October 21, 2016 Dope – Blood Money, Part 1 (Album Review)
Back in the late ’90s, Rock was still looking to find an identity after the winds of Grunge died down years earlier. While some bands were victim of falling under copycat labels, there were a few doing their own thing on their own terms, and Chicago, Illinois’ Dope was one of them. Searching for the perfect Rock-n-Roll formula, some may have labeled them Nu-Metal, others Industrial Metal, but whatever you call it, Dope had attitude, style, and a diverse sound. With the balls to rock heavy as seen throughout their career dating back to 1999’s Felons and Revolutionaries, to the guts to experiment with melody on 2001’s Life, Dope found an audience quickly.
Following up with each of their next three albums, 2003’s Group Therapy, 2005’s American Apathy, and 2009’s No Regrets peaking in charts, the world has not seen or heard from Dope in some time. In fact, it has been seven long years since Dope has dropped an album. Sure, songs have been released in dribs and drabs over the last few years, but when would Dope finally return? Well, the time has arrived for group founder Edsel Dope and company to rise from the ashes and the resurrection comes in the form of their sixth studio album, Blood Money, Part 1. This is more than a new album though, it see almost every member of the classic Dope lineup reuniting, with Edsel on vocals, Acey Slade on bass, Racci “Sketchy” Shay on drums, and Virus on guitar. Compounding it all, the band is currently on a full blown reunion tour with Motograter and Flaw as they gear up for the release of Blood Money, Part 1 on October 28, 2016 via eOne Music.
Beginning with a brief mix of warped vocals on “Intro: Confessions of a Felon” that ooze danger, the album quickly jumps into title-track, “Blood Money.” Attacking the listeners with Edsel’s harsh vocals and shredding guitars, this is an anthem conjuring up frustrations with the world and the hypocrisy surrounding society. Quite the heavy start, “Shoulda Known Better” carries on with the Horror Rock feel while Edsel offers more melodic Punk style vocals. While a whimsical “woo!” floats around the track, the rest of the beat reinforces the topsy-turvy vibe of the song. Then, taking a dramatic turn, “Lexapro” comes in with empty space, piano, and windy, lonely beat. The buildup behind the solemn vocals of Edsel are quiet and slow, and never reaches full maturity, instead dissipating back into the twisted pain of the track. Quite a different sound for Dope, it is also done well.
Cranking the energy back up, latest single “Hold On” features some killer shredding and drums that keep up the pace. Showing all the faces of his voice, Edsel’s approach adds depth to song while displaying raw emotion. Perhaps one of the most special songs off the album, it is easy to see Edsel is cutting closer to the bone with more introspective lyrics this time around. Perhaps a homage to the year they debuted to the mainstream, “1999” starts off with light sound effects and a sound bite before becoming an ode to Dope’s party days. Thereafter, “Razorblade Butterfly” comes in hard and a little edgy. Crashing around the room, so to speak, the track could inspire slow hypnotizing dances as Edsel offers more emotional voices.
Keeping the guitars in the forefront, “Drug Music” feels like they mimic the heavy sawing sometimes done on passionate violin pieces. Shifting gears occasionally, the song is wild and pure before “A New Low” presents more honest, personal lyrics. Set to a solid beat, this track hits hard and heavy and displays Edsel’s struggles with loss. This is before more angry feelings are displayed on “Hypocrite” while spinning and warped sound effects amplify the explicit disgust with phony people. A roller coaster thus far, “X-Hale” takes on a surreal vibe, as if replaying a hazy memory. Feeling like an environmental warning to a drug-addicted populace, as experienced by the people it is dedicated to, it is a very trippy and different offering from Dope. After such a dreadful realization of humanities errors, it seems only natural a song called “End Of The World” would follow. Ramping things up, it is as if Edsel played his hand to snap people out of the haze of the previous track.
Winding down this tale, with “Selfish,” perhaps a self-reflection or a mockery of others who are only out for themselves, Edsel spits out lyrics with fury. Dominating, alongside the weighty guitars and drumline, it comes before official album closer, “Numb.” Utilizing dramatic sound, combining Electronic and Rock together, there is an underlying message on the track of self-destructive behavior and frustration. Then, as a bonus, Hole cover “Violet” harkens back to Punk roots while harder elements show Dope’s interpretation of the song in a different light than the original.
Blood Money, Part 1 is an interesting and diverse album. From Horror Rock to Electronic influences, each track offers up a different aspect set to heavy guitars and fast moving beats. At first, fans may find the album tries a little too hard to make a statement, but as the tracks play one after the other, the grip seems to relax into solid songs. Lyrically, Edsel seems to decide to look inward rather than outward this time around and it will be interesting to see what Blood Money, Part 2 will offer come 2017. CrypticRock gives Blood Money, Part 1 3.5 out of 5 stars.