10 April, 2010@4:38 am
Super groups. They’re usually formed with the goal of showcasing a collection of solo emcees that aim to be a musical Voltron of sorts. But, success for such groups is usually fleeting, either because the group was never able to take off (The Commission – Biggie, Charlie Baltimore and Jay-Z), because egos got in the way and stopped it from ever forming (Murda Inc – Ja Rule, Jay-Z, and DMX) or because the final product is flat out just mediocre (The Firm). With The Unholy Terror, Army of The Pharoahes third album, the underground hip-hop super group attempts to buck the trend.
AOTP has always been blessed with steady, if not stellar, production. Having producers like Stoupe, 7L and Celph Titled as members made it downright easy to get the hot shit. But even with Stoupe and 7L no longer being part of ATOP, The Unholy Terror still features solid production. The Crown produced; “Agony Fires”, starts the album off nicely with a dark, melodic and quintessential Jedi Mind Tricks-ish track. The ease with which Vinnie Paz, Planetary, Celph and Apathy flow is on full display. The emcees ride easy over the track. The truth is, Celph and Apathy steal the show over and over again. Their energy is evident and they flow effortlessly on each and every cut they are featured on.
Originally formed as a five emcee, two producer, group, Army of the Pharaohs has expanded to fifteen members. This in and of itself is an issue as some tracks are too long and have extended verses to fit members in. The problem with super group releases also lies in the fact that even with the goal of being “super”, invariably, not all of the emcees are on the same level. It’s a tough listen when the higher level emcees fall back on a track. Also, The Unholy Terror seems to really continue where the AOTP started from on it’s previous releases. There is something to be said for consistency, but with the expectation that this is a super group, production should be much sharper and lyrics should be crisper. This album does nothing to take listeners to that next level.
While The Unholy Terror does not break new ground, it does have its good points. The tracks to check for are “Ripped to Shreds”, “Bust Em”, “Godzilla” and “Contra Mantra”. While cuts such as “44 Magnum”, “Suicide Girl” and “The Ultimatum” do have promise; in the end, they do more to tease than fully satisfy. Sadly, this is a theme of the album overall.
The main problem with this release, as far as this critic is concerned, is that it’s not spectacular. It does not do anything to blow the listener away or stand out. Every track is fine, but not mind blowing. It’s even difficult to pick a standout track. For fans of AOTP or of the individual emcees, it won’t be a disappointment. But to this critic, on The Unholy Terror, AOTP does not put on the cape but instead stays in the phone booth.
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