Review Summary: House Of Pain’s 3rd & final album is a mainstream tilt which was arguably ahead of its time and ultimately resulted in the band’s demise. The trio’s most rounded, consistent & memorable LP is grossly under-appreciated.
Album structures can often be determined by the genre of music performed. For instance, on a large proportion of hip-hop albums, quantity seems to reign supreme over quality. Such LPs will usually contain upwards of 17 tracks, including a lot of short songs and an overabundance of filler. House Of Pain’s 1992 debut release was one such release, containing 18 tracks where only one song made it to the 4 minute mark. Conversely, on the trio’s third and final album, ‘Truth Crushed To Earth, Shall Rise Again’ (TCTESRA), six of the thirteen tracks reach that same duration. Most importantly though, the cuts included here which do cross the 4 minute barrier are for the most part the album’s better tracks, resulting in a feeling of quality over quantity in this case.
Following the lukewarm commercial reception to the much more hardcore sounding ‘Same As It Ever Was’, House Of Pain were required to make a decision as to which direction they were heading with their sound. They eventually attempted to incorporate their distinctive style into a more mainstream sounding and conventionally structured album. That may not be apparent initially as the first few tracks act as a bridge of sorts between albums, with the ominous sounding opener ‘The Have Nots’ sounding as if it could have easily come off this album’s predecessor. However, after an arguably sluggish start, ‘TCTESRA’ kicks into gear with its mid-section (notably tracks 5-11) impressing.
‘Earthquake’ kicks off this phase of excellence, proving how good House Of Pain can be when Everlast’s dark and raspy vocals combine well with Danny Boy’s smoother style. The cut flows superbly throughout its near five minute duration and has a super conventional sounding chorus to top it off. The choruses are a huge key to this album’s success, as they are catchy, memorable & recitable more often than not. For another example, see the double billing of single ‘Fed Up’ in the positions of tracks 2 and 11. The original version contains tinges of reggae, while the superior remix has a dancier vibe and a value-adding cameo by Guru.
The party anthems that were missing from the trio’s second album are also back. Released single ‘Pass The Jinn’ is one example of this, but it is outdone by album highlight ‘Choose Your Poison’, which has numerous recitable lyrics throughout. In addition to an effective bass loop and an excellent middle verse by Danny Boy, the chorus is simply contagious, if a little cheesy; “Hey now come on y’all, if there’s money in your pocket and you’re walking tall, make your way to the bar, get your poison chose and drink it old-school style in your b-boy pose”.
Another component that went AWOL on ‘Same As It Ever Was’ was clever and/or memorable lyrics, which thankfully return here in a variety of guises. From the boasting that littered the debut, to the more aggressive themes of the follow-up, House Of Pain improves on this outing. There is even the cheeky and naughty, which is best served up on the playful ‘Shut The Door’, as Everlast at one stage professes “You want the 4-1-1, baby here’s my style, I like ‘em young, but I’m no freakin’ pedophile”. And add that track as another with a catchy and recitable chorus.
Of course, there still is some filler included on ‘TCTESRA’, but it does not seem an accident that for the most part, they are the shorter songs on the album. ‘What’s That Smell’, ‘No Doubt’, ‘X-Files’ and ‘Killa Rhyme Klik’ are all only so-so, but they average out to approximately 3 minutes each in duration. Furthermore, most of these cuts provide a variety in sound with some reggae flashes courtesy of guest artists Divine Styler & Cockney O’Dire, as well as some sci-fi like musical hooks. Even the customary closing shout-outs cut isn’t too bad here on the back of an effective bass loop.
There is admittedly a mainstream tilt to ‘Truth Crushed To Earth, Shall Rise Again’ which will offend some hardcore rap aficionados. To that extent, this album was a little ahead of its time considering the proliferation of mainstream hip-hop which was to follow years later. Unfortunately, due to all of this, it can also be seen as the album which resulted in House Of Pain’s break-up. Regardless, this is arguably the trio’s most rounded, consistent and memorable album of their career. For that reason, it is grossly under-appreciated and worth revisiting for hip-hop fans.
Recommended Tracks: Choose Your Poison, Fed Up (Remix), Earthquake & Shut The Door.