Where to begin on Southern Born Killers, the latest from underrated rap-metal pioneers Stuck Mojo? There's nothing typical about it, from the conservative political ideology to the new rapper, Lord Nelson (15-year frontman Bonz, pronounced "Bones," recently left). Not to mention the entire record is available free at www.stuckmojomedia.com.
First of all, longtime fans will get what they want. Rich Ward's Pantera-esque riffing chugs with as much attitude as ever, and Nelson spits Ward's often-awkward rhymes with a solid old-school vibe. The synthesized strings introduced on 1999's HVY1 remain on many tracks, unfortunately making the other arrangements sound a little bare and boring.
Much of the record could even win some new listeners. The anti-terrorist "Open Season" is already a hit with right-wing Internet surfers thanks to a video on YouTube, the title track has some of the best two-guitar rhythm work in recent memory, and "Home" and "The Sky is Falling" add some melody to Nelson's rapping. "Yoko Ono" has a spacey atmosphere with some great wordplay, at least until it comes to "So learn from John Lennon, and don't be such a wussy / And give it all away for that Yoko Ono p---y."
Still, one can't help but notice that Southern Born Killers came out five years too late - it takes the trophy for Best 9/11 Record of 2006. "I'm American," "For the Cause of Allah" and "Open Season" all focus on anti-Jihad themes. While most of the country frets over what to do in Iraq, Ward is making sure everyone knows he's Proud to Be an American, dammit!
It's nice to see an entertainer who doesn't hate the U.S., but a more thoughtful approach to the country's problems would be easier to take seriously. It's been "open season" on terrorists for half a decade, and the focus has shifted to getting Elmer Fudd home without a wabbit revolt.
In the end, though, Stuck Mojo is a band like no other. Eleven years after Snappin' Necks, they remain the only act to combine real rapping talent with real metal guitar riffs. And given they wrote a song about the death penalty called "Throw the Switch" in 1998, it's not like they've ever been known for subtlety.
What you see is what you get: Thunderous chords, old-school raps. It's damn good, and free to boot.
Robert VerBruggen (www.therationale.com) is an apprentice editor at The National Interest and an antiMusic contributor.
[editor note: You can download the CD for free at the homepage of buy link below. If you want it on disc they have those for sale too with a bonus DVD]