There are a variety of clip shows on TV that show people doing extremely stupid things, and then subsequently paying for them. "Real TV," "World's Wildest Police Videos," "Cops," and my absolute favorite of all, "Maximum Exposure," or â??Max X' for short. What make this show special isn't the clips of people doing idiotic things, it's the narrator that makes fun of these people for doing those stupid things. One clip that sticks out to me was a European Formula One racer who came over to the states, and in his first race had an absolutely horrific crash that flipped his car and turned it into a ball of flames, at which point the narrator said "I bet crashing and burning wasn't in the Formula One brochure that brought him over here." The Value Of Mistrust, by Thorp Records' own Crash And Burn, is far less of a wreck than anything seen on Max X, while maintaining the intensity of two semi trucks clashing head on.
This record is an interesting one, and a lot of the record's own strengths are what causes it to lose artistic direction after a while. There's not necessarily a lot going on during one specific song, but the band does try and cross a few genre lines that should really not be on the same record. Metal and hardcore influences are clearly apparent through the powerful bass, speedy riffing, and throaty vocals, but it's the moments where Crash And Burn opt for more of a grunge sound that they really get themselves into trouble. They have the metallic hardcore thing down better than most bands playing that style, but the grunge-sounding songs throw everything completely off kilter.
When the band really rages, as in the opener "Insomnia," it's immediately evident that this band really means business. The riffs are punishing, and vocalist Billy Brown knows how to make himself heard above it all, and that's even more apparent on the following track, "Tension," which has a real old-school hardcore feel to it. The punshing guitars compliment the fury in Brown's voice, giving the sound some real authenticity. The record doesn't hit the wall of grunge until "All For Nothing," which interrupts the momentum that had been built by all the solid riffing and screaming that the first five tracks etched into the foundation. I don't understand the placement or inclusion of this song on the record, as it goes against the grain that the rest of the album establishes. Regardless, it's there, as are the other similar tracks "Burn This City Down," which mixes Brown's throaty screaming with some singing that doesn't say much for his talents, and the album closer "Steel Cold Grey."
I'm perfectly okay with taking a different creative direction, but when a record is built on big riffs and heavy vocals, it seems foolish to fight that formula. Especially when it had been done as well as on the first half of this record, it could have been something really solid.
Save the grungy moments the band opted to include on the record, there's honestly a lot to like. Great riffs and chord progressions, solid drumming, relatively creative song structures, and strong vocals; they all can be found sprinkled throughout this collection of 12 songs. There's some metal decadence and punk fury that makes for a formidable conversation; just keep these guys away from anything featuring Chris Cornell and you're bound to have a solid product on your hands.