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Alternative Metal before the label got abused - 85%

worgelm, March 12th, 2005

(This album is sometimes marketed as _Destiny_) It was here my personal journey into one of metal's more criminally-overlooked bands - Mind Over 4 - begins. Most of you are wondering where they have seen this cover - if you look on the back of Pantera's _Vulgar Display Of Power_ you'll see Phil Anselmo pimping the band (indeed, it's why I bought the album). Unfortunately this is about the extent of the major-level exposure and promotion that this band, so woefully ahead and out of their time, was able to attain, virtually guaranteeing its status on the fringes of cult-metal hell, bouncing from label to label for the entirety of their careers. Starting out with Spike Xavier's evil-sounding, rude snarl, M/4 announces its presence most uniquely and virtually dares the listener to like them. "Social Stature" twists and winds its way through time signature and tempo change, spiking the brew with equal doses of progressive King Crimson-esque grind, thrash, and hardcore mosh-pit breakdowns. Its a highly unorthodox brew that still sounds fresh and vital, in spite of the rather typical primitive reverb-heavy thrash metal production. "Hero" is the most frenetic of the bunch, both a social commentary and tribute to fallen Minuteman lead shouter D. Boon "D. Boon is dead/Minutemen warn civilians, yeah/the thinkers are coming/pasadena gangs when he was young." With its fantastic stop-start, jagged, Fripp-tastic riffage from Mike Jensen, excellent odd-time rhythm work from drummer Mark Fullerton and bassist Richie Castillo, and somewhat keening, amelodic vocal work, its one of the best examples of M/4 's (then) odd stylistic hybrid operating at full-bore, with typically complex and elliptical lyricism that (unlike many of their peers in either metal OR punk rock) stands up to deeper inspection. Meanwhile on the other side, cosmic metal hippie journeys await with the appropriately titled "the Mile Between the Molecule", counterbalanced with the raw emotion of "The Black Orgasm" and the eerie, effective chill of the recond's sole acoustic ballad "Winter." M/4 records are hard to find as they are all out of print (and unlikely candidates for any sort of remaster), but are worth seeking out for historians and folks looking for something a bit off the beaten path. Of their catalog this is probably my favorite, the easiest to find, and the best place for a neophyte to start their journey. The listener will find something that's challenging, sometimes difficult to admire but equally as arresting and difficult to dismiss.