Army of the Pharoahs - Heavy Lies The Crown (Review)

"Heavy Lies The Crown" is the latest album from hip-hop supergroup Army of the Pharoahs. The album features verses from almost everyone that is currently in AOTP as well as production from C-Lance, Stu Bangas, 7L, Frank Dukes and others. It was released on October 21, 2014 via Pazmanian Devil Music, LLC.

1) War Machine (featuring Vinnie Paz, Reef the Lost Cauze, Crypt the Warchild, Celph Titled, Esoteric and Apathy) - The album kicks off with Vinnie Paz and co. doing their thing over an energetic Frank Dukes instrumental with cinematic strings and triumphant horns over aggressive, stomping drums. The beat is real dope and all of the featured emcees are on point with their verses. Nice way to start off the album. Hopefully the rest of the album is just as strong. - 4/5

2) Blood Storm (featuring Crypt the Warchild, Planetary, Celph Titled and Des Devious) - The beat on this cut, courtesy of Nero, is real ill, with some distorted electric guitars, ambient synths and subtle pianos over rapid-fire hi-hats. Unfortunately the rhymes are not quite as strong the production, as none of the verses really standout to me. Nobody really comes weak on here, just kind of forgettable. Still a nice track though (mainly due to the beat). - 3.5/5

3) The Tempter and the Bible Black (featuring Vinnie Paz, Planetary, Esoteric, Apathy and Celph Titled) - I believe this was one of the songs released in promotion of the album and it's just ok. The beat, by Stu Bangas, is quite dark, with an ominous sample over hard ass drums, but none of the verses really stood out to me on here either (besides Vinnie's, and that is mainly due to his flow, and Apathy's). - 2.5/5

4) Serpent King (featuring Blacastan, Celph Titled, Crypt the Warchild, Planetary and Zilla) - Now this is a little better. This song finds AOTP spitting some of their usual violent and punchline-heavy battle raps over some violins, keys and a chopped up vocal sample. The beat, by C-Lance, is pretty good and everyone comes correct with their verses. - 3.25/5

5) The King’s Curse (featuring Vinnie Paz, Celph Titled, Planetary, Apathy and Esoteric) - This joint is produced by veteran hip-hop producer 7L, who delivers a dope instrumental with more strings and horns over boom-bap drums. Lyrically the song is pretty good as well, with everyone coming correct and with Apathy dropping a funny line involving a Tauntaun (from Star Wars, for those who don't know). - 3.25/5

6) Terrorstorm (featuring Vinnie Paz, Celph Titled, Block McCloud, Reef the Lost Cauze, Esoteric, Crypt the Warchild and Apathy) - This cut starts with a quick kung-fu sample before C-Lance drops another aggressive instrumental that definitely brings the energy. The beat is real nice and everyone on here is on point with their rhymes, with Block McCloud killing it on the chorus. Dope track. - 3.5/5

7) Conjure the Legions (featuring Esoteric, Planetary, Apathy, Vinnie Paz, Crypt the Warchild, Celph Titled, Reef the Lost Cauze, King Syze and Lawrence Arnell) - C-Lance returns to productions duties on this song and delivers a kind of annoying instrumental with an odd sample over hard drums. I'm not really feelin' the production on here and there are so many verses it just seems to drag on endlessly. Eh, not really a fan of this one. - 2/5

8) Fed To the Lions (featuring Vinnie Paz, Reef the Lost Cauze, Planetary, Apathy, Esoteric and Celph Titled) - The beat on this cut, courtesy of Twiz The Beat Pro, is a little better than the last, with some blaring horns, swirling synth ambiance and hard cymbals. As far as the rhymes go, you know what to expect by now. - 3/5

9) Sword and Bullet (featuring Doap Nixon, Crypt the Warchild, Demoz and Vinnie Paz) - Ok now this is dope. Shuko comes through with what is easily my favorite instrumental of the past few tracks and everyone on here rips it. Shit is real aggressive. Yeah, I'm feelin' this one. - 4/5

10) Wrath Prophecy (featuring Zilla, Planetary, Doap Nixon and Celph Titled) - The beat on this cut, courtesy of Beatnick Dee, features another ominous vocal loop and some spacey synths over rolling drums. I'm feelin' the production on this joint and the rhymes are pretty good as well. I dunno though, I'm still waiting for that one mind blowing song. - 3/5

11) Conversation With a Bullet (featuring Zilla, Celph Titled, Planetary and Vinnie Paz) - This song finds AOTP spitting more of their usual aggressive battle raps over an ill Juan Muteniac instrumental. The beat on here hits hard as hell, with some militant horns and a touch of strings in the background, and the rhymes are on point. Dope track. - 3.5/5

12) The Hate and the Blame (featuring Apathy, Esoteric, Lawrence Arnell, Vinnie Paz and Crypt the Warchild) - Todd Spadafore comes through with the production on this track, featuring some frantic electric guitars and such over menacing drums. I'm not sure the rock vibe of the instrumental works fully, but it definitely brings the energy. Lyrically its more of the same though. - 2.5/5

13) Becoming the Absolute (featuring Crypt the Warchild, Apathy, Zilla and Vinnie Paz) - The DJ Skizz beat on this track sounds like it came straight out of a horror movie, with some haunting pianos, synths and the occasional vocal sample. As far as the rhymes go, everyone is on point with their flows, but nobody really says anything that jumps out at me as being real dope. - 3/5

14) The Quickening (featuring Planetary, Esoteric, King Syze and Blacastan) - The final song on the album brings back the rock vibe of "The Hate and the Blame", but with more of a stadium feel. Once again, the production (this time courtesy of MTK and Kevin Lavitt) doesn't really click for me and the verses are just more of the same. - 2.5/5

I'm going to rate the album

3 / 5

because the album has a few songs that are quite dope, but the majority of it just sounds like more of the same. Lyrically the project is ok, with most of the verses sounding nice but not really saying much. I don't remember hearing a single conceptual track on here and every song just seems like a collection of random one-liners and battle raps. Sure, there were a few lines that jumped out at me as being dope, but overall it just kind of got stale throughout the course of the LP. As far as the production goes, it too is the usual run-of-the-mill for AOTP. The beats are all real aggressive and in-your-face, with a few rock-inspired instrumentals mixed in with the usual cinematic/horror vibe AOTP is known for. I dunno, it's not a bad album, it just seems kind of bland to me. Maybe they should have taken the best tracks from "In Death Reborn" (which dropped earlier this year) and combined them with some of the stronger tracks from this LP.

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