"Crooked" (Demo)

Reviewed by Jason Savage

Formed in the winter of 1998 in the San Francisco Bay Area, Crooked (formerly known as NMSO4) have been filling clubs and pummeling audiences with their brand of what I like to call twisted carnival metal. It's a style that few bands dare use but it has been made successful by the likes of the now defunct Two Hit Creeper and Marilyn Manson, especially on his earlier albums like "Portrait of an American Family" and the bizarre collection known as "Smells Like Children." Don't get me wrong, Crooked sound nothing like Manson, it's more of a vibe. What I'm getting at is that creepy feeling you get when you hear pipe organs, accordions, calliopes or any other instrument associated with a carnival, circus or sideshow. These days however, most of these instruments can be mimicked by a synthesizer or computer.

Crooked also strives to look like circus freaks or demented clowns. They are covered in white kabuki face paint a la KISS, with a twist. Crooked are painted up like the horrific rag doll portrayed in Dean Koontz' book "Tick Tock," or the cover of Korn's "Issues" CD. Add in black lipstick and eyeliner and varying hairstyles such as corn rows, braids, spikes and dreads and you've got one of those images that are sure to give you nightmares! 

Image aside, Crooked's music holds it own. Vocalist James Gabriel's homicidal screams mesh well with his deep-seeded insane asylum drone. I am reminded slightly of a younger Jonathan Davis only more brutal sans the rap. Behold the barker of brutality! This demo is peppered with haunting melodies that are sure to please anyone with an ear for evil. 

Produced by Dino Cazares (ex-Fear Factory guitarist) and Roman Marisak (Professional Murder Music front man), Crooked's eight tracks deliver a dark and dreary tale accompanied by crunching riffs, jugular twisting bass lines and creepy carnival noises that will make the hair stand up on the back of your neck. Be sure to listen to this during the dead of night surrounded by candles and try not to be frightened by the strange noises. They are coming from your speakers, not your closet. 

Or are they?

Crooked: James Gabriel- vocals, Myke DiBattista- guitars, Martin Boynton- Keyboards, Tony Recania- guitars, Scott Eakes- bass, Gerry Sayong- drums.

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Rating Guide:

A classic. This record will kick your ass.

Killer. Not a classic but it will rock your world.

So-so. You've heard better.

Pretty bad. Might make a nice coaster.

Self explanatory. Just the sight of the cover makes you wanna hurl.

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Copyright 2003 by R. Scott Bolton. All rights reserved.
Revised: 09 Dec 2018 12:03:10 -0500.