Saturday, January 31, 2015

"The Darkness", Twiztid album review

This album came out...four days ago, on the 27th of January (2015). I'm hitting you up with the straight facts on this new, long-awaited album from the Demented Duo.
    We've all been waiting for this album. The anticipation has been growing and now, after all the teasing and hinting is done, it's right here. After a series of extended plays and mixtapes released over the year, here it is, the new shit. This is the group's first actual album since leaving Psychopathic Records, so then, what the fuck is up with it? Was it even worth the wait?
Fuck yeah, it was.
They say that
Those in hell don't come back
Eternally in pits of Darkness
It's the hardest thing to,
Break someone free.
These graphics are pretty fresh. The art is actually a slip-cover with a big circle cut in the front to reveal that ghastly looking blue girl. It's an interesting cover, but instead of going into it in full detail I'll let you see for yourself below. The back of the slip cover has the track list and licensing shit, while the back of the actual CD case has some words on Darkness as an actual existence. It's interesting. The cover art is a folded poster, with production credits and art on one side and more art on the other side. Great work by whoever did the art. The CD art is kind of like the cover art of Freek Show but in a much more artistic rendition and in the same style as the rest of The Darkness. Same kind of thing in the CD rest. The graphics for this album are beautiful and would capture the eye of a wandering customer. I like it a lot and it was one of the things that made me excited for the album. There are a lot of tiny details that exist if you care to look for them, and are just overall very well-done.

This exceeds expectations. It's been a while; the last actual album Twiztid released was Abominationz back in 2012. Everything else has been a mixtape or extended play. So there was a lot hinging on this album, and there was a lot of talk going on. Musically, I think this might be Twiztid's best album to date. With the collection of different producers as well as varying lyrical themes, it's safe to say this album has a very versatile sound. Not in a scattered way, but in ways that all seem to connect and point to one thing: The Darkness. It's very clever and I like what they did with this CD.
     The Darkness is a very good listen and cover a few different musical grounds. There's some very hip-hop sounds, some heavy rock, a bit of old school, and different lyrical styles that vary track-to-track. It ushers in a new era of music for Twiztid while not forgetting their past, but moving forward with their sound in interesting ways as they always have been.
     Expect to be entertained and occasionally creeped out by this CD. There are entertaining skits throughout the CD, and even a track at the end entitled "The Exorcism" that is literally just mixed screams and sounds of suffering over some soft music. I wouldn't say that this album is perfect, but if you're a fan of Twiztid then you will be very pleased with this new shit they done and did. I encourage you to check it out, it's very entertaining and worth the money you'd be putting out. There are also three bonus tracks on the CD that are from different releases. The bonus tracks are all fairly new, like "Breakdown", which is from the Get Twizitd EP and "A Place in the Woods" (the only track on the CD with a feature, I'll add) which was a single they released while on tour. I'm not a super-hardcore collector, so I don't know if the versions on this CD are the exact same as the other renditions of the songs, but they are a welcome addition and add some more freshness to the CD while not fucking up the flow of the album. If you care about the wicked underground, then you should definitely be checking this out.

"The Darkness" by Twiztid has earned: 4.2/5!

Strong points:
- Very strong musically
- Variety of sound and producers
- Clever, varied lyricism that all points towards the same entity: The Darkness
- Bonus tracks are definitely a plus
- Consistent track listing

I'm unsure what to identify as weak points. I was actually sitting down at my workspace thinking to myself, "What do I not like about this CD?" Instead of forcing myself to come up with something, I think I'm going to conclude the review here. Thanks for checking this out homies. Have a wicked afternoon.

Friday, January 30, 2015

"The House: Remixes", Lo Key EP review

Remember "The House"? Remember how bad it was? If The House was that bad, then this remix of the original extended play must also be bad, right? Not quite. Somehow, Lo Kevelli managed to make the whole EP, well, not sound like shit. This extended play came out in 2006, which is only a year after The House was originally released. I don't know the history of this piece, but it can be assumed that it was originally released as a free download at first. I'm also not sure how well-received it was, but I can assume that it went pretty well keeping in mind that The House was a very popular release in Loke's career.

The cover art is cool, but not great. If it was on a shelf in a music store, which it isn't and never will be, it would have caught my eye. There are a few different versions of the cover art, but they mostly look the same. It's Loke silhouetted against a dark green cloudy sky, with his name written stylistically above him and the album title beneath him. You'll see it below. Track listing is on the back, and there are some pictures of a very pale baby with soulless eyes looking out. The graphics are so minimalist that the release date or company name aren't on the CD anywhere, so I had to go to Loke's webstore for the deets. The cover art is a slip with an Infectshop advert on the back. The art for the CD is different too, it's a green demon-looking creature set against darkeness with its mouth open. Nothing in the CD rest.

Like I said, this remix album is a huge step-up from the original extended play. I'm not sure how it's this much better than the original, but the production value is much higher. Since the style of production is much improved, it makes the lyricism sound a lot less monotonous and is a drastic help for the EP. The sound is much more eerie and melodic, which fits the EP a lot more than the sound of the original release. Here the tracks are very solid, and while the lyrical message has not changed at all, it is at least now pleasing to listen to. The House: Remixes is not incredible, but it's a hell of a lot better than the original release. You don't need this extended play at all, but I will tell you that I'd recommend it over the original any day. If you want a solid remix album, here is a good place to find one. If you're the average listener, though, 12.99 is still a lot to pay for five songs. So this is probably more for the collectors than anything else, unless you buy it digitally.

"The House: Remixes" by Lo Key gets a: 3/5!

Strong points:
- Production has really ramped up since the original
- Graphics are pretty neat

Weak points:
- While this release is much better than the original extended play, it doesn't stand out in Lo Key's career and can thus be deemed a mediocre release in the grand scheme of things.

I think this is the original cover art for this EP

This is the version that is up on display on Loke's website, but the cover art below is what's actually on the CD.

This is the actual cover art. Notice the added eyes, lack of a mask, and marginally cleaner lettering.

Saturday, January 10, 2015

"The Wraith: Shangri-La", Insane Clown Posse album review

Ninjas, it's been a long fucking time. So here it is. A new, fresh-ass review.
We are going to review one the largest releases in the history of the Juggalo world - period. The Wraith.
     So here's some background. This album came out in 2004, and at this point the Juggalos had been around for a long time. This is the second-to-last Joker's Card in the first deck, the last one being Hell's Pit. The idea is that you had The Wraith, which is supposed to represent heaven, and Hell's Pit, which is mean to represent the underworld. There is a lot of history to this album, but what I will say is that this album is supposed to be very uplifting and positive. You can actually feel it when you're listening to the album - the pure good-heartedness that went into this album. Additionally, this was after ICP's fallout with Mike E. Clark, and Mike Puwal was the primary producer for this album. I'll speak more on that when it comes time to talk about the content. While I loved this album, I'll point out that it's been cited as their worst release of all time. Other reviews have been generally crappy as well. I didn't understand it at first, but having listened to the album myself I truly understand.
     This is seriously an album for the Juggalos.
I'm not sure if this was always true, but all copies of The Wraith that I've seen come with some bonus material. I will talk more of that later. Anyway, I bring it up because the case is a 2-disc with the music on the front and DVD on the back. Mine is the seminar, and it came in the First Six boxset, so all of the DVDs that came with The Wraith in the boxset are the seminar.
     The cover is The Wraith himself, with a crow on his shoulder and arm outstretched longingly. He sprouts from a book, a spectral presence. It will be pictured below. The back has the entire track listing stylized very interestingly. It's in a huge sweeping art, close together and actually a little annoying to read. It's set against clouds just as the front cover is.
     The front cover is actually a slip, and on the back is a picture of Jay and Shags in Wraith-era paint. But there's a nice booklet that comes with the album, not attached to the front cover. It holds all of the lyrics for all of the songs, including the ones that are within the same track (Which can get confusing). Along with the lyrics are all the production credits and lots of pictures of Shags and Jay taken for the album specifically. At the back of the album is the Story of the Butterfly, enlightening you to the message of the butterfly if you don't already know. And if you don't know, I ain't gonna tell ya. You can look it up, read the slip, or ask the big J himself if you ever see him.

You gotta think about from different perspectives. For Shags and Jay, this was basically the end of the road. After these next two albums were finished, that was it, the Dark Carnival was done.
     For the Juggalos, this was supposed to be the bomb shit they were waiting for. This was going to be something real fucking big in their world, lots of anticipation, especially since it was the second-to-last Joker's Card.
     To me, it was just a Joker's Card that came out in 2004. I was fucking eight years old when this shit came out. I didn't grow up around anyone who bumped the wicked shit, and I couldn't tell you what a Juggalo was if you asked me. Now, having listened to it means something very different.
     Musically, this is a very fucking nice CD. Since these last two albums were basically the end of the road for them (Or so they thought) they put all of their being into this. Their blood, sweat, tears, and positive energy was all spent right up into this here CD. You can feel their energy when you bump the shit, it's fresh.
     This album is different from other shit. There's a lot of positive and free-spirit energy here. A lot of the tracks are very rock-influenced, with a heavy rock vibes coming off a lot of the tracks. It fits the nature of the album and adds to the positive, free-spirit tune the CD carries. In terms of lyrical content, some of the tracks are just pure fun, and some tracks take on a serious uplifting tone. In the past, ICP had done a lot of speaking out in a cynical way. But instead of pointing fingers, it paints a picture that instead says, "Enjoy your life, you are family, and when you're ready, here is the light". That said, if you are not a Juggalo, this CD is not made for you. Which is why it actually made sense why the reviews are so shit. It's hard to grasp the nature of this CD when you have no idea who the fuck these guys are or what they're talking about, and that detracts from the quality of the album.
    But even with that aside, musically this CD is really good. They have lots of live instrumentation going on - pianos, guitars and shit that add to the freshness of the CD as a whole. Mike Puwal does a fantastic job standing in Clark's big shoes and running the show. Something that is noticeable is that this CD doesn't have as much of a goofy "Carnival" sound that other ICP albums have, perhaps that was intentional, or maybe it just happened because Clark didn't have a hand in this at all. Features are minimal, and this CD is almost always just ICP save for a few tracks here and there. The features are a welcome edition and all the other tracks do very fine without them. While there are actually few features, this album was very much a group project as evidenced from the production credits.
     There is not much more I can say. If you're a Juggalo, you should appreciate everything about this CD. If you aren't, you really don't have a reason to buy this CD. This isn't some Riddlebox or Bang! Pow! Boom! that you can just listen to, it's the second-to-last Joker's Card and it was meant to send a message to all the ninjas with everything ICP had. But hey, this CD is some seriously good shit, so maybe cop it anyway. Even if you aren't a Juggalo, there will be something that you can appreciate about this CD, whether it's the live instrumentation or the contrarian lyricism, you can find something to like about The Wraith. Long story short though, I'd recommend it to any Lo who hasn't heard it yet.

Seminar DVD bonus material:
This is the Insane Clown Posse seminar where the sixth Joker's Card was unveiled to the Juggalos, in 2004. Joe Bruce goes through the whole history up to that point, from Carnival of Carnage to The Wraith: Shangri-La and Hell's Pit. There's plenty of antics inbetween, but the speech itself is very powerful. It's Joe Bruce speaking to the Juggalos, straight up, from the center of his soul. There are times that I wanted to clap and hollar along with the crowd, even though I wasn't there and it happened over ten years ago. Clearly there is something moving about this material if you're actually into their shit. If you aren't a Juggalo, then this bonus DVD probably means nothing to you. It doesn't beat or match the feeling of being around the fam, but this DVD is a nice little addition of freshness for the Juggalos to peep out. I liked it a lot. It's about an hour long and both versions of the Sixth are revealed at the end of it. There's the main menu which has two options: click The Wraith for production credits on the DVD and click the play button to view the seminar. That's about it.

The Wraith: Shangri La recieves a: 4/5!
(Oh heeeellll yeah)

Strong points:

- Mike P fucks it up
- The theme of heaven and positivity do a lot of justice to give this album a hearty weight, and it will definitely have an effect on you if you like Insane Clown Posse
- The rock influences give a heavy energy to this CD and will leave your ears ringing pleasantly
- Shags and J put every once of their being into making this album be the most it could be, which was an embodiment of all their positive emotions, both personally and of the family

There's nothing wrong with this album, so there are no weak points. If you don't like this CD, I don't know what it would be that bugs you. The only thing that pissed people off was that at the end of the CD, they announced the Joker's Cards to be the presence of god, and that god was always the force driving the Joker's Cards forth. I'm not a religious fellow, I'm secular, and I appreciate that they were trying to say something positive even if it is in a way that I can't really relate to.
Oh, and Happy fucking Hatchet Holidays. I hope y'all motherfuckers had a bomb-ass Christmas and new years. I love you motherfuckers, fam. Until next time homies.

Take my hand, and come to Shangri-La.