Music News

Cryogen

On the best recordings, lyrics, vocals and music are all first-rate -- but CDs that fail to score in each category shouldn't automatically be dismissed as losers. Take Premonition, Cryogen's heavily metallic debut. Although the disc is only one for three from the plate, the hit is pretty damn solid.

Singer/guitarist Ryan Conner isn't a bad bellower, but he's a fairly generic one; there's not much difference between his death voice and those of many other fire-breathers. Likewise, lyrics such as "My whole existence revolves around/A pointless, non-winning fight" (from "No Choice") don't exactly drip with unique insight. Fortunately, the music thrust out by Conner, guitarist Brian Sawyer, bassist Matt Lyon and drummer Matt Benson offsets these weaknesses. "Awakening" and the rest are unexpectedly multi-faceted, thanks to brutal playing and arrangements that are simultaneously complex and powerful.

Premonition doesn't clear the bases. But as anyone in the majors can attest, a .333 batting average ain't bad.

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Michael Roberts has written for Westword since October 1990, serving stints as music editor and media columnist. He currently covers everything from breaking news and politics to sports and stories that defy categorization.
Contact: Michael Roberts