Various Artists 

It Takes a Village Volume 1: Heavy (Bandaloop)

Compilations are crapshoots: disparate, frequently dodgy affairs that are more likely to represent a region or a record label than a collection of quality artists. And while It Takes a Village does boast a regional slant, what stands out is the unified aesthetic among the 12 bands involved.

That's not to suggest that the artists here all sound the same. The percolating funk of Akron's Project Nine couldn't be further removed from the smothering electro-rock of Cleveland's No Blindfold. What unites them all is an emphasis on instrumental prowess; often heady, progressive arrangements; and for many of these bands, record collections thick with the works of Primus, Faith No More, and Mr. Bungle.

It's from the latter band that Pittsburgh's Ritual Space Travel Agency borrows most liberally, combining shrieking sax with mangled guitar and lyrics marinated in sarcasm. The Booginz, from New Castle, Pennsylvania, also borrow from the Bungle -- particularly in the vocal department, where George Stevens sounds like a young Mike Patton blanketed in acrobatic bass and frenetic rhythms. Coinmonster, also from New Castle, leads the way in sheer virtuosity, setting the tone for the disc with the manic album-opener "Watching the Insects," an early highlight that bridges the gap between the Mahavishnu Orchestra and the Melvins.

Elsewhere, Cleveland's Tadpol represents itself well with the disc's most flattening guitar tone on "Difficult," and Kent's Hate Dies Hard comes through with a knockout blow of hyper indie metal. Get this disc and join us on the mat.

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