For work yesterday I ended up spending eight hours in my car (round trip to Dallas and back). While some people think of that as a pain in the ass, I prefer to think of it as getting paid 34.5 cents a mile to listen to new music and come up with reviews!
The first disc that worked it’s way into my changer (and has since worked it’s way back out) was the self-titled release from Florida-based Groovenics. Both their bio and website proclaim that the Groovenics are “The future of heavy music as we know it. If this is the future of heavy music, then please dear God, kill me now so that I may live in the past forever.
I hate to start out right off the bat by picking on a band’s bio because I really feel that a band’s sound should talk louder than their bio – however, the beginning of their bio says that fans of “Incubus, Mr. Bungle, A Perfect Circle and Deftones” should enjoy their music. First of all, I am a fan of Mr. Bungle, A Perfect Cirle, and the Deftones, and the Groovenics should not even consider themselves in the same ballpark as those bands. Second of all, I think this band sounds *exactly* like Incubus. I don’t know about you, but I certainly don’t think of Incubus as “the future of heavy music as I know it”. In fact, as of this writing, Incubus has the number one video on VH1. Incubus, Groovenics, and anyone else who sounds like those two bands do not constitute the future of heavy music. To be honest, I don’t think they consitute the future of much of anything.
Their online biography also mentions that “each member [of the band] draws from their own pool of stylistic influences, tapping into metal, punk, funk, pop and electronica.” Can’t argue with that; there’s plenty of punk, funk, pop, and electronica thrown in all over the place. An older website I found that pays tribute to them says that they combine “hardcore, jazz, industrial, ska, hip-hop, punk, latin, surf rock, and anything else they can get their hands on.”
Apparently combining “hardcore, jazz, industrial, ska, hip-hop, punk, latin, and surf rock” sounds a lot like Korn, because that’s what the majority of the guitars sound like on this album. The Groovenics have adopted the well known “feedback” sound – You know, guitar tracks that go “chunka-chunka WAAA, chunka-chunka WAAA-WAAA.” The majority of the songs do in fact remind me of Incubus. The drum and bass work are solid and provide a good platform for the rest of the band to build on, but the heavy keyboards and weak guitar don’t do much to take the music up a level. The vocal work is probably the most annoying thing on the record – sometimes it’s good, and sometimes it’s awful. K*rl Michaels (I’m sure his friends knew him when he was just Karl) takes the most annoying parts of Serj Tankian’s (System of a Down) vocal style and multiplies them to new heights. At one point, I actually thought that Michaels was doing a Jim Carrey impersonation. His singing at times is decent, but his screaming gets old. Fans of the genre may enjoy the album, but not being a fan of the band, nothing jumped out at me and drew me into their world.
Like most new bands currently trying to break ground, the band has a spectacular website online. www.groovenics.com has a ton of pictures, songs, multimedia, desktop wallpapers, and other goodies out there waiting for you. I found the website to be much more entertaining than the CD. Both the website and the packaging of the CD are very professional and clean in appearance, and do a good marketing job.
Groovenics follow the current trend of including a nu-metal version of an 80’s classic by tacking on their version of Def Leppard’s “Pour Some Sugar On Me.” I’m all for covering old classics (I rather enjoyed Alien Ant Farm’s recent version of “Smooth Criminal”), but for some reason this one doesn’t do anything for me. The bottom line with it is, it’s not any better than the original. Screaming over and adding distortion to old 80’s songs doesn’t necessarily make them better.
As for the rest of the songs, there’s no sense in me going through and ripping each one apart individually. The overall vibe of the music is not as “heavy” as bands like, say Linkin Park or Papa Roach. Is the band talented? Yes. The songs show strong pop sensability and will give lots of young teenage boys and girls the pseudo-angst they need to make it through junior high. The songs have a lot of “rapping” over the verses and screaming during the choruses, a definite pattern which much be followed in the nu-metal world. However, if you’ve been into music for any length of time and “know” music, you’ve heard this before – and you didn’t care much for it the first time, either.
People won’t be talking about the Groovenics’ second album. In fact, in a year, they won’t be talking about this one either. Groovenic’s self-titled disc is a small fish in a big sea of nu-metal crap. From what I’ve found on the internet, it looks like they’re a pretty good live band and have a pretty large following in West Palm Beach. Unfortunately, I’m not sure that’ll be enough to take them to the top. If their sole idea of marketing is to target the metal crowd, they should probably rethink that plan very quickly. If, however, they can get one of their acoustic/electric songs played on TRL just once, the sky will probably be the limit and we’ll be stuck hearing this band for a long time. The Groovenics have a specific market in mind – angry youth. Kids who are angry enough to want to rock but are too young to know who Max Cavalera are will be the most likely to pick this disc up.
Harmless rock intended for nu-metal fans. Not, however, the future of heavy music.
01. Just Right
03. Teach Me
07. Scratch and Sniff
08. She’s a Freak
11. Booty Barn
12. Get it Started
13. Pour Some Sugar On Me