Houston Music

Prison Love Scene

To differentiate oneself in the increasingly saturated field of modern metal is difficult at best. One could easily imagine that every funky beat, every 808 bass blast, electronic blip, guitar scratch and staccato vocal that could possibly be put on tape already has been. As the Preacher of Ecclesiastes spake: "The thing that hath been, it is that which shall be; and that which is done is that which shall be done; and there is nothing new under the sun."

On its debut album, Truth, however, Houston's Prison Love Scene manages to get one more twist out of the nu-metal lemon, squeezing out the occasional classic-rock-inspired Latin passage as well as a lightly applied neo-prog (see Tool) melody. Better still, PLS manages to pull all of these influences together and sound like its own band and like a unified whole, as opposed to a patchwork of others' outtakes. Maybe the Preacher was wrong…

Or maybe not. Having crossed this hurdle, Truth falls short in the equally important areas of production and songwriting. Formulaic it may be, but the production on current hard CDs is nothing if not loud, clear and compressed, stealing in like amounts from rap and techno techniques to create a sound that could be mechanical or human in origin. Truth, in contrast, is quiet, muddy and loose (in terms of its sound, not its musi cal performance).

The initial reaction is to think, "Damn, I wish this CD could sound as good as the rest of the bands that make this kind of music. It sounds like it might be something really new and cool." As time wears on, however, the ultimate effect is to drain the life out of the CD, leaving one to wonder why it ever seemed exciting in the first place. The riffs that once engaged come to grate. Closer examination of the all but inaudible lyrics yields such gems as "The Rip": "Do you know who wears the disguise? / do you know the wigs are in control?…I can't stop the rip right now / and don't ever let it get out / I'm wasted, believe me I'm cuming [sic] / and I waste it on you."

In the end, it's tough to tell which comes first -- the crap songs undermining any initial stylistic appeal, or the crap production undermining the whole thing. And yet a lingering feeling that some potential exists cannot be ignored. Maybe it's a live thing. After all, the band describes itself as "a leather, blade and metal clad dominatrix, giving a sentual [sic] massage with pretentious innocence, then suddenly whipped in the ass with an oily chain!"

Now that might give even the world-weary Preacher pause.

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Chris Smith