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CD Review: (hed) P.E. – Back 2 Base X

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My last time listening to (hed) P.E. was back in January 2005, when I took a stab at their last album, Only in Amerka. That was my first experience with the band, and I did not find it to be a terribly favorable one. I was criticized by fans for my views, some rightly so, others not. In any case, my experience and subsequent review of that album did not endear me to fans, just as the album did not endear the band to me. So here we are, a year and a half later, I have in my hands an advance copy of their latest release, Back 2 Base X, their first for their new label, Suburban Noize.

Granted, I was not sure that I should even go near this disc, considering the disastrous results I had the first time. But, on the flipside, I was intrigued by the idea of revisiting a band that I had previously panned, to see if they were bringing anything new to the table to potentially win me back. After taking a few passes through Back 2 Base X, I can report that while they may not have won me over as a fulltime fan, they have crafted an album that has a lot of good grooves and a healthy dose of originality. This is a good album, one that will find its way to my playlist a lot faster than the last album.

(hed) P.E. have delivered an album with an intriguing mix of hip-hop, punk, metal, and a healthy dose of the ’70s. I found it hard to believe that I was listening to the same band. This album isn’t short on groove or attitude. The attitude and ferocity with which they perform is evident and infectious. You will find yourself rocking to the beat, whether it be a raw punk riff, some smooth funk inflected cut, or a hip-hop rhyme. The styles, at first glance, would seem to clash, these guys are no rap-metal act: they swirl around, bending the conventions to the whim of the song.

The album was recorded live in the studio – something that you do not see all that often. This approach gives the music an organic, unproduced feel. Many albums sound way overproduced, too many studio touch-ups disguising the ability, or lack of, a band has. A good example of an overproduced sound is Linkin Park. They have a few decent cuts, but overall, the album feels like a studio, it doesn’t breathe. (hed) P.E. has taken the live atmosphere in the studio and let the music breathe, exposing their ability, which may not be the best in the world, but comes together on this song collection. They play that blended style, switching up from song to song, yet never losing the big picture of the album. It flows from start to finish, making it something more than just a collection.

(Before going any further, I would like to sidestep a bit. I would love to know the origin of the band name. I know the P.E. stands for Planet Earth, but what does the whole thing mean, and how did they come up with it? It is rather odd with the initials and the punctuation. It is not the easiest band name to say. So if any of you can enlighten me to the origins, I would be much obliged. Interlude over, back to the album at hand.)

The album opens with the ’70s-flavored “Listen.” It is a nice welcoming groove that eases you into an album that reflects on mortality and the hidden forces of the world, including freemasonry and the New World Order. That smooth flow gives way to the punk metal of “Novus Ordos Clitorus,” which brings the energy level up and demonstrates the variety of sounds they produce.

Highlights of the album include the in your face “Get Ready,” which will likely be a great live cut – it would probably make a good show-opener. Another top one is the reggae-inflected “Sophia.” Not to be missed is the hip-hop cut “Daze or War,” it has an old-school feel that will get your head bobbing. There are a few other tracks worthwhile, but they all have a nice flow, basically just put it on and listen to it straight through.

I’ve said it before, and probably will again, but for some reason I want to equate these guys with Dope. They are distinctly different bands, but they seem to have had similar issues with record labels and doing things on their own. Essentially, they have done a lot of their own promotion and had their own struggles to get their music out there. Plus, I think they would be an insane live tandem should they do a tour together.

Bottomline. Well, how things change. This is not a great album, but it is definitely a good one, and has gone a long way to wipe their last one from my mind. Back to Base X is an album that has a variety of styles that all mesh well and demonstrate an energy that must be great live. This is a disk that I have no problems recommending, to fans, or those new to the band.

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About Draven99

  • http://www.linkinparkworld.be Dimitri

    Linkin Park is one of the best rock bands at the moment. Protools makes them perfect and their sound is DEFINITLY NOT overproduced. You must have been living in a cave for the last years and got out of it recently.

  • http://draven99.blogspot.com Chris Beaumont

    Bands shouldn’t need protools to make them sound good. I’m not against the use, but I stand by my statement, LP is overproduced corporate rock. I enjoy some of their songs, but there are many other bands I would go to before them. They don’t have much edge, it strikes me of playing it right down the middle to get radio play. That’s the last I will speak of LP in this forum.

  • Jai

    LP is awesome!!!

    Yes they do have a very sound rhythm to all of their music but this is countered by some of the most memorable rock/alternate/new rap/light metal or whatever else you would call them. They have a good mix in all their music and I’m sure if you actually listened to (hed)PE last album you have surely noticed that they to appreciate Linkin Parks music (They mentioned wanting to hang with them). I’m not a huge fan of (hed)PE but all of their music has been very “them” for lack of better terms. Their use of language has a lot to be desired but they are extremely strong about the themes they want to put across in their music and this is something i think that LP do as well. Also if you have heard Linkin Park Live you wouldn’t say they are overproduced.

    All that I said above in regards to LP is to not include “Jay Z”. I have only hate for his tunes.

  • Corbett

    Linkin Park have some good groves, riffs etc. I think they are talented band, but I agree with Chris, they sound far too studioish. I just recieved an advance copy of ‘Back To Base X’…oh my god, this has completely wiped the past 2 albums off the map…(Hed)pe are back, the sound is so raw and the grooves and riffs are so experimental. I travelled down to London from Scotland to see them in March or something, the live show was absolutely outstanding. To answer you question Chris, they were orginally called ‘Hed’ but this caused obvious problems so they added the extra Pe and put brackets around Hed. Their name has changed for various albums and promotions from simple things like. “HED p.e” “(Hed)pe” from having an upside down “e” etc. I suggest if these guys pass by and throw a show in your area you attend!

  • Mark Bowman

    Hed Pe are 10000000000000000000000000000 times the band linkin park are, or ever will be!

  • http://www.still.tk Shuvit

    The origin of the name (hed) p.e. comes from Jahred/MCUD’s interpretation of ‘of the mind’ (wich hed stands for). The p.e. originally stood for ‘Planetery Evolution’, was changed with the Broke album to ‘Planet Earth’ (the gimmick was they would change it every album), but dropped it after Blackout to just ‘p.e.’.

    Also, if ‘Only in Amerika’ was your first encounter with (hed), and this is your second encounter THEN PLEASE GO LISTEN THEIR FIRST ALBUMS!!

    Originally they produced ‘church of realities’ and ‘hed p.e.’ (the latter one consists of most of the songs of c.o.r.), wich has a VERY original ‘hiphop/metal/jazz’ sound (and no, its not just rapcore; its more than that) Broke was more of a ‘linkin park-like’ album (more rapcore, but still Jahred sings “Everybody’s crazy ’bout that new sound but it’s still hip-hop to me” and these are wise words), but is way more original and ‘alive’ (as opposed to a static/cold sound of linkin park). Please, go listen at least the Broke/Hed PE albums, because they were produced before jahred became a pedosexual punkrocker (:

    as for linkin park – what can I say? the fact that the band was formed together by the label instead of working together then getting a label says enough…

  • http://www.myspace.com/mdmamusic Martyn

    I agree with the last comment. Hed’s first two albums are alot better than their last two. I dont think anyone can make a proper judgment on (hed) pe until they hear broke/hed pe. Personally, i would steer clear of blackout, as it seems like an attempt at the mainstream. (Other than the title track which rocks!).

    As for linkin park, i agree that they are overproduced, but i am still a fan. And i must say, when playing live, they manage to capture this sound perfectly, no matter how pverproduced it may be. Thank god for the DJ. They sound just like their records live. Yes, they are manufactured, but so are alot of succesful bands, and i think that without linkin park, we wouldnt have had the Nu-Metal wave, which has bought us alot of good bands.

    Hed Pe’s ‘Back 2 base X’ is out today. Im off to buy it! I would strongly recommend Hed to anyone.

  • pexa

    Jai – Hed are allready friends with LP and have been for quite a while…since broke, basically at the birth of LP, on one of LP’s singles it has a video of them with hed getting tattoed etc, i think it may be the crawling single…

    Martyn – LP definatly did not start the nu metal wave, they were a band that rode the wave…….it originated for korn and limp bizkit in the life is peachy/significant other days, the record labels saw that people really liked this kind of stuff so they created the band that we know as linkin park

    shuvit – Spot on, you cant judge hed pe at all from their last two albums, the raw sounds of churches of reality and self titled really shows the true nature of hed pe, it is a really raw speedy sound and you cant look past those two albums if you want to listen to hed

    I’m listening to back to base x right now…..i’m not all that impressed so far, but i can see it growing on me…it is very very very different to anything else they have done. it will take some getting used to, hed made broke because they had to, it isnt like it was a mainstream album, it is pretty brutal, and the melodies on it are amazing….

  • Mike

    Hed Pe , is very good, As is LP.. but i agree that Only In Amerika is not that good.. to Rappy. I have heard a little of Back to Base X, and i dont know whether im gonna like it like Broke.. But as long as It has a few Good Catchy songs i will like it…

  • Allen

    I’m gonna stay off LP, take ‘em or leave ‘em, I couldn’t care less. As for Hed, they only problem they had with Only In Amerika and Blackout was they tried TOO hard to do the opposite of what the last album did. Blackout tried to be too mainstream to break away from the underplayed sound of Broke, and Only In Amerika was a pissed off album to strike back at the label for Blackout. Both were pretty good albums, but they weren’t really the whole picture. While Back 2 Base X isn’t Broke, and certainly isn’t Church Of Realities or their S/T album, it’s definately a good album. However, I think a couple of their songs sound too much like Sublime. Not to discredit them, I’m just not a fan.

  • me

    hed pe is back with this album. their last two albums were good albums but werent as good as “broke”. The best songs on back 2 the base x are white collars, sophia, beware do we go, and lets ride. Dont listen to the negative reviews that this album may get. All the hardcore hed(pe) fans will love this album. as for linkin park, they WERE a band before they had a record deal and they are overproduced. But I am a fan and will get there new album when they finally release it.

  • MIkey

    OMG i LOVED Blackout! I think that IMO that that is one of their best CDs, the lyrcs in their songs are awesome and i can really relate to them. Though i stated on them with Broke…which i love still and have just now gotten their first CD, i still think they are great!

    As for Only In Amerika….i listened to it about a total amount of….3 times? IDK maybe its just me…but i cant get into music where all he talks about is screwing 17 year old girls. I thought it might have been one of the newer members but i guess not. Thanx for at least clearing up what happened to them with that CD

    O and who ever said hed pe was copying LP….you need to learn your chronological order. hed pe was definitly around before LP…AND have out more CDs than LP. So figure out what your saying.

    Check out hed’s cds before Amerika…youll be pleasantly surprised.

  • smasherx

    I have mixed feelings about the new album. I dont really understand how people are saying the old hed is back. Some of the songs on B2BX are corny as hell. Some of the riffs are a joke and the chorus’s sound really cheesy.

    I like the direction of the 70’s groove sound and the reggie sound, but white collar? Good god it sounds like a show tune the way he sings it.

    Best song is Get ready.

    P.S. Blackout and Only In America are not as bad as everyone says.

  • Jorge

    i went to a kmk koast ll koast concert not to long ago and they fucking rocked, they were a starting band for kmk and they really lit up the stage

  • http://www.myspace.com/tracelessechomusic jimi

    well, firstly, the subject in hand, Back 2 base X, what a brilliant album, i love it, its just a cray mix of reggae, metal, hip-hop and punk rock, i think that while some of the lyrics are of a serious political style natue, a lot of them are more than likley just stoner humour. Only in amerika was the album that got me into (hed)PE so i really like it, but i also love the first 3 as well, and think that if you mix all of thier albums into one big playlist, you get a more diverse sound than with most bands in the world,

    and finaly, linkin park were a band before getting signed and they nearly didnt get signed as record companies didnt think they would sell as “that sound was on its way out” if you want to hear chester bennington sounding unproduced, put some effort in and find some of the stuff he did with his first band “grey daze” as it shows that even with crappy production, he is a brilliant vocalist, and there are some good songs by grey daze too, :) all in all i think the review was acurate and tho i did like only in amerika a lot i can see why some people wouldnt, its all a mater of opinion.

  • jaime

    fuck the bullshit
    back to base x is a kick ass cd and dont u forget it
    if u really wanna hear the best of hed listen to their first three albums: church of realities, (hed)pe,and broke
    oh and (hed) means “deep from in yo mind”
    nuff said

  • http://www.bodeezy.com Frequency

    This album sucked compared to ALL of the other albums. BROKE is by far the best album ever released by Hed pe.

    This album sounds like me and my buddies fucking around in my garage… :( WHAT HAPPENED TO HED PE!!!! BRING BACK THE “BROKE” SOUND!!!

  • http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/%28h%C9%99d%29_p.e. Sammy Lopez

    Check out the band’s wikipedia page for some enlightenment, it’s fairly good.

    I’ve been listening to Hed since 2001, shortly after Broke. It’s still my favorite album ever created. With that said, the band has seriously let themselves go over the past years. Only in Amerika was in itself hilarious because it was so ridiculous. The most recent two albums, Back to Base X and Blackout are deplorable, some of the worst music I’ve heard in a while. Trust me, playing punk rock doesn’t mean to have to play notes grossly out of tune or scream tone deaf nonsense. I can only hope that Hed will return to the old style that made them popular in the first place, rather than opening for semi-decent white rap group. Just go to one of their concerts and listen to which songs they play. The past two I’ve been two within the last 2 years they have both played 90% from their first albums. Apparently even Hed pe can realize they’re only a shadow of their former self.

  • RaCh3ll

    omfggg LInkin Park izz bii far da b3zt r0ck band i’v3 3va list3nd t0!!!!!!
    R0ckkk 0nnn !!!

  • frozen

    spot on frequency…..i agree broke is by far their best album, top stuff.