Free speech be damned: Legislation is needed to prohibit songwriters from comparing their emotional strife to death. Even if it comes from the heart.

Above This Fire jots down ideas and thoughts that don't quite add up to songs, blemishing its lopsided take on metalcore. "MMIII" skews toward classic thrash, its five songs dispatched in hardcore tempo, but not hardcore style. Guitarists L.T. and Rick Sans shred, harmonize, and shred more. Drummer Jeff prefers fills to double-bass rolls. In masochistic rapture, singer Andy bays as if he's being flayed. And therein lies the problem.

Song titles such as "The Business End of a Hammer" are a good start, but the lyrics -- "Like arson you engulfed me . . . I go numb from city nights alone . . . Just drive the last coffin nail in . . . Cut my skin . . . Let my utopia die" -- are a generic variation on something that's been done hundreds of times. Want to stand out? Take a look around, then do something different. But apart from the "I'm in hell and sad" lyrics, this record's a heck of a ride.

Speaking of Regional Beat

More by D.X. Ferris


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