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POP MUSIC REVIEW : Mindwarp Hits the Stage With a Scream in San Juan

December 15, 1987|HOLLY GLEASON

Zodiac Mindwarp & the Love Reaction hit the Coach House in San Juan Capistrano with a scream Sunday night. The British band has yet to release a record in the United States--but it should, judging by the audience's response to its crunching songs.

After striding on stage in a frenzy of smoke and strobe lights, Mindwarp and his band regaled the audience for an hour and 10 minutes with a beat-heavy, double-guitar-driven set that focused on girls and cars. With such numbers as "High Heel Heaven," "Primitive Rapture" and "Bad Girl City," this band won't endear itself to the feminist cause. But its anthem-like brand of machismo is definitely in tune with your average teen-age male sensibility.

There's an almost cartoon quality about this band that hits so hard, snarls and growls its lyrics, and swaggers as if this were Errol Flynn's last stand. When Mindwarp barks, "I'm the god of fertility. Hey, baby, you can worship me," during "High Priest of Love," he almost makes you want to laugh.

The sweat-soaked singer may realize that: For all his musical bravado, his stage patter had none of the conviction that marked the songs. He almost seemed to ask the crowd for more applause--unusual behavior in a musical genre that's usually so intent on taking what it wants.

Trading heavily on guitar effects, Flash Bastard and Cobalt Stargazer swapped riffs throughout the night and wisely kept their solos brief, tight and to the point--except for Stargazer's extended solo as he ran through the club during the encore, "Psycho Active," one of the few songs with the sort of twisting, turning guitar lines that revealed a psychedelic influence.

Most of the other songs seemed far closer to speed metal. But a major difference between speed metal and the Love Reaction is that the Love Reaction knows how to work up a sweat. Between the unrelenting, slamming power of Slam Thunderhide's drums, Trash D. Garbage's equally persistent bass and the band's primitive sense of melody, the band's sound doesn't become jarring; the power and punch come through unadulterated.

The more pop/metal Love Razors from Pasadena opened the show with originals that sound radio-ready (and show what Bon Jovi and Van Halen hath wrought in terms of making metal mainstream). With its melodic-metal songs and a lead singer named Stan who brings to mind the early David Lee Roth, this four-piece band could make some record company a lot of money. Like Zodiac Mindwarp, it understands the principle of the anthem-like chorus, and it knows how to use a hook to its best advantage.

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