December 2nd, 2007
|Summary: A genuinely spirited, bona-fide rock-and-roll album from the Candlebox frontman and a slew of collaborating musicians. Listeners seeking a new rock-and-roll artist would be crazy not to give this a shot.|
As evidenced by over five million records sold as Candlebox's frontman in the 1990s, Kevin Martin has developed an affinity for writing hook-laden rock-and-roll. After temporarily disbanding in 1999 due to multiple line-up changes and the ever-popular explanation of "record label politics," Candlebox's hiatus allowed Martin to pursue other endeavors. Beginning in 2001 and ultimately ending in a Summer 2003 release, Martin began writing and collaborating with multiple artists, from Hole guitarist Eric Erlandson to the eclectic Space, Kevin Martin & The Hiwatts' The Possibility of Being came to fruition. In a sense, "Possibility" is a Martin solo endeavor, but he and The Hiwatts - along with the other musical collaborators and contributors - sound like an authoritative, mature rock-and-roll group.
Essentially, The Possibility of Being is a breath of fresh air in the genre. It is a spirited rock-and-roll album that encompasses the tenets of rock-and-roll in every sense of the term. Kevin Martin & The Hiwatts are not a Candlebox: Revisted group. While elements of his first group's bluesy, grungy sound can be heard at various points of the album, "Possibility" distinctly incorporates a multitude of genres that can be heard quite clearly; however, it's best to discover that Kevin Martin & The Hiwatts embrace the zeal and gusto of rock-and-roll throughout the album.
From album opener Amedia, which opens with a cymbal crash and a solitary guitar chord, Martin's distinctive voice asks instantly, "Who said you kids are all alright?" This simple vocal intro gives way to a roaring verse with crunching guitars and effective drumming, beginning the album on a masterful note. The main riff is insanely catchy and the lead guitar playing almost inconspicuously underneath it is stellar; the drumming, courtesy of Terry "T-Bone" Rowe, is strong and assertive, with crisp cymbals and a powerful snare. Amedia also offers an incredible vocal performance from Martin, as well as shedding light into his overall themes he explores on the album. "Amedia, Amedia, we are the monsters that feed your head with our senseless alternatives... we are all faceless in the end, over-sold and the newest trend," sings Martin with his signature voice in the verses and chorus, who may be alluding to his previous record label issues with Candlebox. After a blistering guitar solo and a more abrasive turn from Martin, the track delves deeply into the heart of rock-and-roll. The back-up vocals on the track, especially in the reprised chorus, are also truly magnificent; all told, Amedia is a perfect opener that effectively sets the tone of the album.
The album opener is only trumped by If We Could, which is without question the best track on the album. The track is also the first on the album to feature an orchestral accompaniment. Lush lead guitars, courtesy of Space, who also collaborated with Martin on Enemy andTelepathic Rock & Roll, are complemented with a mellow, running bassline underneath in the song's intro, which precedes an introspective Martin in the verses. Martin, who concerns himself with stopping global warming and genocide prevention, can provide rather scathing social commentary at times. Take for instance the chorus' anthemic "If we could see ourselves, would we get it right? If we don't feel at all, how can we feel alive?" or the bridge's "If we never fall... and if we want it all, who would we want to be?" From this point, the orchestral accompaniment and a fantastic guitar solo elevate the track to an explosive concluding final chorus and conclusion. The orchestra also shines wonderfully on the exceptionally beautiful, heart-wrenching album closer, The Lovers, with heartbreaking lyrics such as "We left the gates wide open, love, but locked away our souls / Who we are is all I know, and I miss you still / Today, tomorrow, and yesterday: walk with me, share this world with me, I love you still." Martin's repeated "Set free the lovers!" is one hell of a conclusion to the album.
Another intriguing aspect of The Possibility of Being is the wide array of genres heard on the album. Identify exhibits punk roots, Telepathic Rock & Roll as the rollicking pro-rock anthem (while indeed a song that pays tribute to his musical heroes, see Martin's incensed lyrics, which include "So don't you gimme no more transparent rock & roll stars, gimme no more transparent rock & roll" and " I define what's credible; it has a bit to do with telepathic rock & roll / I got Lennon, got Janis, got Lou, and Bob Marley knew telepathic rock & roll"), and Isounds stunningly Tool-like in character, yet exhibits its own individuality. Also of interest on "Possibility" is the inclusion of samples to facilitate the music. For example, Enemy features American countercultural figure Peter Fonda uttering his infamous "We need a real uprising" quotation, where he cites dictators like Mussolini, Hitler, Stalin, and other "fanatics of filth, famine, and atrocity." Inherently, Martin's social commentary emanates throughout.
In the end, The Possibility of Being is a bona-fide rock-and-roll album that encapsulates the spirit of rock-and-roll to an amazing degree. Martin's voice is distinguished, but not easily accessible at first. His clean vocals are superb, but at times he sounds like he uses a lot of his throat rather than his diaphragm, which sounds like it has a lot of phlegm in it from smoking. This quality, however, adds a ton of character into his delivery and to The Hiwatts' instrumentation. "Lyrics and melody have always been important to me," says Martin. "That's one of the best ways I communicate." He undoubtedly delivers on The Possibility of Being: with caustic social commentary (If We Could, a track that Martin states "deals with humanity, being humane to one another, asking yourself, 'What am I doing here? What is life all about for me?'" is an authoritative example of this) to heartbreaking lyricism (Walk Away, The Lovers) to anthemic rock-and-roll numbers (Amedia,Telepathic Rock & Roll, Enemy), Martin is absolutely brilliant. The instrumentation is excellent as well - the guitars have an eclectic and electric crunch and Space's contributions are certainly noteworthy, the bass rumbles when heard, and the drumming provides an unwavering backbone to the Hiwatts' core sound - altogether, it certifiably encompasses the spirit of rock-and-roll. Listeners seeking a straightforward and incredibly awesome rock-and-roll record would do well in giving The Possibility of Being a special place
All Music Guide Review
At a time -- the mid- to late '80s -- when most bands from the Pacific Northwest saw heavy metal and hardcore as inherently inimical music communities, the band called Mace thought little of marrying the two genres in any way they saw fit, and by doing so produced one of the region's rare bona fide crossover albums with 1985's Process of Elimination. Not that the generally accepted meaning of the term "production" really entered the picture on this lo-fi marvel of an LP, an album where the very concept of professionalism (or, more specifically, taking oneself too seriously) already challenged listeners to mislabel it as merely a heavy metal album. That would simply not fit the bill, because -- with their straightforward arrangements, gang choruses, political commentary, and bounteous cynical humor crowding to the fore -- excellent tracks like "Smoking Gun," "Drilling for Brains," and "M.A.C.E." are hardcore by definition, or (more correctly) crossover songs, as much so as any contemporaneous offerings from Agnostic Front or Cryptic Slaughter. Conversely, songs like "Act of War," "The Introduction," the acoustic guitar-introduced "Room 301," and the six-minute epic "Violent World" are noticeably more technical and involved, using their crush-kill-destroy lyrics, staccato riffing savagery, and even instrumental flash (yep, shredding guitar solos) to redress the balance toward the metallic end of the band's spectrum. Then there's the possibly album-best "Marine Corpse," which combines separate passages, each steeped in the best of both worlds, and summarizes this furiously entertaining album perfectly -- audio fidelity be damned! ~ Eduardo Rivadavia, All Music Guide Mace > Process of Elimination > Reviews
Process of Elimination
Target: Eliminated? - 86%
Mace’s ‘Process Of Elimination’ (P.O.E.) falls between conventional metal and anarchist punk valleys, based in nasty chords rather than melodies. Call it ‘Metallic Punk’, ‘Punky Metal’, or whatever, but Mace’s proposal was very different from that of their contemporaries. The band relies on heavy-like-a-bulldozer guitars, driven by a solid drumming. Vocals delivery strikes like a flurry, but in such songs as ‘Act of War’ and ‘S.U.B.C.’, vocalist Kirk Verhey incorporates passive aggression that adds a certain something that further the cause, especially in the chorus lines. Mace’s musical statement was fuel-powered and driven to tear some walls down with their heavy artillery. Songs in P.O.E. could be described as rounds of blasting riffs and furious leads as the production allows the rage to come through from every anthem of war-dealing tales heard here. P.O.E. is worth listening if you are into metal records from the days of yore.
- , February 23rd, 2005