Tuesday, September 4, 2007

Adema, "Kill the Headlights" review

Kill the Headlights
Immortal Records
Available now

WARNING: Stereotypical rock in-joke ahead. Proceed with caution, ready to shake head disparagingly.

Adema has endured so many lineup changes over the years, you’d think they were made up entirely of drummers.

Anyone? Anyone? Spinal Tap maybe?

In any case, the cock-rockin’ Bakersfield, CA quintet have had to work their asses off over the course of their career to establish themselves as a band worthy of attention; the fact that most of their early success was (arguably) due to a metal PR frenzy surrounding front man Mark Chavez’ relation to Korn’s Jonathan Davis—the two are half-brothers—and the subsequent dip in sales following the group’s in-fighting probably didn’t help matters too much.

The band’s core members, however, have remained undaunted. Armed with their third singer in Bobby Reeves, Adema have recently released Kill the Headlights, their fourth and most cohesive LP to date. The album is a refreshingly businesslike affair, with most songs kept to a radio-ready three to three-and-a-half minutes, and absolutely throbbing with gigantic arena-worthy guitars and hooks.

Having had to ward off the undeserved “nu-metal” stigma since its inception, the band finally sheds any trace of that damning label. While the sound is still rooted in the high school angst-rock of past and present, it comes across as honest, down-to-earth rock and roll instead of the whiny metal that pervaded my most awkward years.

Lead single “Cold and Jaded” is a fitting opener, with fat, grinding guitars and powerful, gritty vocals courtesy of Reeves, while taking cues from Stone Sour on a few beefy ballads like “Days Go By,” and the especially enjoyable and soaring “All These Years.”

Adema won’t be revolutionizing the face of rock anytime soon, but Kill the Headlights seems to at the very least provide these deceptively talented dudes with a long-sought-after sense of identity. This one’ll grow on you.

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