Children of God's Fire

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First impressions may have listeners hastily labeling Cipher's long-stewing debut album, Children of God's Fire, as some sort of over-the-hump, rap-infused nu-metal release. It's not. No, no, no. Rather, Cipher's uncommonly daring musical palette incorporates a variety of different singing, rhyming, and screaming styles, and eschews most any sign of mindlessly atonal guitar chugging with far more inventive (and certainly more timely) barbs of politicized hardcore, angular math metal, and an all-around sense of sonic adventure akin to a Candiria, the Dillinger Escape Plan, or Faith No More -- and then some. Not only is challenging material such as "Venom," "Verse vs. the Virus" (featuring a guest performance from MF Doom), and "Heaven & Earth" always compositionally unpredictable, but their thought-provoking lyrics read like post-graduate poli-sci lectures bent on radically deconstructing the benevolent myth of American and, really, Caucasian-male institutions and philosophies which dominate Western society. Every track offers an incendiary summons to action -- or at the very least awareness -- but among those worth special praise for succeeding on fronts both spoken and musical are the positively frightening "American Lesion" (which discusses the infamous Tuskegee Syphilis Study amid Patton-esque vocal scats, metallic free jazz constructions, and gently evocative melodic passages), and the two-part indictment on American imperialism that is "Enduring Freedom" (injecting the prevalent avant-metal mayhem with portions of unaccompanied rapping, and meditative solo piano). Ultimately amounting to a work of breathtaking imagination, extraordinary intellect, and massive cojones, Children of God's Fire reportedly spent 14 months in the conceptualizing and recording stages, and may demand an equal amount of time to achieve the most basic absorption. But it will take but one attentive listen for anyone to get riveted, and feel like they're not doing enough to change this world. Better start listening!

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