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SPECIMEN-X


"The Final Hour" (independent)

Reviewed by Christopher J. Kelter

retinysaw.gif (295 bytes)retinysaw.gif (295 bytes)Halfsaw.gif (173 bytes)

I ventured into mp3.com territory once again and the very enticing description of "signature brand of unpredictable electric rock" attracted me to "The Final Hour" by Specimen-X. Did I get what I expected? Not quite. Is it still worth hearing? Yes.

The Boston-based Specimen-X are a melange of hard rock, jazz, blues, funk, modern rock, and heavy metal. Their own bio claims they sound like Sevendust, Faith No More, Creed, Tool, Alice In Chains, Monster Magnet, and Fear Factory. Those are bold comparisons to make; however, I don't see many connections to Specimen-X's music and the previously mentioned artists. However, if I had to pick one artist it would be Faith No More because the diversity of Specimen X is closest to Mike Patton and crew. However, the broad list of 'similar' bands is accurate in one sense - Specimen X's music covers a wide spectrum.

The best tracks are "Submerged" which nearly manages to achieve the blending of all the band's influences, the heavy and funky "Exodus," and the hard groove of "Thrown Away" is appealing. These three tracks easily shows off the comfort level Specimen X have in the diverse styles that make up their musical palette. These three songs also indicate that the band is confident the studio can capture their performances.

Tracks that are decidedly non-metal are "Alienated" and "Dysfunctional." "Alienated," an acoustic number, shows off the vocalist's range, but does little for the metal genre. "Dysfunctional" trudges along, but it does have a cool spoken word part. Again, these tunes are not bad, just tunes don't I don't think the typical Rough Edge reader would consider metal. However, part of the appeal of Specimen-X is their diversity and in that sense these songs are not out of place.

My biggest complaint, however, isn't with the music; my biggest complaint is with the mp3 technology. When listening to the disc with my computer the mp3 player stops and skips every time I hit the return key, every time I move my cursor, every time I use alt-tab to go from one software program to another - this makes for a frustrating experience. It played just fine through my normal stereo setup (note: all mp3 discs have both the Digital Audio Music format and normal CD tracks). The mp3 format allows the band to provide the band's bio, song lyrics, and song history with each track if you listen to it through your computer. However, I strongly recommend listening to a broad selection of a band's work on-line before making any purchases. Or better yet - see if it is possible to buy the band's work outside of the mp3 format.

Specimen-X is Sean Gallagher on vocals, Jim Dillon on guitar and background vocals, Paul Murray on drums, Scott Harrington on bass, and Terry O'Brien on keyboards and effects. This young band (average age of 20 during Summer 1999) will have a musical future if they learn to harness their influences and energy with mature songwriting.

For more information visit http://www.mp3.com/specimenx or visit the band's official website at http://sgdesign.simplenet.com/specimenx/ for more information. If you purchase "The Final Hour" through the Specimen X website you'll get an eighth track which is a live rendering of "Wench."


Rating Guide:

retinysaw.gif (295 bytes)retinysaw.gif (295 bytes)retinysaw.gif (295 bytes)retinysaw.gif (295 bytes) A classic. This record will kick your ass.

retinysaw.gif (295 bytes)retinysaw.gif (295 bytes)retinysaw.gif (295 bytes) Killer. Not a classic but it will rock your world.

retinysaw.gif (295 bytes)retinysaw.gif (295 bytes) So-so. You've heard better.

retinysaw.gif (295 bytes) Pretty bad. Might make a nice coaster.

restinks.jpg (954 bytes) Self explanatory. Just the sight of the cover makes you wanna hurl.


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Copyright 1999 by R. Scott Bolton. All rights reserved.
Revised: 25 Aug 2002 23:55:22 -0500.