Review by Rick Ossian
For those of you who have been obviously hiding under a big giant ROCK (including myself, oddly enough), (HED) p.e. (the p.e stands for Planet Earth, as it says on the cover of this CD) is a rapcore band from Huntington Beach, California. They were apparently founded by frontman/vocalist extraordinaire Jahred (Jared Gomes) in 1994. ROCK/PUNK/RASTA/SOUL is what they list as genre, and I found plenty of that plus more in this particular offering. Jahred‘s cohorts in musical crime are Wesley Geer, D.J. Product @1969, Sonny Mayo, Mawk, Jaxon Benge, Tanseer, Alfunction and Trauma. Quite a list of contributors there. When first researching via my normal routes (FB, Wikipedia – why I rely on either of them I’ll NEVER know), I found about half of that list as personnel, or members for you punters! Evidently Jahred‘s goal was “to fuse the region’s long-standing punk rock heritage with G-funk-inflected hip-hop” (whatever that means!). He has apparently succeeded – or, rather, his band have. They have also triumphed with their overall mix, as you will see if you read on!
No Turning Back is a 5½ minute manifesto of very cool rap rock/metal. I was reminded of the way Zakk de la Rocha (Rage Against the Machine) would lay down his raps to the world. Zakk was a bit more menacing than Jahred, but it’s easy to see/hear why after a few tracks. The revered is definitely preaching to the choir here. ‘Soul behind Babylon‘s Wall‘ struck me as a rather clever lyric. Some really good stuff here, and even a jam at the closing. Jahred also lays on ‘f-bomb’ on us! There is the obligatory guitar solo at the 1:50 mark.
Lost in Babylon, on the other hand, is more psych mixed with rap. There is a wicked cool bass line herein, and the apparent go-to tag line lyrically here is ‘it’s that fire!’. There is a fade-out at the end that is nice also. There is more bite here than, say, Limp Bizkit or Linkin Park, but still kinda rap/rock-y and less lethal then RATM.
Jump the Fence is another 5-minute jam with a very cool intro. This is almost proggy at certain points, but very mixed in with that rap lock, again mining the RATM vibe. Rhetorical lyrics almost bog things down (‘Let’s get together/come on/we’re takin’ over/come on’), but there are some bizarre vocal atmospherics (2:30) that redeem things a bit. There is a breakdown (3:15) and a guitar solo (sort of) from about 4 minutes in to 4½ minutes in. More rhetorical lyrics abound, as if to proclaim wyrdness; ‘Who got that fire?/We got that fire!/Let’s watch it burn!’
Many Games is more like regular rock or metal – what is normal, you may ask? I would say if I had a stick, normal would be somewhere near FM radio, but then it’s never really been a serious consideration for me. I always liked the tunes that DIDN’T get airplay! The vocals are questionable at best – but then Jahred strikes me as the type of vocalist who lends his talents/skills more to some tunes than he does to others. Does that even make sense? Anyway, there IS some metal riffage going on here. The lyrics are a bit more substantial, if you will; ‘Feels like another dead hand/at the end of the day only the strong remain‘. There IS a guitar solo (hooray!) at the 2:50 mark that is more psych than anything, and just doused in wah – it comes back into blay at about 3:40, then there is an instrumental break with more wyrdness!
No Tomorrow, by turns, is shorter and punchier, with a very heavy-cool intro. On vocals, it’s an even heavier rap/rock vibe, sort of a growly Zakk de la Rocha. Lyrically, again, there’s a bit more substance here; ‘The front line/holdin up the front line/on the right side/it’s not about the destination/it’s the journey we ride’. My fave lyric is ‘Stop fuckin’ with me/I won’t rest till my enemies rest in peace‘. Then, of course, the part about ‘all you bitches can suck my dick HA HA’ is pretty cool. Misogynist as HELL, but still kinda cool!
Let it Rain features a dirge-y opener riff that’s very Sabbath-esque. It is doom – well, sort of doom. Hippie doom, maybe? Hell, at this point even I don’t know. But it IS good. Lyrically the only thing that really stood out was ‘I don’t wanna get high alone’. Well, WHO does, after all? There is another wah-infused guitar solo (2:40) and a vocal breakdown (3:30) that don’t seem entirely out of place. The wah and feedback mixed together sounded cool.
One More Body finds us rocking again, with a very heavy kick-off intro. This is a sinister, menacing rap again. I found myself banging my head to the groove, though. The groove is pretty good beat-wise. (I give it a 69, Dick!) Vocally/lyrically, the refrain seems to be NO WAY OUT. Another coupling I noticed was ‘How can you sleep/when your bed is on fire?’ Indeed. There is the by now obligatory vocal breakdown at 2:50, then again at 3:20. At least they’re not shy about it!
Never Alone features a sweet little guitar/drum intro, a mean rap, and some guitar soloing (2:15) with wah and whammy bar, if I’m not mistaken. Also another vocal breakdown (2 minutes in), and some lovely riffing at the close.
The Higher Crown has a psych intro of sorts, at which point straight wyrdness ensures. Not quite sure what to say about this one – we’ll call it an interlude, shall we? There are some vocal FX, but that’s about all…
It is at this point that we enter into what I shall deem ‘the reggae portion’ of the program. Nowhere2Go features a really strange polka-esque intro (with a squeeze box of all things) mixed with psych. It then turns into an attempt at reggae or ska (not sure which – this must be the RASTA stuff Jahred was on about). Not a bad attempt, mind you – just a bit misplaced, perhaps. The only thing that concerns me here is that the next two tunes are also reggae-inflected, to say the least. Let It Burn and Hold On are also good tunes, but to throw three reggae numbers in at the end seems a bit strange to me. Perhaps I’m just being picky…They DO stand of their own accord, however. Let It Burn has a really neat little intro, as does Hold On. Both also have some neat little guitar fills in them.
Now we must ask ourselves – what exactly are (HED) p.e.? It is my contention that they are a pretty good band who are celebrating their 20th anniversary, and I don’t know why I hadn’t really noticed them before…maybe it’s time to have a peek at their back catalogue!