November 2019 Album Round Up!

What’s up guys! Another month, another Album Round Up. Below is a quick run-through of all the records I checked out this month:

Cattle Decapitation – Death Atlas: I was ready for the Metal Album of the Year here, but that’s not what I got. Cattle Decap lean a bit too far toward generic Death Metal and, disappointingly, leave some of the pulverizing grind behind. That being said, these guys are still quite a talented bunch and I do enjoy the record – in fact, I’ll even nominate the amazing Black Metal-tinged “Bring Back the Plague” for Top 5 Songs By the Band Ever – but over the long term, I have a feeling this won’t stack up to genre-defining releases like The Anthropocene Extinction, Monolith of Humanity, or The Harvest Floor. RECOMMENDED.

Gang Starr – One of the Best Yet: What a treat it was to see this slew of high-profile guests – everybody from Q-Tip to Royce da 5’9 to Talib Kweli, J. Cole, Jeru the Damaja, etc. – come together to pay tribute to the late Guru over some vintage DJ Premier boom-bap production. Toward the LP’s latter half, the whole “pasted-together posthumous rapping” vibe starts to wear a little thin, as it has tended to for similar albums like UGK’s UGK 4 Life after the passing of Pimp C, or more radically, something like 2Pac’s Loyal the Game, but One of the Best Yet never ceases to be a good-natured celebration of the Hip-Hop legends that brought us Step into the Arena. RECOMMENDED.

Highly Suspect – MCID: If the phrase “discount Twenty One Pilots” didn’t have any prior meaning to you, it will now. As someone who grew up a dedicated Rock fan, I always get excited when the term “Rock music” is even mildly associated with a commercially successful album by a young band, and that’s what happened when Highly Suspect dropped their debut Mister Asylum in 2015. So I’ll always have a certain curiosity here. Unfortunately, the intriguing eclecticism suggested by an album featuring both Metal heroes Gojira and superstar rapper Young Thug manifests more as a directionless identity struggle . They can’t figure out whether they want to be painfully edgy (“These Days”) or play things safe (“16”). Are they Twenty One Pilots (“Tokyo Ghoul”) or a different version of Twenty One Pilots (“Freakstreet”)? They should probably answer these pressing questions on LP number four. NOT RECOMMENDED.

Lindemann – F & M: The less shocking part: I never tire of hearing Rammstein frontman Til Lindemann’s bellowing baritone. The shocking part: F & M – a second collaboration with Hypocrisy’s Peter Tagtgren – might be better than the actual Rammstein album that dropped in May. This thing is frickin’ awesome. I recommend starting with the Industrial Metal romp “Gummi”, the radio-ready title cut, and the tender ballad “Wer Weiss Das Schon”. HIGHLY RECOMMENDED.

Madeon – Good Faith: FOUR YEARS. FOUR. YEARS. That’s a hell of a wait since Madeon’s exhilarating, party-ready Adventure (one of my favorite LPs of 2015). Turns out the French wunderkind was hard at work these past four years honing a much more mature and vocal-centric approach for Good Faith. Whether fans will prefer this over Adventure is in the eye of the beholder, but I find the lead single “All My Friends”, the irresistible “Miracle”, and the longing ballad “Heavy with Hoping” as compelling as anything on Adventure, albeit for completely different reasons. HIGHLY RECOMMENDED.

Nile – Vile Niliotic Rites: One of my Death Metal gateway bands is still delivering after all these years! Vile Niliotic Rites is another worthy installment in the Nile catalogue. It’s noticeably more accessible than much of their recent work, but keep in mind that when I say “accessible” I’m mostly referring to positive traits like the clarity of the production and the snappy catchiness of the riff-writing. Some purists will long for the relative muddiness of early Nile (for some reason), but I’m perfectly fine with 2019 Nile. HIGHLY RECOMMENDED.

Rittz – Put a Crown On It: At any point over the last five years, if you asked me who my Top 5 MCs in Hip-Hop were, my list would always include Rittz. The one-time Yelawolf protege is a supremely talented lyricist with the smoothest double-time flow in the game, a knack for beat selection and hook writing, and a disastrous personal life that makes his vulnerable, soul-baring tracks all the more hard-hitting. Unfortunately, I have to report that Rittz’s first album since leaving Tech N9ne’s Strange Music (and fifth overall) is the first of his that I don’t enjoy. Whether he’s beating his tried-and-true formula to death (“Wake Up Call”), treading into cringeworthy “edgelord” territory (“Politically Incorrect”) or just sounding uninspired (“Live It Up”), this LP is spotty at best. There are a few tracks with replay value, but if you’re new to Rittz you’re better off sticking to his first four albums, as well as his seminal White Jesus mixtape. Review coming soon to YouTube. NOT RECOMMENDED.

Yelawolf – Ghetto Cowboy: For his first LP since leaving Eminem’s Shady Records, Catfish Billy continues to explore the Country-Rap fusion that made 2017’s Trial By Fire so captivating. Ghetto Cowboy, however, is a less bold and more streamlined approach. While the Folk-y guitars that populate tracks like “Opie Taylor”, “Renegades”, and “Country Rich” add a rich sonic layer to the album’s production, there are also bland (“Ghetto Cowboy”) and uninspiring (“Here I Am”) tracks that drag the album down a bit. Review coming soon to YouTube. RECOMMENDED.

A FEW MORE:

Enjoyed:

Abigail Williams – Walk Beyond the Dark (Metal)

Beck – Hyperspace (Alternative)

Brother Ali – Secrets & Escapes (Hip-Hop)

FKA Twigs – Magdalene (Electronic)

Liturgy – H.A.Q.Q. (Metal)

Milky Chance – Mind the Moon (Alternative)

Didn’t Enjoy:

Fire From the Gods – American Sun (Metal)

Pardison Fontaine – Under8ed (Hip-Hop)

Coldplay – Everyday Life (Pop)

 

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