Against The Grain

Wood - Against The Grain ©1994 Guitar Recordings
1. Want Words?
2. This Is America
3. Perverse Prophet
4. Mankind Unto Man
5. Not Alone
6. Violator
7. Carry The Torch
8. Love?
9. Red
10. Sawdust
11. Son Of Mankind

Wood is (was) a power metal/rap/virtuoso trio featuring violinist Mark Wood, bassist/vocalist Tom Kaz, and drummer Dave Lewitt. It was released by Guitar Recordings in 1994, at a time when virtuoso guitar music was on the way out commercially and guitar-oriented labels were branching out into other genres, including the then-flavor-of-the-day rap metal that made Rage Against the Machine rich and famous communists.

The music on this album is groove-heavy rap metal with muscular bass playing, complex arrangements, and eerie distorted violin lines and solos. The rap itself is embarrassingly bad; surprisingly, coming from such a remarkable bass player, Kaz's vocal delivery is rhythmically unconvincing and tedious, and his politically charged lyrics sound absolutely awful, both meter and word-choice-wise ("Not Alone" and "Want Words?" are especially cringe-inducing). The production is equally flat, lacking both overall punch and dynamics.

Bad rap aside, however, the music itself is original and interesting enough to make even picky listeners like me overlook the album's obvious shortcomings. Wood's extreme electric violin playing is well served by his rhythm section, which enables him to develop biting, exotic, sinuous, exciting leads and arrangements that borrow from classical music, metal, classic rock, and prog rock such as King Crimson (whose "Red" is covered with great enthusiasm and success on this album). Wood's musicianship is evident from his complex, layered violin lines ("Manking Unto Man"). Tracks like the uptempo "Violator" and the superb, exotic "Sawdust" are enough to justify the purchase of the whole record.

Should you try to locate a copy of this CD, be aware that there exists another album titled Against the Grain, by a different (gangsta) rap artist named Wood.

Review by Rog The Frog Billerey-Mosier

Review date: 07/2002

Back to top