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M.O.D. has had their ups and downs over the last twenty or so years, mostly downs if you’re going by their official releases. Regardless, Billy Milano has always soldiered on, always finding new members to play with in order to keep the Method of Destruction dream alive and well. However ignorable the majority of his career has been to the discerning metalhead, his most recent release, Red White & Screwed from ‘07, has a remarkably energetic approach that might just convert those that (rightfully) haven’t given a shit about him or his work since ‘89’s excellent Gross Misconduct.
Perspective will play a large part in how one feels about this album. If you’re approaching Red White & Screwed as an M.O.D. fan, you’ll probably be approaching the album in relative light, so chances are you’ll be pleasantly surprised at Billy and band’s renewed vigor. With then-new drummer Derek Lopez and guitarist Scott Lee Sargeant in tow, Milano delivers what Rhythm of Fear probably could have been: a crossover fusion accommodating the more mature take on hardcore social conscience that burned hot in the early 90’s. You know the sound: simple, punky speed rhythms with fast-picked bass breaks are married to equally simple, palm-muted macho grooves, til mosh do they part. No rapping, limp-wristed parody, or openly commercial ambitions are filling this one to the brim, only the stripped-down abrasion of Milano’s vocalized political unrest, though there’s quite a few chord sequences with a surprising complexity in tonal depth, at least for this kind of music. Incidentally, it’s Milano’s verbal approach that is the album’s least attractive quality. Mostly abandoning his old, acrimonious shenanigans, Billy’s diatribe this year focuses his occasionally extreme right-wing ravings into a consistent torrent that echoes a certain other politically-minded thrash metal figurehead. However, while angry old Dave had a natural ability to craft an attractive set of riffs, thus enabling us to turn a blind eye to his outspoken lyrical ramblings (this author will let him get away with it, anyway), hardcore Billy is not so gifted. He name drops John Wayne several times as some sort of ideal American paradigm and his riffcraft is not so superb that I’m willing to ignore his nearly singular approach. His ever deeper, ever harsher vocal approach seems to get worse every year, despite the fact that his backing band is the strongest it’s been in years (his bass performance on here is pretty good too). In their defense, the tempo never seems to drag like on the last several albums, whether it’s brain-bashing speed or a concentrated chugathon being employed, and there really doesn’t appear to be a shitty track in the batch.
If you’re approaching RW&S as a modern crossover fan, you’re likely to be less impressed, as Milano and his new friends don’t strike quite as fiercely as say, Municipal Waste, Gama Bomb, or their young clones. But with age comes a decent understanding of one’s limitations, and it seems Milano has finally decided to focus on his strengths for this set of songs. Hardcore punk inspired balls-out speedfests are once again the norm, as evidenced by anything from the title track to “Balls on Bread” to “Dance Around with Snakes” to “Bullshit Politics” to most any of this album’s tunes. The NYHC influence is still there, evident at certain moments (“Alphabet City Stomp,” “Hardcore Harry”), but no longer is such the defining influence. RW&S is about speed over outright aggression, and somehow, this approach ends up being the more aggressive of the two. Man, this is some raucous stuff at times! I especially appreciate the rawer, mid-heavy guitar tone in light of the thick, processed tone used on the Rebel You Love to Hate. The overall feel is much more in touch with the band’s old-school roots, and for that we can only be thankful.
Remarkably, its best tracks appear right at the very end of the record and deviate from the normal production. “Greatest Lie Ever Told,” which I would love to know the back story about, is composed of parody elements, not unlike many past M.O.D. abortions. However, the particular elements imitated here are of a much higher quality, in turn making fun of Metallica ballads and imitating Mercyful Fate/King Diamond style passages that are extremely satisfying. Compare this to the silly Rammstein/RATM bits from the last album and taste the difference. Finally, “bonus track” “GoddessDevil” is arguably the best song on the whole record, written in a slightly more traditional style than the others, yet all the more impressive because of it. Man, M.O.D. can be such a cool band when they want to be, so why the hell don’t they want to write stuff like this 24/7?
That said, this is the best Milano project in many, many years. Sort of makes me curious as to what he may be able to craft in the ‘10s with M.O.D.’s latest reincarnation. Sort of.
And what the heck is “Balls on Bread” supposed to mean anyway?
M.O.D. have a long history to them, so I won't go into it like I usually do with other bands. Needless to say, their the byproduct of S.O.D., and have been spewing out Billy Milano's rage for a good 20 years now. I haven't kept up with the band as much as I would have liked to, which is a shame, because they really are a legendery band.
Red, White and Screwed is their newest album, and comes off as straight M.O.D. This is crossover by the book. Lyrics are about everything from bullshit war to the "good ole days", as well as the standard song calling someone else out. This time the target is the singer from 25 Ta Life. The riffs are as generic as they come, sounding as if the band took all of 30 minutes to write the entire album.
As solid as this is, it sounds utterly generic compared to the newer bands of the crossover scene like Municipal Waste, Trasher, and Send More Paramedics. This is crossover played like it's 1988, and it shows. This is DRI meets mid-era Suicidal Tendencies (eww...). I couldn't see myself spending too much money on this, but if you're a diehard crossover fan, it's worth your money. Just don't expect anything invigorating.