H-BLOCKX — Discover My Soul (review)

H-BLOCKX — Discover My Soul album cover Album · 1996 · Non-Metal Buy this album from MMA partners
4/5 ·
Ah, the early 90’s. Shell suits, techno pop and Teenage Mutant Ninja Turtles. A bright, vibrant time, it was colourful, innocent and fun. Until around the mid-90’s, things changed. “Attitude” became cool. Bands were rebelling. TV was becoming bleaker. Everything suddenly became “darker” and more serious. And much like H-Blockx’s second album, while the music is still similar to their 1994 debut, there’re much more serious undertones to the album than before.

1994’s ‘Time to Move’ was a fun, quirky and very energetic album, with its daft, not-a-care-in-the-world lyrics and brightly coloured artwork, music videos and imagery, it was a sure reflection of the times. However, by 1996, the youthful enthusiasm was gone, and in its place was a more polished and mature band.

H-Blockx, Germany’s answer to the rap-rock movement that was being spearheaded by bands such as Rage Against the Machine, Body Count and Stuck Mojo, managed to incorporate more serious aspects to their music and lyrics, while still delivering an album full of vigour and exuberance. With their punchy guitar riffs, tongue-in-cheek rapping and anthemic choruses, they managed to adapt to the shifting social climate while producing an album that stays true to their own sound.

Underrated and always overlooked, guitarist Tim Tanambergen has some incredible chops in him, with some impressive guitar riffs that can be interesting without having to resort to mindless shredding, and they’re complimented well by two vocalists, Henning Wehland and Dave Gappa, who’s combination of melodic singing and aggressive rapping gives the music a great dynamic, years before Linkin Park were doing the same.

While this album does seem a little more disjointed than ‘Time to Move’, it’s still a worthy follow up and shows a band with so much potential, who just never really were in the right place at the right time. Songs like ‘Try Me One More Time’, ‘Gimme More’, ‘Discover My Soul’, ‘I Can’t Rely on You’, ‘I Heard Him Cry’, ‘Duality of Mind’ and one of my personal favourite rap-rock songs, ‘This is Not America’, show a band with a vast pallet of influences and styles. Ranging from soft and melodic, to energetic pop and downright fist-pumping rock, ‘Discover My Soul’, like its predecessor, serves as a great example of why rock and hip-hop fits together perfectly, and shouldn’t be as nonchalantly discarded as it is.
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