Swollen Members - Brand New Day (Album Review)

Swollen Members - Brand New Day (Album Review) (Essence of Hip-Hop)

"Brand New Day" is the latest album from Vancouver based hip-hop group Swollen Members. The album features no guest appearances and is produced entirely by Rob the Viking (with a few co-production credits from C-Lance). It is set to be released on June 17, 2014 via Battle Axe Records.

1) Intro - Skit.

2) Nemesis - The album kicks off with an instrumental comprised of scintillating synths and slightly ominous organs layered over hard drums that sound somewhat generic to be honest. Madchild comes with the first verse and sounds ok before Prevail follows up with a dope verse. Eh, this track is ok for me though. There is really nothing amazing about it and it just kind of comes off as being filler. Not the best way to start off the new album. - 2.5/5

3) Blood Sport - Now this is a little better. Prevail bodies an energetic piano and horn loop in a rapid-fire flow before Madchild comes in and does similar, but with a much slower delivery. The beat is nice and both emcees sound dope over it. This is pretty nice - 3/5

4) Cock Blocker - C-Lance and Rob The Viking collaborate on the instrumental for this joint, which is centered around more horns and some quirky synths during the chorus. The beat has a sort of playful feel to it which compliments the humorous rhymes nicely, but I'm not really feelin' this one either. I've never really been a fan of these kind of tracks and this one won't be changing my mind. - 2/5

5) Brand New Day - This track features Madchild and Prevail kicking some rhymes about recovering from past mistakes over an uplifting instrumental with a sped up vocal sample and acoustic guitars. I'm feelin' the positive message and vibe of the song, but this one just doesn't fully come together for me. It's not terrible, but its not quite as good as I hoped. - 3/5

6) Angel of Death - The beat on this track, courtesy of C-Lance and Rob The Viking, features an uneasy piano loop, sampled backing vocals and atmospheric noises in the background and its just ok. Lyrically the song is about the same, with Madchild and Prevail just kicking some boastful rhymes without coming with anything mind blowing. - 2.5/5

7) Jacques Cousteau (featuring DJ Makeway) - Ok now this is better. Rob the Viking delivers an instrumental full of militant horns over hard ass stomping drums for Madchild and Prevail to get busy over. The beat and rhymes on here are real nice and the scratching by DJ Makeway makes it even better. This is my favorite song on here so far. - 3.25/5

8) Supernova (featuring DJ Revolution) - Well this is a little different. The beat on this joint has a kind of darker feel to it with some interstellar synths and pianos that give the track a spaced-out feel. As far as the rhymes go, Prevail and Madchild keep with the space theme and kick some futuristic rhymes while sounding pretty dope over the beat. Nice. - 3/5

9) Odd Goblins - This track features another ill beat with more horns and stomping drums, but it honestly sounds pretty similar to some of the other beats that came before it. Madchild sets it off first and kicks some punchline orientated battle raps before Prevail comes in and does the same. Despite the similar beat, I'm feelin' this one. - 3/5

10) Park Bench - This song is actually a Madchild solo track and features the Vancouver hip-hop artist spitting some introspective bars over a depressing piano sample. The beat is actually pretty nice though and Madchild sound dope over it. - 3/5

11) Power - The beat on this track features furious strings and a sped up vocal sample in the background that ups the energy level of the project a bit after the dreary previous song. Lyrically the song is good as well, with both emcees rapping about their power in the hip-hop game and such. Yeah, this is pretty dope. - 3/5

12) Creatures of Evil - Madchild and Prevail kick some braggadocios battle rhymes about how dope they are on the mic over a darker C-Lance and Rob The Viking instrumental with frantic violins and synths over deep bass. The beat is nice and both emcees sound dope over it, but I can't help but feel like I've heard this all before. - 2.75/5

13) Jackson Pollock (featuring DJ Makeway) - The instrumental on this track is comprised of a crazy sample with falling chimes or keys, hard strings and head nodding drums. I'm diggin' the beat on here and the rhymes are dope as well. This is one of my favorite tracks on the album. - 3.25/5

14) Cold Sweat - C-Lance and Rob The Viking team up yet again for the instrumental on this track, which features more sped up horror movie pianos over deep bass. The beat sounds very similar to some of the other instrumentals on here, which doesn't really help the song stand out in the overall scope of the project. Lyrically its not bad though, with Madchild and Prevail spitting rhymes full of their usual witty punchlines and such. Eh. - 2.75/5

15) Still Kill - The final track on the album features yet another piano based instrumental, but this time its much less intense than the previous track. As far as the rhymes go, they are more of the same as well, with both Madchild and Prevail kicking some more boastful bars about their mic skills and about how long they have been in the hip-hop game. - 3/5

I'm going to rate the album

2.75 / 5

because it's just ok. The album seems to jump back and forth between the darker sound that Swollen Members is known for and a happier, more playful sound. This causes the project to be really inconsistent, with some dope tracks mixed in with weaker songs that never end up having their own identity. It's partially the beats fault, with many of the instrumentals sounding very similar to one another (piano + horn + drum = beat). On the other hand, the rhymes don't really seem to help it out either, with only a handful of songs being anything more than boastful battle raps ("Cock Blocker" and "Brand New Day" come to mind as songs with their own identity). Despite all of that, there are quite a few good songs on here that I'm really feelin' (like "Jackson Pollock", "Jacques Cousteau" and some others). Unfortunately, however, the project just doesn't come together as a whole for me. It's a shame too since I was really feelin' their "Beautiful Death Machine" album that dropped last year. Maybe next time.


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