Spice And The RJ Band
Shave Your Fear
posted on 7/2009 By:
It's never a wise idea to stress out over a band name, as some of the weaker ones still manage to yield impressive results. (If you think Deströyer 666 or Dungortheb are cool handles, than you need to take a long, hard look in the mirror.) Unfortunately, the unimaginative moniker for Spice's latest endeavor is a direct reflection of the actual product. The vocalist--famous for stints with Mike Amott's Spiritual Beggars, MeteorCity's panhandling Mushroom River Band, and Slayer-esque half-thrashers Kayser--is banking on his name recognition and brash vocals to propel this record. His mononym is far from apt on this go-round, however, as Shave Your Fear is a bland, flaccid rock-and-roll patchwork that has little hope of getting off the ground.
Spice does boast a distinctive (albeit one-dimensional) roar, and fans of Kayser tracks such as "Good Citizen" should find his formula familiar here. Without a muscular band behind him, however, his pipes aren't nearly as impressive. Spice handles the guitar work, and the RJ refers to the rhythm section. Yes, this is a bare-bones power trio, but the power is in short supply.
Hindered by both Spice's lackluster guitar playing--as well as the fact that his voice is more effective as a condiment, not a main ingredient--this is a disappointing effort that has been falsely propagated as a "stoner metal" offering. One could lazily leer towards some subtle Karma To Burn seepage as evidence, similar to what was found on the recent (and far superior) debut from New Keepers of the Water Towers. But a beery, boneheaded Black Label Society shroud lingers over this thing, too, replete with a questionable lyrical filter and a very Zakk-like penchant for pseudo-balladeering.
That's all apologist kid glovin' and metallic lip service, though. Truthfully, Shave Your Fear suffers from the same brain-dead crapfisting that plagues American rock radio. The album is a veritable beginner's course in classic rock and grunge-era reachback-and-tug, but is about as useful and worthwhile as Phrenology 101. "I Beg Your Pardon..." and "Don't Turn The Shades" are excruciating in their obliviousness; the former due to brutal cliché-clinging, the latter for a blatantly amateur Robby Kreiger digression. Worse yet, "I'll Take the Blame" sounds like the bastard child of Pro-Pain and Shinedown.Seriously.
Yes, Spice and the RJ Band have flopped themselves into the commercially viable, comically vile cesspool of Rock That Doesn't Rock. This is a wasteland that most metalheads have spent years trekking away from, and it's almost offensive to think that Spice would want to lure us back. Shave Your Fear will likely avoid excessive scorn due to the main man's blustery pedigree, but it's an overindulgent mess that would be best avoided completely. Shave this from your radar, and put your straight razor to more lethal applications.
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