United States Of Mind - Silver Step Child

Year of Release: 2000
Label: Nightmare Records
Catalog Number: NMR-99702
Format: CD
Total Time: 49:45:00

United States Of Mind is fronted by Balance Of Power lyricist and bassist (and former vocalist) Tony Ritchie, with Balance Of Power guitarist Pete Southern and drummer Lionel Hicks rounding out this trio. Silver Step Child represents the band's debut, and had it been released about a decade ago, would have the band's name on everyone's lips alongside Alice In Chains and Soundgarden. Like those two bands, USM play a grungy sort of hard rock that is still close enough to metal to be considered metal, but is more melodic and catchy and less "progressive" than some of the other bands we review here. Actually, you do need to add a dash of Queensryche and Royal Hunt into the mix, and in doing so, get a fairly good idea of what USM sound like.

It is not a bad album by any means, and production-wise it sounds fresh and vibrant, it just seems ten years too late. Or maybe, the way things are cyclical, it's 10 years too early, since we probably won't have our retro-nineties sound explosion until some time after 2010, since it seems the 80s are coming back in fashion now that the 70s thing is over. At least in some corners.

As I said, there are catchy melodic choruses here in truck loads, though my favourite track in particular is "Believe It Or Not," mainly for the vocal melody of the chorus, which is still rattling around in my brain. Like Sting's "Every Breath You Take," a song about a guy obsessed with a girl that has been so misunderstood by most that it's ended up on many a "love songs of the 80s" comp, so, too, is this track stalking the same idea. It is catchy enough to also sound more like a romantic, Romeo and Juliet like love song to be misunderstood. Though, without the lyrics printed in the book, unless you are equally obsessive, you might not necessarily glean this from hearing it. And, in fact, I probably wouldn't have but for the blurb on the USM site.

Reading in the BOP bio that Ritchie was "dumped" as vocalist seems a little surprising as he sings well enough; I actually quite like his voice. Other than the recent Ten More Tales? release, I haven't heard any BOP yet, so maybe his voice didn't fit in with their style. But here he has found his vocal niche.

Some other observations I made were the "Time Of Our Lives" has the same rhythm as "Believe It Or Not" only slower. Guitarist Southern is good, but like the music as a whole, doesn't seem to go anywhere new. He has a nice tone and style, but it all seems to fit into a mold or pattern, giving him and the album a sense of predictability. "It's All Over Now" is balladic "lighter" song. Ritchie sounds a bit like Axel Rose here, while the song sounds a bit like something Hootie and The Blowfish would do, only more metallic. There also something else familiar about it, but alas I can't name the band, but another along the lines of HaTB. I though that the first song "Beneath The Low" reminded me a lot of Alice In Chain's material from Facelift -- "Man In The Box" comes to mind. "The Weird And The Wonderful" is one part Soundgarden, one part Pearl Jam with a little dash of Empire era Queensryche.

Pleasant and nice to listen to, it's nothing to get ecstatic about. A solid if generic release that has much to recommend it, especially if you're looking for some summertime music to blast from your car speakers.

Beneath The Low (4:08) / Silver Step Child (4:49) / Believe It Or Not (5:05) / The Time Of Our Lives (6:10) / It's All Over Now (4:54) / Kiss The Sun (4:52) / The Weird And The Wonderful (5:37) / Terrorphobiac (4:17) / The Other Side Of Paradise (4:46) / That Paranoia Thing (5:07)

Tony Ritchie - vocals and bass, keyboards
Pete Southern - guitars
Lionel Hicks - drums, keyboards
Ivan Norris - additional backing vocals

Silver Step Child (2001)

Genre: Rock

Origin UK

Added: July 18th 2001
Reviewer: Stephanie Sollow
Artist website: www.usofm.demon.co.uk
Hits: 785
Language: english


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