Depart from Me

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Any encounter with indie rapper Cage's material should come with an expectation of joyless lyrics, soul-crushing stories, and animosity as a muse, so pointing out that Depart from Me is an uninviting album may seem unnecessary. Still, angst-free and well-adjusted listeners could still fall hard for his previous effort, 2005's Hell's Winter, thanks to the rapper's Atmosphere-meets-Eminem writing style combining with the Def Jux label's subterranean, head-bobbing beats. Here, the opening "Nothing Left to Say" sets a familiar tone with "This beauty they speak of/I can not see" and "The monkey on my back is still flingin' shit at you" couldn't be more true, but a new attitude emerges with "I've got one thing to say/I'd like to share it with you/If you don't, is it too bad for me?/Or too bad for you?" This prickly and punkish stance is reflected in the album's sonic landscape which trades the bottom-end thump for guitar crunches and post-hardcore grinding. "Teenage Hands" and "Beat Kids" -- which must be inspired by the sick and twisted television show Wonder Showzen -- both sound like Steve Albini's classic Big Black crew with the addition of rhymes, while the twentysomething slice of life, "Kid Rocks," pimps the no wave revival as it twitches with angular funk. When it works, it works well, but the snottiness overpowers on the less-successful cuts, making them feel a lot like preaching to the converted. Rabid fans won't mind much; just make sure you're sold on Hell's Winter before taking this bumpier ride through Cage's inner turmoil.

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