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Nothingface vocalist Matt Holt has plenty of axes to grind. On his band's latest opus, the muscular and intelligent "Skeletons," Holt confronts head-on the issues that concern him, with a singularity of purpose perfectly matched by the relentless dynamics of the Nothingface ensemble sound.

"Here Come the Butchers" takes on what Holt sees as the hypocrisy of the Catholic Church, and "I Am Him" sneers at all organized religion. "Ether" rails against the Bush administration's actions in the Middle East. This is not your father's metal.

Part of Nothingface's charm is the band's commitment to creating areas of light and shade within heavy music. For every full-throttle throat-shredder, there's a contrasting piece of elegant, atmospheric composition; for every bludgeoning riff, a well-developed melodic idea. The result? An album that Metal Edge magazine perceptively called "the first standout metal record of the new century," a record that "will serve as the blueprint for the next wave of hard music." All of this, and a political bent not seen in a heavy band since the heyday of Rage Against the Machine, adds up to a powerful metal listening experience.

Nothingface shows are understood within the metal community to be torrid, moving affairs. Tuesday's show inside the Continental, 212 Franklin St., should be no exception. Hotwire and Eastcide open the gig at 6 p.m. Tickets are $10 (Home of the Hits, Sit 'n Spin and Ticketmaster at 852-5000).

-- Jeff Miers

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