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Kings of Feedback: _Rules_
Review by Rev. Pee Kitty

Up until now, most people's exposure to Kings of Feedback (KoF) has been from the CD _Open Your Ears_. On that CD, Bill T. Miller (BTM) took the experiemental noise-collage sound of OBE and ported it into a heavy, distorted, guitar-driven band; the result was a loud, aggressive blend of noise collage and heavy rock. The line between OBE and KoF was still rather blurred...understandably, with both bands being different outlets for the noise inside one man's head.

On _Rules_, Kings of Feedback come into their own.

Don't forget what you heard on _Open Your Ears_, but don't expect BTM to stick to it at all. _Rules_ showcases a band with a vast range of sound, from dark, growling metal to ambient goth to energetic, electronic, and noisy to whatever you might not be expecting at the moment. The album progresses through several stages, ranging from true music to true antimuzik, from radio-friendly to unapologetic - it's difficult to imagine anyone not finding *something* they like about this album, and easy to imagine most people liking everything about it. This, more than any other album BTM has created to date, is the album I see most likely to cross over into mainstream airplay. That, by itself, is not high praise - the high praise here is that BTM has created such an album without compromising himself or losing his trademark sound. His fans will have no problem diving into this record, but even his non-fans will likely enjoy what they hear now - KoF has shown that their sound is all their own, distinct from any of BTM's other projects, and it's a sound worth paying attention to.

The album starts off with "Everything" and "Lost My Faith", dropping right into a hard, growling, distorted sound reminiscent of Filter, NIN, or Marilyn Manson. Vernon Tart's vocals shine on both tracks, screaming for an end to his own hate in "Everything" and facing the reality of life on the high-energy "Lost My Faith". The next track, "Sacred Ground", was featured on BTM's SubGenius _Orgy of Slack_ CD; its sardonic lyrics on religion and well-chosen samples are layered over a throbbing guitar/bass line which drives home the feel of the song perfectly. "Gator" is both a damned funny song and a damned *rockin'* song, the hillbilly/redneck/white trash ramblings about catchin' gators are backed up by incredible, free-wheeling and furious guitar work - blues-influenced wailings meet with screaming rock solos in one hell of a combination.

The album slows but doesn't soften for "Violent and Aggressive", a surprisingly honest and simple song about violent and aggressive behavior; Vernon's singing style and Sean O'Brien's guitars turn what might have been a ballad for any other band into a very interesting and unique song. It jumps back into the heavy rock groove of "Spider", a funky song with a delightful tendency to plunge into choruses and bridges of thrashing guitars and screaming. After that, "Guitar Gawd" introduces some humor and noise, essentially comprised of riffs from half a dozen guitar players juxtaposed with samples from a "Playing the Guitar" primer and high pitches squealing from guest vocalists. Short, noisy, and hilarious. "Locust", the next offering, is an older song of KoF's which I first heard on BTM's _Heavy Hardcore Headroom_ compilation. I was incredibly impressed with it then, and remain so. The sample providing the name ("America has decided to devour its youth!") mixed with Vernon's angry lyrics about society and the catchy guitar riffs work together about as perfectly as possible...this song is the one I now play to those who want a sample of KoF's work.

At this point, things start to get really different. "Whispers" is a slow, rhythmic, ambient...well, it'd be flat out *gothic* if the samples were about blood, love, and death. Instead, it's a dreamlike journey through the subconscious, the vocals, guitars, samples, and keyboards fading in and out as the beat steadily travels segues perfectly into "Confused", which trades some of the ambience for the guitars, bass, and drums grooving through samples and other odd sounds...which then segues easily into "That's Now". "That's Now" is, quite frankly, my favorite song on the album. It's very difficult to describe - the rythym throbs throughout the song, the guitars come in whenever needed to turn the rythym into a hook-laden riff or to solo over the riffs, the samples and lyrics are well done and flow together so's dancy, ambient, rocking, heavy, mellow, all at once. I've never heard anything quite like it.

"Freakin' Perverted" overlays a funky beat with guitar slides and a big ol' ton of samples from judgmental morons; the end result is very fun and dancy. The fun continues with "Wank My Whammy", where BTM showcases his geetar skills and vocals in a not-too-serious manner, abusing the hell out of his whammy bar while singing unashamed lyrics that make it clear just how phallic the guitar really is - face it, music is all about sex at some fundamental level, right? But then, someone would say *everything* is about sex at some fundamental level....

KoF does blues? Hell yes, and they do them well. "TV Addict" is what you get when you take a blues song and run it through the KoF filter. The distorted guitars riff away amidst harmonicas wailing, acoustic guitars plucking, and BTM singing of his only real friend in life, his television. The next surprise on this ever-changing album is a cover of the old Animals' song "It's My Life". I haven't heard the original, but this version is certainly well done, and unapologetically KoF: Heavy and grungy with samples a'plenty. After that, the album wraps up with "Hook Me Up", not so much a normal KoF song as more of an OBE-style remix of some music found earlier in the album (I leave it to the reader to figure out which song or songs) with new samples and some new music added. Very short...Beck does techno...that sort of thing.

But even after all *that*, the album isn't quite over! Leave it to BTM to include a full EP on the last part of the record. First, we're treated to five mini-songs from his latest project, Orgy of Noise. Those into true, pure *noise* - *real* antimuzik (John Zorn, Six Finger Satellite, Uberkunst) - will love this. Others might be scared...don't worry, no one will blame you for skipping past these to the OBE bonus track. Personally, though, I loved them, being a big fan of noise bands. The OBE bonus track "Nerd" should make up for any mental trauma caused by the previous five tracks; it's dancy as hell - just begging to be played in a club somewhere. The samples (there are no 'lyrics') are about computer geeks, the internet, and other nerds and nerdy topics - funny as hell. After all that, there's still *more*, as four tracks worth of very short OBE remixes (from _Call Now_, OBE's first album) take us to the actual end of the album. definitely get your money's worth here!

I've been a fan of BTM's stuff for a long time, and have heard more KoF than probably any person besides BTM, but this album made me feel like I was hearing a brand new band for the first time. I was awestruck by the diversity, the talent, and the juxtaposition of the weird, Dobbs-approved sound with the potenial to become a serious mainstream hit. Whether or not you've heard KoF, or any BTM stuff, in the past, whether you loved or hated them if you did, I have to recommend checking out this CD - not just as another BTM project, but as an album, and a band, that stands alone in its own spotlight. You'll be glad you did.

Thumbs up.

You can visit to see more info on the CD, or to hear the music. That's right, BTM has put the *entire CD* up on his website for *free*! Every song, unabridged, in RealAudio format (along with RA and WAV versions of much of his other stuff). Now you have no excuse to check them out; by the time you're done, you'll not only be begging him to take your measley cash in exchange for this CD, but you'll end up buying half a dozen OBE, Drum Army, and King of Slack CDs and tapes as well - because it's all just SO DAMNED GOOD.

-- Rev. Pee Kitty, of the order Malkavian-Dobbsian


Kings Of Feedback | Orgy Of SLACK