fast, hard and funky

You Cannot Eat the Sun (Grinder)
Cherub Scourge

By Mark Clark

These guys sound like they would take no prisoners in concert.

No, I haven't yet caught Cherub Scourge live, but you can bet I will after hearing the group's debut cassette, You Cannot Eat the Sun.

This is killer stuff hard enough to please headbangers, funky enough for dancers and melodic enough for those of us who like to sing along. Mostly, however, it's fast.

Turn your head and you're liable to miss a verse of frantic numbers like "New Disco-very." Drummer Jamie Lieb and bassist Rankin Mapother operate in overdrive practically the whole album.

The collection's strongest cuts include "California," a rap-like number which slows down for a chorus with a nice pop hook. It's from this song that the album takes its title: "So this is California ... The weather's always nice here / but you cannot eat the sun."

"It's Over," a snide change-of-pace track, is as close as the band comes to playing a ballad. How can you not love a song with lyrics like, "I'm sick of blaming myself for all your misery ... I'll write in blood: F you." It's cathartic, if nothing else.

"Jesus and Tequila," a grinding funk tune, is another winner. Vocalist Brent Starkey is obviously straining at points, which is a little rough on the ears at first. But the song wouldn't work without the sense of tension Starkey's vocals create.

There isn't a truly weak cut among the nine included on You Cannot Eat the Sun. The only disappointment is that it's hard to pick out lead guitarist Dave Hughes on the tape. True, Cherub Scourge appears to be more of a groove band than a guitar band. But I suspect Hughes is capable of more than shows up on You Cannot Eat the Sun.

All the more reason to catch the band live.