July 13, 2006

CD Review: The Best of (hed) P.E.

My personal exposure to (hed) P.E. continues on, it started in January 2005 with the abysmal Only in Amerika and continued earlier this year with their latest release Back 2 Base X, which I liked much more. Only now am I having any type of proper introduction to their earlier work with this collection released by Zomba. This encompasses their first three releases, hed (pe), Broke, and Blackout.

The cover claims them as one of the bands to help define the rap/metal genre. I am not sure I can agree with that, and that isn't a knock against the band or their fans. I just can't seem to place them in the same league of popularity as Korn, Incubus, Deftones, and System of a Down, as mentioned on the cover, and other influential acts like Rage Against the Machine and Limp Bizkit. All of those bands, I believe had a bigger effect on the genre than hed. (hed) P.E. never really fell into the publics conciousness like those other bands, look how long it took for me to look into the fold. In any case, this really isn't about their influence, or lack thereof, this is purely a collection of what is perceived to be their best cuts. My question to you longtime fans, how does this stack up against what you believe to be their best?

The album gets off to a great start with "Suck it Up," which features a sample of Michael Buffer's famous "Let's get ready to...." line before getting into a great groove the gets you moving to it. That leads us into "Bartender," another great goove leads us through this track. Before I start leading you through all of the tracks, let me hit on a few of my favorites.

First would have to be "Blackout," this song has some great vocals from Jahred Shane. "Ken 2012" has some nice guitarwork from the heavy to the light and moody. There is the pure aggressiveness of "Waiting to Die," that really grabs my ears. The reggae tinged "Swan Dive" is another track which continues to add other facets to their sound. The combination of the rap style of "Darky" with the acoustic flavored "Other Side" continuing to expand their sound, and impressing me with their versatility, while still sounding like the same band. Finally, "The Meadow" has a wonderfully layered and complex arrangement, very good song.

This isn't to say that I didn't like the other songs, or that the above are great works. What this album has shown me is that these guys put out some great songs, and I wish I had actually listened to them earlier. They have a healthy dose of originality which is rare. I just wish that my first real experience hadn't been with Only in Amerika, but I guess discovering these songs late is better than not experiencing them at all.

Bottomline. This is an excellent place to start for those who are interested, but if you already have their albums, you won't be gaining anything new here. For someone like me, this is the perfect album, I am not terribly interested in buying their early albums, but would like to have some of their better cuts in my collection, and this more than fills the bill. This is a great listen from start to finish.

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