Swollen Members - Beautiful Death Machine

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There are isolated moments on "Beautiful Death Machine" where Swollen Members succeed with displays of truly elevated lyricism and production.

Much can be made of the work put forth by the Swollen Members since Madchild kicked a heroin addiction. After he became sober- around 2009- the trio dropped Dagger Mouth, and haven’t slowed down since. Their newest album, Beautiful Death Machine, marks the group’s fourth release in that four-year span.

Per the old cliché, “If it ain’t broke, then don’t fix it,” Beautiful Death Machine utilizes the formula most commonly used by the Swollen Members: deep, dark production laced with honest and thought-provoking lyrics. By sticking to the same blueprint as always, Madchild, Prevail and Rob the Viking have forced themselves to up their respective efforts with each album they release. It’s a tricky notion, but there are isolated moments on Beautiful Death Machine where they succeed with displays of truly elevated lyricism and production.

Right from the get-go, the album establishes an effective movement between tracks, with the intro-track “Inception” followed by an interlude, into the posse cut “Death To You,” featuring Vinnie Paz, and La Coka Nostra members Ill Bill and Slaine. Four different interludes scattered about the album in hopes of creating seamless transitions from track-to-track, similar to a traditional concept album. It also captures this vibe thanks to its thematic production.

A true instrumentalist, producer Rob the Viking maintains a consistent, prevailing tone, all while changing melodies as needed. From horns (“Bax War”), to electronic music (“Juggernaut”), to just plain, sample-based production (“The Difference”), Rob is able to craft beats for fans of just about everything. On “Juggernaut” he displays arguably the album’s best beat: an electronic and bass-heavy track that delves heavily into elements of Dubstep music. What’s more, both Madchild and Prevail ride their verses with impressive flows, creating for a truly infectious listen. “Juggernaut” stands out as a testament to the growing popularity of Electronic Hip Hop.

While Rob the Viking deserves praise for his efforts on the beats, Beautiful Death Machine thrives equally for its lyrics. Madchild and Prevail show up for each track, aggressively tackling verse after verse with blunt rhymes and flows of varying speeds. On “Death To You,” Madchild boasts: “These young punks I’m schoolin’ ‘em like Cambridge / Slap these appetizers I’m the mothafuckin’ main dish / At first they’re on my mind but then they’re fallin’ off like dandruff / Now they call me a white devil like Colonel Sanders…” Both emcees stay on the attack for the majority of their verses, and they showcase lyrics that are more angry than anything else. The lone exception comes on “The Difference” where Rob the Viking calms everything down with an upbeat bass and piano sample, and both emcees provide lyrics that are more positive.

For all of its noteworthy aspects, Beautiful Death Machine falls short on some levels. While the first three-quarters flow nicely, the last tracks seem essentially like filler, and the fluidity from the album’s beginning doesn’t carry over to the end. Even “Colossal Beasts,” a collaboration with Apathy and Celph Titled, boasts solid lyrics. But a monotonous beat dampens the track. They expand into Dubstep and Electro territory, but unlike A$AP Rocky or Big Boi’s recent forays into those respective genres, there are times when the pairings feel forced. And while the trio’s bars often vacillate between funny, insightful and just overall impressive—Madchild’s references to dinosaur fellatio on “Juggernaut” leave a lot to be desired. Longtime Swollen Members fans likely won’t raise an eyebrow, but the consistent horrorcore references are likely to turn off potential new fans that aren’t down with the macabre subject matter

71 Comments

  • nick

    sick flow as always BAXWAR

  • Anonymous

    Bullshit review once again HipHopDX faggot staff. 5/5

  • Stavros

    Sick CD...dont get much stuff that isnt Aussie Hip Hop, but this is awesome

  • TeeXplicit

    Prevail got heavy bars Madchild perfects the tracks #classic work

  • ShinbrigGoku

    Lyricism is on point but at times can be a little boring, but Prevail really did bring the fire on this album!

  • Aim80

    If you, reviewer, think Juggernaut displays "arguably the album's best beat", a dubstep beat on a Hip-Hop album, then obviously you're biased to EDM and shouldn't be reviewing a Hip-Hop album, and probably shouldn't even be working for HHDX. Arguably, of course. This review is COMPLETELY opinion, as with most reviews, and should be taken with a grain of salt. This album's classic S&M, and any true Hip-Hop head will enjoy and respect it. Not too many emcees can claim Rock Steady Crew rep.... BAXWAR.

  • mistaac

    "On Juggernaut he displays arguably the albums best beat: an electronic and bass-heavy track that delves heavily into elements of Dubstep music. Whats more, both Madchild and Prevail ride their verses with impressive flows, creating for a truly infectious listen. Juggernaut stands out as a testament to the growing popularity of Electronic Hip Hop." "They expand into Dubstep and Electro territory, but unlike A$AP Rocky or Big Bois recent forays into those respective genres, there are times when the pairings feel forced. And while the trios bars often vacillate between funny, insightful and just overall impressiveMadchilds references to dinosaur fellatio on Juggernaut leave a lot to be desired" slight contradiction

  • iceman

    I can see some folks here blaming the lyrics, well...is it because there is no bitches or bling bling or crappy materialistic things in there? Some folks should stay to their crappy tyga and other shits from the same pot.

  • Tron87

    ? Same old shit. masterful black magic talk and its sickening, mad child is fucking terrible. wow. awesome beats. but wow lyrically. so fucking bad

  • JayDay

    great album, i was a little worried about madchild coming in here with his "dope sick voice" but he killed it old school swollen way. when i first heard inception and its play off of Circuit Breaker, i knew some magic was about to happen. i give this album 4/5, its kinda short, i expected a better verse from vinne. snak though, hands down beast guest verse. BAXWAR.

  • dj

    they thro down on this. and fear is so sick

  • ThisAlbumissofuckinAWESOME

    AWESOME

  • Deep Makani

    Amazing album!!!!!!!!

  • Deep Makani

    It was the best album I've ever heard!!!!!!

  • Yung Icy Boi!

    ma mixtape "Big Diamonds, Gold Ropes" sold mo den diz shit. lmao swag

  • Eric Schonbacher

    Much love to the canadian hip hop kings. Great album, much better than dagger mouth which I also enjoyed.

  • anon

    typical swollen members music. Meaningless rhymes and similar beats. not impressed but I am not a huge fan of them to start with>

  • danik

    that album was retarded keep it going mad prevail u killed it on evry track dam !

  • Jeff L

    I've been a swollen fan since the start and as much as I hate 99% of what DX rates music I have to agree with 3/5 for this album because Dagger Mouth is better, as is Mad's Dope Sick, but now that Mad's clean I expected to hear a more upbeat album. "The Difference" is the best album on the track because it sounds more like where they are now. I like the album but 3/5 is right because they've changed their directions yet their lyrics and verses continue down the same path. The upbeat shit is what I expected this album to be.

  • DaGrimm

    Agreed with the rating - very disappointed with the album. Compared to Dagger Mouth, it's more of the same, with hardly any evolution.

  • Anonymous

    It's funny how the top two rated albums in the past month aren't even hip-hop, while real hip-hop like this is considered mediocre here. This site should change their name to MainstreamDX.com

  • Andrew

    BAX WAR FAM!!!!! sick album

  • Deezy

    Shouldve posted Mercenary and King of Diamonds. Flames

  • Mike

    This album is really dope and should easily get a 4 star rating. To each his own though.

  • kingkennedy718

    SWOLLEN FUCKING MEMBERS...this album is dope as shit, along with Ill Bill's album, along with Slaines upcoming album, this is hip hop, FUCCCCK the BS! BAXWAR!

  • RileSum

    HHDX gotta get some new reviewers and editors, they're all just a bunch of mainstream dickriders. I honestly liked "Dagger Mouth" better, but this album still goes hard and deserves a better rating then 3/5 stars.

  • Anonymous

    Holy shit this ablum is good! HHDX can keep sucking mainstream artist dicks and keep trying to make underground/indie giants look mediocre but we all know its the other way around. But fuck it yall mainstream dick riders dont know shit. I listen to mainstream too but I dont suck their dicks like DX.

  • Anonymous

    These reviews are always wack giving shit albums 4 stars and giving a classic like this a fucking 3... nice DX, nice.

  • Teddy Roxpin

    This group just lost all their essence. I agree with review. It's generous if anything.

    • Anonymous

      Yeah I remember when I lost my essence once, it was pretty humbling experience. Lmao, what the fuck does that even mean? Hating just because I suppose

  • GrizzlyAdams

    HipHopDX always hating on real rap. Perfect 5. This album is straight cannibal rap eating wack rappers and spitting out their bones.

  • ELjay

    fruity loops music...

  • Jeremy Harpole

    In many ways nicely put, in other ways f**k off!! S&M is tha sh*t! Ain't know one else in modern music got nothing on them. I am a great lover and collector of excellent music and to me they are the equivalent of a modern day Pink Floyd. The world may not be ready yet but you can't stop these dudes.

  • Anonymous

    LOL @ the angry backpacker segment of the comment section. The album got what it deserved, 3/5 aint a bad ranking, its middle of the road, which is what this album is. It doesnt break any new ground, it's consistent with 100 other "Angry white Battle rapper" albums that are released every year. If you like that sort of thing this will get you where you need to go but its nothing special outside of that core little niche group. 3/5 is a fair rating

  • Anonymous

    fuck these editors there trying to sound albums dope difference and death to you are my favorites and juggernot whole albums dope

  • thisreviewsucks

    4-5 straight up!!

  • ThrillMurray

    The reviews,as usual, on this site are way off. This is a must own album. Every track is fire and the jams w La Coka and Vinnie Paz and The Demigodz are unreal. Cop this joint ASAP

  • LooseCanon

    I listened to the whole album yesterday. Thanks to real HipHop lovers the album got what it deserves. 3/5 is real shit but this album is dope as usual. Swollen Members keep releasing their albums and they never lose the excitement in the game. You can feel every works they did. Editor is trying to be objective but isn't this too much? Seriously if you listen to this album, you should rate between 4-5. Some respect & support for the rapper who hasn't sold their soul.

  • Antick

    Swollen member all day...buy the album

  • Gargoyle

    Ill Bill, Demigodz & Swollen Members. Best albums of 2013 so far.

    • ThrillMurray

      Add Czarface to that list and I agree. All dope albums. I like BDM the best out of the group though. Looking forward to that Slaine joint next DX is for the kiddie rappers rating this shit a 3

  • Anonymous

    Could be the best album out this year. Amazing!

  • Aaron

    Wow. whoever reviewed this album is terrible. Best beat is Juggernaut? C'mon man.

  • Peter Hanlon

    Madchild wasn't addicted to heroin, it was Oxycontin. Get your shit together.

    • asher1985

      only difference is the gov. only makes money off of the OC form. heroin is a lot stronger but usually when someone on oc's can't find em they go after heroin, and once they have tried it they usually stick with it

    • TaZzZ

      They aren't the same, but I believe he did try dope once he hit rock bottom.. You can only ride the OC train too long before your pockets start to wear thin

    • asher1985

      same thing, they're synonymous with each other

  • DrebinSlevin

    It seems that HHDX rates any albums that can be classified as "hardcore hip hop" with a 3. I get that hardcore hip hop isn't the only hip hop out there, but when Nicki Minaj albums get higher ratings then this is makes me think that this sites reviewers are a bunch of pop fans.

    • polo hova

      Man I been fucking with this site for years. Got it on my home page and everything. But it's not even current and the reviews are lacking. I'm not gonna say bad but they definitely got a weird ear for music.

  • polo hova

    This inception tracks pretty dope. I'll check it out.

  • sikboi

    Solid album. Boys are from Canada? Never heard of them but you always hear about that limp bitch Drake. Just goes to show you how fucked this biz iz.

  • JRich

    Haven't listened to the whole thing, but from the review and the songs I've heard, the rating is lower than the album actually deserves. Should be around a 3.5 or 4

  • adillyo

    First ill bill, then dgz, and now this. You guys must either despise underground hiphop or not get into it at all. This is classic fucking swollen and their best album since black magic. The last quarter is the weakest? Those are the best songs on the album! Can we please get someone who enjoys hardcore underground rap hiphop to do a review?