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The American Plague
God Bless The American Plague
Long Live Crime/ Dr. Cyclops Records

Imagine shoegaze landscapes with hard rock fringes done Southern style and you can envision what The American Plague's latest release God Bless The American Plague is like. Produced by Seva (Corrosion Of Conformity, Dolly Parton), the album is a steady stream of late '70s blistering rock psychedelia, recalling underground bands like Mountain and Blackfoot, but with a modern glaze reflective of Spencer Dickinson, Gov't Mule, and Valient Thorr.

Band members Jaw on guitar and vocals, Dave Dammit on bass, and Tilmon Navare on drums, hail from Knoxville, Tennessee. They debuted in 2001 with their self-titled release. Their Southern brand of heavy metal is a cross section between Widespread Panic and KISS, infusing elements of noize rock and speed metal into their Southern rock folds. It's a combination that satisfies a niche of fans growing in the South and finding pockets of fans everywhere.

The band's remake of the single "Ace Of Spades" by the UK's Motorhead simultaneously mirrors and refreshes the high energy inherent in the chord shifts and bass dynamics. It's vocally challenging and musically intense but The American Plague handles the burden with ease. Speed guitar, shoe-gazed fuzz, and pounding rhythms abound on The American Plague numbers like "Burn It Down" and "Highwayman." Their revamp of '70s hard rock struts have a UFO-tracing along Creedence Clearwater Revival sensibilities. The thick vocal resonance of Jaw on "9 Times Outta 10" has a Charlie Sexton smoothness along misty guitar lanes and a light funk rhythm. The guitar sequences fire up on "Sympathy For The King" and adhere to heavy bass tones and solid drum strikes.

A softer tempo carries "War Song" half way through, then the guitar shreds go wild and the rhythm section pounds brusquely. The guitar notes race up and down the scale through "They Had It Comin'" at a fierce speed. The momentum of the instrument lines on "Doubt" and "Flesh & Bone" purvey heavy metal grips along melodic progressions, channeling Traffic's mechanics with The Riverboat Gamblers' zest for speed. The instrument passages are challenging and possess a molten intensity as hardcore as Motorhead and as Southernly clamped as the Allman Brothers.

The American Plague epitomize the underground hard rock movement brewing in the South, taking influences from Lynyrd Skynyrd to Motorhead and making a cross section that satisfies a niche for rock fans who crave heavy metal in their Southern rock.

-Susan Frances

Track listing:
1. Sympathy For The King
2. What If
3. 9 Times Outta 10
4. War Song
5. Highwayman
6. Bun It Down
7. Ace Of Spades
8. They Had It Comin'
9. Doubt
10. Flesh & Bone

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