by: Bad Brains

This is an interesting, if not entirely successful detour into funk-metal for the band that pioneered Rastafarian hard-core punk. Everything is slowed down here, and the sonic textures have thickened considerably. Drummer Earl Hudson delivers both ponderous, stomping metal rhythms and funked-up grooves, while Dr. Know gets to show off his chops a bit more than he has in the past. The religious messages have, if anything, gotten more mystical and less coherent -- song titles like "Soul Craft," "Voyage into Infinity," and "Messengers" give you an idea of what to expect. "Don't Blow Bubbles" may or may not be a slightly homophobic cautionary tale for the age of AIDS, and "Sheba" appears to be a paean to King Solomon's wife (a perennial favorite subject for reggae musicians). As on I Against I, reggae is given short shrift on this album. In fact, the only reggae rhythm to be found at all is on "The Prophet's Eye," an awkward tune that feels tacked onto the album's end. Fans will defend it, and Quickness is by no means a failure, but it's also far from being Bad Brains' best work. ~ Rick Anderson

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