Canibus & Phoenix Orion – Def Con Zero (CD)

The style of the title track is an update version of the light-instrumentation and violent raps of the gangster period, allowed a little bit of the nuanced DangerDoom/newer style. The anemic beats on tracks like “Majestic Mic Masters” might be created to properly show off the vocal styles of the act, but in reality the down-tempo of the backing beat gives the vocals a certain sluggishness that it would not have otherwise. Further backing beats, such as those present in “Close to Me”, does its job admirably in filling the backing space but does little beyond that to really excite listeners.

The role of the backing beat is to fill the track, but there are definite times where a solid backing beat pushes the album to bold new heights. By ignoring this tendency in the first part of the disc, Canibus & Phoenix Orion really create a vulnerable album. Adding a gruff exterior to their “Letter from Head Trauma”, Canibus & Phoenix Orion really start to shine, albeit in a way that has more to do with Cypress Hill than Scarface. The lack of skits on this alum is a great decision by the act, as it keeps a certain cohesion present throughout and does not cut ddown on the momentum garnered by tracks like “Gold Trigga”. The major thing that “Def Con Zero” suffers from is the lack of a track to stand head and shoulders above the rest; the tracks all are decent, but there is not that one radio hit to propel a former golden child like Canibus back in the limelight.

The tweaking of the delivery during “Titans” is the first time that Canibus and Phoenix Orion really approach something like a “hit”; what really holds this track back is the fact that it is over five minutes without much in the way of in-track changes. “Def Con Zero” should be named “Terror Alert Yellow”; to give the album such an impressive title really says to the potential l;istener that the album will be revolutionary. While there are a number of tracks on the disc that would do fine placed alongside hits during a party, the simple fact is that they are a few steps from really being in the big time. Maybe on the next album Canibus and Phoenix Orion will shine, but this go-around really shows them as being perfect on the general motions and lacking in the soul and the delivery of their music.

Top Tracks: Cloakman, Gold Trigga

Rating: 4.0/10

Canibus & Phoenix Orion – Def Con Zero / 2005 First Cut / 19 Tracks / http://www.firstkut.com / http://www.headtraumarecords.com / Reviewed 06 December 2005

[JMcQ]

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