Skrape

Just when it seemed that this Korn-inspired nu-metal malarkey had run dry, when no more fresh juice could possibly be squeezed out of the genre, along comes somebody with a tasty new blend. Most recently the band with the freshest squeeze is Florida's Skrape.

What makes Skrape's debut work is not so much any pushing of the envelope as it is a return to tried-and-true fundamentals. For instance, on tracks like "What You Say" and "Sunshine," the musical and vocal melodies stand front and center, despite the omnipresent swirl of down-tuned guitars. The bulk of the CD also gives a rhythmic nod to yesteryear's heavy forms. Skrape clearly has no aversion to breaking up the staccato, pseudo-electronic attack with passages that sound as if there were actually one man banging one set of drums in a rock 'n' roll band.

With guitar tones that occasionally reference grunge and even '80s metal (while somehow remaining steeped in the here and now), New Killer America is way ahead of most of the competition in terms of sheer variety. All of these attributes -- as well as the catchiest hooks on the disc -- come to bear fully on "Kill Control," a hauntingly driven exploration of one person's ability to strip all pride from another.

Skrape's debut does occasionally go astray. "Waste" and "Isolated," for example, are soggy bogs of riffage. Even these, though, offer more space than most of the current scene, which seems hell-bent on heaping layer atop layer until all atmosphere is subtracted by addition. That the band's lead-off single, "Waste," has risen into the Top 25 on rock radio charts is indicative both of Skrape's potential mass appeal and of radio's propensity to seek the mushy middle even with a quality act.

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Chris Smith