The Sweetness of Rejection (www.girthmusic.com)

Like many a Pantera fan, Girth singer Dan Potter wants to let you know that he too is broken. But where many heshers are permanently hobbled by their fixation on the Cowboys From Hell -- and a lot of them do go on to make pretty good records -- Potter steps it up and fixes himself in songs like "Tolerance."

Possessed by Cleveland's signature git-r-done attitude, Potter and crew are a little older than most local metal standouts, and they're a little angrier. The third-generation power-metal quartet has been making runs at assorted brick walls since 1999, and The Sweetness of Rejection is only the band's second full-length release. On it, Adam Rich's bullying bass lines coil tightly around Pat Mahnke's thorny riffs, and their mounting frustrations are obvious in every note of tunes like "Broken." But even with the occasional expansive bridge, the group can work a melody without sounding weak, vulnerable, or desperate for radio attention. Girth isn't broken; it's just right.

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