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Hemlock

"Charles Manson and the government are a lot alike," shrieks Hemlock's Chad Smith on "Red Sky Revolution." "Behind the scenes, they are the masterminds." With America sinking into an abyss of war and recession, Las Vegas' Hemlock offers aggressive, eardrum-mashing solace of the highest order.

Hemlock's is a massive death-metal sound flecked with bits of post-grunge and hardcore, and heavier than one of those giant earth-moving machines used to trench a foundation on the Vegas Strip. Smith delivers a traditional cookie-monster metal growl, only he bothers to enunciate, making his 13-year-old band's proper (by which we mean "non-self-released") debut on Blind Prophecy, No Time for Sorrow, more palatable to metal fans who prefer to understand lyrics.

Clearly, Smith is pissed off by what he sees and experiences. In the lashing reprisal of "Beautality," he berates the country that spawned him with a litany of dark observations on our empty, media-saturated era: "Lost in a crease of a magazine / Spoonfed lies are televised." Hemlock houses deadly riffage, too, particularly in the doom-metal stomp of tracks like "To Submerge Another."

No Time for Sorrow isn't for everybody. But if you're ready to down a shot of the headbanging truth, Hemlock offers the perfect antidote to our poisonous era.

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