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Lightning Bolt 

Hypermagic Mountain (Load)

Rhode Island's Lightning Bolt approached 2003's Wonderful Rainbow like two ski-masked horsemen of the apocalypse, frenzied metal-punk harriers hell-bent on the merciless ravaging of all available eardrums. Brian Chippendale's meth-freak drums and Brian Gibson's amazingly versatile bass were calibrated to reduce listeners' inhibitions -- and brains -- to mush.

Despite boasting some of the coolest portmanteau song titles ever conceived ("Mohawkwindmill," "Megaghost," and "Riffwraith" among them), Hypermagic Mountain's guiding principle seems to be weaker, faster, more. Clocking in at roughly 20 minutes longer than Rainbow, the Brians deprive Mountain of the plunging, brutish, sustained impact and perilous blare of legend, opting instead to demonstrate how quickly riffs can be peeled off and drumsticks cracked as Chippendale whoops along through his contact microphone like a wedgie-suffering Muppet. Occasionally the pair transcends this numbing extremism -- see the dirty-bomb, psychedelic sorcery of "Bizarro Bike" -- but mostly they busily undermine their own brilliance.

More by Ray Cummings

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