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Coach House North; Santa Barbara, CA; 04/17/99

Reviewed by R. Scott Bolton

With the local hard rock/heavy metal scene in our hometown of Ventura on life support - with the heavy finger of the local night clubs and venues poised over the "off" button - we were intrigued and indeed delighted to be invited to the Coach House North by Santa Barbara rockers 4DK for an evening of hard music.

Opening that evening were LOCURA, a group of kids ("There ain't a driver's license among them," said one observer) who play a SEPULTURA-type of rock with more power than their few years should allow. "It's HANSEN on acid," said someone else. But that comparison is actually somewhat unfair. While Hansen apparently sells records based solely on their good looks, LOCURA is a band of talented musicians with a real future ahead of them. These young lads play a grinding, screaming metal with sincerity and power. Driving guitars, a pounding bass, drums as heavy as sledgehammers from Hell and vocals that sound like someone breakfasted on shattered windshield glass combine for an explosive battering ram that becomes almost surreal when compared to the youthful faces of LOCURA. Assuming they don't lose their hunger for intensity, LOCURA will probably be around a long, long time. LOCURA is Joe Bowles, guitar; Nik Gonzalez, bass/vocal; Ian Malley, Vocal/Guitar, Larry Reynolds - Drums. Visit their website at at for more information.

Next up were one of Ventura County's favorite bands, SLAM ALICE. I've spent a lot of time attending SLAM ALICE shows and I've always wondered how best to describe their music. It isn't easy. It's a combination of savvy, razor-tongued lyrics and wildly emotional vocals tied to nothing-short-of-incredible guitar mastery backed by a savage drum beating that might just draw blood (and, in the past, indeed has). "Surf Metal" comes to mind but that's not quite right. "Power Punk," maybe, but that doesn't quite fit either. "Post-NIRVANA angst-ridden alterni-metal" is close but seems too wordy. "Hard rock" works so lets stick with that. Regardless, this was one of those nights when SLAM ALICE was dead on. At first, it didn't seem so. They sounded good but that usual spark wasn't as bright as usual. Then - when an audience member called out for perhaps the band's most popular tune - "Taco Bell" - SLAM ALICE gave the audience what they came for. "Taco Bell" wasn't even on the song list that evening but, after ripping through the song that (perhaps to the band's dismay) has become their signature, the audience warmed to the band and the rest of their set was strongly received. The band was aware of it, too, basking in the response and returning the energy. Bassist/vocalist Fred Dixon - as usual - played well to the crowd, cracking jokes, making fun of the band and invoking the name of 4DK often. Guitarist Jack Rickman amazed with his stunning fretwork; it's hard to watch Jack with a straight face - your jaw just keeps dropping open in awe. And drummer Jim Woodall pounded the drums as though he were playing that arcade game where the little gophers poke their heads out and you hit them with a hammer. Only instead of gophers there were little Milosevics peeking up instead. (For more about SLAM ALICE visit their webpage by clicking here).

Finally, it was time for the headliner. It was apparent by the crowd that suddenly appeared in the moshpit and by the improved lighting that this was the headlining event. 4DK (aka FOUR DEGREES KELVIN) took the stage.

We've been besieged by 4DK bandmembers and fans to come up and review their show (just read our Guest Page by clicking here). We'd hoped to attend the GRIP, INC. show at the Ventura Theater (with 4DK opening) but, alas, had to cancel. So that evening was our first time. We were 4DK virgins. We didn't know what to expect.

"Onslaught" comes to mind. "Aural assault" does, too. 4DK doesn't so much play a show as fire one, like a cruise missile. The band creates a solid wall of sound that seems to leap off of the stage and grab its audience by the ears, beating them senselessly against the moshpit floor and then flinging them back, wide-eyed, until the next song begins.

The audience ate it up. Obviously, the band's hardcore fans were there (and there were quite a few of them) but there were others, too. Those who had heard the band's metallic siren call from the street and stumbled into the Coach House North for a few good sonic body blows. LOCURA was there, too - in the front row - pumping their firsts and shaking their heads to the heavy, heavy beat.

4DK is almost as hard to describe as SLAM ALICE. The band's music sounds like no other; a cross between MEGADETH and SEPULTURA; PANTERA and KORN; WHITE ZOMBIE and THE FEARLESS VAMPIRE KILLERS. It's a combination of flame-thrower vocals (courtesy of Chuck "The Monster" Cordero) and finger-blistering, barbed-wire guitar by Todd Bourg. Bass player Terry Casserly's hands were a constant pink blur, like human flesh tarantulas caught in an electric chair. Drummer Ramon Salles was a powerful, precise madman, beating the hell out of those drums as though they'd done him wrong.

When the final note faded to nothing (and that was probably 4:00 PM on Sunday afternoon), we realized there was only one way to describe a 4DK performance "An experience." If you like it loud and fast, we suggest you look these guys up. For more information on the band, visit their webpage at

We walked away from the Coach House North that night with ringing ears and a satisfied smile on our faces. It had been a pretty successful evening. The discovery of two great new bands and a fantastic performance by an old favorite.

If only the booze had been cheaper, the night would have been perfect.

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Copyright 1999 by R. Scott Bolton. All rights reserved.
Revised: 23 Aug 2016 22:57:15 -0400.