The first thing that some of you are going to need to do before reading this review is take a series of deep breaths to help you calm the fuck down and realise that it’s not that big of a deal...
The first thing that some of you are going to need to do before reading this review is take a series of deep breaths to help you calm the fuck down and realise that it’s not that big of a deal that a hip-hop band has just scored Album Of The Month in your favourite guitar-centric magazine.
From the outset with ‘Blessed Are They Who Bash Your Children’s Heads Against A Rock’, this New Jersey duo make it obvious that this isn’t going to be about who’s got the most shiny shit weighing down their neck muscles, or who’s got the most thong-adorned ass hanging out in their (rented) Escalades. There are no limp and lifeless beats paving the way for horrendously crooned, yet proficiently auto-tuned, choruses about someone’s pseudo-devotional, phoney love and respect here. The first 1:26 lists off a spoken word litany of international crimes perpetrated by the US government that the blind patriot cowboys, who don’t understand why much of the world has America in their crosshairs, either are completely unaware of or are completely blind to.
After that, ‘Gutter Tactics’ balances dissonance and anger with a smooth flow and dark vibe as Dälek call out American politics of all stripes and eras of history, going deeper than the usual Bush-bashing on ‘No Question’ while getting as close to conventional hip-hop as they’ve ever been.
The grating moan of ‘Armed With Krylon’ and ‘Who Medgar Evers Was…’ sounds like you’re travelling through a time / space vortex owned and operated by Einstürzende Neubauten, while ‘We Lost Sight’ possesses an unnerving, off-time melody that has Maps & Atlases, Voivod and Mick Barr fighting to the death.
The raw sensibility and renegade attitude that combined the spacious and the thumping, the ambient experimental and the noisy shoegaze on 04s ‘Absence’ has returned with tracks that sound like 50s sci-fi movie soundtracks played sideways (‘2012 (The Pillage)’), Meshuggah-like guitar riffs over vintage Public Enemy beats (‘Gutter Tactics’) and songs which are simultaneously challenging, experimental, melodic and infectious (‘Street Diction’).
Still, there’s much of the ‘never forget, never again’ attitude and philosophy sparking ire and some banshee-like sonics in the aforementioned ‘We Lost Sight’ and ‘A Collection Of Miserable Thoughts Laced With Wit’.
‘Los Macheteros/Spear Of A Nation’, isn’t so much a rap as it is a historical rundown of the Puerto Rico People’s Army who have been fighting for the independence of their nation from American colonial rule. A track like this is not only a rewarding listen and history lesson, it’s a beacon of hope for selfish musicologists as it illustrates that in spite of the positive anticipation following Barack Obama’s presidential victory, there will always be enough negativity going on in the world to produce a pinned-to-the-wall awesome album like ‘Gutter Tactics’.