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Cyde (Boxing Buddha)

As the slouching verse on "Paranoid," the opening track on Cyde's latest album, kicks into the soaring chorus, it sounds as though the band has finally arrived. At that moment, the foursome achieves a marriage of the oppressive trudge-and-thud of nü-style pain merchants and the anthemic yearn-and-yowl of old-school cock rockers. The loose, funky "Fix" then crowns this achievement by living up to its title: "Hey, I'm the fix/I'm the drug you need," coos Shawn Hackel, showing off his rich, smooth voice.

Cyde has been a favorite son of the local hard rock faithful since forming in 1997, and it's no wonder a fledgling New York production company fronted the cash to record this 60-minute CD at N.Y.C.'s Hit Factory (home to everyone from Limp Bizkit to Mariah Carey). The first two numbers portray Cyde as the genuine rock stars they so obviously want to be.

But oddly enough, track three -- "Rock Star" -- is a stomping shout-along that flings the term about in contempt for those who "want too much" and "fly too high." The contradiction is a sign that these tough and talented musicians can't think through the clichés they've absorbed along with their mainstream-rock formulas. In a steady downward spiral, this limitation takes them from bad moments (a pointless reference to Blue Öyster Cult in "Rock Star") to unintentionally comic passages (the lame Led Zeppelin and U2 rips opening "Surrender" and "Spiral Down") to a completely embarassing final suite (the spoken-word golly-geeisms of "NYC [Red]," plus five minutes of "humorous" studio outtakes). By then, Cyde has arrived once again -- this time back to where it started.

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