ARTIST: (HED) P.E.
WORDS: BECTON SIMPSON
Genre bending underground legends (Hed) P.E. continue their impressively long career with eleventh studio album ‘Stampede’. If you haven’t got on board the (Hed) P.E. train yet, it’s never too late. Merging reggae, dub, rap, hip hop, trap, punk and metal in their own unique and inimitable way – often in the same song – this band have a little bit of something for everyone.
The chorus of ‘BOSSUP’ definitely has throwbacks to that classic nu-metal vibe with a call and answer bouncy hookline whereas the verses are more modern sounding and might be familiar to fans of artists like nothing,nowhere who merge rap with an alternative sound. It’s a fun, funky track and such a stark contrast to something like ‘WHYNOTME’ which follows on from it and is a full on heavy rock track with screams, growls and plenty of guitars, sounding more like something you’d hear from the likes of Fever 333 for a more modern comparison.
“an audio onslaught and constantly surprising the listener at every turn…”
Sometimes it’s like two different bands and yet somehow it works, possibly because in between each song, there’s ironical spoken word segments bridging the tracks, like sound bytes from old fashioned radio programmes offering weird life advice, news pieces and sports announcements. They’re quirky but fit with the vibe of the album and remind the listener that this IS the same band and the record works as a cohesive whole.
‘UNTOUCHABLE’ has electronic and dance moments towards the end, building up the heaviness into an eventual breakdown with a sick synth riff, and ‘NARRAGANSETT’ starts off like a regular sounding hip hop song then breaks into a heavier rock and BMTH style guitar driven chorus with singalong potential. There’s just so much different stuff going on all the time but if you like these genres on their own then there’s a good chance you’ll like them all mushed together too. It’s certainly an audio onslaught and constantly surprising the listener at every turn.
“the album goes to prove this band are far from over or done with yet…”
Some of the tracks are a little heavy with the autotune at times, a more modern trait and phenomenon which has been bleeding into all elements of hip hop and occasionally the alternative scene. It’s one of those unique sounds which can either be extremely grating or fun to listen to depending on one’s own personal mood and tastes. There’s no doubt that overuse of the technique gets on the nerves, however. Thankfully (Hed) P.E don’t push it too much although there’s certainly more of it here on ‘Stampede’ than on previous albums, with tracks such as ‘PLAYINGWITHFIRE’, ‘RISE’ and ‘DIEANOTHERDAY’ borrowing influences from trap where the technique is more predominant. It grows tiresome fast though and is one of the only drawbacks to an otherwise excellent record.
Overall, ‘Stampede’ is very easy and fun album to listen; one to get you going and make you feel pumped up before or after a night out. A great little record with some upbeat, positive songs and an uplifting or important message to some of them too, the album goes to prove this band are far from over or done with yet, and have much more left to offer their dedicated and hardcore fanbase.