Release DetailsLABEL NSF5 Records
RELEASED ON 7/11/2006
40 Cycle Hum
posted on 2/2007 By:
Death, taxes, and alt-metal/post-grunge sounding exactly the same; the only constants in life...
While the name might bring to mind the latest in washing machine-powered ambient drone, LA's 40 Cycle Hum is yet another addition to the Modern Rock Radio ready collective of bands that continually mine the same influences only because the material is proven to sell. Secret Skin, in a way, exhibits one of the defining traits of alt-metal/post-grunge: it evolves at a glacial pace, absorbing new elements only every three to four years. 40 Cycle Hum, like some notable platinum-certified alt-rockers, have soaked up the power harmonies that anchor most of Nickleback's material while retaining the angry/really angry hard rock dynamic that went out of style at the turn of the millennium. This sets up a predictable pattern of angst-filled verses (i.e. "aggressive" screaming) rubbing shoulders with easily digestible choruses (i.e. "aggressive" singing) and vice versa. Taken on the whole, Secret Skin treads familiar ground, though one isn't able to readily remember the original bands that made these now tired sections sound so indistinctive, an unfortunate by-product of an entire style that's little more than painting by proven numbers.
From the get go, we're hit with the near-ubiquitous palm-muted staccato build up. Needless to say, whatever power that songwriting cliché once held has since been dulled by the ages, and when it pops up in '06, the effect is similar to someone asking for a breath mint while manipulating their ass and waiting for congratulatory laughter. But, worry not alt-metal/post-grunge fans, as 40 Cycle Hum never bass drop into the jump-da-fuck-uppery of most nu-metal. Instead, opener "Breakdown" idles in aggro-rock territory, sounding like Chad Kroeger writing for any of the legions of interchangeable and faceless radio fodder. As if that wasn't enough, the chorus is littered with hip-hop flavored interjections. It's like the band built a time machine in 2000 to tour the future as a retro act, but someone accidentally pissed on the power source while they were in the portal, thus landing them in present day Los Angeles.
Things continue to go south on "Bring It On," which contains a chorus so embarrassing it could flush the cheeks of any bitter fifteen-year-old notebook poet. Somewhere, this song is being featured in an Xtreme Rock Block, sandwiched between Primer 55's "Loose" and Dope's "Die MF Die." And, to make up for not featuring the prerequisite ballad, they slog through an absolutely lifeless cover of Real Life's "Send Me an Angel.” True to alt-metal/post-grunge fashion, it's a straight read with distorted guitars and gravel-throated vocals phoning in already trite lyrics. It's the apex of uninspired moments on an album that makes mediocrity its stock and trade.
If 40 Cycle Hum has one trick in the bag that could set them apart from the likeminded, it's that they have a guitarist in tow who can execute some dexterous solos. But, the band, unfortunately, doesn't use his talents to their gain, preferring to construct most of these songs in the Pantera mold by surrounding the admittedly impressive noodling with simplistic riffing that's pushed to the background by the underwhelming low-budget production.
Of course, I should have my knuckles rapped for expecting more out of an alt-metal/post-grunge entry. Given a bigger budget to record and someone to help them smooth out the rough edges, 40 Cycle Hum could (and probably would) make a dent in the charts. Biases aside, there is nothing inherently wrong with what the band is doing and they almost sound convincing at points, but anyone that has spent even one iota of time with the dial set to Top 40 Rock will find this release run-of-the-mill at best.
Register to post comments.