Taking the hard rock inclinations of Generation Terrorists
to an extreme, the Manic Street Preachers delivered a flawed but intriguing second album with Gold Against the Soul
. Inspired by Guns N' Roses, the Manics decided to rework their working-class angst as heavy arena rock; they seize upon the latent politicism of Guns N' Roses' tortured white-trash metal, interpreting it as a call to arms. Since the Manics are more intellectual and revolutionary than the Gunners, Gold Against the Soul
burns with inspired, if confused, rhetoric. The Manics, however, aren't quite as gifted with hooks at this stage -- their power derives from their self-belief, which they can't quite translate into songs. They are given a bigger, louder production on Gold Against the Soul
, which makes the album a more visceral listen than Generation Terrorists
, but the songs aren't as consistently compelling as those on the debut. "From Despair to Where" is a vibrant anthem, and "Drug Drug Druggy," "Roses in the Hospital," "Yourself," and "Sleepflower" all have a similar energy, but the peaks don't arrive quite as frequently as before. Nevertheless, the rage is more articulate and the sound is stronger, making Gold Against the Soul
a flawed but worthy step forward.