Review Summary: Nothing up my sleeves but my WM
Upon first listen, one could easily be forgiven for reading the brooding, nihilistic pulse that fills the arteries of Kill The Architect
as Chris Palko’s commentary on modern hip-hop. Indeed, when he claims, as he does in the first thirty seconds of the album’s opener, that “Hip-hop should be on a table with a rape kit,” it’s hard not to. After over a decade burrowing through the recesses of alternative hip-hop’s collective consciousness, it’s hard to find someone who isn’t at least aware of Cage, perennially compared to Eminem as he is (and perchance unfairly, because really
, what suburban male teen hasn’t thought they were shocking or deep delving into topics of sex, drugs and violence without realizing just how tired the trope has become?) It’s no surprise then, that after four albums, and collaborations with everyone ranging from El-P to Kid Cudi to Actual Cannibal Shia LaBeouf, Palko would seem more than a little pissed at his relative lack of notoriety outside the underground.
Coming off the back of the more-miss-than-hit punk-rap leanings of previous album Depart From Me
, Kill The Architect
sets up an ominous, yet often minimalistic haze of rumbling synth lines coupled with fuzzed-out guitars and desolate percussion. Cage no longer raps with the frenzied fervor found on Movies for the Blind
, nor the soulful, introspective “emo-rap” of his crowning glory, sophomore effort Hell’s Winter
, instead coating album highlights such as ‘Fu
ck This Game’ and ‘You Were The Shi
t (In High School)’ with lines delivered somewhere between pessimistic and apathetic. One can almost see the wry smile on Palko’s face while adding spoonfuls of dark sarcasm to help the medicine down as he somewhat detachedly raps about as uncharacteristically cheery topics as past lovers aborting his unborn children, the ethics of fur clothing, and the tortures of the artistic process.
Kill The Architect
presents yet another stylistic shift in Cage’s distinct brand of visceral hip-hop, and though fans expecting a retread of old ground will be sorely disappointed, if one takes Cage’s past persona at face value, detractors who take to their blogs to protest may want to watch that a giggling Palko doesn’t show up behind them with a murderous grin one cold winter night. Kill The Architect
ultimately manages to stand apart from the rest of his discography as a strong, coherent release, and, though it may not top Hell’s Winter
as a whole (without a return from Daryl Palumbo, no album ever could), it's still one of the stronger hip-hop releases in recent times from the often unfairly maligned Palko.