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"To Bring Low An Empire":For the sake of this review, the bands that the members of Il Cattivo used to be in will not be mentioned. While there are a lot of them, the names will not be listed here, out of respect — because Il Cattivo's debut album is better than anything those bands have ever released. Guitarist Matt Bellinger conjures up the visceral aggressiveness and cryptic note bends for which he has always been known, but he showcases a new cohesiveness and groove, best displayed on "Serenity Prayer." Brian Hagman, perhaps the best hard-rock frontman in Denver, ebbs low and sincere on tracks like "Betting Boy" before unleashing a psychotic wail at the end of "You, Again?" Rounded out by Matty Clark, Jed Kopp and Holland Rock-Garden, Il Cattivo will never have to apologize for the quality of its work or rest on the laurels of its past.
“ILCATTIVO,MIKE WATT:.. a crashing squall that formed into raging slabs of sound punctuated by frontman Hagman's signature caterwaul.Conveying a sense of harrowing desperation with his voice is something at which Hagman excels.Il Cattivo doesn't skimp on the energy but it also doesn't feel the need to overdo things. Everyone in the band is a veteran of a wide range of musical flavors, and so Ill Cattivo is able to write songs with fluid dynamics from loud to quiet, without just turning on the crushing heaviness and then off, as would be the case with a less experienced band.The group ended with a song that allowed Rock-Garden to display a knack for dreamy expansiveness contrasted with Bellinger's prowess with providing tension, texture and drive on guitar. Adept at outrage,introspection and the transmogrification of psychic anguish, a set that was ever captivating.”
“A pedigree, of course, means diddly if the music doesn’t deliver, but this litter of sick puppies has both the bark and the bite to match its bio. Titled “To Bring Low an Empire,” the debut album — recorded by Clark’s Taun Taun bandmate and Gamits frontman Chris Fogal at his Black in Bluhm studio — is a mean, dirty, bluesy affair that uses metal riffs and hardcore attitudes to romp through rock territory reminiscent of ’90s titans like Bullet LaVolta and Afghan Whigs (whose “Fountain and Fairfax” Hagman quotes on “Flagship, Part 2″). Hagman has one of the most powerful voices and mesmerizing stage personae in Denver, and his bandmates match him at every turn with precision, power and punk bravado. Imagine being dragged by your hair through the back alleys of hell by a handsome, leather-clad brut — and liking it — and you’ll get a little sense of the strength of this exhilarating album. For a better sense, steal “Betting Boy.””
“Denver musical acts to watch in 2011 By Dave Herrera ...each of the following acts is certain to make their mark this year. Il Cattivo: Given the all-star lineup — Brian Hagman of Black Lamb, Jed Kopp and Matt Bellinger of Ghost Buffalo (and Planes Mistaken for Stars), Matty Clark of TaunTaun and Holland Rock-Garden of Machine Gun Blues — there's no way in hell that Il Cattivo was going to be anything less than an absolutely compelling creation. The group was originally conceived under the working name Sirens, its formation reminiscent of the Predators plotline, in which the most notorious killers are gathered in one place for a game of Kill or Be Killed. And somehow, the bandmembers have managed to distill all the fury and bombast of their previous acts into one corrosive, imposing, junk-punching force.”
“Il Cattivo came on stage to the strains of the theme music from A Clockwork Orange -- fitting, given the group of miscreants who make up this group. Fronted by Brian Hagman, the five-piece also features guitarists Holland Rock-Garden and Matt Bellinger, Matty Clark on bass and Jed Kopp on drums.Musically, it was as if a metal band decided to stop boring us to death and rock with much more freedom and dynamism. Same sounds we're used to, just used much more creatively and with guys in the band who play their instruments as though they're not fully in control. That and a gifted frontman who is never at a loss for compelling and creative body language, and who also seemingly sings and howls at the same time.The dynamics were tight and tense as Clark and Kopp locked in together with a focused intensity, while Rock-Garden and Bellinger played off each other with speed, precision and raw energy. "Fresh" and "Weary Bones" were high points in the set, following one another at the end.”
“Might as well start with first opener Il Cattivo because that set was the most fun of the three. Metal and its related genres should be fun. Not ideologically, granted, but there is not a type of music more technically thrilling than this. If indie rock is an old ten-speed bike, metal is a Ferrari.Il Cattivo frontman Brian Hagman has a lot to do with how good the band's live show is. He's a physical singer, throwing himself around the stage, upending the mike stand, falling backwards after choruses. At one point he dumped water on one of his guitarists, took a gulp and spat it at drummer Jed Kopp. You could take a lot of Il Cattivo's songs, strip away all the thrashing and the noise and they'd still sound fine, melodic, even. It's agressive music, but it's relatively clean. Not strictly speaking metal. There's a lot of punk and hardcore in there, which is just an academic-sounding way to say this is not hell spewing out of a hole in the Earth --”