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The Fucking Champs 

VI (Drag City)

Wednesday, Apr 4 2007
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The Fucking Champs lapped Led Zeppelin a few years ago in their quest for metal dominance. The muted power chord chops that the former band, now joined by Trans Am's Phil Manley, lift from weak, blues-based rock puts the Champs in the lead. Also, the Champs are two album titles past Zeppelin's IV. Do the math.

VI starts with a wallop of distortion. The Champs' double- and sometimes triple-harmonized guitars shamelessly recall the best moments of ...And Justice for All and early Iron Maiden, but with a musical intelligence and sense of humor that stave off any hesher cheese. But don't mistake musical jocularity for pandering to guilty pleasures. Even "Abide With Me," a 60-second national anthem, Fucking Champs-style, feels earnest in its awesomeness. And tracks like the fiercely rocking "A Forgotten Chapter in the History of Ideas" and the time signature-shifting workout, "Play on Words," are unaffected in their grandiosity.

Comedian Neil Hamburger puts in a guest appearance on "Fozzy Goes to Africa," although his contribution seems to be a single "hmm" midway through the tune (he reappears on a hidden track at the album's end). But the Champs' virtuoso shredding stands alone on this latest hard-rock symphony. — Jonah Flicker

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Jonah Flicker

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