Written by Jason Hillenburg, posted by blog admin
Dropout Kings, a six piece from Arizona, are a young band ranking among the last true believers in nu-metal and ambitious enough to attempt doing something new with a largely moribund style. Their debut full length AudioDope is certainly cut from the same cloth as older iconic acts in this vein, ala Limp Bizkit and NWA, among others, but there’s enough individuality and idiosyncratic musical turns in this collection to emphasize where Dropout Kings bring something of themselves to this form. The ten song collection pops from the first and wastes no time relating to its target audience, but there’s never any sense of Dropout Kings pandering for listener’s attention. Instead, they craft out their own distinctive niche with this effort and manage to bring together the muscular attack of hard rock and hip hop together in a potent and unpredictable way.
“Something Awful” opens AudioDope with atmospheric musical accompaniment before vocalist Adam Ramey makes his presence first felt. The lyrical material is definitely uncompromising and never overwrought; even when the hip hop vocals give way to outright screaming, there’s never a sense of a band laying things on too thick for their audience. The song never settles into a traditional pattern and, as such, keeps listeners engaged from the first. An opening like this throws down a gauntlet of sorts; no matter how they pick up the mood from this point onward, you keep listening with the knowledge Dropout Kings can intensify the mood at will. “Burn1”, the customary ode to the joys of marijuana, has plenty of musical imagination to redeem potentially clichéd subject matter and the same atmospheric strengths of the opener are abundant with this track. It’s certainly more playful than the opener, but the band throws themselves into the song with the same abandon.
“Going Rogue” is a song about cracking up under the weight of too many demands and the song embodies that mood in every way. The buzzsaw qualities of the guitar work on AudioDope reach a new peak with this song and the vocal pyrotechnics are equally memorable. The album’s longest track “Bad Day” embraces groove for the first time and features some spoken word near the opening before segueing into a hard hitting nu-metal arrangement. Dropout Kings balance the straight-forward hip hop delivery with screaming hard rock vocals better here than any of the aforementioned songs and it helps make this one of the album’s more memorable numbers.
“Scratch and Claw” features some jagged, effects laden guitar lines accompanying the thunderous drumming and another high velocity hip hop delivery. The chorus is one of the strongest on AudioDope and pairs up nicely with the lean verses. The song’s final half dials up the musical fury before returning for some final passes through the chorus. The title song is one of the album’s most impressive achievements and closes the release on a distinctly personal note. The grinding guitars give the vocals an added dose of gravitas and their bulldozer quality illustrates, for a final time, the band’s uncompromising talents for aural assault. Dropout Kings’ AudioDope isn’t a perfect effort, but the band emerges with a clear creative vision and they will undoubtedly expand on it with future releases.