Homebrew | MUSIC: Homebrew | Indy Week

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Meatbox's timeline goes back to the mid-'90s, when WKNC was firmly a metal station, and Snooker's was ground zero for Raleigh's simmering yet much-maligned hard rock scene. The group's first self-produced effort, 9 Volt (1995), still holds up today as a blend of crunchy guitars and funk rhythms before that style became a cliché. Signature song "Popcycle," a slice of Primus-infected riff-rock, is probably the first song ever to name-check NASCAR driver Dick Trickle, helping the band to gain serious local respect.

Five years later, the landscape has changed. With the demise of several clubs that attempted to keep the rock scene going, and the stripping of the heavier stuff from NCSU's college station, metal is a dirty word in the Triangle. Meatbox is smart enough to realize this and, for the most part, eschews the metallic sensibilities of the group's past for a more well-rounded sound that draws from numerous sources.

The most prominent diversion is the trio's addition of a horn section. The disc's first two tracks, "Respect, Love, Trust" and "Got It Get It," are most affected, coming off like an arena rock group signed to Stax. The infectious "Kitty Kitty" also benefits from the brass. That said, Meatbox hit on other schools of thought, such as straightforward, disco-influenced rap-metal on "Say Yeah," the stomping Southern riff-a-rama "Snake Eyed Girl," and "Meat Your Maker," which recalls primal Alice In Chains dissonance.

Two lengthy and meandering outros detract from the album. Tacked onto the end of "Supercalifragilistic" is a heated argument that lasts nearly three minutes, and a two-minute sample of what sounds like two drunken hillbillies threatening each other ends "Snake Eyed Girl." These take away from the flow of the disc more than anything else.

Ultimately, Meatbox is at its best on tracks that hit a simple groove and run with it, not unlike cult New York rockers White Trash did in the early '90s. Fortunately for the group, that is a large bulk of the material here.

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