by Joe Silva

Since Helmet's six figure salary couldn't bolster their major label sophomore effort any further than the bargain bins, Local H have offer to assume possession of the heavy, fast and tight with their debut. Ham Fisted roars in spots, chugs along in thick distortion in others, and knows that stopping the whole rig on a dime adds to the intended wallop. But what Scott Lucas (guitar, vocals) and Joe Daniels (drums) seem to have a hold of is the notion that their taste for bombast and fuzz doesn't have to obliterate the melody. Three tracks in on "Mayonnaise and Malaise", the two manage a totally kosher reconciliation of the rough stuff and the hook. It's a good move as well, because their heads wind up craned above the tide rank and file post-grunge rockers who stock the college play lists with more ethic than content.

Not that Local H is a smiley, happy noise unit - Locus seems as torqued up as anyone when he blurts "It sure is something/to be twenty-nothing." And when they rumble into "User" there seems to be a big enough bile factor as they groove all the way to the near- metal double guitar lines in the break, making "Don't you give me no shit" a believable enough mantra. I've been tempted a couple of times in these paragraphs to drop the name of that Seattle trio, but that might be a misleading comparison. There's a minor affinity but this is a flavour that's seems to crisp most of the time for flannel. I'm not sure completely about the motive behind "Chicago Fanphair '93" (there's too much lyric lost in the yelp there...) but go from "Scott-Rock" to "Bag of Hammers" and back to "Cynic" and you'll find that this is some of the better unbridled stuff that you'll hear for a moment. Manicured, yet not mild mannered.