» Full Dark, No Stars - Stephen King's new novella questions mankind's ability to trust others.
[02.21.2011 by Bridget Doyle]


 » The Top 30 Albums of 2010 - Fashionably, fabulously late, our favorite music (and believe me, there was a LOT) of 2010, the year that some have called the best year for music ever. And only some of those fools work here. Plenty of usual suspects, lots of ties and a few surprises that I won't spoil, including our unexpected #1.
[12.24.2010 by The LAS Staff]


 » Live: Surfer Blood/The Drums at Lincoln Hall, Chicago, IL - Remember when Weezer used to put together records that you could sing along to and rock out to? That's what Surfer Blood's show was like!
[11.04.2010 by Cory Tendering]

Music Reviews

Screaming Females - Castle Talk
»Screaming Females
Castle Talk
Don Giovanni
Trent Reznor & Atticus Ross - The Social Network [Original Soundtrack]
»Trent Reznor & Atticus Ross
The Social Network [Original Soundtrack]
The Null Corporation
Deerhunter - Halcyon Digest
Halcyon Digest
No Age - Everything in Between
»No Age
Everything in Between
Sub Pop
Robyn - Body Talk Pt. 1/ Body Talk Pt. 2
Body Talk Pt. 1/ Body Talk Pt. 2
The Walkmen - Lisbon
»The Walkmen
Fat Possum
DJ Spooky vs. Dave Lombardo
Drums of Death
Thirsty Ear Recordings

Rating: 7.5/10 ?

May 31, 2005
Hip-hop and metal play a game of chicken on Drums of Death, the new project from DJ Spooky and Slayer drummer Dave Lombardo. Neither side blinks and they wind up in a crash test to see just how much damage can be done when you combine elements of both. Both genres are totaled.

There ought to be a movie on this, like those public service reel-to-reels with all the bloody carnage that teachers show to teen drivers to warn them of the dangers of drinking and driving. Didn't Spooky or Lombardo see Fred Dirst's career die horribly after trading insipid rhymes with Method Man? What about Linkin Park and Jay-Z? A wreck like that can leave an artist scarred for life.

Not all the scenes would be so horrific. The Judgement Night soundtrack had its moments - Onyx and Biohazard anyone? That was a pretty bad-ass combination. And who can forget the joyful union of Anthrax and Public Enemy doing "Fight The Power" in a Rainbow Coalition of white thrash and Black Panther pride? Maybe they're not so different. Drums of Death may be the greatest consensus-builder of them all, though it's not as high-profile as the previously mentioned breeding experiments.

At times, Drums of Death sounds like a food processor set on puree by some kid without adult supervision who wants to see what it does to his Hot Wheel cars. As potentially disastrous as that sounds, Spooky and Lombardo somehow pull it off - with a little help from their friends. "Kulter Krieg" unleashes the torrential dual guitar riffs of Gerry Nestler and Living Colour's Vernon Reid, and if you didn't know any better, you'd swear it was Lombardo's own Slayer doing the shredding.

This is where Lombardo's feels most comfortable. The blood is coursing through his veins, he's punishing his kit and going 100 miles per hour down, hitting with force, precision and fury - but that's nothing compared to the speed-metal throw down that is "Terra Nullius": Spooky is credited with effects here, but they get lost in the nuclear fallout of Lombardo's wild bashing, Nestler's flesh-ripping guitar and the heavy as cement bass of Jack Dangers.

Freed from the constraints of mere time-keeping, Lombardo lets it all hang out on the instrumental "The Art of War", which also features some eerie, subway tunnel guitar echoes from Reid and dancing electronic blips from Spooky. It's as if John Bonham and Buddy Rich are entangled in some supernatural wrestling match of ghost drummers and Spooky is providing color commentary in a lost computer language.

Ever the Subliminal Kid, Spooky stays in the background, adding spacey atmospherics and razor sharp scratching to tracks like the junk-drawer instrumental, "Quantum Cyborg Drum Machine." With Dangers' bass rolling like the thundering hooves of thoroughbred race horses, ethereal sounds float in and around the rugged rhythms like a fog from outer space. Reid then shoots streams of processed guitar light across the rocky terrain until everyone stops, exhausted from their labor - everyone, that is, except Reid, who goes solo on the otherworldly "Guitar DJ Tool Element."

There are interludes of sound effects that wander through dark jungles of sound at night, like the Dangers' piece "Sounds from Planet X" or the alien, electronic dub world of Spooky's creation that is "Obscure Disorder (Ghosthacked!)." It's like a drum circle from another dimension, with icy glass bubbles of electronica forming in the air and Reid's guitar dancing to stay warm. Drums of Death closes with "Particle Storm", a short piece by Dangers that makes you think of that line from Alien, "In space no one can hear you scream."

That's not the case with Chuck D. Recruited to provide tough vocals and impassioned raps, the Public Enemy emcee is at his most wicked lyrically on "Public Enemy #1" - how appropriate. Delivering hard-hitting rhymes in a strong, powerful cadence that has the flow of whitewater rapids, Chuck D makes you believe it actually would take a nation of millions to hold him back. That's not the case with "Brother's Gonna Work It", Drums of Death's second cut. Asking "Can you feel me?", he sounds tired, recycling rhymes like "Papa's got a brand new funk" over metal riffing that sounds just as labored and familiar.

On "Assisted Suicide", Dalek shows the legend how it's done. With Merideth Monk's cooing seductively behind him, Dalek unloads on the shallow bling-bling and booty culture of mainstream hip-hop in a low-rider style that's smooth but angry, never reaching the boiling point but letting everyone know that he means business.

Drums of Death is at times like a suitcase that's not big enough for all DJ Spooky and Dave Lombardo pack into it. Occasionally, it bulges with mismatched noises that clash and rub together, like the metal on metal grating of the dull, dragging "Metatron," and even in "Kulter Krieg" to a certain extent. Mostly, however, it's a meeting of cultures that mingle too infrequently. Lombardo proves he can handle hip-hop's groove, especially on the otherwise lame "Brother's Gonna Work It Out," and the riff wars waged by Dangers, Nestler and Reid are intense and wonderfully strange. DJ Spooky had a collision of cultures in mind when he proposed this idea to Lombardo; what he got in return was a chance to explore a sound world unlike any ever heard by man.

Reviewed by Peter Lindblad
Peter Lindblad lives in Appleton, Wis., and bleeds green and gold just like all the Packer fan nutjobs in the area. He does draw the line at wearing blocks of chedder on his head, or any other body parts for that matter, though. His professional career has taken weird twists and turns that have led him to his current position as an editor at a coin magazine. He hopes his stay there will be a short one. Before that, he worked as an associate editor at a log home magazine. To anyone that will listen, he\'ll swear that Shiner was one of the greatest rock bands to ever walk the earth. Yet he also has much love for Superchunk, Spoon, DJ Shadow, Swervedriver, Wilco, Fugazi, Jawbox, ... And You Will Know Us By The Trail Of Dead, Queens Of The Stone Age, and Modest Mouse, among others.

See other reviews by Peter Lindblad



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