Swollen Members Beautiful Death Machine

Swollen Members Beautiful Death Machine
5
There's much to like on Beautiful Death Machine, Swollen Members' eighth studio album: the production is dark, ominous and heavy, while Mad Child and Prevail's delivery sounds crisper than ever. Unfortunately, there is also one fairly glaring shortcoming: there's entirely too much rapping about rap. Fully two-thirds of Beautiful Death Machine is dedicated to the Members talking about how good they are at rap. This would be totally acceptable from some young cats dropping their first couple mixtapes, but for rap game veterans in their 30s, it feels kind of weak. At this point, it doesn't matter if they're cleverly trying to cover their rap-about-rap with complex metaphors about elves, orcs and manticores, it still is what it is. Interestingly, when the Members start mining other territory, they're fantastic. Mad Child is riveting when rapping about his highly publicized issues with substance abuse on "River Monster" or earnestly talking about his desire to be a better person on "Death Warrant." Prevail is equally compelling when detailing the group's journey through the music business on "The Difference." There's no doubt that, technically speaking, Swollen Members are better now than they've ever been, but a decade-and-a-half in, they need to find new material. (Suburban Noize)