes? You're a metal head and a rastaman, all wrapped into one half-shaved head of jah-lovin dreads. Sometimes you want to skank to some reggae, rockers or roots style, yet you still want it vicious and aggressive. Other times you want some metal, but a little different than whatever "core" is the vomit- throated sound of the moment.

You want to rock and you want to reggae. You want some Yardcore.

For years bands have been trying to find the right balance between skanking reggae and slam pit rock. Some come from the rock side, adding flourishes of reggae like Bad Brains, Skindred, Dub War, even the Police. Others, like Peter Broggs or Eddy Grant come from the reggae side, adding heavy metal guitar to the mix of their roots stylin. The results of these experiments are sometimes more successful than others, I'll let you be the judge. But I will tell you one band that found that magic mix.

Fear Nuttin Band, FNB, is headbanging, deep roots reggae, with enough Jah to chill to in your hammock with a cold one and enough metallic crunch and riff to knock at least three cervical vertebrae out of place.

This is reggae rock, roots metal, or rasta-core. Whatever you want to call it, it's pretty fucking amazing. Now, anyone who's read my Puya review know that I give respect to any band that can successfully mix up the metal sound, throwing their own texture into the recipe, but I gotta tell you, reggae's a hard one. By it's very herbed-out nature, roots reggae has got to be about as polar opposite as possible to metal, in mood, message, tone and aggression. Balancing these two dissimilar styles into one cohesive whole requires some pretty special musicians and a little something extra, some added musical spice, to make the whole thing simmer together into something tasty.

Fortunately, FNB got it all. Chris Regan and Jay Chung mangle their guitars as ferociously as any metal band, with the chops to speed it up, rough it up, or drop it down at the drop of dreadlock tam. Produced by Terry Date (Deftones, Pantera, Soundgarden) I hear traces of P.O.D. and Papa Roach here. Drummer Matt Penza and bassist Brian Daigle, the heart and soul rhythm section of any reggae band, fuse seamlessly between dub style and metal, pulverizing you one moment, throwing in Island texture the next, something I didn't think was humanly possible. And then, there's that something special.

FNB features not one, but two authentic reggae lead vocalists, and it's the dynamism of the vocal interplay between Roosta's more Dennis Brown smooth roots style and Prowla's gruffer, Burning Spear toasting baritone that drive these songs. This is fierce reggae metal, brimming with intensity and power, grooving to a reggae beat with enough crunch to still rip the pores from your face.

"Enemy" launches this beast off, as mean and ferocious as any hardcore, pounding and thudding for four minutes while Roosta and Prowla skank and toast, the band going ballistic behind them. "Rule the World," ranks as the highlight here, a perfect blend of pulverizing metal, feedback screeching at the end of the chords, and the most singable reggae chorus I've heard since Black Uhuru. Either one of these guys could lead their own rasta band, their voices are so strong, but together, with the band lighting sticks of dynamite behind them, it's explosive.

"Dun Di Place," is a mosh pit waiting to happen cut in pieces by some deep bottomed dub breakdowns. As you would expect from a song titled, "Police State," this mid-tempo fierce rocker takes no prisoners, a street riot captured in four minutes of pounding metal and toasting. Then, just when you think you've got the boys's style pegged,"Pon Di Block," breaks it all down, Rootsa and Prowla digging deeper into their roots-style for a slower paced roots number, Roosta voice floating in and out of the chorus, while Prowla brings on the deeper end. From there, there's just no letting up. "Vibes,""Runaway," and "Fears,' will all keep the masses smashing each other with flying elbows and knees, while "Can't Get Me Weed," "Real Music," and "Friends," bring on the more melodic island vibe without ever losing their groove.

Now, if it seems like I'm just going on and on, well, I am. It's been a long time since I've had this much fun with a new metal band, most bands satisfied recycling old Sabbath riffs, the same blast beats, or spewing out their vocals as if they were hawking phlegm from a diseased lung. And to successfully fuse two of my favorite musics, straight up roots-style with the demolishing muscle of metal, I feel like a kid discovering Reese's peanut butter cups for the first time, "Peanut Butter and Chocolate? In the same candy bar? Holy fuck!" On their CD cover, the boys have a saying. "Unify the Music, unify the people." Well, just sign me up.


Buy here: Yardcore

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