Tuesday, July 22, 2014

"The House", Lo Key EP review

Sup fam. 'Nother Lo Key review this time around. Gonna get straight to it.
Originally released on Halloween, 2005, this album is an EP by Lo Key originally released as a free download. It was released on disc two years later, in a slim case. The next year, 2008, the album was re-released in a jewel case with alternate art, but with the same cover. Then in 2009, it was definitely re-released on LOKE Records with an entirely different cover and remastered music.
     This EP was pretty big back in its day, and garnered Lo Key much more attention than it was probably expected to. This is likely the reason for Lo Key's continuation of The House as a series. To this day, it remains a classic entry in the underground game, and there's even a little saying to go with the legacy: Every time you mention "The House", a suburban teenage girl starts bumping the EP on laptop speakers in her basement.
I kid, I kid.

Throughout the years, the graphics for this CD have changed. There are three prints of this album right now, but I'm unsure what the graphics look like for all of them since I only own the most recent print. With that said, the graphics I'm going to be speaking on are from the most recent print.
     The cover, currently, isn't pretty. It looks like something out of some Frankenstein-inspired movie, which isn't very inviting. The entire front cover is a face, one that looks like it once belonged to a human, but is now the decrepit remains of a skull. Except, almost robotic. As if instead of an actual skull, it is the rusted, dilapidated remains of perhaps...an android skull? It's weird - you have to see it to understand, and you will, below.
     On the back, got your track listed, not very exciting. There's a Lo Key seal on the back, and I'm assuming by the texture that the background is supposed to be the backside of the skull. The cover piece is a slip, and there's an ad for Infectshop on the back of it. Printed on the CD is the skull from the cover, and there's nothing in the CD rest.

     This is for sure one of the worst CDs that I bothered to pay money for. On paper, the concept of this album is actually very cool - when you look at the tracklist and see the methodical way the tracks are arranged, you can't help but think about the flurry of creativity that must be brewing on the CD. Except, this CD isn't very creative at all. But before you get to throwing eggs, let me walk you through this five-track EP.
     I think the prospect of this EP is the reason a lot of people were attracted to it, but besides the creative facade, there really isn't much to it. The EP draws you in with a promising glimmer of artistry, but this EP is twenty minutes of the same shit over and over. It opens with some people going to a haunted house, and then the next four tracks are about how he's gonna murder you. But staring at the tracklist, you might think that Lo Key was going to find a creative way to rap about a house: The Attic, The Basement, The Kitchen...this is sadly not the case.
     The only thing that changes about this album is the setting, and the only thing that changes about the setting is the way that Lo Key raps about murdering you. It's seriously two-dimensional, and while Lo Key is a skilled rapper, the stale-ass theme is what truly makes this EP mediocre. I can't even understand how it maintained such a good vibe in the underground world, because the only thing that makes this EP special is the premise, and that gets old really fast. It isn't even like the production can make up for it, because that's surprisingly unremarkable too. A poorly executed great idea would be a good way to think of it.
     Let me tell you ninjas: this CD is 12.99, and you're better off putting your money somewhere else - anywhere else, than wasting your time on this CD. If you're a collector, grab it if you feel you need it. But I would definitely not recommend this CD to the average listener. For 12.99 and only five (stale) tracks, there's no reason to waste your time here. Since it was originally a free release, I don't really think there's anything wrong with listening to the tracks on the internet if you're seriously wondering what the CD sounds like, but I assure you that it isn't that great. Seriously ninja, don't even bother.

JRH gives "The House" by Lo Key a: 1.8/5
(Loud, unhindered snoring)

Weak points:
- Uncreative, stale-ass themes that don't change in the slightest
- Twenty minutes of "Hey man, I'mma murda yo ass, in da basement, in da attic", so on and so forth
- There are a lot of great things you can do with 12.99, but buying this CD is not one of them
- Another EP that is so tragically short, you can't help but feel ripped off

Strong points:
- On paper, this EP actually had the potential to be so much better than it turned out, but Lo Key's execution of it is tragically lackluster

Don't waste your time, homies. Think of the children, ninja.

Original cover

Contemporary version with new cover art

Sunday, July 20, 2014

"Release", Lo Key album review

Sup, fams. I hope you're having a good day, and thanks for stopping by the blog. Today I'm dropping a Lo Key review on ya.
I've wanted to listen to this CD for a while now, but I think the twenty-strong tracklist was fucking with my head. It ain't an EP, or even a medium-length album. Not in practicality, anyway; it's a fifteen-track CD, but it has five bonus tracks (I'll talk more about that later).
Dropped in 2007, this CD is a collection of rare and unreleased material from Lo Key; well, that's what it's supposed to be. The tracklist for this album is more-or-less exclusive to this CD, but Lo Key has such a habit of intersection and crossing tracks over that you can find some of the tracks on other CDs (Not including, of course, bonus tracks). But in general, the content on this CD is pretty exclusive and doesn't exist anywhere else. With that bit of background, I'm going to jump into the review.

There are two different versions of this album! Details at bottom of review    
I'm going to be posting the album art below as per usual, but the cover art is of an astronaut on another planet, kneeling among unearthly crags, holding a green Lo Key mask. It is in a very realistic art styling, with lots of neat features that draw the attention of the viewer. It is the kind of art that would make one stop in the rap section of an album store, and scrutinize the work.
     On the back of the CD there's a track listing, which doesn't include the bonus tracks or the outro, seeming to cap the album out at fourteen tracks. There's a URL for Infectshop.com, but the URL and website are both capsized, dead, so it's interesting to note that Lo Key hasn't bothered to change the art for the sake of. The cover art is a flap; there's another ad for Infectshop.com on the inside that advertises a bunch of the albums available there. Futile effort, but a relic of the past. The CD art has Lo Key's name and the album title on it, plastered against what looks like wood or perhaps some martian substance. I can't really tell, but it's not very interesting in any case.

     On the surface, this is just another Lo Key CD with a collaborative mess of tracks that may or may not be featured on other releases in the underground. Beyond the surface, it's a mostly collaborative slew of rare and unreleased material, with a lot of remixes thrown in there for good measure. I'm sure some of the tracks here were developed specifically for this album, but they aren't a majority.
     What's the noise? It's pretty good, but not spectacular. A lot of the tracks here seem to fit, in the sense that they would feel strange lingering on other CDs released by Lo Key. For that same reason, a lot of the tracks on this album, while well-produced, don't stand about as particularly great. This album is entertaining for sure, and there are a good handful of gems here that will have you returning to this CD after the first listen. On the other end, it is a vault release, not a studio album, so don't expect to be blown away or anything like that.
     While the above is true, this CD is undoubtedly good. I like a lot of the songs on this CD, and since it's a vault release, the sound can bounce around quite a bit, keeping things fresh and entertaining. It's also one of Lo Key's largest releases, most of his CDs tend to cap at around ten or less tracks, whereas this CD shoots all the way to twenty tracks. While this number is imposing, it is composed of quality content, and is worth your money for sure. I'm sure that whether you're not a fan at all, or owned this since day one, that you'll thoroughly enjoy this CD.
     After the outro, there are five more bonus tracks that were slapped on at the end for whatever reason. I'm unsure exactly why this is a thing, but it's not really unwelcome. I don't think that most people that are listening to Lo for the first time are going are going to buy this CD, but if you were to bring this on a road trip or something, the last five tracks would shake things up quite a bit and introduce the listener to extra flavor from different Lo Key releases. Another note on that; the bonus tracks aren't actually new content, they're just songs pulled from other Lo Key releases and then assembled on the end of the album in no particular order.
That's about all I can say about this piece, fam, but one final note!
The album art originally (Released on 7th Seal Ent.) is different than the current album art. I'm going to post them both below - old first, new last. Other than the front cover, I'm unsure if there are any other aesthetic or even musical changes between the two pressings. I don't own the original copy, so if any ninja who has it wants to hit me up with some deets, feel more then free to do so, fam.

JRH gives "Release" by Lo Key a: 3/5!

Strong points:

- Strong, consistent production
- Wide variety of noise that keeps the CD fresh and interesting
- Lots of good features and collaborations
- Rare, mostly hard-to-find content, which adds a nice novelty to the CD
- The bonus tracks are a good way to capture the attention of someone who hasn't listened to much Lo Key. They're also great if you don't own a lot of Lo Key's work.
- The remixed songs on this CD breathe life into old work, which is something I think a lot of artists neglect to do. That is something that I appreciate especially.
- One of Lo Key's biggest releases - twenty damn tracks! Definitely getting your money's worth, here.
- Great graphics that capture the eye

Weak points:
- Intersection and cross-releasing means that some of the tracks here can already be found on other CDs, which means that they aren't particularly rare anymore

Enjoy your day, kick the fuck back, and hit us with a like, homie!

I actually like the original art better than the re-pressed art.

Sunday, July 13, 2014

"W.I.C.K.E.D.", Twiztid album review (With bonus tracks and comic)

Yo yo! What's up ninjas? Today I'm gonna be talking about Twiztid's most widely-received and most commercially-successful album TO DATE! That, motherfackos, is the one and only W.I.C.K.E.D.! I wanna jump right into it! But first, a few things.
*Important notes
I will be reviewing the version with the bonus tracks, not the original plain release
I also have the version with the comic - I might talk about that at a later time and include it in with the graphics section, but right now I will not be discussing it
I do not have the version of W.I.C.K.E.D. with the enhanced disk, so I will not be speaking on it.
Released in 2009, W.I.C.K.E.D. is Twiztid's top-selling and most widely-received album of all time! To date, of course. This makes it a very important entry in their career by default, and this is also shown by the fact that there are four different versions of the album: There is the original fifteen-track version of the album, as well as the version that came with a comic book and was sold exclusively at Hot Topic. Then there is the version that came with an "enhanced CD" which contained some music videos, and lastly the version with three extra bonus tracks on the CD.

This CD has a lot to it. I'll be posting the cover art below, it's a picture of Jamie Madrox and Monoxide Child set against a solid black background. They're rocking suits, Paul is chilling and Madrox is looking ferocious. It's neat, has their logo and the album title on it.
On the back is the track listing, of course, and differs from other versions of the album only in that it has three more tracks listed, since this is the version with three bonus tracks that I will discuss in more detail. The CD cover is a booklet, it has some art in it, and a crap ton of pictures of Monoxide and Madrox. All the production credits are near the back end of the booklet, and there's a cut-out activity on the back of the booklet. I'm not really into those kinds of things, but if you feel like having a paper-mache coffin then you can do that. I'm not sure if the art is consistent across both versions of the CD, though. These CDs also come with one of those Psychopathic trading cards - I'm not really into that, but I think they're cool. Each one comes with a different card potentially, I got Monoxide this time around.
The CD art looks like someone's face, ashen and lips stitched together, with lifeless red eyes. In the CD rest there's art of an old-looking door in a deteriorated house, blood oozing out from the crack between the door and the frame. Wicked is written stylistically on the wall, probably in blood.

This CD is excellent. It's also really different in comparison to other works by Twiztid, even given that all of their work is unique. This is some heavy shit ninja, the CD has some tracks that are just noisy and loud and smash. Killer production, some of these tracks just really get you really excited and belligerent, ready to rip someone's throat out. Of course, a good Samaritan like I would never really condone such violent acts in real life.
     Another great thing about the CD is that while there are many tracks here that are very horrorcore in sound, this album also contains a lot of guitar and heavy guitar, even going to the point where it might be mistaken as metal - screaming and all. Admin isn't the biggest fan of metal - I actually dislike metal quite a bit, but here it seems like a welcome addition among all the murder and madness. Expect some rock and heavy-rock influenced songs. It's one of the factors that helps paint W.I.C.K.E.D. as a very unique entry in their career.
     Like I said before, this is some heavy shit, and not just in the sense that it's really loud and belligerent. There's a real sadistic and unholy presence on this CD, going from torture to the celebration of hell and back, they really let loose on the dark morals this time around. I absolutely love the blatant display of human evil here, and every little detail they added really helped to amplify that feeling of despair and madness. The lyricism goes all over too; songs about suicide, being alone, insanity and so forth; it's not just an hour of mindless murder music. Every song on this album is blessed with great production, and Twiztid went all out on this CD - it shows. I could easily peg this as their darkest release, and that is a really special thing to be able to do.
     There are three bonus tracks on this CD: Catch The Show, Gothic Chick, and It Don't Stop. They are a welcome addition to the album, but there's an issue present here that I think most albums with bonus tracks also suffer from. The end of the album is very conclusive, and the bonus tracks can feel glued on in that respect of things. This is something I think can only be helped so much, since bonus tracks aren't actually structured into the actual content of the original album. Cases where bonus tracks meld in seamlessly with the rest of the album are few and far inbetween, and this isn't one of those rare cases. While it doesn't take away from the ability to enjoy the original tracks on the album, it can feel pretty tacked on, though not exactly to the point of disappointment. On top of that, the extra songs don't really fit in with the rest of the album. The bonus tracks themselves are all good songs musically, even in light of everything else, and are still enjoyable to listen to. You can very much feel the fact that they are additions to the album, and aren't part of the original work.
There are also four versions of the album, so which one is the best? You decide. But I don't recommend getting the plain release, since the other versions aren't much more expensive or hard-to-find. With that last note, I'm going to conclude this review, fams.
I highly recommend this album! It's an absolutely stellar release and deserved all the attention it got! On top of that, it's a unique entry in their career and has a great sound!

"W.I.C.K.E.D." by Twiztid recieves a: 3.8/5!
(It's all good pizza, homie!)

Strong points:
- Strong production with a variety of noise; lots of rock and heavy-rock influences that make the album stand out in Twiztid's career.
- This is a very dark, demonic, and murderous entry in Twiztid's career; moreso than most of Twiztid's other works. It's another reason that the album stands out heavily in Twiztid's career.
- Loud, bumping, and smash as fuck! Belligerent and noisy, this album is really heavy.
- Cool graphics with lots of content, while also being a bit simplistic

Weak points:
- While the bonus tracks are good songs, they don't really fit in with the rest of the album, especially since the outro feels so conclusive. They're tacked-on, but that's not really that big of an issue here.

Thank you for reading my posts, fam. You are all the reason why I keep going forward! Make sure to drop by the page and show us some love!

Friday, July 4, 2014

"A New Nightmare", Twiztid mixtape review

Sup fams. Gonna get right into this time.
     You all remember by now; this mixtape is pretty new. Released last year - technically, it was Twiztid's first release off the label. It was also the duo's first-ever mixtape. Since it'd be Twiztid's first release off the label, it was a spectacle for a lot of the fam. Everyone wanted it or was interested because it was practically going to be a representation of what Twiztid was and would be up to, now that they aren't with Psychopathic. It was recorded during the latter leg of the Abominationz tour, if I'm correct, and features a lot of the guys that were touring with them at the time. There was also a pre-order incentive (That I missed) where they'd sign it if you pre-ordered it. That's about it for that, I'm going to move on now.

This is Twiztid's first mixtape, and as such, was released in a typical mixtape format.
     The cover here is pretty cool. It features Twiztid, in a spiraling staircase, with dark clothing. They're looking up menacingly with fierce looks on their faces, at the viewer. Their name and the mixtape title are on the front aswell.
     On the back is the track listing in red, with a vectored picture of Jamie and Mono's faces against the dark and metallic background, behind the text. Contact information; copyright shit. On the inside of the front flap is the skull logo Twiztid has, pictured upside-down and against another metallic background. CD art is the same as the cover, just on a CD. In the CD rest there's a picture of Twiztid, with a heavy red filter that makes the image look a little glossy. It looks really nice, actually, and might be the coolest graphic on the mixtape. It's also upside-down; I'm assuming you're meant to turn the tape upside-down to see the art correctly.
     There's also a small booklet that comes with the mixtape, inside, that houses a few things. There's a big red curtain on the first flap, announcing "The new full length album by Twzitd", "The moment you've all been waiting for". This is interesting to note - at this point, there still hasn't been a new full-length album by Twiztid. Given that the tape says it's coming soon, I can't help but wonder what they think that means, or when it will come out. On the other flap there's production information for the entire album - the beats, the photography, the features, all that. Adorning the backside is an ad for Twiztid's online website with a collage of a bunch of the gear they have up on there, and the Twitter tag for the shop. The graphics for this mixtape aren't good. They're okay, I've seen better mixtape art for sure, and I don't really own that many mixtapes.
But now I'm going to move on to the part that matters the most - the part I'm looking forward to writing.

If you were paying attention during that debacle that spawned when it came out that Twiztid was leaving Psychopathic Records, you know that this mixtape was going to be seen as a expectation and/or archetype of things to come of the Demented Duo. That said, expectations for this tape were mostly high - it would, after all, be their first release off the label. "What will their new sounds be like?" "How will they fare?" "Is ICP gonna be featured?" "ARE TWIZTID GONNA GO MANESTEAM ZOMG!!!11" and all that assorted mess. But I'm here to give to you straight, a ninja to a ninja, without embellishment. And here I go.
     Not good. You don't need it.
     I'm not sure what was happening during the production of this album. It doesn't feel rushed - it feels like there was a lot of time put into the production of this mixtape. I think what happened - what it seems like to me, is that Twiztid put in a lot of effort trying to make a different sound, a different flavor for the fam. Something fresh and new. But, there's one problem...
     It doesn't really sound all that great.
     There are other issues I have with this mixtape, too.
     It seems like this mixtape jumps all over the place. It's like a whole handful of different subjects just crammed together - the tracklist doesn't flow very well, at all. On top of that, a lot of these songs are just way different, it's not even horrorcore. There are some tracks that are heavy with singing, and that's great on one end. To me, that is fucking awesome. I feel like if you went back to Mostasteless-era and told Monoxide to sing his ass off and hold a high note, he'd tell you to fuck yourself with a screwdriver. It's great that Twiztid got together a bunch of different people and decided to try out some new noise for the fam.
     But on the other end, it just doesn't sound that great! Unfortunately for them, this new approach just doesn't sit right. It doesn't feel like horrorcore; it doesn't sound like wicked shit. Most importantly, it doesn't feel like Twiztid. That might sound really bad, but it's not a be-all-end-all. This tape just doesn't feel right. It's not what I expected, and it's not what I wanted either. It's something else.
     I'm no cynic, though. I had been waiting to review this mixtape for a long time, but I kept dodging it because I felt like it was going to be a chore. Of course, it wasn't terrible. The production is solid. This tape is well-produced, and like I said, it sounds different. Very unique. But unfortunately, it just doesn't ring right. It's just off, and it can't be pinned down to one variable, no one track that is the culprit here.
     The features are good, but they are everywhere. I feel like I saw more features in the track listing than I saw of Twiztid. There are seriously a lot of features on this album, and they're all great rappers. But at times, I feel like they break up the flow of the album. An extra verse by Monoxide or Madrox would have been more welcome than just another feature I don't recognize. This album didn't need all the features it had, and it felt overdone on this mixtape.
     That summarizes all the major feelings I have for this mixtape. I don't think it determines the noise we're gonna hear from Twiztid in the future. I think they're still doing great, and have a long road ahead of them. This entry though, this mixtape? It wasn't stellar; wasn't great; wasn't even good. It's not worth your money, not even worth your time. There are only a few redeeming tracks, but they don't make up for the rest of the content on the CD.
That's it, ninjas. It's old news, but I had to do it.

JRH gives "A New Nightmare" by Twiztid a: 1.7/5
(Nah, homie. No, it doesn't bump...)

Weak points:
- Inconsistent track listing
- Experimental sound is good, but ultimately doesn't sound too great
- Tons of features that kind of break up the flow of the mixtape
- The amount of good tracks stacked up against the rest of the content is primarily why I don't think this tape is worth anyone's time. The tape has a lot of tracks that just aren't good.

Strong points:
- Even though I don't think it sounds great, I think it's really good that Twiztid decided to step outside of what they usually do and try something different. Too bad it turned out like this, though.
- Solid production, and that goes for the whole tape, more-or-less.

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