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"I think you got a low self-opinion, man," Henry Rollins bellows at the opening of his last album, The End of Silence, sounding like a rock & roll motivational counselor. On Weight he and his cohorts (guitarist Chris Haskett, bassist Melvin Gibbs and soundman Theo Van Rock) come pounding back with similarly expurgatory material castigating weakness, lies and ignorance, praising self-confidence and growth with similarly cathartic results.Be forewarned: He exposes raw nerves and rails against perceived injustice at full tilt. What keeps Rollins from sounding preachy is the all encompassing nature of his rage: When he focuses his anger outward, he doesn't spare himself a single lash of fury (his muttered "You're so fucking weak" on "Step Back" gives you the feeling he could be talking into a mirror).
Rollins' lyrics focus almost exclusively on issues relating to personal integrity, and even the simplest conceit can turn into gold in his hands. For instance, "Liar" seems unremarkable, even a bit hackneyed, in its portrayal of a liar, until Rollins gives it a brilliant spin: After being exposed, the liar seduces his victim anew with a hilarious mock-sincere apology ("I will never lie to you again/Because now I see the destructive power of a lie").
It's only when Rollins takes on an issue larger than his personal experience that the approach breaks down: In "Wrong Man," his response to female fear of male violence is to take it personally, trivializing that fear and making him sound touchy ("I'm not a rapist in waiting/I'm not the one you should be hating").
Even when he overreaches, however, he can make you think. Rollins' judgments generally center on the kind of things people agree on when they can't agree on much else: Lies hurt people; praise can go to your head; you can't let other people run your life. That such mundane messages could sound so gripping so essential is worthy testimony to the force of his music and his talent for keeping a finger on the pulse of his rage.
The final track SHINE finishes the album nicely. To me it is a culmination of everyhing that went before it,if you had doubts about life, if you thought you could put it all off until tomorrow think again, SHINE will tell you something you may not wanna hear. A brilliant record. I know Rollins may not be everyones cup of the finest tea, his brutal vocal approach lays waste to most, but this is the whole point. Henry doesn't "scream" at all, which isn't a bad thing since he makes up for it with plenty of angry yelling, but some people may have missed that. Anyway, this is a classic album and one of the greatest albums of the 1990s by far.