Das Kapitans and Get The Fuck Out Of Dodge have teamed up on the Dodge Does Das Does Dodge Split…
Hed (P.E.) – Truth Rising
Truth Rising - Suburban Noize Records
Hed (P.E.) is another one of those Suburban Noize Records hip-hop hybrids that draws upon everything from hoodlum rap, to crunching metal and blistering punk. They’re the equivalent to a musical buffet, sampling anything and everything with some edge. I’ve always found these genre-mashing types to be challenging to keep up with, and to that end, I’ve found Hed (PE)’s eighth full length, Truth Rising, no easier to wrap my head around.
Now before I taint this review with a few key criticisms, I want to point out that the Californian quintet does quite a lot right. First off, being the band’s eight-studio album, the boys clearly know what they’re doing. They shift between styles with expert control, never favouring one form over the last. Their adept understanding comes from both broad instrumental and vocal talent. Jared tackles vocal duties, demonstrating such a chameleon-like mastery of his material, that I was initially shocked to learn that he was the group’s sole lead. For tracks like “Truth Rising” and “It’s All Over” the band smashes open the album with heavy rock riffs, to which Jared sounds like he could front Disturbed. Other times he dabbles in gargled hardcore as per segments of “No Rest For The Wicked,” becomes a hair swooshing metalhead during the very solo heavy melodic punk piece “This Fire,” with “Whitehouse” including a furious thrash punk showcase. Their strongest effort can be found in the lone reggae and dub heavy offering “It’s Alright,” which makes for a smooth conclusion to a bumpy album, drawing likeness to today’s reggae scene (circa The Slackers, Westbound Train, Dirty Heads).
Unfortunately, Truth Rising’s run time and lack of cohesion and clear direction impedes appreciating the scattered moments of talent. For those reasons, it’s very easy to get lost within the diluted mess of the hour-long, twenty-plus track listing. The quality differential between strong and weak tracks emerges so jarringly that even your little brother’s randomly downloaded playlists offer greater consistency. For the most audibly aggravating example, look no further than “Murder.” The seemingly endless front includes plays up some very stereotypical hip-hop, complete with hilariously inconsequential and sexualized lyrics and an infuriatingly repetitive beat. Lines like “hear that sound? That’s the sound of me pounding you” and ”let’s have a drink let’s go get high,” and a laughable chorus I won’t justify by repeating are truly cringe worthy, on par with brainless label mates Kottonmouth Kings.
Just about every second track includes a spoken quote as a separate intro or outro track. Those like “The Capitalist Conspiracy” and “Universal Peace” reveal evidence of a thoughtful intent buried somewhere between tracks. The band actually opens on a strong note, intensely pushing their listeners to challenge their individuality and political thought. Case and point: album opener “Silence Is Betrayal” being gutsy enough to assert that the paranoia of modern conspiracy is in fact contrary to popular belief, with the populous indeed in control of government. But by mid-album, childish derogatory banter dilutes any sense of greater purpose. Keeping with Hed (P.E.)’s lack of a filter, most exerts still embarrass rather than flatter. Particularly there’s an odd selection of what some research identified as a recording of Sue Johansson’s “Sunday Night Sex Show” – a graphic one-minute piece in which a woman phones in for advice on pleasuring her husband… The themes on these tracks just don’t fit with the rest of the album both in style and substance, which is a shame, because when Hed (P.E.) has something to say, they do so with conviction (see “Children Of The Fall”).
After carrying out some light digging, I’m not surprised with Truth Rising’s spotty result. Apparently Hed (P.E.) has made a career out of being “on the cusp” of a breakthrough, but time and again unbridled ambition muddies their style bending potential. I’ve said it before, but it’s seldom as true as with Hed (P.E.): albums like Truth Rising are a testament to the importance of a producer’s vision. Without someone at the helm willing to state the obvious, no one will remove those sad and sorry cuts of self-indulgent banter. Even if the genre mashing sounded interesting, don’t let curiosity get the best of you, avoid this one and stick with something more complete.