Sound — 8
Being a constantly reinventing band, (hed)p.e. keeps their experiments with the sound, taking their fans to an adventure full of surprises with every next album (and changing record labels meanwhile). New record Back 2 Base X, out 06.06.06, is traditionally on a new label -- California-based Suburban Noize Records and is traditionally differs from it's predecessors. The current record label operates outside of the mainstream, which resulted as an opportunity to the band to reinvent themselves once again. With Back 2 Base X (hed)p.e. brings a whole lot of new original ideas to the table. As frontman Jared Gomes says -- This album reflects the side of each of us that is constantly searching for truth." Thus the record appeared to be multi-flavored -- guys groove around hip-hop, punk, metal and hard-core. The album was recorded live in the studio, which gives it that fresh vibe and a breath a lot of bands would die for. It's a very courageous approach, pointing the band is experienced enough for the unproduced atmosphere sound (knowing they've got four albums to their credit, it's quite an expected move).
Among his influences Jared mention Bob Marley, The Clash, Sex Pistols, Rage Against The Machine, so here are tributes to each one of them -- reggae-inflected "Sophia" (for Bob Marley), The Chosen One for The Clash and Sex Pistols, Rage Against The Machine-influenced guitars in heavy Novus Ordus Clitorus and Ride. Surprisingly the album isn't stuffed with computer flourishes that became a necessity for hip-hop these days, but is filled with crunchy guitar riffs and infectious speedy percussion.
It's a wonderful combination of hard-rock guitars and sophisticated vocals. A rare case of music, being driven from two sides -- by powerful guitars from one side and by hip-hop diverse vocals from another. So, from that point you get a double pleasure!
Lyrics — 9
The guys appear to be the masters of making different sounds -- the variety of them impresses -- from barking and burping to whining and something you can't imagine to be produced by a human being. The vocals have a certain attitude and a great tension, often shouted on the top of the lungs. Sometimes it sounds like the whole band is singing (or talking), creating a whole kennel (well, at least a madhouse). The subjects of the songs are actually fresh and don't irritate you by their dullness. There are some social gritty lyrics -- like You stand on the sidelines of this revolution than your choices might be made for you, in The Chosen One, some necessary jokes about Bush, Hussein and the 4th of July, as well as some love relationship in Beware Do We Go.
Overall Impression — 9
The band works very harmonically, producing an organic sound. Different music styles the album is stuffed with don't break the whole picture of the record into separate pieces. Guys swirl around successfully blending reggae and metal, punk, hip-hop and sometimes even jazz fusion, making it smooth from the first track to the last. Because of the fact that it was recorded live, it bleeds energy the band has put in it. The album is full of great grooves and is highly addictive. You easily get into it even if Back 2 Base X is your first (hed)p.e.'s record and you have never really listened to hip-hop. In fact, being an old fan of the band, you can as well be disappointed by Back 2 Base X as it sounds nowhere near to (hed)p.e. you used to know.
The record is an easy, but well-done listen, the songs are structured very smartly with all necessary attributes -- bouncing between expanding verses, crashing choruses and slow-down bridges. These 13 tracks are pure adrenaline and though it's not your usual sing-along (it's quite hard to repeat what these guys do with their voices), it'll get you hooked -- promises Jared.