"My pen is a pistola," rages Incubus frontman Brandon Boyd on the blistering "Pistola" (which is Spanish for "pistol"), one of 14 tracks on the alt-metal quintet's fifth disc. Indeed, the band, formed in 1991 while three of its current members were high school sophomores in Calabasas, Calif., mounts an angry lyrical attack during much of this follow-up to 2001's double-platinum Morning View. On the album's No. 1 modern-rock hit "Megalomaniac," Boyd rails, "You're no Jesus/You're no Elvis/You're no answer," against a backdrop of searing guitars, pounding drums and thumping bass. Later, on the media-bashing "Talk Shows on Mute," he sneers, "You're so much more endearing with the sound turned off." All this fury makes for an intense, hard-rocking affair that proves that after 13 years together, the group has not lost its edge.
Boyd, with his trademark syncopated phrasing, uses his voice as a rhythmic weapon in a full-on musical assault with guitarist Mark Einziger, bassist Ben Kenney, drummer Jose Pasillas and DJ Kilmore. Even so, some of the CD's best moments are its most vulnerable. "If you're looking for an open book/Look no further, I am yours," Boyd croons on the lilting love song "Southern Girl," while on the piano-driven ballad "Here in My Room," he sings in a hushed tone, "Now that you're here/Love is a verb/Here in my room." In the end, when Boyd asks "The ride's over/Did you enjoy yourself?" on the album's roller-coaster closer "Leech," your answer will be a definite yes.