Start a War
Warner Bros.

Anyone who gives liner-note props to corporate clothing sponsors cannot possibly be that angry. Still, even with faux-furious spewing, Static-X’s new album does manage to deliver a flavor of metal fusion not often listed on the melodic hard rock menus of the major labels.

“I Want to F******* Break It” begins as a polka and then tears into demonic industrial riffing that recalls the gothic tones of Ministry. “Brainfog” is a surprising combo of metal and disco, and “Just in Case” has chorus vocals reminiscent of the convincingly perturbed Zach de la Rocha of Rage Against the Machine. Static-X lead vocalist Wayne Static has the pipes to pummel the crap out of most nü-metal bands, but outside of this handful of songs, he generally delves into the same old boring melodramatics of singers who want to sound hard and evil but tend to wail as if they’re trying to win a “Star Search” championship. Truth be told, Start a War is industrial metal done well, but Static-X plays the role of “enraged” about as well as Toby Keith plays the part of cowboy. (Erika Fredrickson)

Static-X headlines a triple bill of headbanging heavy metal at the Wilma Theatre Sunday, Nov. 20, at 7:30 PM. $21.50.

Ill Niño
One Nation Underground
Roadrunner Records

Merengue and metal might appear to be from opposite sides of the tracks, but New Jersey band Ill Niño combines the come-hither sizzle of Latin American beats with a threatening fury of double-kick drumming and driving guitar. The result is One Nation Underground, a sort of danceable effort with intermittent recesses of headbanging delight—which is, if nothing else, a road not traveled by most hard-rock bands.

Granted, Ill Niño isn’t going so far off course that they don’t follow the current emo-metal fashions. But in their strongest track, “This is War,” they at least get down to business (for awhile, anyway) with hard-core power riffs and some comical pepperings of glam-rock harmonics. Aside from those fitful swaths of good, old-fashioned metal, the best element of Underground is its south-of-the border gusto, which emanates mid-album in “My Pleasant Torture” and the flamenco-flavored “In this Moment.”

Though their English lyrics fall flat (prosaic musings on pain and suffering), singer Christian Machado has the sense to serve up some spicier vocals in Spanish, giving One Nation Underground enough flavor to kindle the kind of fire lacking in most of today’s popular metal. (Erika Fredrickson)

Ill Niño and Opiate for the Masses open for Static-X at the Wilma Theatre Sunday, Nov. 20, at 7:30 PM. $21.50.

New Monsoon
Live at the Telluride Bluegrass Festival
SCI Fidelity Records

If your second cousin once owned a fiddle and your band has proven to draw any sort of crowd, the legendary Telluride Bluegrass Festival will book you. New Monsoon was deemed “Emerging Artist of the Year” in 2003 by, so you know the folks at Telluride clambered to get ahold of the band the following year. The tracks on this album, taken from the band’s June 17 performance, achieve a spaced-out hula-hoopability rivaled only by fellow releases on SCI Fidelity Records, mainly those from The String Cheese Incident.

Perhaps plate tectonics could explain how banjo, congas, mandolin, tablas, bass, guitar, keyboards and didgeridoo ended up in one single band. Or maybe the Bay Area musicians smoked enough banana peels to make it seem logical to include instruments from six different continents in their lineup. Peels and plate tectonics aside, New Monsoon has taken arrangement cues from Phish and moe. and become a jam band to be reckoned with. At Monsoon’s best, their uplifting chord progressions and fluid noodling could make a brother don a patchwork skirt and work up a smile-induced sweat. At Monsoon’s worst, their incongruent instrumentation could drive a sister to Antarctica, the one continent they haven’t exploited yet. (Caroline Keys)

New Monsoon plays the Top Hat Friday, Nov. 18, at 10 PM. Cover TBA.

Casey Neill
Memory Against Forgetting
Daemon Records

The liner notes of Casey Neill’s new 10-year retrospective collection say the songs “fluctuate in style, form, and instrumentation. I was different people, and I am all too much the f@#%ing same.” Neill may not be thrilled to be stuck with himself, but most listeners will take pleasure in joining him for this hour-long tour down memory lane.

The title is adapted from a quotation by Milan Kundera: “The struggle of man against power is the struggle of memory against forgetting.” All of the songs on the record, whether fictional or confessional, adeptly personify this struggle. Neill’s most recent tracks sound like a more technologically savvy Bruce Cockburn, tackling grown-up subjects with the aid of live instruments and electronic drum programming. Some of the throwback tunes are high octane, thrasher-folk a la The Pogues or the Old 97s. In between, you’ll find topical fiction, wherein Neill gives voice to out-of-work cod fishers, molybdenum miners and Oregon’s homeless.

Throughout, Neill’s confidence and storytelling proficiency never waver. Lucky for us, it is only in the best ways that he remains “all too much the f@#%ing same.” (Caroline Keys)

Casey Neill plays the Crystal Theatre Saturday, Nov. 19, at 8 PM. $10 in advance, $12 at the door, $2 off for Missoula Folklore Society members.

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