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POP MUSIC | Record Rack

These Agitated Old Lions Wrote the Book

*** THE DAMAGE MANUAL, "The Damage Manual," Invisible

September 03, 2000|STEVE HOCHMAN

The four members of this ad-hoc industrial-rock supergroup were exploring the dark reaches of the soul with edge-skirting music back when Korn's Jonathan Davis' biggest concern was a diaper that needed changing. As middle-aged men, bassist Jah Wobble and drummer Martin Atkins (co-founders of Public Image Limited with John Lydon), guitarist Geordie Walker (Killing Joke) and singer Chris Connelly (Ministry, Pigface) don't let up on their first album together but do it with much more finesse than their younger counterparts.

This album, released by Atkins' Chicago-based label, is not really about songs and hooks as much as about moods (generally agitated) and vibes (generally disorienting or confrontational--even in relatively sedate, drony moments). But often it comes together in compelling packages. Ace among them is "Sunset Gun," which is sort of David Bowie meets Led Zeppelin--Connelly's oozing vocals battle vividly with the rough-edged, stutter-step rhythms and barbed guitar riffs.

Bonus remixes (one by the Orb, three by Bill Laswell) don't improve on the originals but push the music to its atmospheric extremes--both of angst and calm. And extremes are exactly what this music is about.

*

Albums are rated on a scale of one star (poor), two stars (fair), three stars (good) and four stars (excellent). The albums are already released unless otherwise noted.

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