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A Crow Left of the Murder (Epic/Immortal)

The title of A Crow Left of the Murder identifies Incubus as both outsiders and survivors. When the Class of '97 was in full bloom, Incubus brought the art to rap-rock before the movement's scales tipped from funk to metal. And when their contemporaries were desperately retooling their acts on long-overdue, expensive letdowns, Incubus's chiseled abs and radio staples elicited some of the only genuine enthusiasm from an underwhelmed crowd at the reborn Lollapalooza.

On Incubus's third LP, the quintet chucks the formulaic tension and release that marked the band's bigger singles like "Nice to Know You," sticking instead with the calibrated aggression of the more recent "Warning." Even thrash-kissed tracks like the title cut reveal more in common with the Red Hot Chili Peppers than with Limp Bizkit. New bassist Ben Kenney's spiraling thrums lead the way through increasingly expansive songs to the album's centerpiece, the psychedelic wash of "Sick Sad Little World." Incubus has been guilty of writing a disposable alterna-hit or three, but Crow flies high.

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