Chase & Status decided to celebrate their 15th anniversary as an active unit by going back to their roots. The ever-versatile duo have explored nearly every style of the U.K. dance music continuum, from big beat to dubstep, and have become one of the country's biggest acts in the process, scoring numerous chart hits and collaborating with everyone from Rihanna to British rock group Slaves. With RTRN II JUNGLE, however, the duo leave crossover attempts behind and focus strictly on ragga-jungle, harking back to the mid-'90s work of producers like Potential Bad Boy and Shy FX. Opening with a snippet of a radio news report describing jungle as "a mixture of fast drums and heavy bass" influenced by Jamaican dancehall culture, the album sticks to that premise, delivering 12 highly focused tunes filled with high-octane breakbeats and ragga lyrics. Chase & Status were far from the only ones bringing back the energy of vintage jungle during the 2010s -- just listen to Paul Woolford's Special Request project, or any of the producers associated with the infamous Rupture events in London -- but the duo's vision of the genre is a bit more accessible and song-based. Even with the major label production values, the tracks don't sound over-polished, nor do they try too hard to sound like they could've been released 25 years earlier. There are familiar breaks and noises, sure, but there are also certain touches (particularly more modern-sounding bass swerves) that indicate the duo's disinterest in living in the past. A few tracks are built around vocals sampled from deejays beloved by old-school junglists, like General Levy and Cutty Ranks, but others like "Bubble" seem more in tune with the sound of late-2010s Jamaica. While there's a fair share of more laid-back rollers on here, there are also some all-out stormers, such as "Program" and the practically lethal "Disaster," which intersperses Amen wreckage with a sample of an all-night gig by revered British reggae selector David Rodigan. By aiming for the Bang Face hard crew rather than the pop charts, Chase & Status have produced their most direct, exciting work yet.
AllMusic Review by Paul Simpson