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Early Man

By: Jessica Grose

It’s fair to say that the once glorious Prince of Darkness has lost his edge. Ozzy Osbourne has spent most of the past several years lounging in track pants and shouting ineffectual (and mostly indecipherable) expletives at tiny dogs, and now someone needs to pick up the heavy metal slack. With darkly plodding guitar work and bleakly ominous lyrics, Early Man seizes the reins from Ozzy and drops a record fit for the Jack Osbourne generation.

From the opening chords of the first track, “Four Walls,” it’s clear that Early Man is a directly descendent of early solo-era Ozzy. As debut albums go, Early Man’s Closing In is already running neck and neck with the Osbourne catalog for quantity of suicide references. “You took my sanity…and only suicide will set me free,” Mike Conte croaks in his thin yet dramatic voice on “Four Walls.” The lead single off the album is even called “Death Is the Answer,” and it’s accompanied on the record with cuts like “Evil Is” and the awesome “Raped and Pillaged.” Life is gritty and unpleasant for Early Man, and they’re not here to sugarcoat it for you.

It gets even darker with “Fist Shaker,” particularly when Conte sings, “You tried to warn me / Then the sky fell / This is the last chance / But I will never tell.” No wonder Early Man is brimming with apocalyptic gloom: Raised devout Pentecostalists, the two founding members, guitarist Conte and drummer Adam Bennati, were kicked out of their Columbus, Ohio homes and shunned by their community when they embraced the rock. As a result, the angst on Closing In feels honest and justified.

Early Man is currently on tour in the U.S., and will be touring on and off until March 2006. Closing In is in stores now.

Early Man tour dates:

11/17, Fort Worth, TX (Axis) 11/18, Austin, TX (Emo’s)11/19, San Antonio, TX (Sanctuary)11/20, Houston, TX (Engine Room)11/25, Lawrence, KS (Jackpot Saloon)11/26, Lawrence, KS (Replay Lounge)11/28, Minneapolis, MN (7th Street Entry)11/29, Chicago, IL (Empty Bottle)11/30, Detroit, MI (Magic Stick)12/3, New York, NY (Bowery Ballroom)12/13, Nashville, TN (Mercy Lounge)12/14, Costa Mesa, CA (Detroit Bar)12/15, Portland, OR (Doug Fir)

Early Man official site