Stuck Mojo – Rising – Review

Stuck Mojo

Rising (Century Media)
by Scott Hefflon

Century Media’s #1 selling band (in America) returns, and, as the (for a change, informative) hype-sheet claims, “This Mojo is truly rising.” Stuck Mojo were impressive (yet too cleanly produced) on ’95’s Snappin’ Necks, when judged as a youthful band whose last few songs were their best. With Pigwalk, the men of Mojo enlisted top producers Daniel Bergstrand (Meshuggah) and Devin Townsend (Strapping Young Lad, all-around-zany-guy), and, to be honest, I spent far more time marveling at the sound of it, than actually listening to it. I trust that in there somewhere are some wonderfully chomping rhythms, some ring-ring-dingiddy-dong raps, and talented drumming enough to keep future generations of stick-twirlers sweatin’ in their basements where they belong.

With Rising, Stuck Mojo really begins to come into their own. (Does it really take three records, fellas?) Finally, Bonz’s rap-and-roar style and the distorted demon belches blend comfortably, in most cases not sounding spliced in the least. They complement one another, as I’m sure they always intended. Another new addition is the swamp-boogie styling. While, admittedly, I got sick of suburban metal bands from the Northeast who’d never even seen a swamp (riding yer dirt bike through some puddles at the construction site down the street from your housing development doesn’t count) playing the down-and-dirty shuffle when Down and COC gained notoriety in the early ’90s, Stuck Mojo do it well. They’re from Georgia, and that’s close enough to Louisiana for me.

Stuck Mojo admit their Southern Pride in a song called, well, “Southern Pride,” and while the chorus keeps repeating, ya know, “Southern Pride,” I think the song may actually go into a little more depth. And while, by the end of Rising, they’ve run through hip hop and a political-bashing thrash-a-rama, it’s the rock thang that’s trippin’ me out. Guitarist Rich Ward proves he can write the stomping rhythms that get the boots slammin’ in the pit, but he also has a way of incorporating tasteful riffs from classic rock and (shiver) ’80s metal without making the listener want to slap him upside the head. And you know how tricky that is. Perhaps it’s the shredding sound (courtesy of Andy Sneap, most famous for Machine Head – but yes, CM, he also produced Skinlab and Exodus – talk about internal plugging!) that allows a strolling riff you’d expect to hear from, I dunno, Steve Vai or Adrian Vandenberg, to be worked in without, ya know, causing retching. Rich can write a riff, that’s for sure. Especially that dramatic chug-chug (pause) chug-chug (pause) chug-chug stuff that, when relied upon too heavily, makes most heavy bands completely interchangeable. Yet Rich slips in a few fills, a little spicy licks, and it’s all good. Drummer Bud Fontsere helps. His almost mechanical-sounding triplety-trips break up the slam!-slam! bombardment nicely. While so crisp it’s almost sterile, there are few flaws with the percussion. Rising is good, damn good. Stuck Mojo grow more and more into a great band with every album and, in case you haven’t heard the hype, put on a helluva’n energetic live show.