Pop Rocks

Steven Uhles is a guest entertainment columnist

Critic met match in local band

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A ralic opened its set Saturday night at the Lokal Loudness Choice Awards with a stone wall of sound, a crushing monolith of tune-free feedback, distortion and bear-trap bellowing. The band might take that assessment as a compliment.

The Shaun Piazza Band recently released its second album.   File/Staff
File/Staff
The Shaun Piazza Band recently released its second album.

It is not.

I've always been careful in critiques of local bands to be constructive and point out both the good and bad. My job is not to artificially elevate or dismiss, but to deconstruct and analyze. With Aralic, I might have met my match.

This is a popular band. I'm sure the members are pleasant, smart people with interesting opinions. It's possible in another act, some of them might prove capable of playing a tune or two. But as it stands, Aralic can count itself as the only local band I have no interest in seeing a second time.

Aralic is either the most or least imaginative act I have ever seen. They are either the Andy Kaufman of metal -- built around the high-art concept of being as aggressively bland as possible -- or just unbearable. I hope it's the former but suspect the latter. I can't imagine it would be fun to intentionally play in an act that completely strips any sense of the dynamic from its sound.

Aralic is taking the established genre of metal and stripping away the interesting parts. There's no precision in what it is doing. There is no musicality. Even the angst and anger, the bedrock on which every successful metal act builds, seems affected and forced. It's as though the band learned about the menace of metal from a how-to manual and then tried to replicate it without spinning a single CD.

It's possible that no immediate good will come from this review. I suspect I'll hear from angry fans and perhaps the band. It's not personal. I just really dislike hearing music mishandled, and that's what is happening. I predict an extremely short life for Aralic.

PIAZZA PRODUCES (FINALLY)

The Shaun Piazza Band is entertaining, engaging and talented -- but not prolific.

The band is set to release its second album, When the Stars Fall . It's been a long delivery.

Following the example set by its guitarist, Noel Brown, who spent years toiling over the first release by his other band, the Cubists, the Piazza release has been on the burner for years.

It shows. It shows in the depth and breadth of the songs. They mark the evolution of Piazza as a performer and songwriter and the band as a whole.

While earlier songs often felt like Piazza backed by a band, the songs on Stars seem like compositions written for and by every musician on the track. It's the first time the band's recorded output matched the live vibe of this always-popular Augusta act.

The record falters in its sequencing. Most of the record is the midtempo tunes the Shaun Piazza Band does so well, with a few smart rockers and the odd ballad thrown in for good measure. It's a nice blend that, given the right tracking, would have lent Stars a sense of dynamics.

Unfortunately, many of those midtempo songs were placed early in the order. The result is a bit of musical monotony early on. Without very focused listening, those tracks tend to run together.

The interesting by-product of that misstep, however, is an unusually dynamic set of songs closing the album. The final six songs are an amazing sequence that finds the band veering wildly from jangling rockers (Leave Him ) to a lovely waltz (The Joke ).

The result is a record that, though still very good, hints at the infuriating prospect of greatness. I hope we don't have to wait as long for that album to come to fruition.


Comments (8) Add comment
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xtnastyx
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xtnastyx 02/27/10 - 02:53 am
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Why does everyone praise a

Why does everyone praise a band that on there official website; the last shows listed were in 2005? So; I checked the Shaun's Pizza bands Myspace and they've had a whopping 5 plays as opposed to Aralics 52. I understand that metal isn't for everyone; and not everyone understands it's dynamics either. I 'am not being "angry" ; I think that in both blogs cases they are just using Alaric's win to promote a band that isn't doing anything productive; not playing shows and not furthering there fan base.

J7Bryant
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J7Bryant 02/27/10 - 08:38 am
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The way I see things is if

The way I see things is if you don't like a band then there is no sense in trying to condemn them and make them look bad to all of your readers as well as virtually setting an expiration date for their time together. The fact is Aralic gets shows, has fans, and loves what they do, and isn't scared to stand up for themselves. If you don't like it that's your problem, but honestly there is no sense in endlessly ranting and complaining just because you don't enjoy their work. You also failed to recognize the fact they received an award for best all age group at the award show at Sky City. To beat out the other bands must mean they are enjoyed by others, especially with their tough competition. All of the other bands are really good. But I digress, your opinion (yet condescending) is your opinion, but I don't see Aralic stopping just because a few people don't like them and decide to write and blog about it. They have a big enough fan base to support what they do regardless of what others say.

Fiat_Lux
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Fiat_Lux 02/27/10 - 10:31 am
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Maybe Aralic just had a bad

Maybe Aralic just had a bad night when Uhles heard them for the review. But keep in mind that it is Uhles job to REVIEW. They pay him for his opinion because it's worth something to readers.

It's great if you like Aralic; be evangelical on their behalf. Just keep in mind that the people who form their fan base may simply love the nerve-killing crush of sound and the chaos of their music, while completely lacking any genuine musical appreciation themselves.

After all, ants presumably love other ants in their colony.

JRB
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JRB 02/27/10 - 10:37 am
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A Few Fun Facts about ARALIC,

A Few Fun Facts about ARALIC, since you don't seem to know anything about them.
They are all 18 except one he's the old man at 22, so they are playing for their peers.
They consider themselves more Experimental metal than Hardcore.(they Never claimed to be super heavy)
They have been playing shows for 2 1/2 years.
They have played on Stage with almost every major Metal Act that has come to Augusta in that time. (Black Dahlia Murder, August Burns Red etc...)
They are invited to play in about 95% of their shows. They have played well over a hundred shows. They turn down as many as they play.
They have exposure on the national level. As part of Record Store Day 2009, Metal Blade records sponsored "The Search for the Next Great Metal Band." Over 400 bands nation wide competed and ARALIC was selected as one of 12 that were put on a compilation CD, which was distributed nationally and sent to the record label. (this was done with a live recording, no studio mix) I would think those people would have a fair understanding of what is popular in metal.
Judging by your reaction and that of some of your peers, it seems you had no clue about the music that the younger people are listening to.
Now granted many more people dislike this genre than like it. But for Aralic, in this genre it is working for them. (they are booked most weeks from now until summer.)
So really somebody around 40 discussing the merits of a band in the current metal scene, is about as relevant as someone in their 60's discussing the merits of 80's hair bands.
No I'm Not in the band, they probably won't respond. I'm also no Kid.

The only mistake they may have made was to accept the invitation to play at Sky City.

ALee
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ALee 02/27/10 - 03:55 pm
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Wow, this guy would hate B3.

Wow, this guy would hate B3. lol

hoobagzgalore
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hoobagzgalore 02/27/10 - 04:06 pm
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aralic sucks they should play

aralic sucks they should play more power chords. its not heavy or angry enough, cuz thats what they go for. plus they dressed up at sky city, thats not very br00tal at all. you're not metal if you dont have the image.

Kirkwood
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Kirkwood 02/28/10 - 06:23 am
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After a brutally honest

After a brutally honest review from Mr. Uhles, I could not resist and listened to Aralic's Myspace tracks. In all seriousness, if someone had played these tracks for me cold, I would have thought they were jokes, possibly trial runs for Dethklok before Brendon Smalls got Nathan Explosion's voice right.

The vocals sound like the demon creature from Army of Darkness got drunk and decided to record some tracks. Now, take out the vocals, and I could listen. All the stark digital distortion and parallel parts remind me of what Grant Henry did with some of his Metroid Metal tracks....and I hear the seeds of what could possibly be some strong prog metal, a metal Mr. Bungle if you will.

What I want to know is, is there ever actually any singing? Even Opeth knows you can't scream all the time and when you do, its kind of important to make it somewhat intelligible. Or better yet, I'd like to hear some instrumental tracks. All that aside, I'd love to be able to work that much anger out on stage.

xtnastyx
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xtnastyx 03/01/10 - 02:22 am
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I kind of laugh that your

I kind of laugh that your comparing there vocals and instruments to a death metal band; while im sure that some of these kids listen to death metal; if not positive they do. Apparently everyone is missing that there is an influence on them; that isn't metal; but hardcore; which undoubtedly; you'd probably just put aside.

you can let out the same anger on the floor :)

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