Been listening to turntablist Paul D. Miller's (aka DJ Spooky) offering for 2005. He pairs up with metal drummer Dave Lombardo (Slayer, Fantomas) as well as Vernon Reid, (Living Colour) Chuck D, (Public Enemy) Jack Dangers (Meat Beat Manifesto) and Dälek. It has really captured my ear in a way that no album has in a while. I have really been into a few album released lately, but Drums of Death really has a hold of it.
The disc's tracks play around with hip-hop and metal while never degenerating into the rap-metal genre à la Lincoln Park, etc. It definitely challenges the listener. Spooky's approach has always seemed to me to be about getting the listener beyond the imposed boundaries on a given genre and to open up to all the possibilities. They do three retakes of some Public Enemy tracks, two sucessful and one not so. "Brother's Gonna Work it Out" is probably the weakest track on the album. The original was so intense so driving and original that the retake sounds insipid by comparison. The retakes of "B-Side Wins Again" and "Public Enemy #1" work far better. Chuck D is still the man, in my opinion. Still powerful and forceful in delivery. Others may be smoother, more versatile and more skilled, but when Chuck D raps you will listen.
Vernon Reid's playing is actually a bit more reserved than I expected it to be. There are no blistering, chromatic solos or feats of virtuosity aside from "Quantum Cyborg Drum Machine". Reid is very much in the pocket on all the tracks he plays on. Gary Nestler and Jack Dangers also play guitar on the album. "Terra Nullius (Cyborg Rebellion on Colony Planet Zyklon 15)" is the album's heaviest track, fast and brutal. Dälek raps on "Assisted Suicide" - an incisive, pointed attack on the corporatized hip-hop world.
Anyhow I didn't really want to write a review so much as I wanted to rant how much I love this disc. Check it out when and where you have the chance. Spooky has at http://www.myspace.com/wwwdjspookycom with the tracks Assisted Suicide, Metatron and Art of War on them. Those tracks barely represent the album as a whole, however.