Everyone loves a good beef, especially when the beef is between musicians. Deuce is one of the founding members of Hollywood Undead, and after leaving the band in 2009/2010, one of the first songs he released was, “Story of a Snitch”, supposedly calling out his former bandmates for being snitches. You can read my review of Hollywood Undead’s album “Five” here, and my oddly insightful interview with Johnny 3 Tears here. Hollywood Undead and Deuce are inextricably linked, and Deuce’s second solo album, “Invisible” is seeing its release December 1st, and Deuce wishes to finally divorce himself from the shadow of the band he helped to found.
I was kindly offered the oppurtunity from TAG Publicity to check out Deuce’s second solo album “Invincible”, but I confess I may not be the best person to review it. Rapcore and nu-metal aren’t genres in which I find myself proficient. I’m a spooky old goth and sad folk emo type at heart – my essay on Canadian folk punk cat songs is hard proof of that. That said, I have a distinct appreciation for the anger and bravado that is found in both genres. It’s one of the best aspects of rap – puffing yourself up, building yourself up in a kind of poetic body armor. I admire anyone who uses their rage as a force to create rather than destroy.
On first listen to Invincible, I was surprised at the dichotomy of tones that existed in the album – there’s a very angry side to it, and a surprisingly well crafted hip hop side that paves it’s own way. I hear the anger, but in this case, the lower key songs stand out as much stronger. This isn’t surprising as Deuce himself is quoted as saying, “The material we did in L.A. was a little angrier,” Deuce explains, “In Portland, it got more mellow and hip-hop. I think you can hear the difference.” And I get it – you can’t really compare the slow pace of the Pacific Northwest to the busy jarring whirr of Los Angeles so it seems natural the music that was created in a slower pace would have a different tone and mood.
Make no bones about it, though, this album is ANGRY. There’s a specific kind of hurt that drives the anger, and it’s situational hurt. Most of the lyrics seem to rail hurt and rage against the world, “World on Fire” in particular kind of sums it up with. We live in a pretty fucked up world, so I understand the frustration that comes with living in this very cold place. I’d be interested to see where Deuce goes if he was to focus his rap on issues within the world – I find the lyrics that rail against social pieces tend to be the strongest while lyrics with “Give me that fame and money” from “My Buddy” come up as kind of short in comparison. “Thank You”, is oddly touching and showcases Deuce’s singing voice, but it is wildly out of place thrown into this album. Deuce does have a lovely voice though.
And what would a rapcore album be without some name drops – Marshall Mathers of course. And similarly to Marshall, both write lyrics best when they’re based in rage. The title track”Invincible” and “Gone Tomorrow Here Today” are clear winners in expressing that encompassing rage.
There’s 14 tracks on this album and I think it could have been pared down a little bit – there’s a couple tracks that didn’t really work for me. There was some edgelord references like, “blowing up like the world trade center” in “Hell’s Gonna Break Loose” that kinda came up kinda half hearted but that was really the only piece that didn’t super work for me.
“Bad Attitude” has a pretty sick beat and I found the lyrics to be interesting, and it seemed to reflect more of the rapcore aspects of this album, same with “Best of Me”. “Catch Me If You Can” almost fooled me into thinking it was an Alkaline Trio song and it rang in as by far my favourite on the album – Lyrics like “Keep sipping vodka till it hurts” really reflect what we do here in the graveyard. Songs like “Pull Me Under” have a bit more of that almost pop-punk kind of The Falcon vibe I wouldn’t mind to hear more tracks like this one.
Overall, I dug this album, it’s a strange one to come up on my rotation when I pop my iPod on shuffle because it stands in stark contrast to the black metal I like to listen to, but in the same vein, the rage that makes black metal what it is, also made Invincible, and I hear the rage, and I honor it. Thank you for that.
Thanks to Tom at TAG Publicity for sending this album our way.
You can find Robin on twitter feeling ways about stuff.