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Side Show Freaks (Remastered)

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Album Review

When 40 Below Summer self-released their debut album, Side Show Freaks, in 1999, rap-metal was huge — and countless bands were jumping on the Korn/Limp Bizkit/Slipknot/(hed) pe bandwagon. Some of them did it more skillfully than others; plenty of forgettable rap-metal/nu metal/rapcore bands emerged in the late '90s and early 2000s, while other hip-hop-obsessed metalheads came out with albums that were derivative but good. Side Show Freaks, which the Phoenix, AZ-based Driven Music Group reissued in 2008, definitely falls into the "derivative but good" category. This 44-minute disc isn't groundbreaking by 1999 standards, let alone 2008 standards. The approach that this New Jersey band favors on Side Show Freaks — basically, Limp Bizkit meets Slipknot meets Rage Against the Machine (minus the political rants) meets Korn — doesn't pretend to point rap-metal in any new directions. But darned if in your face tracks such as "I'm So Ugly," "Untied," "I'm Still Bleeding," and "Suck It Up" aren't infectious and hooky. Innovative? Definitely not — in 1999, this type of sound was inescapable (all the nu metal bands that were popular in 1999 owe a huge debt of gratitude to Run-D.M.C., Living Colour, the Beastie Boys, Faith No More, the Red Hot Chili Peppers, 24-7 Spyz, and other risk-takers who brought hip-hop and metal together back in the '80s). Catchy? No question. Although not in a class with Rage Against the Machine's The Battle of Los Angeles, Slipknot's Slipknot, or Limp Bizkit's Three Dollar Bill Y'All, Side Show Freaks is a decent, worthwhile footnote in the history of rap-metal.


Formed: 1998 in New Jersey

Genre: Rock

Years Active: '00s

Coming from New Jersey, 40 Below Summer delivers a sole and surpassed aggressiveness on their edgy and heavy rock tunes, at the same time supporting it with an indubitable sense of melody. Adjoining puissant metal-style inflections and other fiery references, Summer follows the path of other new metal squads. Constituting in late 1998 in New Jersey, Summer first formed by the common initiative of drummer Carlos Aguilar, a Peruvian natural, and vocalist Max Illidge, after the two first met while playing...
Full Bio
Side Show Freaks (Remastered), 40 Below Summer
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