Dope is a mid-level band struggling with its own limitations in the harsh face of stardom. OK, so I lied, but it would be cooler if it were. Dope is a New York-based sextet, the brain child of brothers Edsel (lead vocals, rhythm guitar) and Simon Dope (keyboards), who openly proclaim to have financed their demo tapes by selling drugs. I’m being serious this time.

The band’s second release, Life, opens up with the whisper, “This is life.” That’s setting the stage for some profound material, if you ask me. And if you ask them, they might bite your head off. But if they were feeling chatty, perhaps they would divulge into the band’s “philosophy,” which is, as Edsel put it in an interview, “to open up people’s eyes both with [their] outlook on the world and [their] music.”

Specifically, Dope promotes the legalization of all drugs and devotes all their interview time to it as well. So they talk of politics. According to Edsel, “You take a nonviolent kid caught with a pocket full of drugs and throw him in prison and watch him learn to become violent. How does this better our society?”

Simon adds “Our prisons are overcrowded already. With a drop in the prison population, there’ll be more space for the people who belong in prison, like rapists and child molesters, so they aren’t back on the streets due to overcrowding.”

They talk of freedom. Simon states, “Who the hell is some guy in D.C. to decide what my pursuit of happiness should be? What if it involves getting high in my own home? As long as I’m not intruding on anyone else’s freedom, who cares? These people need to worry a little more about themselves and less about what I’m doing in my own f—— home.”

Angst? Yeah. Belligerent? You bet. But when it comes down to it, is Dope really identity or image? Fact or fiction? Hardened New Yorkers who will do just about anything to get their music and their message out, or poster children hand-picked by the guys down at Epic Records to dress up and feed the 15-year-old neo-metalhead masses?

That decision I leave to you because I don’t really care one way or another. When it comes down to it, their music just isn’t compelling. For such adamant politicians, their sounds are generic and trite. Songs such as “Thanks for Nothing,” “Die Motherf—– Die,” “Slipping Away,” and, who could forget the illustrative hidden track, “You’re Full Of S—,” rely on standard chord progressions and poorly controlled distortion. Static-saturated vocal effects plague almost every track as well. Any further analysis would be cruel and prevent you from reading the closing paragraph. Simply put, their marketing philosophy overshadows the music, which will ironically boost record sales.

But Dope need not worry. They have a place in this world, somewhere in between Limp Bizkit and Korn. And if you need clarification on whether those are actually two different bands, just ask Joe-suburban-angry-kid. He has all their CDs in alphabetical order.