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Dark Flowers 

Prime cuttings from the current metal crop

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Photo by Ted Soqui

LINKIN PARK

Six nice-looking young men from Los Angeles named after what sounds like every suburb in America. Doesn't exactly spell heavy-fuckin'-metal, does it? So why spotlight Linkin Park here? With thundering choruses, programming nuances and billowy vocal harmonies, the band's debut album, Hybrid Theory (Warner/Reprise), pushes past the usual rap-metal clichés: Chester Bennington, Mike Shinoda, Joseph Hahn, Brad Delson and Rob Bourdon crack skulls and emote. "A lot of what we do is really simple," says Bennington. "But we layer it so much that it comes off as pretty complicated." Fine, but where are the trademark political posturing, the post-apocalyptic doom and the lyrics oh so pornographic? Instead, the songs read like excerpts from a diary. "We use music as therapy," says Bennington. "It's a big part of why there's no profanity on the record. I have a mouth like a sailor, so when I wrote 'fuck you' or something, the other guys in the band would challenge me, saying, 'Fuck who? What do you mean by that?' That forced me to really dig for what I was feeling." Did we mention that Linkin's tunes will imprint on your gray matter like a neural tattoo? Those strengths, coupled with continued major-label love, should keep the airwaves buzzing and the girlies throwing panties for a while. (Andrew Lentz)

ENDO

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Endo

The biggest threats to established orders don't come from cannibalistic Satanist liquor-store robbers; they come from intelligent folks-next-door who thank their moms and girlfriends, admit they like Tori Amos and Pink Floyd (as well as Pantera), harness their anger, and then kick all kinds of motherfucking ass. That's why these Endo guys are dangerous; also because they're living proof that four Miamians with roots in Israel, Canada, Cuba and even the USA can do it together.

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Endo's major-label debut, Evolve (Columbia), suggests a band likely to continue growing new appendages from a basic cell structure that includes Zelick's walloping bass, guitarist Eli Parker's Cyclopean riffs and catalytic noisifications, Gil Bitton's sympathetic howling, and the ace drum crosscurrents of Joel Suarez, who can juggle from chicken-chopping Caribbean off-accents to a tickity little high-hat itch in half a heartbeat without dropping the battleship. (New drummer: Joe Eshkenazi.) The ambiguous textures. The occasional steely bursts of melody. Bitton's obsessions with spiritual texts and the mathematical mystery of pi. There's just too much permeation going on here for Endo to remain localized outside the cultural bloodstream. Endocrinology, baby. (Greg Burk)

SOILENT GREEN



Soilent Green

It's hard to put a finger on the back-bayou voodoo stank of Louisiana's Soilent Green. Their Ritalin-deprived 1998 second release, Sewn-Mouth Secrets, was too shape-shiftingly restless to settle into a groove, but it also had too much Southern swagger to settle for business-as-usual metal. Throw in psychosexual lyrics that would give inbred Cajuns the willies, and art nouveau CD covers that would make Alphonse Mucha jealous, and you got, ah say, ah say, you got some next-level hawdcoah, boy. And we haven't even gotten to the soon-to-suppurate A Deleted Symphony for the Beaten Down (again on Relapse Records). "The production on this one is so much better," brags lead singer Ben Falgoust in a thick Arcadian drawl. "This one's even faster, more in your face." Soilent Green -- Falgoust (vocals), Brian Patton (guitar), Donovan Punch (guitar), Scott Williams (bass) and Tommy Buckley (drums) -- is maybe the most visible member of a loose-knit confederacy that includes the stoner-rockin' Eyehategod and black-metalers Goatwhore, which Falgoust fronts in his not-so-abundant spare time. Even those pussies at Rolling Stone admitted that this is one of the heavy bands you need to know about, so what gives the swampy slabs of Soilent Green their mojo? "We listen to everything from zydeco to Dixieland jazz to Radiohead. Too much metal takes its toll."(Andrew Lentz)

PUYA

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The first time you hear these mothers drop into one of their out-of-nowhere breakdowns, your head will execute a 360-degree Linda Blair spin. They'll be riffing along, dirty and brutal, and maybe you'll only notice that your gluteal region is twitching more than metal usually encourages. Then, whammo, you'll find your ears boxed by congas and timbales, or a jungly three-part-harmony vocal chant, or a full-on Latin horn section. Puya resolved early on that loving metal didn't mean renouncing the sounds of their native Puerto Rico; they just want to ensure you're not "appreciating their roots" while sipping a piña colada in a white dress. No, you'll be swigging your rum straight out of the bottle while dancing sweat-naked. After switching digs to Fort Lauderdale and then L.A., Ramon Ortiz, Eduardo Paniagua, Sergio Curbelo and Harold Hopkins toured their tires off behind 1999's Fundamental (MCA), produced by rock en español Svengali Gustavo Santaolalla. Their perspiration landed them a Billboard album award, a No. 1 Metal Radio hit ("Oasis") and praise for a grabby video. And their new Union, capped with a broiling quarter-hour instrumental jam, boosts even higher. "That might be new to you/But we been doin' it for 10 years," raps Curbelo on "Ride." Well, sorry. But we're listening now, okay? (Greg Burk)

CANDIRIA

So what if the name sounds like a yeast infection? The hungry young cats in Candiria aim for nothing less than a total redefinition of metal. Swinging like the Benny Goodman orchestra one second before a gaggle of MCs drop braggalicious rhymes over creepy found-sound snippets -- only to cream you with bagpipes after you grog out of a didgeridoo trance -- this Brooklyn quintet is one slick genre-melding machine. Amazingly, the stylistic hopscotching doesn't distract from the six-string tug o' war waged by guitarists John LaMacchia and Eric Matthews. "We love aggressive music, but most of it is so fucking boring," says bassist Michael MacIvor. "If we weren't gonna push it as far as we could, then we weren't gonna do it at all." It seemed that Candiria had disappeared into the four-year stretch that followed '95's Surrealistic Madness (Too Damn Hype), a serious wake-up call to anyone who thought metal couldn't be both highbrow and savage. Then -- two years ago, out of nowhere -- came Process of Self-Development (MIA) and, less than a solar cycle later, the supercompressed follow-up 300 Percent Density (Century Media). Why doesn't Candiria's chugging guitar chop induce generic tedium? Rapper-shrieker Carley Coma, whose unintelligible rasp is mixed co-equally up front, is part of it. But what really keeps you reeling on the crust of grind is the jittery tectonic plate beneath: the wigged-out time signatures of jazz-trained percussionist Kenneth Schalk, oiled with MacIvor's stretchy, slippy five-string low end. (Andrew Lentz)

WILL HAVEN

Imagine a slo-mo atomic detonation, and maybe you'll have a clue to the oppressive vibe Will Haven can emit. After the bipolar sludge-groove of El Diablo and the arctic migraine that followed it, WHVN, these Sacramentals dropped the power-chord obviousness for pretty advanced aggro experiments -- Jeff Irwin's guitar forging crunchy textures, Grady Avenell's voice leaching through dirty filters, Wayne Morse's drums (now replaced by Mitch Wheeler's) bouncing lethargically on a bed of shimmery cymbal wash, and Mike Martin's drop-tuned bass flatulently puttering like a VW bus with a shot muffler. Irwin is quick to credit studio hermit Eric Stenman, one of the few producers who could wrap his mind around the user-unfriendly digital-audio software Acid; Stenman tweaked so royally with WHVN that the band re-recruited him for the upcoming Carpe Diem. "We like to dabble in pure noise," says Irwin. "We wanted something that would fuck with people a little bit." You got that right, Jeff. (Andrew Lentz)

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