THE JUDAS CRADLE “To Bad They’re All Dead” CD
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The best thing about this album is its title. The worst thing about it is the morbidly goofy series of photos in the insert. And somewhere in between is the music, which this Alabama crew delivers with all the spleen, passion, and instrumental expertise you’d expect from about half the bands emerging from American college towns. The Judas Cradle hail from Birmingham, AL, though that fact won’t tell you much about their particular approach to heaviosity, which turns out to be less interesting than song titles like “Jakob the Liar,” “When I Was Little I Used to Write Letters to God,” and “Severe Case of Writer’s Block” might lead you to expect. Yes, their music is unrelentingly and generically loud and dark and abrasive, and yes, the juxtaposition of chordally complex guitar work with sonically simple screaming is getting a bit trite and played-out, but none of that is the problem. The problem is that this music is just plain boring, and that’s a problem that neither artful twin-guitar harmonies nor throat-shredding howls can fix. The “whoo!” that’s hidden about halfway through “What to Do When Your Van Breaks Down in Oregon” is kind of fun, and “Severe Case of Writer’s Block,” a surprisingly lovely acoustic-guitar-based meditation with Casiotone rhythm accompaniment, is a pleasant turnaround at the very end of the program. But everything else barrels along at a steady and monotonous pace without ever getting anywhere.