(hed) p.e.

(Suburban Noize 2007)(hed) p.e. - Insomnia

I've got to be honest, I was ready to hate this album. Not being a great historian of (hed) p.e., all of my prior knowledge of the band consisted of a handful of songs I happened to find myself listening to, and turning off in short order. As far as I was concerned, they were just another rap-metal outfit whose entire catalog of songs were about having sex with women, or at least attempting to. I tucked them away in my mental file of nü-metal refuse to be forgotten.

However, after actually listening to "Insomnia," I grudgingly admit that I may not have been one hundred percent accurate in my initial judgment of the band. "Insomnia" can't be written off as simple rap metal, as (hed) p.e. takes what seems like hundreds of disparate styles and influences and melds them into fourteen diverse tracks that sound wholly unique from one another. Most songs shift musical gears at least two or three times each. Elements of rap and metal swirl and mingle for a few tracks until "Habeus" and its pure punk blast. Following is "Suffa," which serves up an improbably cool mix of metal and reggae, followed by the straight up hip hop of "Comeova2nite." It's this sort of unpredictability that keeps the record interesting, right up until the almost sugary pop-punk of album closer "Don't Let Me Down."

Although the music is incredibly diverse, the lyrics on "Insomnia" are uniformly bad. (hed) p.e. tries mightily to be deep and profound but falls horribly short. Most songs offer vague and clichéd themes of rebellion and control. Thrown in for good measure, and for no apparent reason, are references to topics such as the Illuminati, the Freemasons, and the Rosicrucians. And hey, if you don't understand one of these shorthand versions of the "Da Vinci Code," you are instructed by vocalist Jared Gomes to "Wikipedia that shit." Gee, thanks, pal. The remaining song's lyrics are concerned with the aforementioned conquest of the fairer sex. Completely juvenile and wholly unnecessary, Gomes even manages to squeeze in a homophobic slur or two. It's good to see that I was right about at least one thing.

Stubborn son a bitch that I am, it was almost tough to admit that "Insomnia" was actually pretty good. It was interesting hearing elements of almost every conceivable musical style in one sixty minute record. The lyrics did suck, so that makes me feel just a bit justified for the opinion I had of (hed) p.e. back in the day. And by the way, no, I did not Wikipedia that shit.


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