I'll be the first to admit I've always found myself intrigued with the thought of exotic and/or less-than-likely musical combinations. Accordingly, when Heavy Metal and Hip-Hop/Rap began 'crossing paths' on a regular basis (circa 1992), the resulting Rapcore, Rap Metal and Rap Rock sub-genres offered a previously unparalleled sense of adventure, danger and intrigue. Among the artists and groups I initially fixated on was the Huntington Beach, California-born icons (Hed) P.E. Emerging in 1995 with the woefully-underrated Church Of Realities EP before signing with major label behemoths Jive Records for a series of critically acclaimed releases (most notably Broke and the ingenious “I Got You”-fueled Blackout), the group quickly established themselves as a bona fide creative and commercial force not to be ignored. Now, twenty one curiously long years, ten studio albums and an abundance of label and line-up melodrama later, the group has emerged with the mighty Forever!
On the stellar Forever! (2016), an expertly assembled thirteen song collection of Hip-Hop, Punk and, most notably, Reggae-infused Hard Rock and Heavy Metal, each track, beginning with the relentlessly pummeling tirade “Pay Me” and the delightfully swaggering “Hurt”, instantly commands the rapt and undivided attention of even the most jaded and unimaginative of listeners, myself most definitely included. Wisely attempting to capitalize on the tidal wave of momentum initiated with the release of the oft-ingenious Evolution (2014), the group unleashes a genre-defying blend of soaring, multi-octave vocals, razor-sharp fretwork and imaginatively punishing rhythms. Refusing to conform to the shameless, chart position-driven tactics employed by the crème de la crème of the mainstream, the group wastes little--if any--time distancing themselves from the unwashed masses of their few remaining contemporaries by maintaining a focus upon the 'Do It Yourself' ethos of the past.
Continuing with the Reggae Metal mash-up (think Skindred) “JahKnow” and the Bob Marley-meets-Skate Punk shout-along “Shadowridge”, the impossibly airtight combination of Brazilian-American vocalist Jared (Paulo Sergio Gomes), guitarist Gregzilla (Greg Harrison), bassist Kid Bass (Kurt Blankenship) and drummer Major Trauma (Jeremiah Stratton) steamrolls ahead at what can only be described as a carefully-calculated pace. Flexing their more-than-considerable creative muscles early and often, the group scores major points without, believe it not, obliterating the senses of the proverbial average listener (i.e. you, the increasingly faithful reader, listener and viewer). Seamlessly blending elements of Heavy Metal, Hip-Hop, Punk and Reggae within their already ever-evolving tonal structures, the group effortlessly proves themselves worthy of the pre-release 'Sturm und Drang' despite being almost entirely entrenched amid an increasingly non-Metal formulation.
Fortified throughout via Family Fresh, a fifteen track bonus disc that finds the group collaborating with Hardcore Hip Hop artists Twiztid, Blaze, The Roc and Playboy The Beast, other standouts, including the quasi-hypnotic “Together” and the refreshingly mellow marijuana ode “Ganja”, find the group operating amid a less-than-likely creative peak. Most definitely not for the faint of heart, the resulting auditory carnage seethes with an enthusiasm few of their contemporaries are capable of replicating, the end results are, not surprisingly, nothing short of extraordinary. Although the more-than-considerable absence of long-suffering guitarist Jackson 'Jaxon' Benge (who departed to pursue a career within graphic design), Doug 'DJ Product © 1969' Boyce and founding bassist Mark 'Mawk' Young may have once seemed insurmountable, Forever! boldly showcases the improbably long-running group's ability to remain resilient despite dire creative and professional circumstances.
But is it Broke or Blackout, Vol II? Of course not. But then again, that's the point, now isn't it? Without a doubt the most lastingly memorable--and, as a result, most thoroughly enjoyable--post Only In Amerika (2004) effort to date, the majority--if not all--of the fist-pumping, mosh-inducing wares contained herein are seemingly guaranteed to appeal to both clueless newcomers and die-hard completists alike. Even if you somehow find yourself unable to wholeheartedly accept the improbably long-running group's occasionally unnervingly intense belief in the 9/11 Truth movement, one must, at the very least, sincerely admire their ceaseless dedication to honing their already razor-sharp chops. Needless to say, if you have once again found yourself in search of a thought-provoking alternative to the puréed sonic atrocities that are so often the mainstream, then this, my friends, might just be the high-octane 'embrocations' for whatever ails you. Trust me, you won't be disappointed.
Truth Rising (2010)
New World Orphans (2009)
The D.I.Y. Guys (2008)
Back To Base X (2006)
Only In Amerika (2004)
Hed PE (1997)
Church Of Realities (EP) (1995)
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