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Led Lives

Zep Up to the Plate: Floodland goes back to the future for its new Led Zeppelin­derived sound.

On 'Conspiracy A-Go-Go,' Floodland channels the musical spirit of Led Zeppelin

By Nicky Baxter

ROCK HAS always been about the business of recycling itself, recasting used musical styles in contemporary drag and reselling them. Hence, the Melvins' dirgelike style echoes Black Sabbath's doomy tunes; Soundgarden updated Led Zeppelin's pioneering heavy metal. With the indie release Conspiracy A-Go-Go, Floodland has staked its claim to Led Zeppelin's high-decibel blues and Soundgarden's postmodern angst. The album dishes up larger-than-life power chords and white-cat moaning--Howling Wolf raised in Nebraska rather than the Mississippi Delta. It doesn't sound like a good idea, but Floodland does a creditable job of rummaging through yesterday's riffs for material.

"Saline (Better)," the album's smoldering first cut, is a condensed version of Led Zeppelin's Physical Graffiti. Menacing thunder chords rail against a lumbering rhythmic pulse; the battle heats up during the song's midsection when the guitar solo enters with a sitarlike pattern. The only concession to the '90s is the passage's brevity. Though marred by somewhat hackneyed lyrics, "Jennifer's Song" is superior to much of what passes for "power ballads." A 12-string acoustic guitar sketches a haunting melody while an electric guitar chisels out decorative figures around it. Lead vocalist Michael (the band members don't bother with last names) does his level best to make this weeper work, melancholia marking his every utterance.

"Fever Blister" is full-on guitar music with a twist of psychedelia. Al delivers solid rock with his guitar while Darren and Chris pound out a leviathan beat. Michael's vocals are distorted and compressed. "Lullaby" and "Ultra Violet" are similarly heavy, the latter perhaps more whammy-bar happy than the disc's other numbers.

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From the Aug. 27-Sept. 3, 1997 issue of Metro.

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