Welcome to the musical meandering insights of Aaron Joy. Here you'll find 600 reviews of CDs & DVDs of rock & metal in all its variations, mainstream & indie. What they all share is that the album or band is unique in some way & not every submission was reviewed. Please share these reviews or link to them if you like what you read. Reviews are no longer being posted here but feel free to e-mail Aaron & post comments. (Formerly the Roman Midnight Music Blog) (last update 5/23/2017)

March 6, 2012

A Broken Code ~ Retribution For The Afflicted

(Click on heading to visit official website.)
Style: ska, hip-hop, rap, metal
Label: self-released
Year: 2011
Home: Brooklyn, New York

Members: Ricardo Jones ~ drums
Nathaniel Daley, Lior Rachmany, Alroy Teves ~ guitars
Jenko ~ vocals
Ansa Gory ~ basss
Mansa Gory ~ horns/bass

Additional: Adam Halfi, Shane Jones ~ drums
Kevin Edell ~ horns

Guest: Neycha, Halo The Young Pharaoh, Nello Player, Jules Vasquez,
Suicide, Kallyba, Bungo, Meloetry ~ vocals

ABC is one of the more musically challenging metal bands I've come across in awhile. Challenging in terms of both listening & writing about them. They bring together a couple styles of music, one of which I know & the other I enjoy but don't listen to much & am not so familiar with to feel comfortable talking about it more than cursory. So, haven't laid out the small print first ... with some reviews I go into band history & interesting attributes, members, etc, but with ABC I can really only write about my initial feelings & perceptions over a couple spins. Even reading about some of the guests players doesn't necessarily help interpret the new surroundings ABC puts them in & lessen my challenge. But, this is essentially the normal approach I tend to aim for it on this blog, even if I don't always do it, considering that's all anyone is likely to give ABC or any non-world famous band via itunes. Though, ABC is also presenting the mix or fusion of music I wanted to focus on when I first started this blog years ago. I wanted to share the metal that goes beyond the stereotype. The problem is a lot of bands talk the walk or a lot just aren't that good. ABC stomp the walk & are very good. I even went & looked up a couple of the guest singers cause I enjoyed them. ABC calls themselves hip-hop metal. Of course, in music everyone must have a label & labels can made all the difference in the world. A couple years ago I met a solo instrumental rock guitarist who named himself avant-garde instrumental, I said it was metal. He thus adopted metal-ish as he liked my argument & suddenly gained new listeners. A simple word opened his listening base ... & now he's found himself doing soundtrack music. Hip-hop metal is a decent moniker harkening back to Anthrax & Public Enemy. But, the stereotype surrounding it provides no challenges while ABC is full of challenges ... they challenge their own description. If you're expecting Anthrax & Public Enemy part two you won't be disappointed but you also won't be getting that. This was a mix of two separate bands with far different identities & musical styles coming together. ABC is not that. They might have started like that but what they present here is a new unified vision, not two bands going head to head. The focus is clearly on the rap here. The rap is upfront with the guitars sometimes tucked into the mix, while the array of guest vocalists joining frontman Jenko - Neycha, Halo The Young Pharaoh, Nello Player, Jules Vasquez, Suicide, Kallyba, Bungo, Meloetry - definetly help move the focus to more lyrical territories. This isn't a metal band meeting a rap band & seeing who can shout louder, but a metal band providing a different type of music foundation for some rap. Quite often the music takes a break from the metal riffing to fall back into a basic beats & textured rhythms leaving it sounding more like a rap artist bored with the standard dry electronic beats than a metal band looking for a different type of vocal attack. For this later example I think of ghetto metal rapper Bazaar Royale who never lets the guitar onslaught back down from behind him, almost to the point of overpowering his vocals. ABC have literally tried to create a rap metal band. A whole bigger than the parts. So, while hip-hop metal might be accurate ABC has just done what the name truly implies & not what the name has come to stereotypically imply. The guest singers also help break the hold of that restrictive moniker. Jenko's straight ahead rapping is joined by reggae, ska & Jamaica styles that go beyond rap or hip-hop. There's also some female singing with Neycha (i.e. "Dedicated To A Lie). Ska metal? Reggae metal? Further, with the notion of metal one expects fierceness & anger on some level. Hip-hop largely the same but not necessarily. Jenko laces his lyrical stories with criticisms of society & the necessity to bring change. The lyrics certainly have venom in their social bite & revolution in their call, though Jenko isn't drooling at the mouth like someone who hates everything. But, the music is often less heavy than one might someone expect. A lot of metal bands forget that riffing doesn't necessarily make for heavy music. Heavy is in the tone, style, mood, etc. Do you want just heavy metal or do you want heavy metal with a heavy attitude to go with it? At times ABC's guitar section sounds heavy feeling-wise, other times it's just riffing not really backing up Jenko's attitude, but then other times its quite experimental going beyond metal. How many metal guitars drop out to play a simple string of notes against a hip-hop beat ... done on live not electronic drums no less? If anything parts of the album remind me of Matisyahu's Youth that brought together Bill Laswell's swirling & charging guitars with Matisyahu's reggae influenced rapping. That was an ear-opening album for me & a favorite so I don't use the comparison lightly. Actually, for a moment I thought guest Nello Player was Matisyahu as their voices are so similiar. Perhaps, on stage ABC presents a harder experience where the air is bit more muddied & the vocals less front & center.

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