With dark, melodic beats that often resemble rock songs more than rap, and equally dark, horrorcore-inspired (minus the excessive violence) rhymes, hip-hop duo Grayskul (comprised of JFK and the nasally voiced Onry Ozzborn) have been pushing the idea of goth rap, heavy with foreboding melodies and otherworldly imagery, since their debut, Deadlivers, came out in 2005. The same path is followed on their sophomore follow-up, Bloody Radio, whose 15 tracks weave around tales of death, injustice, and the MCs' own lives. This is nowhere close to Insane Clown Posse -- Grayskul is much more introspective and compassionately driven than the Detroit group, better aligned with the sounds of their label, Rhymesayers. But there is a definite sense of the foreboding, of the underworld. "Missing," which features overbearing Evanescence-like vocals from Pretty Girls Make Graves' Andrea Zolla -- "Tightly winding the unseen burn, why's the world spring/Finally aligning the last time I heard that bird sing," she enunciates dramatically -- tells of childhoods gone astray, while "The Office," featuring Aesop Rock and Slug and one of the best songs on the album, is about, more or less, an undertaker. But it's not that Grayskul is death-obsessed, wishing bloodshed and pain upon everyone; rather, they're interested in the extremes of human experience, as if they don't really believe what they're saying, but that they like the way it sounds. To emphasize this, they end the album with "Heaven Is Still Coming," a vaguely religious piece that then bleeds into a bonus verse, in which JFK rhymes "[I] break bread in the face of atheist doubt/You say you don't believe in God.../If you're right, back to dust/If I'm right, then you're f*cked/...what's wrong with having faith in something if it's positive?" pleading for understanding and compassion among the religious and unreligious. It's a little out of place, but it helps to put Grayskul's work in context, to understand that they're not promoting violence; they're just compelled by the mysterious.
AllMusic Review by Marisa Brown
feat: Andrea Zollo