Groovenics are a band with an identity problem. First of all, they’re a nu-metal act with a band name that is more reminiscent of a British trip-hop, lounge act. Their lead singer goes by the name K*RL, but it’s just pronounced “Karl”. He also happens to look like a strung-out fan at a Rancid show, while the other members of the band have the “shaved-head-with-mutton-chops-and-goatee” look going. And they’re a “unique” blend of metal, punk, hip-hop, electronica, and prog-rock.
Actually, the real identity problem is that they’re Korn! Listen as K*RL wows you with his own “unique” vocal stylings that happen to be a dead-on copy of Jonathan Davis. Listen as the metal guitars mix with some wack scratching. Groove (ha ha) on the frenetic metal-rap hybrid sound. Replace the dreadlocks with some gravity-defying spikes, and you’ve got Korn, Jr.
Okay, so it’s not all bad. Overlooking the fallacious claims of originality, Groovenics are pretty good at playing right into the nu-metal genre. The songs are jumpy, energetic, and moshable. If Groovenics present nothing new under the sun, at least they present it well. And there are some moments when the band actually mixes in some styles that sound like bands other than Korn. “Chopsticks” and “Superstar” break into a 311/The Urge thing, giving some relief from the monotony. And if there’s one reason to own this album it’s the surprisingly well-done cover of Def Leppard’s “Pour Some Sugar on Me”, which closes the disc on a high note.
But then there’s the crap. Reference the execrable track “RAM”. A song about jerking off to anime net porn is bad enough, but then there’s the chorus: “I can’t fail / I don’t have the program / Don’t have the program / I can’t win / I don’t have the RAM”. Ouch. Not only is the song idiotic, but the chorus makes absolutely no sense in terms of the subject matter, and listening to metal shlock about computers is just plain sad. It makes the naïveté of Billy Idol’s Cyberpunk album seem like genius. And while the press release would like us to hear “She’s a Freak” as “a funky slab of commercial metallic mania, earmarked by a devastatingly infectious chorus”, there’s nothing particularly infectious about the words “She’s a freak / She’s a freak / She’s a freak / She’s a monster trucker”. Perhaps the grinding guitars and rap-whined vocals are commercial enough, but quality songcraft it ain’t.
So Groovenics do their thing well enough to earn some attention in the nu-metal circuit. They’ve opened for some huge (and generally better) national acts. So what? If there’s anything at all worth respecting the whole genre for, it’s a necessary one-upmanship among acts competing to be either scarier than the last guy, or doing something that at least sounds different enough to be fresh. And these guys don’t have it. Stay home and save your money for the next Korn album, kiddies.
// Notes from the Road
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