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CD and DVD reviews

Acid Bath: When the Kite String Pops

By Zack West, 17, The Linden Center

Acid Bath is one of the most under-rated bands in metal and definitely worth checking out. Their fans and the metal scene have labeled them swamp metal, due to their southern influence and their Louisiana origin. The band has been compared to Pantera and Cradle of Filth, but has no direct resemblance to any band I have heard.

Their first album, When the Kite String Pops, has 14 intricately mastered tracks, from the mind-altering solos and crunching riffs of "Finger Paintings of the Insane" to hypnotic ballads like "The Bones of Baby Dolls." Acid Bath’s front man, Dax Riggs, has the most controlled vocal range of any singer in metal. Since Acid Bath broke up in 1997, Riggs has gone on to sing in the blues-rock band Agents of Oblivion and more recently in Dead Boy and The Elephant Men. His voice isn’t like the annoying screams that would drive a dog insane, but actual pleasing high notes and soothing lows, with an occasional brutal scream to emphasize the metal effect.

While defying the early 90s grunge philosophy that guitar solos aren’t cool, Acid Bath guitarists Mike Sanchez and Sammy Duet can shred across the fret board and create some of the sickest guitar solos metal has ever heard. And they do it without implying any imitation of Metallica.

Jimmy Kyle has the bass drum double kick mastered down to the bone, yet his most appreciated trait is his ability to be as fast as hell but never repetitive or droning and overpowering the music. Bassist Audie Pitre, whose death in a car accident led to the band’s breakup, had the role of a sort of third guitarist, adding more crunch, often with an Iron Butterfly-like psychedelic element created by his unique picking style. Pitre supported each musician in the band, adding a different sound and bringing up the bottom.

Don’t take my word for it, just check this band out. You can sample their songs for free at www.rottenrecords.com. They have two great full-length albums, When the Kite String Pops and Paegan Terrorism Tactics.


By Christina Kim, 17, South Pasadena HS

There’s a particular scene from Equilibrium that keeps popping up in my head. It involves the main character and his crime-fighting partner, who remain at a stalemate in a dusty relic of a church. The partner is guilty of a crime, the crime of feeling, which carries a death sentence. (Literature, art, and love have been outlawed in this futuristic ‘utopia’ because they heighten the senses and evoke emotions in humans, which the government considers dangerous.) At the slightest hint of aggression the hero, played wonderfully by Christian Bale, raises his gun ever so slowly, inch by inch at the sitting man’s head, who at the same time raises his battered book of Yeats’s poems in front of his eyes, matching weapon for weapon.

Equilibrium is a movie that likes to ask questions and experiment with bold visuals. It is the kind of movie that, at first glance, might seem like a harmless action flick, but is actually quite thought-provoking and moving. The depth of the movie is evident in the way director/writer Kurt Wimmer deals with many of the film’s major characters. He does not save some and destroy others to decorate the plot; instead, Wimmer makes all of his characters suffer and sin equally, perhaps telling us that in a society that would choose conformity over individuality, no one is exempt from cruelty.

Yes, Equilibrium contains fantastic action sequences (all of which are laced with an odd fusion of martial arts and gun fighting, called gunkata). But above all it is delightful to watch because you know that this is a movie where the writer sat down and asked himself, "what if … ?" Equilibrium is a gem of a movie that you cannot miss.