Review: “Stampede” by (hed)p.e.

Taking Disturbed frontman David Draiman’s insistence on writing all of his social media in capitals which suggests shouting one step further and removing the spaces between the words of the song names of new album “Stampede” to suggest shouted and obvious subliminal messages controlling our lives, (hed)p.e. continue to share their love for a good conspiracy theory.

The first thing that grabs you about opening track “NOAPOLOGIES” is the welcome return of the “New World Orphans” era speech samples which play out throughout the album. The second is the welcome return of the “Only In Amerika” era drum sound, again something which plays out throughout the record. After a hip-hop heavy start the tune gradually builds in the guitars with a powerful mid-tempo chug that would be perhaps better suited to a mid-album cut. The vocals from Jared Gomez, who essentially is the bands lifer being the only mainstay over the bands career are undeniably good. Ranging from the rapped to the sung with different tones and pitches to give plenty of contrast, it works really well. “CANIROCK” brings more guitars but again with a hip-hop and reggae underpinning that breaks out in the verse. It’s something which anyone who has seen their phenomenal live show over the past 5 years will know about. They’ve played the arse end of every town and city all over the World with their DIY work ethic and their show involves a wall to wall file of music with minimal gaps and busting out the verse and chorus for snippets of tracks of varying length. That influence has made its way into a single track and again, it works surprisingly well. Programmed beats and electronic piano bring in “PLAYINGWITHFIRE”, another essentially melodic cut with a hard rock backdrop, Gomez brings the flow with both rapping and singing and there is an element of control about everything. It’s like the band are purposefully not busting into some harder and faster music though each track features all of the build up to that. Instead each tune levels off and slows up. Some 70’s influenced guitar work brings “BOSSUP” to life, essentially a hip-hop track with an almost sampled backing. There are plenty of wordy lyrics but they don’t seem to mean that much outside of Jared’s World. Leaping into “Sophia” territory from “Back 2 Base X”, “WHYNOTME” is a welcome high energy punk rock tune that how everyone can seem to get rich but Jared himself. It’s intelligently done and a standout cut after multiple listens.

Returning to an infusion of the earlier sound with reggae overtones “RISE” could just as easily be entitled “Burn It Down” with that lyric featuring far more often. A tune about rising from oppression and opinion to do as you choose is something we’ve heard from the band before but never with this melodic approach. If you’re after some chill out Sunday tunes with very little bit more bite then this could be what you’re after. Lyrically contining the vibe “UNTOUCHABLE” keeps the guitar licks buried in the mix which is heavy on the hip-hop beats. When the guitars do kick in, compete with some beats it’s for a slow headbang moment that is nice but doesn’t how the wow factor of the bands previous material. The song title that doesn’t make sense “NARRAGANSETT” is another one that could be titled differently. “I’m Born Again, Everyday I Play To Win” references The Matrix and that iconic red or blue pill moment in some style. The melodic sounds with less guitar punch are in part amped up for the edge of the chorus but otherwise drop off. It’s a song that wins you over with its positivity and survivalist nature.

Another sample leads in “DIEANOTHERDAY” and Gomez talks of living to break the cycle of dysfunction he was brought up into and that exists in the World. Buried synths and beats keep things rolling but it’s the guitar moments that lift it to higher ground. The musicanship and dynamic of the album itself is summed up in this cut and while it’s not (hed)p.e. as we know it, it’s still an interesting listen. Speaking of living in the time of his life with the aptly titled “TIMEOFMYLIFE”, it seems the settled mental state and sense of control that Gomez has often sort has been found and maintained. It’s clearly a tune from an album that he wanted to make rather that being imposed by anyone else and it’s smooth melodic flow with an almost country rock guitar twang underneath hip-hip beats being an interesting move. It may also close with part of the Battlestar Galactica theme music… towing back to some sort of Billy Idol esq bootleg material “NICE2MEETU” buries the vocals in the mix of loud programmed drums and 80’s Guitar work and not in a good way. While the rest of the album grows on you with multiple listens, this final cut is a waste of time and that’s a real shame. Overall, “Stampede” isn’t the joy that was 2016’s “Forever” in terms of having the edge. Instead it takes an entirely different approach and for the most part is a nice chill out music album for a lazy warm weather Sunday. Whether that’s what you want from the band, that’s up to you. But that’s what we’ve got [5/10]

Track listing

  1. “NOAPOLOGIES”
  2. “CANIROCK”
  3. “PLAYINGWITHFIRE”
  4. “BOSSUP”
  5. “WHYNOTME”
  6. “RISE”
  7. “UNTOUCHABLE”
  8. “NARRAGANSETT”
  9. “DIEANOTHERDAY”
  10. “TIMEOFMYLIFE”
  11. “NICE2MEETU”

“Stampede” by (hed)p.e. is out now via Suburban Noize Records

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