Archive for the ‘Review’ Category

Pale Communion was released August 25th, 2014 via Roadrunner Records.  Genre: Progressive Rock

Pale Communion was released August 25th, 2014 via Roadrunner Records.
Genre: Progressive Rock

It has been 3 years since Opeth’s departure from the death metal landscape broke the hearts of thousands of fans, but the preeminent prog professionals are back with their 11th ‘observation’, Pale Communion. The band’s 2011 effort Heritage signaled a “new” direction in the band’s musical focus and send shockwaves throughout their seemingly loyal fan base. Pale Communion is in no way their mea culpa; rather it is an expansion on the sound that has arguably been at the base of every Opeth album since the days of Orchid albeit masked by death metal chaos.

Almost by design, the band introduces newcomer Joakim Svalberg (keyboardist) accompanied by drummer Martin Axenrot in the groove-drenched intro of album opener ‘Eternal Rains Will Come’. This band knows how to create a rollercoaster of dynamics throughout the course of a song and, in large, an album. Eternal Rains, as does the album itself, possesses a short but effective build-drop-lull-build-sustain-evolved-drop formula that has been an integral part of tracks since Watershed. Most tracks on this album follow suite with the exception of the track number two, ‘Cusp of Eternity’. A foot stomping riff immediately establishes a groove and holds serve as Mikael Akerfeldt croons effortlessly above the rhythm guitars.

The album is a sonic treat for the ears. Mix engineer and Porcupine Tree main-man Steven Wilson has refined and improved on his aural vision from Heritage. The drums across the album bite and punch through the mix with pristine quality but retain a level of intimacy that helps bolster space creating effects such as reverb and delay. Wilson’s flashy use of those effects introduce an insane amount of dimension to the listening experience that came up flatter in this album’s predecessor. The heart of the album, led by the 10-minute mammoth ‘Moon Above, Sun Below’, bounces from quite and serene to spacious but melodically dense and culminates in an infectious band-jam instrumental, ‘Goblin’.

Before turn of the corner to the homestretch of the album, ‘River’ seemingly provides the furthest departure from the trademark Opeth song to date. Up until the halfway point, the song is by far the least complex of the bunch and seems to be tailor made for that “lighter in the air” moment at the venue. It is only at around the 4-minute mark that Opeth’s ear twisting returns and reminds listeners of just how talented this group is. The refrain of Voice of Treason boasts one of the best vocal performances only to be outdone by the tracks climax and close which leads directly to album closer Faith In Others.

From start to finish the album is a testament front man Mikael Akerfeldt’s growth and maturation as a songwriter as well as a straightforward hat tip to his influences. Beyond the singular contributions from Akerfeldt, Opeth as a whole steps their game up. Bassist Martin Mendez is active throughout the album while simultaneously remaining glued to the pocket created and maintained by the spot on drum patterns of Martin Axenrot. Every track clocks in at 8 minutes or less with the exception of one or two, making each of them a manageable listening experience lengthwise. One of the very few minuses of this album are some of the busy vocal lines and crowded rhythms in Akerfeldts vocal cadence from time to time, but that’s just nit picking at this point isn’t it?

Album Picks: Cusp of Eternity, Moon above Sun Below, Voice of Treason

Album Skips: None

Rating: 4.5 out of 5

It is the dawn of a new era for Arch Enemy. The Melodeath vets are back with War Eternal, and introduce their third vocalist Alissa White-Gluz (ex-The Agonist) with it. This album is the ninth installment in the bands career all of which featuring a non-singing female lead vocalist. Alissa brings with her crisp growled vocals and an impressive 3 to 5 octave singing range, but only one of those makes an appearance.

'War Eternal' was released June 4th, 2014 via Century Media Genre: Melodic Death Metal

‘War Eternal’ was released June 4th, 2014 via Century Media
Genre: Melodic Death Metal

Rather than dive right into the brutality, the album opens with the orchestral number Tempore Nihil Sanat. The track is short but serves as a “calm before the battle of the black water” moment. The mood is ominously serene and peacefully saunters up to an abrupt halt at the end of it’s one minute and twelve second stay. It is after this that the album actually kicks in much to every metal heads delight.

As if on cue the monstrous blast beats and Iron Maiden-esque harmonized guitars destroys the any serenity established with Never Forgive, Never Forget. From there on, and for much of the album, it is the quintessential metal-core/Melodeath brutality you’d expect from a Gluz fronted outfit. Few songs on this album present a chance for Gluz to actually to show the true duality her arrival had the potential to bring to Arch Enemy. When the chance presents itself, however, it is dutifully ignored. Case in point is the flying chorus of No More Regrets where one could easy imagine a powerful and soaring vocal line sung above the harmonized arpeggios.

The halfway point of the album strips it down to an instrumental in Graveyard of Dreams. This track is another strikingly beautiful instrumental that seems to have ended up as a stand alone track as opposed to appearing as a mere introduction. In fact it seems as if the only thing that prevents such a thing from happening is the lack of drums. If drummer Daniel Eriandsson had found himself on Graveyard, it could have easily been to the sub-three minute Stolen Life what the opening of You Will Know My Name was to that track.

Time is Black comes in with a catchy power riff following a dainty stripped down intro. From then on, it is business as usual until the album closer (in the Standard version of the album) Not Long For This World. This track is the third instrumental in the album and is the heaviest by far. Aside from a random sample of slowing heartbeats and a heart monitor that never flatlined, the track is a powerful close to a rather peculiar album.

Vocalist Alissa White-Gluz (ex-The Agonist) was announced as Arch Enemy’s new lead singer in March of 2014. She replaced the band’s former vocalist Angela Gossow who is now the band’s business manager.

Unfortunately the standard edition of the album features absolutely no cleanly sung vocals, much to the delight of death metal purists everywhere. This is a huge let down considering the melodic prescience Michael Amott (guitarist) worked into the album, and the vocal abilities their new lead singer possesses. The album itself, for all it’s wonderful orchestration, lacks a clear and consistent movement from start to finish. As opposed to flowing together effortlessly, riffs can tend to feel like they’re pandering to the obligatory metal brutality that must be present at all times…or else.

While the record doesn’t break any new ground, it is still a solid offering. Long time fans will undoubtedly be split on Alissa White-Gluz’s performance, but she holds her own as she has done for a while as the former front woman of The Agonist. Given the strong use of orchestration and the touches of neo-classical chord progressions, fans of Symphony X and Masterplan may have something to latch onto here. In any case those who enjoy modern Melodic Death Metal and/or the ever hated Metalcore will have enough to enjoy in War Eternal.

Album Picks: No More Regrets, On and On, Not Long For This World

Rating: 3.5

Sorry for the delay! I had promised this a couple weeks back but due to illness and adding a second job I haven’t had enough time for my true love, MUSIC!!



Spiritual Rez is back to bring us some more of their own brand of progressive reggae-rock. Their last two studio albums, Vex and Rising in the East, were works of art in their own right. They pulled influences across time and genre that really made them stand out in the expanding american dub and reggae community.

After some drastic lineup changes they’ve come back with Apocalypse Whenever which is arguably more diverse than the first two releases but something is seems to be lacking in the originality sector.

“We wanted to create an album that flows as one piece of art sonically and conceptually. Apocalypse Whenever is an album for the times. We want to encourage the people not to fear the future but to embrace it”
Toft Willingham

While this concept of “embracing” the future can be argued for with a few tracks that preach acceptance and optimism; like their powerful anthem “Don’t be afraid”. If you listen to the album more than a couple times you can hear themes that completely undermine their concepts. The political undertones alone shed light on paranoia.

So conceptually the album isn’t quite what he claims. Musicically… I’m not sure what the attempt was here. They used to mash every genre of Reggae and Dub into one smooth candy bar package.

Spiritual chocolate Rez bars… Get on that.

Now instead of their soft dubby center with the salted rock crunchies they seem to have gone for a more consistent sound. The ska and punk mix is a good one but not something we haven’t seen before. Nobody wants to hear another pseudo-sublime album. There are too many bands trying to do that. Hell, even SUBLIME is trying to be Sublime.

Don’t get me wrong, there are some great tunes on this record. Just not their usual caliber.

They went for more of a punk/ska feel for most things and the reggae is more inspired by 311 than the Wailers. There are even tunes like “Worker Bee” which is straight political-punk. I commend their diversity and expression but this song in particular just doesn’t fit in with the rest of the album.

The album itself is filled with political and social references and promotes some libertarian values.

“Until our savior comes,
Man’s got his hands to rely on…

Somebody’s got to build your homes
Somebody’s got to grow your food
While the men, making up the rules
Sitting in offices planning our apocalypse”

“I’ve got my second amendment stockpiled in my basement
I ain’t scared, I am prepared…

Go ahead and occupy Wallstreet and the banks
at least you’re asking questions
positive reflections…

They keep raisin’ taxes
Everybody’s askin’
Whatcha gonna do now”

Luckily, I don’t see these guys attending any Tea Parties any time soon. Maybe just lighting joints and shooting some guns off. Y’know. Good ol’ American things.

These tracks sound more like sing-a-longs with easy to remember and representative lyrics with uninspired melodies. They’re catchy but theres not much else substantial along the lines of creativity.

An unfortunate aspect and contributing to the downfall of this album is that Willingham’s voice has really gone downhill. I loved his grinding vocal cords and smooth delivery but on this album he sounds like he attempted to gargle some gravel.

You too can have the voice of an angel!


Possibly taking advantage of the release date right after Valentine’s day this year Willingham makes references to his wife on two of the songs. In “Don’t be Afraid” they address being on the road and wondering when they will see each other again.

The second tune revolving around Mrs. Rez is “Agapoula Mou”, their hit single.


Go vote “Agapoula Mou” as best music video of the year at!


“Decisions” is a song I’m really split on. Musically it’s one of my favorites on the album.


The progression keeps you listening and they bounce genre’s a couple times but it really solidifies the song.

My issue with it is the content. It’s an attempted attack on the rave/”molly” (mdma) culture. They were so close to coming off as poignant but only showed their musical blinders. I am in no way defending the rave and dubstep scenes, but their approach was sub-par. It had real promise by shining light on sexual and drug abuse but fell short on delivery. Maybe a better fit for another song, or another band!

Melodically I have to hand it to them, they have some great ones on this. Definitely some daily hummers. The instrumental tracks really shine on here, just showing they’ve still got chops. “March of the Reptoids” and “The Rapture” are fantastic songs that span jazz, rock, dub, and even some Cajun jam…. That sounds good. Note to self. Eat before writing reviews…

But alas… no real winners that make me want to put this album on in the future. It was a great listen through for the times I needed to write this review. I wanted to love it but it’s missing that wow factor from their earlier releases.


The Good: “Man’s Hands“, “Bring It On“, “March of the Reptoids“, “Agapoula Mouparts 1 & 2, “Rapture

The Meh: “Don’t Be Afraid“, “Decisions

The Ugly (Skip)Anunnuki Invasion” – Interlude track, not a song, “One Big Song“, “Who’s Gonna Come“, “Let’s Go Out With a Bang“, “Worker Bee“, “What’s it All About



Despite my less-than rave review that album has received tons of acclaim. It’s a decent reggae rock album. Was it wrong of us to expect more?

Their live shows had revealed they were in a slight downward slope; especially with the recent line-up shake down. The expectations of another Nexus was maybe a bit too optimistic that they could redeem themselves. I’d expect this for a first album, but if was indeed their first I’d pass on their sequel without much second thought.


At the end of the day they’re still a bunch of dudes from Boston who know how to rock a house. I’d go see them any day of the week. Go check em out, pick up this album, grab their earlier ones, and plan on having a good time.

This album and others are available on their Store, BandCamp, Spotify,, and iTunes!






'The Eight Deaths of Delphinium Gardener' was released independently September 10th, 2013.

‘The Eight Deaths of Delphinium Gardener’ was released independently September 10th, 2013.

Elitists would probably agree that they just don’t make music like they used to, especially in the Progressive Rock arena. Some would say that today’s prog elite is more in to showing off their skill as opposed to using their skill to make good music. Long gone are the days when music possessed the intimacy, the humility, and the raw genuine passion for making music inspired by something else. Fret not; Sigmund Blue is here to fill in the void, no DeLorean required.

Sigmund began as a project between two members but took to full band status with the addition of another member in 1999. Each member recorded their parts separately as the three live in different regions of the United States. Un-phased by such unfortunate circumstances, the trio presented The Eight Deaths of Delphinium Gardener (Eight Deaths) in September of 2013. Eight Deaths is a 1970’s inspired concept album that chronicles the many trials and tribulations encountered by protagonist Delphinium Gardener.

The album opens in spectacular fashion with ‘Overture’, a piano friendly introduction with remarkably familiar melodic trappings. Immediately the goal of the album becomes clear with this “curtains up” instrumental. It is as much of a proclamation of arrival as it is a solid introduction. The melodies that dance throughout the latter stages of the track serve as a perfect lead-in to the track that succeeds it, Charcuterie of Babylon. From then on, Eight Deaths stays the course with a chill-out easy going vibe that serves to put the listener in a state where focusing on the story becomes a natural reflex.

Eight Deaths shakes things up with ‘Can’t Stay’, presenting the first deviation from what the album had previously established as a norm. This is by no means a bad mark on the report card, as the band does well transitioning be a more rock based feel to a song that contains more bounce and pop. After that diversion, the album returns to business as usual until ‘Go Now’. This track is by far the emotional powerhouse of the album. The vocals carry the weight of the songs part in the story with incredible ease and packs enough power to move the listener to tears.

From that point out the journey is much more rocky but the sonic cohesiveness heard earlier in the album remains consistent. The exiting tracks at this point of the album serve as a build up to a climax that sees a rather calm and soothing end melodically. ‘Pod’s Lament’ serves as evidence of this with gusto as there is a stark ramp up in energy. This track sees the band shed the prog rock element for an all out balls to the wall sprint to the finish. It makes the transition to the aptly named album closer ‘Epilogue’ all the more interesting.

The members of SIgmund Blue recorded their parts separately, relying 100% on technology to complete their projects.

The members of SIgmund Blue recorded their parts separately, relying 100% on technology to complete their projects.

The biggest hurdle for this album to overcome, aside from some slightly creepy dialogue in ‘The Meeting’, is the time investment. At 18 tracks and just over an hour and five minutes, there may not be enough meat for the average listener to chew on. Big moments tend to fall flat due to the context of the era that influences the production, but if appreciated properly within said context, it makes for an even bigger set of musical events. Eight Deaths is far out in a good way and all in all, the entire album achieved what it set out to do. Fans of Queen and the Beatles may have something to latch on to here.

Album Picks: Here It Is, Can’t Stay, Go Now, Carbon Copy
Album Skips: The Meeting

Rating: 4 out of 5

Franz Ferdinand's 'Right Thoughts, Right Words, Right Action' was released August 26th, 2013 via Domino Records.

Franz Ferdinand’s ‘Right Thoughts, Right Words, Right Action’ was released August 26th, 2013 via Domino Records.

Wasn’t 2013 about time for a visit from some friends across the pond? If you answered yes, then you’re right (pun intended)! It’s been about a decade since these guys asked us to take them out, but Franz Ferdinand is back in the swing of things with Right Thoughts, Right Words, Right Action (RTRWRA). The quartet from Glasgow waited 4 years since their last offering taking a low profile approach for this release. A lot has changed from the last time we heard from them but despite that, they seem to have rolled right along un-phased.

Right off the bat (pun intended) Franz sets the tone with the title track ‘Right Action’…or do they? Franz is undoubtedly known for their easy going positive vibe and this album has plenty of the feel good stuff, but ‘Evil Eye’ is far from that. Well maybe not that far, these blokes don’t do ‘scary’ very well, even the video almost missed the mark. To be honest, it was just creepy, but let’s digress. The album from then on does not contain anything particularly note worthy in regards to substance. No one song really sticks as you move from track to track, but they do well when taken in context of album as a whole.

Style is what this album does right (pun intended). From top to bottom Franz carries the indie genre well sonically and stylistically. From start to finish the album feels organic and intimate. Album closer ‘Goodbye Lovers and Friends’ is the only track that has the potential to wow listeners (with a proclamation of hating pop music) however. Aside from that, the entire album seems as if the band made a conscious decision to play it safe. After waiting 4 years for a release an apparent lack of effort is what one can gleam from that.

Be that as it may, Franz enjoys a fanbase that possesses eclectic taste and forgiving musical appetites. A stylistically strong album will be enough to satiate current fans. The band is easy to listen to altogether so fans of indie rock in general will find ‘RTRWRA’ easy to flock to and rally around. If you’re looking for something to blow you away however, this isn’t the right place (pun intended) for you to begin.

Rating: 3.75/5
Album Picks: Evil Eye, Standing On The Horizon, Brief Encounters
Album Skips: None

Ryan says: The entire album is available on Spotify where they’ve released an exclusive live album from Avatar Studios!

Yes!! Tonedeth is back up and SPRINTING for the new year.

Okay.. maybe warming up with a slow jog. I’m a bit out of shape here.

Let’s start this off with a review of Childish Gambino’s Because the Internet, one of the several albums that dropped last year to make me scratch my head and listen to over and over again. To be honest this is one hell of a release, not simply for the musical content but because it was tagged along with a 73 page screenplay and a 20 minute short film. The three are only vaguely related, so you could count them as three separate works.

Donald Glover is slowly but effectively becoming a household name. The triple threat artist already has acting and directing firmly under his belt with significant work credits from NBC. In interviews he claims that this album, Because the Internet, was his most “honest work to date”.

If it is honest then either this guy is either very depressed or desperately attempting to divorce from his “funny guy” image. Which is never a bad thing but it seems that he has instead created a doppelganger, his antinomic twin. Donald Glover is the comedian and the clown. Childish – ironically –  appears to be the mature one, creatively distraught with where his life choices have brought him.

“I mean where’s the line between Donnie G and Gambino” – “III. Life: The Biggest Troll”

One of the more interesting aspect of the album is that you can witness the dichotomy of the two characters in the word play. In between the lines of self deprivation and the cliché bragging about his cash flow (all too common in this genre) there is a divided man unsure of his identity.  His modesty can come off authentically but it is piled under a thick bite of unabashed confidence.

Because the Internet is certainly a leaping departure from his last album Camp which had more of the generic production and content of a mainstream rap album with the incessantly catchy hooks and ridiculous lyrical work with the occasional reference to life as a 90’s kid. This guy sure knows his market..

“Camp was an album for 13-year-olds, kind of written by a 13-year-old — it was very angsty and silly, but this album I think is just about my time at NYU more. It’s more grown-up, but a lot of things on the album happened to me this past year. I don’t know if I’m more mature on this album but I definitely know more about music.”

I can see that but I don’t necessarily agree. He makes many more references to his time at NYU in Camp. Because the Internet sounds like it takes place way beyond that. More referring to his celebrity status and growing as an adult, now 30 years old.

As far as musically, he has matured and incorporates original sounding and ear grabbing melodies to this album making it stand out from his previous releases.

This newest work was recorded at NBA star Chris Bosh’s mansion which Glover dubbed “The temple” and enforced a strict no shoes rule. Definitely wouldn’t want to do anything to damage that guy’s house.

“Who tracked mud in MY kitchen!?”

The tyranny continued banning “tweeting and instagramming” and a implementing a harsh work day starting at 10am.

Ahh.. the weary life of a recording artist…

 Because the Internet is Gambino’s second album on Glassnote Records, and Camp was the label’s first hip-hop release ever. Unfortunately the label doesn’t quite consider him a “major” artist. It’s hard out there for any rapper whose name doesn’t end with “West” or “Z”… The label told him he would have to wait to release the album in 2014 despite its completion in early October. He had other plans.

“If it wasn’t gonna be released then, I was gonna release it myself. What’s the point of waiting? I feel like that’s the only time people would be able to listen to it. December is the perfect time. Albums made a really big impact on me when I was alone and everything was quiet, and I know that’s when students go home, that’s when everything is closed, so it’s a good time to just listen to something and be yourself.”

Glover got the idea for the cryptic but brilliant album name from conversations he had with friend and alternative indie artist, Beck.

“Everyone keeps saying by this or that year, Mandarin or Spanish will be the most dominant language, but the internet is already a language we are all connected to… But the thing is, there are no rules, which is also the awesome thing.”

Internet as a language is not as inane of an idea as it may sound. In the screenplay he constantly uses Emojis to describe an action, expression, or emotion as if it were common place. An editor wouldn’t allow it but the majority of the market who will buy his album will not only understand it completely, but embrace it.

It seems he’s eyeing the role to be the voice of the viral generation, the globalized media junkies. He relates to them with his poignant media references to “Rugrats”, “Fresh Prince of Bel Air”, and “Double Dare”, all mega-popular shows that millennials have grown up with. But with so many references and metaphors a purpose gets lost. He jumps between the gangster and the clever less than seamlessly.

Maybe it’s me but the lyrics on this album rarely make sense. They jump topics and go in an out of focus so quickly it just seems he’s making observations on events happening in his brain. Maybe it’s intentional and he wants to appear obscure but it comes off as random.

The content ranges from the gangster rap dribble:

“Instagram my stack load
Hashtag my day wear and your girl drank my day care.
I’m born rich, life ain’t fair.
Ain’t nobody sicker and my Fisker ‘vroom vroom’, ho”

To esoteric thoughts and pop culture references:

“Year off, got no rules, tripping off of them toadstools.
More green than my Whole Foods
and I’m too fly, Jeff Goldblum.
Got a glass house in the Palisades, that a.k.a.
White hood, white hood, Oh K K K”

both are from the track, “IV. Sweatpants”

Sometimes they flow musically and even poetically but many just sound like extemporaneous rants. Either he’s ran out of things to say or his life is so foreign and weird that we have nothing else to believe?

The first single “V. 3005” released back in October of 2013 is currently #44 on the top 100 Billboard chart. The music video is certainly a strange one and is meant to give the impression of intense loneliness. The entire thing is him sitting stone faced on a ferris wheel with a large stuffed bear. Complete departure from his silly character, Troy from “Community” or his work with his old comedy troupe Derrick Comedy.

This track is the least interesting on the album. The instrumental is painfully simple and his flow seems forced. The intention was clearly to be the single track, the one that you assume the rest of the album will sound the same to get you to listen to it. It’s similar to his song “Heartbeat” off of Camp. Catchy sung hook with a thick electro-pop background. “3005” also appears to be about love gone wrong but he claims it’s about being alone, not necessarily from a loved one.

What struck me instantly about this album and made me want to write a lengthy review on it is that it reminds me of a metal production rather than a new hip-hop record. It’s very dark, not so much in content, but musically.

The first song, “I. Crawl”, starts with samples of a screaming and a heavy industrial sounding background. I could easily imagine a guttural growl come in with the drop at about the 30 second mark. “Bet you crawl. All alone”.

New rap-metal album?

donald glover screaming

The bassline for the verse of “II. No Exit” sounds like something straight out of a Lamb of God. There are several more parts of the album that could easily be implanted into a metal song because of their dark anxious tone like the end of “II. Shadows”.

He’s kind of proving his point with Because the Internet. The world is getting smaller, there are less visible boundaries and Childish Gambino intends to blur the lines between rap, pop, and rock.

Here at Tonedeth we focus on the unique and commend the strange. You think we’d review any ol’ album?

Most of the tracks start off unassuming enough but many end with left turns or simply switch genres. On “I. The Worst Guys” featuring Chance the Rapper has a Santana-esque guitar solo thrown in to keep the flow of the song going. And “II. Worldstar” winds down with a laid-back electronic jazz ensemble complete with a baritone sax solo.

If the instrumental tracks he raps over weren’t interesting enough the fact that he has four mostly instrumental and transitional tracks with little to no rapping shows he has intentions of making an album not a mix-tape.

Because the Internet is exceptional in many respects. He breaks boundaries musically and addresses the social media revolution and how it has affected him professionally and personally. Childish Gambino is a very emotionally divided man. Not only must he cope with this new persona he’s created that he wishes to shed but he’s clearly unhappy with this life and mocks it at every turn. This channeled into the creative can leave people with a strong taste in their mouth that may or may not be bearable.

I give this album:

3 / 5

It’s intriguing enough that fans of rap, pop, or rock can find something to latch on to. It’s musically dynamic and intense but his lyrical structure is a little predictable and needlessly verbose for the sake of flow. I liked Camp and enjoyed pulling back the layers on this piece but it’s lacking some substance. Give it a listen, chew it over, and take a look-see. In that order. It’s worth it.

Can’t get enough of the multi-talented Donald Glover?
Go check out the show Community. It’s running on it’s 5th season but it seems Glover’s character Troy Barnes becomes a part-time role only appearing in five out of the thirteen episodes planned for the season. This will be the second main character to leave the show after Chevy Chase as Pierce Hawthorne.

In a series of personal and revealing photos uploaded to instagram Donald Glover sheds light on his career choices as of late.

“I didn’t leave Community to rap. I don’t wanna rap. I wanted to be on my own.”

Will this be Gambino’s last album and Glover’s kick-start to a more serious acting career?

At the moment he is also gearing up for his musically themed show to be aired on FX sometime this year that he will write and direct. He claims his move to the station was for their willingness to work around his tight touring schedule.


The Marshall Mathers LP2 was released November 5th, 2013 by Shady/Aftermath/Interscope

Guess who’s back? …Back again. Shady’s back, and you should probably warn all of your politically correct friends. Shock-rap’s poster boy has made his long awaited return to the rap game with the release of the Marshall Mathers LP 2 much to the chagrin of all those innocent and pure of heart (laugh along with me).  The 2013 release is a thematic continuation to 2000’s Marshall Mathers LP. This time the rapper looks to put yet another  (and maybe final?) exclamation point on his storied and infamous career.

Album opener ‘Bad Guy’ serves as a proper set up for the journey to come, with added Easter eggs of playing off of past songs. The album spends most of its time bouncing from wall to wall providing few moments of prolonged lyrical consistency. Who are we kidding, though? This is the name of Eminem’s game, and he is one of the few rappers who can pull it off and still make somewhat of a point…some how. Album single ‘Berzerk’ serves to prove that point with gusto, as well as the already controversial single ‘Rap God’.

Such randomness could be a double-edged sword, however. In tracks such as ‘Asshole” and the album’s deluxe edition bonus track ‘Wicked Ways’, Em can tend to let verses over-extend their stay. Fret not, such rare events fail to overshadow the albums strong suits, such as the superb lyricism. Case and point ‘Love Game’ featuring label mate Kendrick Lamar, who by the way easily matches Shady’s multi-syllabic rapid fire offering. Did I mention lyrical targets? There never seems to be a time Em misses a chance to diss Britney Spears, takes a shot at the Kardashians, and what liberal doesn’t love a dig at Sarah Palin? (None…. yes exactly.)

MMLP2 doesn’t slack off in the musical content and production department. The album boasts sonic selections from Dr. Dre, Eminem himself, Rick Rubin and more. Versatility was also a strong point on this album from a musical standpoint. Tracks feature samples and musical adaptations ranging from Lou Donaldson and The Zombies to the Beastie Boys and Naughty by Nature.

Essentially the album is a testament to Eminem’s growth as a rapper, and as a person. There is a sense that Mathers is more at ease with where is at in his life, and you need look no further than ‘Headlights” for evidence of this.  Standout radio ready cuts like ‘Monster’ (featuring Rihanna) will definitely lure in an unsuspecting few new fans and corrupt them. For those already privy to the ways of Em, you’ll hear more of the same over the top word bending mind melting that has been shocking parents the world over for more than a decade now.

Album Picks: Groundhog Day, Love Game, Evil Twin, Survival
Album Skips: So Much Better, Stronger Than I Was

Rating: 3.75/5


You don’t need me to tell you of the sorry state of popular Hip Hip (with or without Kendrick Lamar’s antics). Fret not, there are still rappers out there conscious enough to release music that’s a little bit…er…better. Enter Florida native, Anonymuz with Ascencion X, his 5th mixtape, and it is a strong bunch of songs to say the least. Usually you never really know what you will get with a mixtape. They’re often end up as horribly unfocused, trash cans of previously discarded instrumentals that weren’t produced or composed very well in the first place. With Ascension X you’ll find little of that…

'Ascension X' is a mixtape released via Click picture for tracklist and downloads.

‘Ascension X’ is a mixtape released via
Click picture for tracklist and downloads.

This mixtape is surprisingly easy on the ears, and at first listen it’s easy to hear Anonymuz’s radio friendly aspirations. Cuts like ‘The Song That Never Was’ could easily find itself on heavy rotation on a multitude of pop radio stations (and a Game of Thrones reference always helps marketability). ‘Relena X’ is sure to catch younger ears with it’s Gundam Wing sample and does well to showcase Anonymuz’s lyrical ability. There is a distinct upside to the potential Anonymuz has and the fan-base he can attain through his hyper-modern cadence and flow. If this youngster can stand to sit down and write a more focused and solidly constructed album, there is no doubt he will be a force to be reckoned with. There is wit and charm in this mixtape, and a dash of raw emotion that can fuel more fiery songs in the future. Fans of Immortal Technique and DoomTree have something to latch on to here.

Jay Z's Magna Carta Holy Grail was released July 9th 2013 via Roc Nation/Roc-A-Fella/Universal Genre: Hip Hop

Jay Z’s Magna Carta Holy Grail was released July 9th 2013 via Roc Nation/Roc-A-Fella/Universal
Genre: Hip Hop

Jay Z once proclaimed, …so in summation I don’t know who you racing I’m already at the finish line with the flag waving. Well with the release of Magna Carta Holy Grail, his arms have apparently become tired. Long gone are the tales of life on the gritty streets of Brooklyn and stories of a young man’s struggle to keep his head above water. In their stead are stories of a more mature, accomplished rapper turned business(, as well as his not so subtle lamentations amidst the daily grind of being successful. While these themes may not be totally unfamiliar, this album has a tone about it that makes it almost unbearable to sit through in one uninterrupted listen. From the oddly placed sample/quote of Nirvana’s chorus to ‘Smells Like Teen Spirit‘ in the album’s “title” track ‘Holy Grail‘ to his reference to the ever popular “Jay is Illuminati” conspiracy theories in “Heaven“, Jay wants to make it perfectly clear how success has its price..

Aside from all of that nasty stuff, the album may have some saving graces. From the superb production from the likes of Timbaland, and Swizz Beatz, to the star-studded guest appearances (including one from wifey), there is enough here to satiate the appetite of his loyal fans and even win over a couple new ones…ok maybe not. There are a few standouts on the album but they’re few and far in between. “Jay Blue” comes across as an incredible forthcoming ode to his baby daughter, as well as a thoughtful reflection on fatherhood. Sadly the electronics giant Samsung might have given away more albums than Jay Z would have sold on the basis of the album’s musical content…take a moment to imagine if such a world exists.

Dessa's Parts Of Speech was released June 25th, 2013 via Doomtree Records

Dessa’s Parts Of Speech was released June 25th, 2013 via Doomtree Records

Let’s face it, Hip Hop is committing suicide and is hell-bent on making it as agonizing and tasteless as possible. Enter Dessa of the rap collective Doomtree, helping to bring back a once musically stout genre from the brink of self-destruction. In Parts Of Speech Dessa trades in a the calculated and rough facets of A Badly Broken Code for a less focused and more exploratory approach. The album stays true to what a Dessa record usually presents in that it takes a few listens to appreciate its full context. The moods shift constantly from the quietly reflective The Man I knew to the more energetic Fighting Fish. Nevertheless cuts like Skeleton Key and Call Off Your Ghost provide nice landing spots for listeners who are looking to ease into the album.

I wanted to investigate the idea that a cohesive record isn’t always made cohesive by having twelve songs that sound the same. I figured when you make a mixtape for a friend, you can get away with a range of genres and a lot of dynamic change. Why can’t I approach an album like that? The sequence has to be just right, and we worked hard to nail it, but the thing that holds this record together is the sensibility of the lyrics, rather than a uniform theme. –Dessa

Newcomers to Dessa’s challenging approach to music probably will not survive long enough to engage the album in full. This apparent weakness, however, is something that makes Dessa a unique artist in the current toxic hip hop climate. Her style is refreshing and as she continues to grow one can only hope that history holds her in high esteem. With her intuitive wordplay, reality bending metaphors, and soothing singing voice (oh did I forget to mention her singing?), she deserves a place in every hip hop music library.

Dethfrequency Says: You can find this, and more of her solo albums on Spotify as well as her work with Doomtree and hear her work while she was still a young Filipino pop star… (Kidding, just another hilarious Spotify mistake)