Album Reviews

(Hed) P.E. – Back 2 Base X

(Surburban Noise) UK release date: 5 June 2006

The Red Hot Chili Peppers did it, Incubus did it, and with their fifth release, (hed) Planet Earth demonstrate that they too do not know how to quit while they are ahead.

Sustained popularity will get you so far, but when the lyrics run dry, the riffs merge into monotony, most artists are able to re-arrange the words horse dead a flogging. Not M.C.U.D and co; having dodged the nu-metal genocide by masquerading as a hip-hop group, this sees the return of the band’s highly aggressive, rock-fuelled mayhem. Only this time, the results are not interesting.

Back 2 Base X proceeds in the following way:

0 minutes 37 seconds: Vocalist Jahred (M.C.U.D) declares “I sold my soul to punk rock” at the beginning of the light and jazzy Listen. The restrained and enjoyable feel of this track, although somewhat interrupted by the chorus, leads one to believe that this line may have been meant in jest.

3 minutes 15 seconds: The riff to the delightfully named Novus Ordos Clitorus kicks in, featuring the sort of death-metal grunting that only Slayer can pull off without causing offence. Still, no punk rock at least.

3 minutes 43 seconds: A wave of shouty, Amen style punkery hits you in the face like a backhander from the Hulk; Jahred’s screaming of New World Order demonstrates none of the anthemic chorus-work that (hed)p.e. used to deliver. In under four minutes this is the third significant style change of the album so far. Reviewer is in a state of nonplussed bemusement.

4 minutes 37 seconds: The first of Jahred’s utterly ridiculous wolf-howls. As Shania Twain would put it, “you must be joking, right?”

6 minutes 6 seconds: With a cry of “6666!” (and another wolf howl) the punk rock riffs continue to flow with Lock and Load: a song about sex and politics, as far as I could infer from lines such as “tomorrow we die, tonight let’s waste some time”. A jazzy, un-structured ending to the song is gladly received.

9 minutes 15 seconds: White Collars seems to sound like the excellent Feel Good from the mega-selling album Broke. But, instead of having Serj Tankian lead an excellent chorus, we revert to the sort of driving punk power-chords that are already beginning to sound over-used.

18 minutes 46 seconds – 19 mins 30 secs: Track 7. Just skip it.

27 minutes 42 seconds: Jahred yells “It’s (hed)pe and suburban noize so fuck off!”, which is rather a tempting offer as the first interesting track for what feels like ages, Daze Or War, is butchered by another chorus that expels all melody.

33 minutes 7 seconds: Jahred’s vocals seem to have entirely dried up, as he steals “hard line, hard line after hard line” from Rage Against The Machine‘s Know Your Enemy. Further pilfering includes “let’s take the power back”, before the vocalist resorts to a chorus of “na na na”‘s.

43 minutes 3 seconds: The end of The Chosen One, an improved yet uninteresting final track with a slight reggae feel.

Whilst clearly demonstrating their lasting ability to incorporate a range of styles and approaches, (hed) Planet Earth seem to have lost, or rejected, the concept of what makes an enjoyable song. High points such as the reggae verses of Sophia are too brief; many (hed) fans may wish to give up, listen to The Meadow, and simply reminisce.

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(Hed) P.E. – Back 2 Base X