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Tuesday, November 13, 2001 Volume 67, Issue 59


Bionic Jive halts rap-metal's 'Armageddon'

By Jesse Gustin
Daily Cougar Staff

Looking back on the world of rock 'n' roll music in the last three years or so, it can be unnerving to realize that, as recently as 1999, Limp Bizkit was
the number-one band in the country. This was an accomplishment for it, but an overwhelming disappointment to bands like the Deftones or Amen,
which had chosen to unlatch their musical styles from the frighteningly growing trends and trenches of the rap-metal (or rap-core) scene.

Anthony Mandler/Interscope Records

From left, Chris, Ako, Larry, Merge and Richard comprise the rap-metal band Bionic Jive.

It was as if the combination of charred, growling guitar chords and half-witted lyrics with a clever rhyme scheme had only recently been developed.
Also, it was as if Fred Durst had the right to capitalize on the genre.

The truth is that oversized vehicle logos and black leather have been combining forces since the mid-'80s. Rap music forerunner Public Enemy
has had its share of licks up against the axe-wielders. Then House of Pain's DJ Lethal set the pace for the world of what was (at that time) an
underground music with the soundtrack to the film Judgment Night, which included the pairings of such artists as Slayer with Ice-T and Pearl Jam
with Cypress Hill.

Bionic Jive is one group which, although sadly a bit late in the timeline of rap-metal's existence, just might have the skills to successfully combine
an original, though updated, "rap" style with some of the most brutal heavy metal in the scene today.

Armageddon Coming Through Your Speaker flaunts the masculine force that propels the group's five members (from Phoenix, Arizona) to create a
successful hybrid of good, old-fashioned, loud music.

Whereas some groups, such as Linkin Park and P.O.D., have musical breadth that make up for their vocalists' lack of street credibility, a feeling and
emotion emanates from Bionic Jive that only true rap music can provide, from people who have been there and done that.

The crowd-fueling "Pump" careens as the album's third track, with flows reminiscent of rappers Twista and TechN9e.

The heavy, chugging guitar riffs are placed liberally over a slow, half-timed beat, characteristic of rap groups like Bone Thugs N' Harmony and Do
or Die, allowing the artists to actually flow at a faster speed. Its one-line chorus "Whatcha trippin' on?" is a question already answered: These guys
can flow.

The metal-fused and unrelenting "I Shot Lucifer" cuts through the haze of any curiosity left in the listener with its theme "…Christ compel me/ shock
the world with it." 

Most definitely it may, pointing out the fallacies in governmental proposals and the illusion of safety in our country. The chord arrangement can be
viewed as comparable to the measures of such grinding bands like Machine Head and Saliva, with the addition of a bone-chilling female
background vocal.

The aim and attempt of this group becomes clear -- to rock as hard as it can, while simply staying as hard as it can. The band members keep it
simple, with the dual-vocal team of Merge McVay and AKO Mack relying heavily on the depth of the rhyme -- and just how far one can go with it
when leaning away from the money-powered aspects of the industry.

If and when any singing is produced by the MCs, its soul-filled crone can be equated less to a rock singer and more to Southern playa-boy Nelly.
The musical theme is predominantly a stylish "gangsta rap," with actual musicians performing the beats, and with some homegrown intensity.

Guitarist Larry Luv follows the lead of the versatile rocker, using many melodic parts and ambient textures throughout the album, while bassist
Cunni samples a number of various styles from slap-funk to blues scaling. The supposed necessary evil of a DJ is absent in this five-piece band,
though scratches are minimally used for support on a few tracks, like the slamming "Swarm."

Soft guitar picking and ethereal effects are the drive behind "Walking with Shadows," and "Goodbye," the closing track, speaks the depth of the
hearts of these men who have come together from different places and situations to do the same thing.

It is safe to say that they do not take for granted their artistic integrity, as their music, though not simple, keeps a tightly regimented schedule of rap
over rock.

This is not taking their talent for granted, however. Bionic Jive has the skills to compete with established "thug-metal" groups, (hed) p. e. and Dial 7
being on the forefront, as both bands incorporate a singer (MC) with an authentic and sometimes-ethnic background that may provide more
credence to the plight and words of the artist.

It can be hard to swallow what Durst of Limp Bizkit says, as some believe he comes from the viewpoint of a pampered millionaire. However, with
club-and head-banging jams like "Freaks" or the punk-like "Break the Chains," Bionic Jive will most likely emerge into the scene with a slightly
brighter spotlight aimed at it.

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