Saturday, March 27, 2010

Crate Digging: The Cold Vein

by Cannibal Ox

I totally missed the boat on this album when it first dropped back in 2001. I finally got it a few years later, but have felt like I never really 'got it'. I always heard about how groundbreaking this album was, but by the time I listened to it, there had been enough imitators and people inspired by it, that it sounded a little common in places.

Listening to it again today, and trying hard to see it as predating artists like Aesop Rock, Mr. Lif, Cage, the Reavers, and others, I can definitely see the appeal of some of this album, although I think it's a little too long, or a little monotonous in places.

Vast Aire has always been a rapper I have a hard time dealing with. I love his flow when he appears on someone else's track, but when he is the star of the show, I find I get sick of him after three or four songs. He and Vordul Megallah (who is called Shamar here - what's up with that?) find a good balance between their different styles, but Vordul is pretty weak on the first half of this album.

It's hard to imagine listening to El-P's rock-inflected production and having never heard that type of hip-hop before. He definitely knows what he's doing on here, but a few too many tracks sound like the others. I feel like he more anticipates than delivers on this, for a good chunk of the album.

This is a good album, but I find it difficult to place it up on the pedestal that so many other heads do. It feels a little more dated than classic these days I fear, although there are a few tracks (such as 'Painkillers', 'Pigeon', 'Raspberry Fields', and 'The F-Word') that I really feel.

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