Last year, Brody Dalle of The Distillers was better known as Brody Armstrong, wife of Rancid cofounder Tim Armstrong. But they split up, and her band's raging, bluesy punk quickly outpaced any lift it got from its association with Rancid–and silenced anyone who might view Dalle as a Courtney Love-esque climber. But while a cursory listen to The Distillers' major-label debut Coral Fang marks it as an invigorating set of coarse rock rants, closer listening reveals Dalle as (musically, not ethically) more like Love than she immediately appears. While The Distillers' previous record, Sing Sing Death House, was packed with violent imagery and feminist defiance, it had a breathless, anarchic tone that emphasized the spirit of righteous rebellion more than the particulars. Coral Fang is more deliberate, from its hard-rock sheen (provided by alt-rock vets Gil Norton and Andy Wallace) to its cover image of a crucified woman. This is Dalle's "suffering savage" album, in which she invites her fans deeper inside the struggle to survive the battlegrounds of romance, art, and womanhood. "Drain The Blood," "Dismantle Me," "Die On A Rope," "The Gallow Is God," and "Beat Your Heart Out" elevate pain, in the process elevating Dalle as the bearer of pain. Self-sanctification isn't really a rock sin–it can be a powerful, risky statement–but Coral Fang's lack of memorable hooks makes it hard to admire for long. Dalle's voice is a potent weapon, capable of pissy shrieks and soul-baring whispers, but her guitar work is blunter, and the band follows her lead, grinding and bashing any potential bit of melody into gristle. Small doses are riveting, but like Hole's Live Through This and Celebrity Skin, The Distillers' Coral Fang wears its ugliness proudly, and Dalle is bound to find, as Love has, that provocative grotesquerie doesn't stay in fashion.

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