(hed) p.e.

New World Orphans

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Whenever a trend becomes hot, major labels will likely milk it to death and flood the market with a glut of releases that are either mediocre and pedestrian or flat-out embarrassing. We've seen that with everything from bossa nova to disco to gangsta rap, and we certainly saw it with rap-metal in the late '90s and early 2000s. Not surprisingly, there was a major backlash against rap-metal (or "nu-metal," if you prefer) in the mid- to late 2000s. But let's not forget that when rap-metal was great, it was really great -- great as in Rage Against the Machine, great as in 24-7 Spyz, Living Colour, Run-D.M.C., the Red Hot Chili Peppers and Ice-T's Body Count, great as in Tommy Lee's Methods of Mayhem. And (hed) p.e. have also made some fine contributions to rap-metal, which they continue to embrace on their 2008 recording/early 2009 release New World Orphan. If rap-metal is dead, you wouldn't know it listening to this 66-minute CD; (hed) p.e. still play rap-metal with plenty of conviction. But then, (hed) p.e. have been combining metal, hip-hop, and punk since 1994; they weren't among the faceless bandwagon jumpers who picked up guitars and started rapping the first time they heard Limp Bizkit or Korn. New World Orphan always sounds organic rather than contrived, and it also sounds angry. Except for a few tracks that thrive on raunchy sexploitation, New World Orphan is an angrily political album. (Hed) p.e.'s incendiary political rants can be quite rhetorical, but there are plenty of specifics as well. "Middle Class Blues," for example, is about the economic assault on America's middle class, while "Tow the Line" attacks the treacherous neo-cons who lied the U.S. into that foreign policy disaster known as the Iraq War. And even when (hed) p.e. are being rhetorical, their hooks are always infectious. The fact that this album comes long after rap-metal's commercial heyday doesn't make it any less exciting; (hed) p.e. are on top of their game throughout New World Orphan.

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