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Shred Bettie - Born Again

Shred Bettie -  CD Review
Born Again
CD Info
Led Sky Records
10 Tracks
English lyrics

When I first stuck this CD on I was ready to blast it in this review. The first track, Lost In Time, is an absolutely abysmal and hackneyed piece of song-writing which sounds like it’s been recorded on a four-tracks in someone’s front living room. The lyrics are clichéd, the singing is off-key and the guitars are out of tune. What a joke, I thought. However, from then on it gets better [it couldn’t get much worse], because the next track, Dreams, is an absolute corker. The singing is confident, the guitars are beautifully heavy and it’s hard to believe that this is the same band. So I’m hoping that track one was just an ironic twist, but I doubt it, in spite of the fact that this band show that they can’t take themselves too seriously with later lyrics like, "I hate your fucking face, I want to spill your blood, I want to eat your dog".
Nevertheless, that’s the tone of Born Again, it suffers from a kind of half-in/half-out approach. You’ll get wonderfully thundering, galloping guitar riffs one second, followed by spidery, plinky-plonky passages the next, and it’s these passages that infect the album like a cancer. The album’s title track is laughable from start to finish, Lost In Time is diabolical, and I can’t believe that the intro to I’m Not Sorry isn’t a direct rip-off of Nirvana’s Aneurysm. Shred Bettie seem desperate to get across the fact that they have something to say with their music – a message to get across and a story to tell through high and low passages, yadda yadda.

However, it just doesn’t work like that. The problem is that in the clean sound and distortion combo, offered up as stock by so many bands, Shred Bettie cannot do the clean passages well. At all. It sounds wrong. The clean guitar-work is all over the place and Tonya Ward’s voice isn’t suited to the softer stuff, it sounds like she’s actually in pain from holding back and desperate to let fly with some really intense vocals. The thing is, when the heavy guitars come in and she gets her into her niche, it actually sounds impressive. Shred Bettie play rock, normal rock, the kind that you’ll find from umpteen other bands who are trying to crack the scene, and though there’s nothing particularly novel about their sound, they do have the ability to pack a fair punch when the distortion pedal is floored. When it’s loud, it’s great - when it’s soft, it’s not worth the plastic it’s burned on.

Nevertheless, Shred Bettie are going to have problems getting far with this kind of material, not because the song-writing is bad, far from it, but they should stop trying to conform to what the market demands and make music that is more natural to their ability. Dreams, The Gathering and Wasted and are all excellent heavy songs, played with vigour, and they really rip into your ears. These are marvellous numbers, exemplifying heavy rock as it should be, and are diverse enough to hold your attention and to keep you playing them over, and this is the kind of material they should concentrate on. In spite of the negatives that come across, for a first album, the going’s still good. A couple more years down the road and Shred Bettie have the potential of being an impressive rock band.