Amazingly, 1998-style hard rock is still selling. Disturbed and Staind have both notched No. 1 albums in recent months, and they can still put a few thousand butts in seats for live shows. So while it's easy to knock Suspect singer Joe Stoner for, ahem, studying Disturbed frontman Dave Dramian's work a little too closely, you really can't argue that the Akron band's self-titled debut EP is headed in the wrong direction.

Down with The Sickness, Stoner puts a deft spin on Dramian's "Wha-ah-ah-ahs" in disc opener "You Will Be Heard," adapting his now-classic growls to an original refrain of "ah-ah-ah." The group bucked up for quality production, courtesy of guitarist Ron Brinker and Seattle's Spectre Mastering. Spiked with pianolike keyboards, the half-electric, half-acoustic "My Last Midnight" is exactly the kind of modern-rock semi-ballad that does well on the radio. Suspect has shared the stage with national bands, and it belongs there.

More by D.X. Ferris

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