Black Knights - Medieval Chamber (Review)


"Medieval Chamber" is the latest album from West Coast Wu-Tang Clan affiliates Black Knights, which is comprised of emcees The Rugged Monk and Crisis The Sharpshooter. The album features no real guest appearances and is produced entirely by John Frusciante, formerly of the Red Hot Chili Peppers. It was released on January 14th, 2014 via Record Collection.


1) Drawbridge - The first track on the album has a darker instrumental, with some eerie synths and keyboards, backing violins and drums that should get your head nodding a bit. The beat is quite ill and definitely has a Wu-Tang vibe to it despite being produced by John Frusciante. Lyrically the song pretty good as well, with Rugged Monk and Crisis The Sharpshooter spitting some boastful rhymes about their mic skills and such. The only thing I'm not feelin' on here is the fact that some of the verses have a strange echo/reverb effect added to them that actually takes me out of the song a little. Despite that, dope way to kick off the album.

2) The Joust - This song has a more energetic instrumental than the first, with some quirky piano keys (especially during the second half of the song) layered over ambient synths, low backing vocals and hard ass drums. Once again, the beat has a nice experimental Wu feel goin' on and both emcees come correct over it, kicking some more rhymes how nobody is seeing them in the rap industry and how other emcees are just trying to be like them. This is a banger and probably one of my favorite songs on here.

3) Medieval Times - John Frusciante delivers a slower instrumental on this song, which features prominent backing vocals by John, atmospheric synths and laid-back drums. The beat is pretty good and Monk and Crisis do their thing over it, kicking some violent stories about the streets. The song has a real dreary feel to it that kinda separates it from the other songs on the album so far, which is cool I guess. I must admit that I'd never thought I'd hear John Frusciante singing about "killer bees", but that shit is dope. While this is good, its not one of my favorites on the album.

4) Trickfingers Playhouse - Now this is better. The beat on this track has some otherworldly synths, keyboards and subtle strings blended over energetic rolling drums that give it a sort of dark EDM meets hip-hop feel. The beat is really dope and Rugged Monk and Crisis The Sharpshooter come correct over it, kicking some more of their usual braggadocios bars in their rugged flows. I'm still not really feelin' the echo on the vocals, but this shit is still fire and I'm really liking the experimental feel of the instrumental. Dope.

5) Sword In Stone - Crisis and Rugged Monk spit some more boastful street rhymes over another ill beat that features some keyboards and percussion over head nodding drums and a vocal sample from "The Song is Familiar" by Funkadelic. I had originally thought John was singing it himself, but I was corrected via the comments below. Despite being real unconventional, the album has had a consistent dark theme running throughout it that I'm a big fan of. Yeah, I'm feelin' this one too. Nice.

6) Knighthood - The beat on this track is centered around more dark synths, but it also has some nice singing on chorus to change up the feel of the track a bit. Lyrically Black Knights sound pretty good on here as well, rapping about deceased group member Doc Doom, among other things. It's not the best song on here, but it's not bad.

7) Deja Vu - John Frusciante crafts a beat full of somber strings, keyboards, low-key backing vocals and head nodding drums that abruptly changes up to a much more energetic, drum-heavy instrumental when John himself comes in to sing before reverting back to the original beat. The change in the song is quite jolting and feels somewhat out of place on the track, but it is what it is I guess. Once again, Crisis and Rugged Monk show up and kick some more of their usual rhymes. Neither of them are mind-blowing lyrically, but they are competent enough to make the songs listenable. This song is good, but I could have done without the beat change-up.

8) Roundtable - This track has a beautiful instrumental full of haunting backing vocals, melancholy strings, subtle guitars, keyboards and stomping drums that give it a kind of subdued, yet epic feel. I'm really feein' the beat as well as the Black Knights performance on here, resulting is one of my favorite tracks on the album so far. Dope shit.

9) Keys To The Chastity Belt - Rugged Monk and Crisis spit some bars about relationships over another instrumental full of foreboding synths and strings with drums that really pick up in tempo during the chorus. The beat is quite odd, as is the chorus, but the song comes together pretty well. Nice.

10) Camelot - The final song on the album features an instrumental centered around light guitars, more dark synths and hard hitting drums. The movie sample on the intro to the song is pretty strange, but once the rapping starts the song picks up a bit. Lyrically Crisis and Monk come through and kick some more rhymes about their mic skills and about how hot they are in the rap game. While its nothing really spectacular, the song is still far from terrible and is a pretty good way to close out the album. Not bad.

I'm going to rate the album

3.5 / 5

because it's got some really good material on it. Its very experimental stuff, with John Frusciante holding down all the production duties and coming with a sort of pseudo Wu-Tang feel sonically. I'm diggin' pretty much every beat on here, with only a few not standing out in the overall soundscape of the album. Lyrically Rugged Monk and Crisis the Sharpshooter sound about the same as they always have, kicking some occasionally witty street and braggadocios rhymes. Unlike former Black Knights member Holocaust and deceased member Doc Doom, neither emcee has any real exceptional qualities to make them stand out as elite emcees, but they are competent enough to make the album an enjoyable listen when coupled with John Frusciante's innovative beats. Still, I'm really not feelin' that echo effect that they added to many of the vocals throughout the album. Combine that with the fact that a few of the songs don't hold up in comparison to the others and you have my only real complaints about the album.

4 comments:

  1. dude, come on...."Sword in Stone" is not Frusciante singing backing vocals....it's a sample of Funkadelic's "The Song is Familiar."

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    1. Thanks for letting me know about that. I updated the review to reference the original Funkadelic song. Props and thanks for posting.

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    2. Sorry for my unnecessary attitude. :O

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    3. Not a problem. You helped correct something that I had totally wrong, which is a good thing. Thanks for reading (and contributing) to the review.

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