Drama (Envain Records/Flawtown Records/Better Days Records)


By Tim Roberts

Flaw - Drama

Disclaimer: The following review of the new release by Louisville's Flaw may contain some opinions that others in the music criticism racket may not readily digest. The writer declares that said opinions are honest and are not intended to provoke an altercation. The writer further declares that if any one person believes he or she to be the target of refutation by anything stated in the following review, he or she is invited to examine his or her delusions while sitting in a comfortable chair, slipping headphones on, loading the CD described in this review, and, with the volume at a reasonably high level, experiencing the electroshock value of Drama.

Rock is not dead. Why? Flaw's EP Drama says so.

Like any language that dies only when there is no one around to speak it, rock-and-roll will die only whenever there is no one left to play it. It evolves, sometimes into forms at which we marvel, other times into forms we wish would go away but must die on their own. There are certainly benchmarks used only as points of reference, not as pinnacles. And the evolution is gradual, never abrupt. In microcosmic fashion, the individual forms themselves can evolve and have their own benchmarks. That's what the metal band Flaw shows in Drama.

As a follow-up to 1999's do-it-yourself, self-titled release (which they call their "White Paper CD," since the cover was nothing but a white disc holder with a photocopied label glued to the front), Drama shows a band in metamorphosis: new members Lance Arny on guitar and Chris Ballinger on percussion (replacing Ivan Arnold), a new manager, and an added facet to their sound. Flaw (the cover story from the July, 1999 LMN) had followed in the Limp Bizkit mode of thrash metal: caustic rap lyrics over a wall of guitar loud enough to vibrate your scalp loose. To that Flaw had added actual singing with melodies that resembled mantric chants. With the band's popularity among its core audience, it would have been easy to crank out another batch of songs that duplicated the ones on first release.

But they didn't. Drama is short but provides a direction that indicates the band's growth. Lyricist and vocalist Chris Volz still drops in scalpel-edged rap segments in the songs, which contain righteous anger but deliver such Confucian lines as "action works through true confidence" in "Away," or "even the fathers of all our misguided sons are / resting in a place of no disgrace surrounded by / examples of giving grace" in "No Time." In "Only the Strong," he says to "keep your friends close, but your enemies close for real / seems easy but nothing could be so hard." In the bridge of that track, the band glides into some smooth pop rhythms and chords, which burnishes the sound without distracting the overall tone.

Flaw's Drama is evidence of a band that's growing in sound and material. It is a small example of the evolutionary direction rock-and-roll takes when its performers evolve as musicians.

It's what keeps rock-and-roll in all its forms alive.