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Division - "Control Issues" (CD)

Division - "Control Issues" CD cover image

"Control Issues" track listing:

1. Hunt
2. Perfect Little Slave
3. Short Attention Span Society
4. Soulmate
5. The Collector
6. Gemini
7. Feast
8. Future In Your Eyes
9. .45 Intent
10. Bloodletting
11. Burning Bright

Reviewed by on May 8, 2010

"Singer Nick Kelly's vocals occasionally go into full-on James Hetfield mode, which works exceptionally well for the kind of music Division is putting out."

With horror movie lyrics and razor-sharp playing, in "Control Issues," Washington, D.C.-based Division has come up with an album that would be scary good if it wasn't for some not-so-great production that occasionally threatens to derail the proceedings.

Division describes itself as a band along the lines of Iron Maiden, Savatage and Testament. To that equation, I'd add Metallica, in full-on "Garage" mode. Singer Nick Kelly's vocals occasionally go into full-on James Hetfield mode, which works exceptionally well for the kind of music Division is putting out.

Guitarists Mike Blevins and Dave Evans shred mightily throughout, with solos on "Perfect Little Slave" and "Feast" standing out. Bassist Ron Commings-Kralik gets a chance to stand out in the opener to ".45 Intent," a track with a riff that owes more than a little to Metallica's cover of "The Wait."

The horror-movie vibe works best on "Feast," a high-speed thrasher that tells us all about what happens when there's "no room in Hell" and the dead "walk the earth." Naturally, much devouring of flesh occurs, backed up with ax solos that will hack most satisfyingly into your eardrums.

Those with a sick sense of humor will appreciate the over-the-top "Re-Animator" vibe of "The Collector," in which a jilted lover decides to recreate the woman who left him by recreating her from the parts of others. Though, as he says, she's "as cold as you were."

Taken alone, "The Collector" probably could stand as a joke, but there is some discussion of violence against women that could be offensive to some listeners. I get that this is all part of the horror schtick, and, to be fair, the character in ".45 Intent" is obviously insane, but I occasionally had some difficulty with it. Nick Kelly often keeps things vague enough in the lyrics that it's possible I've misinterpreted them — he says in the press materials that he "loves to craft a story and then hear fans explain what those words mean to them." Maybe I'm interpreting stuff like "Perfect Little Slave" and "Soulmate" differently than it was intended.

That's not to say that the lyrics are all-horror-all-the-time. The punky "Short Attention Span Society" is a great indictment of our society, while "Future In Your Eyes" tells the tale of a captive yearning to be reunited with a loved one.

On the downside, there is the production. It's noticeable from the first track onward, in that all of the instruments have a flat, tinny sound to them, especially affecting James Goetz's drums and Cummings-Kralik's bass parts. To be fair, when things really get going well, with solos like the blistering lead work on "Bloodletting," you're probably not going to notice that much.

Appropriately enough, I'm a little divided when it comes to Division's "Control Issues." The playing is great, but the lyrics sometimes rely a little much on horror-movie conventions, and the production is a bit lacking. Still, when the album is working, on tracks like "Feast," "Future In Your Eyes" and "Bloodletting," it works as well as anything out there.

Highs: "Feast," "Future In Your Eyes" and "Bloodletting."

Lows: Over-reliance on horror film cliches, some not-so-great production.

Bottom line: A good thrasher that could've been great with some better production.

Rated 3 out of 5 skulls
3 out of 5 skulls

Rating Description
Rated 5 out of 5 skulls Perfection. (No discernable flaws; one of the reviewer's all-time favorites)
Rated 4.5 out of 5 skulls Near Perfection. (An instant classic with some minor imperfections)
Rated 4 out of 5 skulls Excellent. (An excellent effort worth picking up)
Rated 3.5 out of 5 skulls Good. (A good effort, worth checking out or picking up)
Rated 3 out of 5 skulls Decent. (A decent effort worth checking out if the style fits your tastes)
Rated 2.5 out of 5 skulls Average. (Nothing special; worth checking out if the style fits your taste)
Rated 2 out of 5 skulls Fair. (There is better metal out there)
< 2 skulls Pretty Bad. (Don't bother)