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Her Vanished Grace
Silver and Gold

If you haven't visited Her Vanished Grace's Web site, get online now. "Silver and Gold," the group's first single off its forthcoming full-length disc, is groovy in a '60s way. Though the tune runs just 3:42 minutes, "Silver and Gold" goes through some serious sea changes. The band's music has been described as a unholy wedding of the Doors and Metallica, but other influences abound. After repeated listenings, I'm convinced that Her Vanished Grace represents the second (well, maybe eighth or ninth) reincarnation of prog-rock outfit Rush--Nance Nieland's trilling alto matches Geddy Lee's portentous screeds that closely. (Nicky Baxter)

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Various Artists
Women for Women 2

Mercury Records and a slew of noted female musicians are back with another woman-friendly compilation benefiting the National Alliance of Breast Cancer Organizations (NABCO). The CD assembles Top-40 chart-climbers such as Celine Dion ("Send Me a Lover"), Vanessa Williams ("Sister Moon") and the Indigo Girls ("Power of Two") to create the audio equivalent of a "chick flick." The album features folk, pop and even Christian rock (Amy Grant) artists but has no room for angry sisters like Alanis Morissette, Tori Amos and Ani Difranco. And their strong presence is missed; if I really wanted to hear Jann Arden's weepy "Sensitive," I'd just turn on the radio. I'm also fairly sure that Tori or Ani could offer more insightful pull quotes for the CD jacket than Sheryl Crow's "Here's a fact: young women can get breast cancer, too." Woman for Woman 2 is a noble project, but something went astray between the inception and the execution. (Bernice Yeung)

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Heltah Skeltah

Heltah Skeltah plays straight-up hip-hop (as opposed to rat-a-tat rap). Backed by the most basic of beats, Nocturnal delivers drum-centric beats, verbal flow like butter and the perfunctory street mentality so central to the genre. On numbers like "Understand," the group trades lines like they've known each other all their lives. In keeping with the law of hip-hop, a few guest artists put in appearances. "Da Wiggy" features Da Rockness Monstas and is one of the album's highlight tracks. From the Monstas' flippant script to the Dr. Funkenstein-derived back-chatting, "Wiggy" lives up to its name. Still, not all these tracks are up to that level; inevitably, Heltah Skeltah's less-than-adventurous sonics make portions of Nocturnal sleep-inducing. (NB)

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Pansy Division
For Those About to Suck Cock ... We Salute You

Burrowing deep within the loins of every punk rocker lives a hair-teasing metal maniac waiting to break out. Queercore's Pansy Division is not immune to such indulgences (indignities?). The latest single celebrates sex and heavy metal, not necessarily in that order. "Headbanger" fetishizes a longhaired Guitar Center type to a tin-metal soundtrack, peaking with a guitar solo from Al Shatonia--also known as Kirk Hammett. "Breaking the Law," the garrulous Judas Priest tune, is rewritten with information about sodomy laws. Pansy Division out-leers Gene Simmons on "Sweet Pain." Snap this single up quick--the gatefold artwork rocks, the clear vinyl single is delicious, and a limited amount comes with a homoerotic Beavis and Butt-head sticker--this is a keeper. (Todd S. Inoue)

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From the October 17-23, 1996 issue of Metro

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