Making his name with Stuck Mojo, one of the earlier pioneers of rap-metal, Bonz has embarked on his own project which took shape in 2011. Collaborating with Curt Taylor of Primer 55, BONZ released a few demos and in January last year, scored a deal with Eternal Sound Records which is handling the European distribution of the debut album “Broken Silence”. Let’s see if Bonz still has his Mojo or is he just stuck?
“Sinister Grin” opens up with a very sinister sounding bass line which suddenly crashes into some full on riffing. Bonz’ vocals are delivered in the trademark rap-metal style – full of edge and fluidly. The simple but effective pounding groove underneath compliments it well and it’s hard not to get caught up nodding along. Its steady feel seems faster due to the tight rhythm work and the precise, punchy riffs and deep bass really stand out on this one. The lead section is short but raw sounding, adding that extra bit of attitude and all round, it’s a good introduction to the album. “Comes Over Me” has a real pushing groove behind it which kicks up a gear with some serious heavily muted chugging riffs after the initial verse. It’s got a very nu-metal feel to it, but because rap-metal and nu-metal are so similar it’s expected. Vocally it’s as expected but there are some ‘angsty’ sounding moments where the nu-metal feel is prevalent, but this is only an issue if you don’t like the “ginger haired stepchild” of the metal branch of music. “Goodshine” opens with another big nu-metal feel moment. Its simple melodic hook over the pounding riff works well, and the effects laden leads in the verse which Bonz delivers his lines over really works well in the rap metal style. It gets more groove and beef behind it as the riffs come in and in the chorus, the soloing over this beefy riff works well, even if it does sound out of tune at times.
“Broken Silence” has a tension building riff to start with as Bonz delivers some free-style moments before it all kicks in. The pushing groove really gets you and like the opening track, it’s hard not to get caught up in it. Whilst it doesn’t quite match the standards set by Body Count in the rap-metal scene, it’s got some edge to it but what it lacks in anger, it makes up for with a beefed up sound. It’s a great track. “30 Seconds to swat” opens with a sample of sirens and the stereotypical SWAT dialogue you hear in most American cop shows over a tension building riff. As the main riffs kick in, there is a sense of urgency in the feel and it works well. Basic sounding? Yes. Effective? Most certainly. The stop start feel underneath the rapping drives the song on and despite some of the awful lyrics, it’d go down quite well in a live setting. “Take it Personal” has a slow crushing riff to start with but this gives way to a bass and vocal focused verse. The pace of Bonz’ lyric delivery is impressive as he delivers them at a fluid pace and this track is where he really stands out. The bass heavy verses and slow crushing riff chorus approach works well enough, giving the vocals the spotlight, but overall, it’s just a slower version of previous tracks. “Sour Diesel” has a more upbeat feel to it. A bright sounding bass line which is mirrored by the guitar and a simple drum beat backs up the vocals and it is a good contrast to the previous track. It’s more laid back in feel and it only darkens towards the end of the track with some sludgy sounding riffs. It does have one stand out moment though – the lead section in the final quarter of the song. A flashy sounding solo breaks up the song and gives it a spark which it needs and it’s nice to hear some flashy work in a groove fest now and then!
“Bad News” is fast paced and heavy sounding from the off. Thick sounding riffs grab the attention as Bonz raps over them. This track has a bit more variety to it even if it does share the stripped back approach the rest of the album has. It just comes across as more vibrant and maybe it would have fitted better earlier on in the album. Its chorus picks up the feel and in the final one, it sets up well for a big ending which in the live setting would go down a treat. Closing the album is “Bad Love” which opens with a sample of a distraught woman crying before kicking into a pounding heavy stomp feel riff. Its pounding rhythm and jarring riffs add some edge to it and the bass line is clear as it cuts through the mix and helps add some variety to the sound, but it’s not enough to help the album end on a strong note. The bonus track is a live performance of “Take It Personal” which does put it over well and demonstrates the heavy, crushing riff I mentioned before in a live setting and the track does sound good live, but like the entire album, it’s just pretty predictable and basic.
“Broken Silence” is one of those releases, you’ll either love it, hate it or be indifferent to it. It’s got some good moments, some decent riffs and grooves, but nothing really sticks out which really gets your attention and holds it. Rap-metal is difficult at the best of times, and with the recent comeback of the kings of it – Body Count, it’s hard for anything to really stand up to the standard Ice T and his guys have set. Bonz might be one of the originals, but it’s just missing that spark.