When most people think of Las Vegas, gambling, prostitution, and scorching heat come to mind. It is from this searing environment that Hemlock was born. Their newest release, titled Shut Down, continues the assault that started in the desert years ago. With daft, death-metal vocals, frontman Chad Smith not only offers his beliefs and opinions to the world, he shoves them down the listeners’ throat and yanks out their spine on exit. Contributing to this melee are Mike Johns and Richard Burnett on guitars, and Brian Smith on drums.
One of the best songs on the disc is “Obsession,” which offers a killer beat and poignant lyrics. Anger can be felt bellowing through the speakers as Smith howls, “Your obsession is a weapon!/ Your oppression is a weapon!” My favorite is the catchy yet furious tune, “Impostor.” In it, the band addresses posers and counterfeit people and asks, “Must you really try to be/ Absolutely what you’re not?” The title track to the CD is a fast and fierce number that, for the most part, includes incoherent vocals. Ironically, one of the few parts of the song that can be understood features the following lyrics: “What you say/ I must bow down to/ What you say/ I must agree with.”
“Nobody Knows” is an inventive and extremely raffish tune that exposes the band’s strong hatred toward “killers” that blend in and pretend they are your friends, then end up stabbing “naive victims” in the back. The art of placing social commentary under a shroud of explosive music and vocals is something that Hemlock have obviously mastered. “Another Way” is the band’s wake-up call to the workaholics of the world who revolve their entire existence around their jobs and never stop to enjoy life. Smith offers the listener the mordant reminder that “no one has the promise of another day.” One of the more deviceful songs on the album is “Upstairs Interior.” Although it only consists of two lines of lyrics, the meaning of those lyrics goes beyond the face value of the words. At its core, it is a song about dealing with the evils and weaknesses of the mind.
With Shut Down, Hemlock have unleashed another thunderous, vicious, and blistering CD that whips the listener into a violent frenzy. But would you expect anything less from the city of sin?