"The Dwarves Must Die"

(Sympathy for the Record Industry 2004)

As arrogant as ever, the band that once called themselves "the band that wouldn't die" has, apparently, changed their minds. Instead, "The Dwarves Must Die," with the help of a long list of guest musicians that includes former Dwarves bassist Rex Everything (aka Nick Oliveri), is the band's most recent album. Led by singer Blag Dahlia, the Dwarves resume their routine, perhaps with a bit less steam, by creating catchy, quick songs -- that is, if you can get past the lyrics (and the album cover).

As a DJ does a voice over introducing a band you are probably already too familiar with, "Bleed On" is surf rock with squeaky, poppy vocals. The song's lyrics are as much of a cheesy intro to the album ("Rock, pop, we got hardcore, we got way more") are as they are smug welcoming to the Dwarves newest album. With an, ironically, Queens of the Stone Age style riff, "Fefu" is heavy and catchy before the bright and poppy "Salt Lake City," featuring the familiar vocals of the Offspring's Dexter Holland, gets stuck in your head. Speeding punk rock, "Dominator" is typical Dwarves fair. "Demented" is as good as any of the mainstream rap rock that passes itself off as serious. A tape of Oliveri, admitting to some rock 'n' roll excesses, opens "Blast," a fast, thrashing punk song that is gone before you realize it has arrived. "Like You Want" -- which just appeared on Mondo Generator's "A Drug Problem That Never Existed" album and was co-written by Dahlia and Oliveri -- turns up here as well and sounds nearly the same as Mondo Generator's version.

Rhyming "Jesus Christ" with "Heidi Fleiss," "Relentless" is quick pop punk. The album's jewel in the rough, however, is "Massacre," a rap rock song that calls out "Bad" Charlotte, Creed and Queens of the Stone Age while incorporating Oliveri's distinct laugh and mocking comments into the instrumentation and even resurrecting a "DJ" from "Songs for the Deaf." Steeped in the Ramones, "Runaway #2" is punctuated with hand claps while "Go!" and "Another Classic" are straight ahead Dwarves. Mixing a funeral procession with heavy instrumentation, "Christ On A Mic" uses scratching instead of a solo to keep the song going. The Dwarves reiterate another old slogan on "Downey Junior" has they chant "corruption of the youth; annihilation of the rest" before gritty and quick punk pop. As they incorporate an old style into the middle of a song (a road they have traveled before but if it is not broke, why try to fix it?), "The Dwarves Must Die" closes the album strongly and with a quick reference to Marc Bolan.

The first album to comment on last year's Queens of the Stone Age gossip, Oliveri takes up with Dahlia and his old band for good results. Entertaining to the last note, "The Dwarves Must Die" delivers what fans have come to expect of the Dwarves. There is as much blood in this Dwarves album as any other but, perhaps, more humor. At the very least, Dahlia meets expectations, lyrically while challenging you to laugh. It is impossible for Dahlia to lose that challenge.


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