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Nekromantix

Brought Back to Life Again

Hellcat Records

The Danish psychobilly trio Nekromantix, led by bassist/howler Kim Nekroman, has touched up, greased up and reissued this bass-slappin' record that was originally released in 1992. Nekroman's stand-up bass (shaped like a coffin) is dense and the guitar riffs can go from a strolling pace to a speeding hot rod in seconds. And there are touches of the kind of doo-wop vocalizing you hear in some old-time rockabilly. The lyrics range from macabre to silly like B-movie dialogue. The result is ripping, dripping psychobilly. The reissue's added features include the intro left off the '92 album, an organ-and-bell version of "Nekrofelia," and an alternate take of the killer track "Monster Movie Fan," with a slightly different ending. This release ought to keep Nekro fans happy through Halloween -- or till the new album, currently in the works, is finished.

Track to burn: "Monster Movie Fan"


--Samir Shukla

Absu

Mythological Occult Metal 1991-2001

Osmose Productions

This Texas band's metal convulses into Black metal informed by the likes of King Diamond and Iron Maiden. Mythological Occult Metal is a two-disc set of grandiose orchestral dirges and mountains of guitar riffs and throat-lacerating vocals. The band's aggro-metal is laced with ghoulish sound effects, over-the-top mythical tones and a flair for fantasy-movie backdrops. If electric guitars were around in the days of sorcery, these guys would be the favorite garage -- oops, dungeon -- band. Disc One contains originals, rarities and alternate versions, as well as some familiar tunes (to the band's fans, that is). Disc Two has covers as well as live and unreleased material. It's apparent that Absu is lyrically and spiritually enthused by Celtic myths and legends, Pagan lore and Mesopotamian mythology, all chiseled into place by tight music. The band deserves props for mixing intriguing quasi-orchestral flourishes with the noise.

Track to burn: "Sumerian Sands (The Silence)"

--Samir Shukla

Left Alone

Lonely Starts & Broken Hearts

Hellcat Records

Punks have always written songs about girl trouble, from the time Johnny Ramone stole Joey's woman back in the Ramones' heyday up to when Rancid frontman Tim Armstrong's wife deserted him in 2003. But it's not every day you come across a punk album so thoroughly dedicated to soured love affairs. Ain't that what emo is for? Well, not according to Elvis Cortez, singer-guitarist of Mohawked band Left Alone. The majority of Lonely Starts & Broken Hearts is about someone cheating, leaving or deceiving, set to punk's standard, snare-happy drumming and zippy guitars (see the title track and "Wasted Time," particularly). Fluttery south-of-the-border arpeggio ("Monday Morning") and sweet ska melodies ("Heart Riot") convey less pissed-off posturing. Still, to ensure you get these stories straight, Cortez wrote CD liner notes to accompany each song. As if lyrics such as "Hey girl, you fuckin' broke my heart" aren't telling enough. Truly scary.

Track to burn: "Monday Morning"

--Jeanne Fury

Stryper

Reborn

Big3 Records

This may be the scariest disc of them all. Celebrate Halloween with Reborn, the first studio album in more than 15 years by one of Christian rock's all-time biggest bands -- which alone says something about the state of Christian rock. The Stryper flock has seemingly awaited this release for longer than Christian Zionist oracle Hal Lindsey has for the Apocalypse. So yes, the Yellow and Black Attack are back -- but not to the future. Michael Sweet's voice is a caricature of his 80s squeal, which already was a caricature of all the other bad pop-metal crooners. Songs like "If I Die" and "Rain" have all the epic sweep of, say, a born-again Kip Winger. "Passion" is your basic wave-ya-cruci-in-the-air altar call. And then there's an updated version of "In God We Trust," a song that sounds about as different from the original as the band's tacky color scheme. Call it equal parts WASP (the social descriptive) and W.A.S.P. (the band) -- simultaneously conservative and outrageously banal.

Track to burn: Burn? Burning Christian CDs is against God's will!

--Timothy C. Davis

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