Nine Inch Nails' The Downward Spiral is one of the most grueling albums of the '90s and represents a creative high and personal low that Trent Reznor has never matched. In Manic Street Preachers' The Holy Bible, however, the album has a dark twin which matches its irresistible horror blow for blow.
Not so beholden to British traditions, Welsh bands are as likely to be influenced by US music as UK music. Indeed, Cardiff is sometimes called the “New Seattle” due to its prevalence of (post-)grunge bands.
Welsh heavyweights' tenth album is a mixed bag filled with John Cale, gospel choirs, Duff McKagan, mammoth choruses, Ian McCulloch, and the obligatory literary references. At least a few of these elements actually work.
After 20 years of solid and dependable releases, Birmingham's Ocean Colour Scene have survived the Britpop era with flair, and pack their latest disc with good-time party jams that are guaranteed to keep you moving.
It remains a galling, cankerous reminder of the painful and profound issues that the majority of pop music has always been designed to mask. If the album seems strained in places, overwrought in others and unimaginably grim throughout, it is still -- despite these flaws -- a vital and demanding work.