Big Al's Metal Shop

Heavier than elephant balls.

These are the words that flash through my mind as I blast this CD in my car at 3 am in the morning. Out of my speakers and from the ashes of post-modern metal rises Bloodsimple. In the ?90s, while Pantera?s ?Great Southern Trendkill? was in full swing, a little band named Vision of Disorder trampled the line between emotional and heavy. Blurred it for all bands today, in fact. Now that the Slipknots and SOADs of the world rule the airwaves, it seems appropriate that one of the originators of heavy metal lays it all out once again.

When Tim (vox) and Mike (gee-tars) announced that they were continuing their musical association beyond the missed V.O.D., expectations among fans and critics ran high. Adding a classically trained musician turned producer to the roster did nothing but amplify those expectations. Would it be another horrible metal ego trip gone awry? Or would it soar?

Seriously? It soars.

Imagine the mythical 10-ton hammer swung straight into your skull, and you can visualize the opening strains of ?Straight Hate.? You can also imagine
the reaction of the fine citizens of Squirrel
Hill this morning as I blasted Bloodsimple in my car, but no matter. The path followed is one bored through mountains by solid riffs. Bludgeoning the listener, it let up for a second as it segues into ?Path To Prevail,? another monster in the vein of V.O.D..?What if I Lost It,? the next slab o? metal, is more than a rhetorical question. At this point, I haven?t felt this much aggression since Metallica decided to get haircuts.
The tinny resonance of Tim Williams? voice complements the aggro of his compatriots here. As the album slows down and settles into the emotional part of heavy (it seems to actually exist, surprisingly), it?s hard to come down from the aggressive high. Still, it works. Williams? voice soothes and seethes as the songs weave a complex path. ?The Leaving Song? is a melancholy ode to lost love and the ensuing depression. This one could probably find a home on modern rock radio, but why? Personally, I find the best antidote to lost love is loud music and a new love. Bloodsimple seems to follow this plan, getting up off the floor and launching into ?Cruel World.? Break stuff, yeah, yeah break it!

Then comes the last trio of songs. ?Flatlined,? with its gentle composition and electronic backbeat, is an interesting addition to the mix. Perhaps not what one would expect, but definitely daring. ?Falling Backwards? is classical V.O.D., straight-ahead aggro. As the album closes with ?Plunder,? haunting vocals are bathed in acoustic guitars, and the result is beautiful.

A Cruel World starts off angry and violent but ends softly and introspectively. A difficult birth that ends peacefully, and a landmark debut album. Probably the most challenging metal album since Machine Head?s Through The Ashes of Empires, this is one you must check out.