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POP MUSIC REVIEW : Downset's Passions Ring True

August 25, 1994|LORRAINE ALI

Downset offers a thinking and passionate flip side to numb-headed hard-core or muscle-flexing metal. The San Fernando Valley quintet mixes rap with the two styles in the tradition of Anthrax, then adds a social conscience via Rey Anthony Oropeza's lyrics.

Oropeza's passion rang true at the Troubadour on Monday, while the band's menacing, dense music moved his furious messages. Downset is the street's answer to Rage Against the Machine.

The stocky singer (he bills himself as "messenger") rapped about apathy against violence, wailed anti-rape sentiments and chanted lines about racism: "You were raised to hate me, I was raised to hate you." Between songs, the former gang member attacked the glorification of the gang lifestyle: "If you want to fall at the feet of that false god, I'm not with you."

The band's heavy-duty rock wasn't quite as tight as on its new debut album but was energized nonetheless. The band played double-guitar, groove-heavy, grinding tunes that at times were too similar to one another, but grew tighter as the set progressed.

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