"Fourward Motion" (Self-released; 2022)

Reviewed by R. Scott Bolton

"Fourward Motion" is another collection of off-kilter rockers from Hawaii's Kauz of Affliction. And, like previous releases from this band, this album put a smile on my face from the first note to the last.

Now, I don't want you to think that this is a comedy album (although there is some humor here) or that K.O.A. is a novelty band because they are far, far from that. The smile on my face as I listened to "Fourward Motion" is one of pure joy  listening to a band whose music is some of the most unique I've ever listened to. K.O.A. is a twisted blend of The Clash and the B-52s and it's surprising how well it works.

With its eccentric bouncy and Devo-style rhythms, its multi-voice vocals, its buzzing guitars and raw sound, "Fourward Motion" is a rollicking collection of 11 tracks of one-of-a-kind music that will have you tapping your toe, singing along and scratching your head.

My favorite tracks this time out are the effervescent "Give It a Chance,"  the thought-provoking "Always Be," the sly, taunting sound of "(Don't) Follow the Rules," with its surprising saxophones and the sonic assault that is "Starting 2Nite" which closes the album out on a high note. But every track is weird, wild and wonderful and fun to listen to.

It makes me happy that bands like Kauz of Affliction out there, doing whatever they hell they want to and creating music that is unique and meaningful and artsy. One of these days, I'll get over to Hawaii and catch them live.

For more information, check out  http://www.facebook.com/kauzofaffliction.

"Put on Your Happy Face" (Self-released; 2019)

Reviewed by R. Scott Bolton

Once again, Hawaii's Kauz of Affliction (or K.O.A. for short) have released another album of artistic noise that will put a smile on the face of those who love rock'n'roll because it's messy.

As you might deduct from the album's title, "Put on Your Happy Face" is a little lighter than previous K.O.A. albums (specifically "The New Norm," reviewed below). "Jaunty" is the word that came to my mind. And, no, I don't mean "jaunty" like polka but I mean performed with a smile and a wink rather than the sneer we're used to hearing in punk rock. And, by the way, "Put on Your Happy Face" is more of a punk rock than metal album than "The New Norm" as well.

The first video from the album is from track #2, "Aloha Friday," a bouncy tribute to the end of the week. It's a welcome about-face from the often stark "The New Norm." There's lots more of that style to come, although some tracks take a more serious tone, like "Sunrise." Interestingly, the music style doesn't change that much, but the lyrical content does.

As with previous K.O.A. albums, the pure rawness of "Put on Your Happy Face" is a highlight. This band is all about the music and nothing more. There isn't a single note on this album that's overly produced. The acidy guitar solos, the unadulterated bass and drum sounds, the unrefined vocals -- all of this combines to give K.O.A. just about the purest punk sound you can imagine. This ain't no Green Day or Blink 182. This is rough and raw and appropriately blemished rock'n'roll. It feels real ... and there's nothing better I can say about it than that.

Take, for example, the pair of covers on the album: The first is the band's version of Madonna's "Borderline," performed here as stripped down as is physically possible. You'll recognize the song but it's probably never been performed with this raw feel. "Safety Dance," originally by Men Without Hats," also gets the stripped-down cover treatment, with a grungy guitar that gives it an entirely different feel.

I've said in previous K.O.A. reviews that the band pretty much defines "rough edge" and that hasn't changed with "Put on Your Happy Face." My only issue is that, at 16 tracks, "Put on Your Happy Face" is a little much and a couple of the tracks feel unnecessary. I know what you're thinking: "Really? You're complaining about too much music?" And you're probably right. It's my problem ... and probably won't be yours.

For more information, check out  http://www.facebook.com/kauzofaffliction.

"The New Norm" (Self-released; 2017)

Reviewed by R. Scott Bolton

The thing I love about Hawaii's Kauz of Affliction is that the band pretty much defines "rough edge." The music on their CD, "The New Norm," is as raw and as coarse as can be. It's chaotic and wild. It challenges your burned-in ideas about what heavy music should sound like. It's a raging hybrid of metal and punk and it plays like a spike-gloved fist to the chin.

I also love the fact that nearly every track takes you by surprise. The title track begins with a slow intro that builds into a fiery growl. "Fistfight" starts off sounding like surf punk and then morphs into something all its own. "Beach in Hawaii" blows your mind from the beginning, with its pseudo-reggae start and its crescendo into hard rock (not to mention the surprisingly emotional vocals.)

There are thirteen tracks here and there's not one that isn't interesting, either musically or lyrically. This is a band that makes their music their way. If you're along for the ride, great. If not, that's okay, too. Kauz of Affliction are going to keep doing what they do and that's making some of the most interesting music out there. It may not be for everyone ... and that's actually a good thing!

If you're looking for a heavy music band that's different than all the rest, you just found it!

For more information, check out  http://www.facebook.com/kauzofaffliction.

"Soultaker" (Self-released; 2016)

Reviewed by R. Scott Bolton

Hawaii is known for a lot of things but one of them isn't for pumping out heavy metal bands. Then along comes Kauz of Affliction with their debut CD "Soultaker," in an attempt to change that.

Most of the time, "Soultaker" is driving heavy metal, with raunchy riffs, killer leads and a rough punk rock edge. Lead vocalist, Erik, has an angry yelling vocal style for much of the CD, but is also very versatile, changing his style to fit the song. He particularly shines on the band's cover of Rammstein's "Du Hast."

Things get interesting when bassist Justine takes over the mic. Her haunting vocals on "Glasgow Smile," make that song sound like Oingo Boingo went heavy metal. She also tears it up on a punked-up version of Scandal's "Goodbye to You." Whenever Justine makes a vocal appearance, the band's sound changes, neither better or worse, just changes.

The production on "Soultaker" is a little thin but this is a self-produced CD so I'm sure the budget wasn't huge. It's not bad, by any means, I just think it could have been (for lack of a better word) meatier.

"Soultaker" is a promising debut for a band that has some serious talent, and some seriously interesting ideas. I look forward to hearing more from them and, hey, maybe seeing them live in their home state will make my next trip to Hawaii tax deductible!

For more information, check out  http://www.facebook.com/kauzofaffliction.

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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