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Nine Inch Nails, Audioslave, Black Eyed Peas, Scary Kids, Avenged Sevenfold

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NINE INCH NAILS With Teeth ****

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What, really, is there to say after the most underrated masterpiece of the ‘90s, Nine Inch Nails’ The Fragile? Much, apparently. The Prince of Trentness returns post-rehab with his most accessible album to date'it’s also his most abstract and least experimental. Reznor’s tossed out the crazy Moog settings, triangle distortion and “human screaming” microchips and replaced them with unadorned songwriting, pounding offbeats, snarly synths and glimmering piano cascades. “Every Day is Exactly the Same” is the best track'it’ll scoop out your soul, marinate it in pain and serve it on the half-shell for tea. (Nothing/Interscope)

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AUDIOSLAVE Out of Exile ****

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Back with even more chunkalicious riffs, sweet guitar soloing and Chris Cornell’s high whine, Audioslave have fared well in a bleak desert music moonscape. They won’t change the world and they won’t change your life, but they might just change your afternoon. Strong melodicism in the title track and radio single “Be Yourself” tenderizes the harsh licks. Not many junky riffs on this album'but best avoid the final three tracks. (Interscope/Epic)

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BLACK EYED PEAS Monkey Business ***

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They’re good, but not sensational. The Black Eyed Peas’ smooth hip-hop with cool samples, male/female vocals, organic percussion and Jamaican overtones is groomed for sleek red-leather-chaired clubs full of college-age yuppies and dysfunctional gangsta types swinging their wallet chains and starting rumbles in the parking lot post-show. “Like That” has a broken violin sample over a groovy drumbeat that comes off like a cross between an English croquet tournament and an intense MC battle. (Interscope)

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SCARY KIDS SCARING KIDS The City Sleeps in Flames ***

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They don’t have anything to do with Marilyn Manson (obliquely), which is actually not in their favor. Can this planet support another metalcore/emo hybrid band falling somewhere between Reggie & the Full Effect and Armor for Sleep with plentiful violin synths, Used screamo vocals and apocalyptic artwork, no matter how damned well they do it? Well, if the planet can support oil spills, maybe. But it shouldn’t have to. (Immortal)

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AVENGED SEVENFOLD City of Evil *.5

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Speaking of metalcore/emo hybrid bands that the world doesn’t need any more of, Avenged Sevenfold has some slicing guitar soloing and thankfully land more on the “metal” side of the deadly hybrid. But their sickly, Soilwork-bright, melodic choruses set against verses of dark riffs are not only completely hilarious, but almost completely unlistenable. System of a Down fans will like their wacky, weird-timed choruses, but overall, the effect is annoying, shallow and emotionless. (Warner Bros.)

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About The Author

Rebecca Vernon

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