Release DetailsLABEL Napalm Records
RELEASED ON 4/23/2008
Southern Born Killers
posted on 5/2008 By:
Does the resurrection of the Mojo Band of Brethren interest you? It interests me enough to write about it. The Mojo Crew had a hand in raising me during the summers of the late 90's with the protein packed blasts of Pigwalk & Rising. I've always considered Stuck Mojo the pinnacle and definition of rap-metal, because firstly, Rich Ward's playing really IS metal. Not a few drop tuned power chords repeated incessantly throughout with vacant spaces where guitar soloing would complement nicely. And secondly, with Bonz' blast furnace delivery of death penalties and the right to bear arms, you almost didn't realize it was even hip hop influenced at all because the chops were so damn crushing. And it was all in the name of unrefined rage...Great times, I say!
For somebody like me, who relished in the ruthless aggression and ferocious political stance (as well as the downpouring assault of artificial harmonics) of the days of Pigwalk and Rising, the arrival of Declaration of a Headhunter proved to be nothing short of a bummer. It was apparent that Mojo was moving away from their heavy as balls rap-metal purity they had patented, perhaps because it had been sloppily copied by hundreds of talentless kid bands and they didn't want to get lost in a sea of shit. The move revealed a taste of lighter melody with almost a classic rock vibe here and there. I simply craved another "Violated" or "Back in the Saddle" at the time, and I showed zero appreciation for what they were trying to do. As the years passed, an appreciation did indeed develop, but I can't say I caught myself wearing a metal grimace or boppin' my head to any material post-Rising.
It is clear that Stuck Mojo is the child of guitarist Rich Ward. While I appreciate his resiliency and desire to continue the Mojo name, I feel that the prime of Stuck Mojo has most likely come and gone. However, my definition of "prime" may conflict heavily with the next Mojo fan's, so take it with a grain of salt if you must. Southern Born Killers is obviously a stand on Muslim extremists who feel the need to bring their garbage to the United States of America. "Open Season" is a very bold challenge to these jackasses to spread their bullshit in the Mojo neighborhood and leave with the same amount of body holes that they had when they came in. Do I also detect slight mockery with the middle eastern theme behind the gauntlet? Or perhaps it's just a case of the band really doing their homework for the song. I do find that there is a piece on here that revisits the days of Mojo at their strongest. "I'm American" could have come right off of Rising, and maybe "Metal is Dead" (Prelude that with "Mojo" possibly?), bringing forth the energy that made them the masters of their trade. The title track finds the group exploring the southern classic rock niche they discovered on Declaration of a Headhunter, and even though I'll never choose it over tracks like "I'm American" or "Open Season", it is crafted quite well, with a church chorus that brings "Southern Pride" to mind. I recognize and appreciate the details in the metal driven songs as well as Stuck Mojo's desire to keep a distinctly southern sound while showing they are still in touch with the metal game ("modern extreme" metalcore shouting on "That's When I Burn" for example), but I find the bulk of SBK to be a little too influenced by hip hop beats (Yoko), "feel good songs" (Home), or plain old "non-songs" (while "For the Cause of Allah" & "Prelude to Anger" enhance the mood and purpose, they don't do much for adding weight to the album), and posseses an overall lethargic feel due to Lord Nelson's rapping/vocal preferences in speed and style. I don't find these to be BAD songs at all. In fact, "Yoko and "Home" have revealed intricate qualties and new detail with repeated listens that cause me to recall them, but clearly not satisfy metal cravings. Generally speaking, the tracks are constructed professionally with great attention paid not to become redundant in the least. But personally speaking, and given my current situation, I'm going to reach for the Adderall before the Xanax.
So yes, Stuck Mojo is still from the South. They are still politically charged. Rich Ward is still sharp on his tools and songwriting skills, and there really is no other band like them. The Ward Associates have become rather diverse in their choice of song ingredients, but the chunky texture and heft of yore is quickly disappearing. Unfortunately for me, I'm still waiting for Bonz & Co. to show up in my living room and break into "Mental Meltdown" full blast with a grinder and a pig head on a stake. Consider it my problem and not Stuck Mojo's.
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