Gone are the days when the merit of any metal band depended entirely on its sound. Intelligence is quietly infiltrating a genre that once consisted solely of sex set to a walloping backbeat.
Extreme's debut album is a case in point. Granted, some of the subject matter is all too familiar the sex-kitten schoolmarm ("Teacher's Pet"), the jailbait-love anthem ("Little Girls") and one track ("Wind Me Up") that chronicles the horrors of that age-old ailment, blue balls but the lyrics employ enough double-entendre and innuendo to inject a fair amount of wit into even those tired subjects.
Elsewhere on the album, the members of Extreme have a lot more to say. "Rock a Bye Bye" is a haunting prolife ballad, and "Watching, Waiting," fascinating in its imagery, is written as a firsthand account of the Crucifixion. Sometimes, the topic isn't so weighty as it is all-out kinky. At first glance, "Flesh n' Blood" ("I wanna eat your body") appears to address cravings of a sexual nature, but when the song's Romeo reveals his true intent, it ain't his heart that's hungry. He's a cannibal.
Guitarist Nuno Bettencourt is the deadliest weapon in Extreme's arsenal; his dexterity and melodic sense put him in a class with the Satrianis and Van Halens of the world, and the solos on some tracks are nothing short of spellbinding. From the wildly escalating, feedback-charged stint on "Mutha (Don't Wanna Go to School Today)" to the keening, beautifully atmospheric interlude following "Rock a Bye Bye," Bettencourt's hyperactive inventiveness never misses the mark. His style dovetails perfectly with the band's funky brand of metal a triple whammy of stark, unusual chordings, drop-dead hooks and lilting harmonies.
An extremely good listen. (RS 556-557)
(Posted: Jul 13, 1989)
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