PHRASES LIKE "your red lips and your hot hips" and "I'd be your leather queen" emerge from the roar of virtually every song on Norman Mayer Group's "In Memory of Norman Mayer," but this D.C. trio's style is not exactly sensuous. A punk-metal outfit that owes its attitude to the former but its sound to the latter, NMG batters every song here save the almost-folkie "St. Mary's," which changes the subject from sex-as-war to drugs-as-crucifixion.
If that description sounds pretty somber, there's little on the album to dispute it. Named for the man shot by Park Police in 1982 after holding the Washington Monument "hostage," this band is bristling and severe. "I'd really enjoy a proper fight," announces "Pre-Teen Sex Dream," but NMG's musical battle is a little one-sided. Aside from the vocal interplay of bassist Jenn and guitarist Kathy -- which suggests Patti Smith on "Silver Platter" -- the band's songs are so steely as to be unapproachable. "In Memory of Norman Mayer" is formidable, but a little vulnerability might have underscored the message better.
NORMAN MAYER GROUP -- "In Memory of Norman Mayer" (Monumental/Dischord). Appearing Friday at the Black Cat with Tarot Bolero and Stinking Lizaveta. To hear a free Sound Bite from this album, call Post-Haste at 202/334-9000 and press 8130. (Prince William residents, call 690-4110.)