Evolution is inevitable, resisting it is futile. I have witnessed oodles of bands that have resisted letting their music evolve, getting themselves trapped in a murky impenetrable bubble of monotony and dismal record sales. (Hed) P.E. is not one of those bands. If anything, (Hed) P.E. could be the official spokesmodel for bands who embrace the natural evolution of their music. The latest studio album from (Hed) P.E., Stampede (Pavement Entertainment) is a dynamic testament that the band is categorically fearless in their songwriting and continue to transcend any and all musical pre-conceived notions.
The first track, ‘NoApologies’, opens with an attention-grabbing sample, then slowly disentangles itself from a smooth hip hop bass line heavy intro that erupts into a cataclysmic chorus of thrashtastic proportions. Melodic Metal, aphorism and a thumping bass make this track a perfect storm of genre-blurring sublimity. ‘CanIRock’, track number two, features a seriously formidable guitar hook brimming with gritty distortion but that is not even the best part of this track. Hands down, this song wins the award for best lyrics of this album. Plus, the way the name of the song is listed as one word, ‘CanIRock’ is straight-up ingenious. The third track, ‘PWF’, starts out moderately temperate with an inviting R&B vibe. Just as I started to be consumed by the song’s silky ambiance, the chorus descended like a thunderous rabid beast. Heavy, grunge guitar power chords create a stoic backdrop for frontman, Jahred’s amazingly versatile vocals. I must add that abbreviating Playing With Fire and using PWF as the track title is pure Einstein in my book. ‘BossUp’, track four, infected me with a bad case of the feels. I fell in love with Jahred’s vocal tone principally when he sings “I ain’t leavin’ without you”.
The fifth track, ‘WhyNotMe’ is a Ska-riffic romp accented with Skater-Punk nuances, and a dash of Thrash. Frankly, this track is a tasty little ditty with crispy tones of anarchy for good measure. ‘Rise’, the sixth track, immediately gets it’s smoky little tendrils of socially relevant Reggae-Funk around your soul, holding firm until the last note of the track. The groove of this track is highly infectious and it will take your body over, literally. The seventh track, ‘Untouchable’, returns the feel of the album back to the days of G-Punk and the genre-mashing sounds of Hip-Hop, R&B, Ska, Rap and Rock. Masterful delivery of the malice laced lyrics steals the spotlight in this track. ‘Narragansett’, track eight, possesses an addictive quality, partly because of how the song changes up multiple times in its 4 minute and twelve-second duration. Lyrical gems like ‘Restart, reset, rewind, eject” will climb into your gray matter and set up camp. The outro is also a catchy little morsel you will find yourself humming long after the track ends. The second to last track, ‘DieAnotherDay’, is one of those tracks that a person wants to see the lyrics to so they can fully experience the implied gravity of the words. The angry, all-encompassing Heavy Metal guitar line attacks so swiftly and brutally that it took my breath away. If I was told I had to describe this track with one word, I would laugh because there is no way this song can be summarized with just one word. I can, however, describe this song by using a group of words, the alpha, omega, the beginning, and the end. The final track,’TimeOfMyLife’ should be listened to through a pair of more than decent earbuds or headphones. There are subtle little bits of ear candy in this track that you will miss without using headphones or earbuds. Also, make sure you listen all the way to the end of the track, not just when the music stops. I know I seem bossy, but I am just trying to enhance your song listening experience. This track is the type of song that the listener will find themselves in an almost trance-like state, mesmerized by the masterful balance of melody and harmony.
This is the point in most of my album reviews that I do a little summary of the album and try to subliminally nudge the reader into either checking the album out or to run as fast as they can away from the album. I feel I do not need to be coy with you, dear reader, so I am just going to come right out and say it: Buy this album, immediately.
8 / 10