Published Oct 14, 2015Amongst extreme metalheads, SoCal's Ugly Kid Joe was the band easiest to hate, thanks to their insipid single "Everything About You" from 1991's As Ugly As They Wanna Be. Despite being dropped into the middle of the death-metal craze, singer Whitfield Crane and company had several hits, buoyed by MTV videos and inclusion on the smashing Wayne's World soundtrack, before fizzling out around 1997. The band reunited in 2010, released an EP of new material in 2012, then joined the crowd funded ranks to record Uglier Than They Used Ta Be.
Album opener "Hell Ain't Hard to Find" may be their strongest composition yet, thanks to the iron-clad interplay between long-time guitarists Klaus Eichstadt and Dave Fortman. The record goes through several phases of rock intensity: the gutsy "Let the Record Play" and darker "Bad Seed" spotlight the band's metal leanings, while "Mirror the Man" and "Nothing Ever Changes" would fit well on an unplugged album. "My Old Man" has a Quiet Riot heft, and "Under the Bottom" is the album's heaviest cut, its doom chords interspersed with acoustic guitars. UKJ also adore cover songs, so their able renditions of "Ace of Spades" (with Motörhead's Phil Campbell) and "Papa Was a Rolling Stone" come as no surprise. Even their snot-nosed mascot of yore returns to grace the cover art again.
Once a scourge but now a saviour of heavy rock, Ugly Kid Joe prove that their catchy hooks and solid vocals are cool to like again on Uglier Than They Used Ta Be. (Metalville)