The Beautiful Sounds of Lickgoldensky (Escape Artist)

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OK, hands up: Whose job was it to persuade this excellent band to change its name to something that wasn't a complete embarrassment? Thanks for nothing. You're fired. Boasting one of the worst band names in history, Lickgoldensky bucks tradition by being not just a good band but a truly exciting band, one whose T-shirt you'd be proud to wear if its name weren't Lickgoldensky.

It is, though. Why, God, why? You wait around years for a band as good as this one -- one that rises above genre constraints (Lickgoldensky are a metalcore band, heaven help them) to make a thunderous and definitive statement about the genre itself. People keep leaning on Isis and Cave In to make that statement about metalcore, and both of these bands admittedly have much cooler names. But it's The Beautiful Sounds of Lickgoldensky that finally does the trick, and with the slightest of tools: humility.

Running the whole messy show at deafening volume from beginning to end doesn't stop the members of Lickgoldensky from conveying just how much fun they're having with all their loud, expensive toys. It's in the production: how the pretentiously-titled "Aedificum" starts to actually get louder at the end -- not just "oh, they're really playing hard now" but audibly louder, to the point where you head toward the stereo to see if maybe something's wrong (maybe one of the cats has its paw on the remote), at which point the song comes to an abrupt and bracing halt. And it's in the performance: the cards-on-the-table assault of the album-opening "Activate," which closes with eight bars of faux-Metallica circa Master of Puppets just for laughs; the magnificently titled "Opposite of Awesome," which pans one of the guitars entirely into the right speaker just so you know that the amount of sheer noise was in fact entirely intentional; the random yelps and yowls that interrupt the slow-death stop-start carnage of the album-capping number whose title can't be reproduced because it's the word "South" followed by a colon on the other side of which is the word "south" again, only upside down. Cute. But who cares? This is violent, joyous music that wrecks what it needs to wreck and then gets out of Dodge before 25 lousy minutes have passed. Shorter is better, at least as far as torture's concerned. If the band's name offends you, try pronouncing it to rhyme with "Carl Yastrzemski." Hey, it works for us. An early front-runner for album of the year. Bravo.

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