Artist: OuterspaceTitle: Blood and AshesRating: 3 1/2 StarsReviewed by: Matt Barone
When Vinnie Paz, the violent-minded front man of Jedi Mind Tricks, executive produces a project, odds are in favor of an unabashedly hardcore listening experience. On the Philly-based duo Outerspaces debut, Blood and Ashes (Babygrande), thats exactly what is delivered. Group members Planetary and Crypt follow in the same rhyme vein as fellow Army Of The Pharaohs Vinnie Paz, Celph Titled, and Esoteric; delivering abrasive verses touched with occasional introspection. Blood and Ashes keeps the mood dark throughout, catering more to underground heads who crave their music raw, and Planetary and Crypt possess sufficient enough lyrical skill to prove worthy of the tight production bestowed upon them.
Underrated beat-maker 7L arranges hypnotic violins and piano keys on the scorching Fire and Ice, where Planetary warns opposing rappers, You cant escape, everything I spit is six-feet, and I bet you aint think that I could get this deep. 7Ls eerie backdrop inspires the duo to let the world know It Is What It Is, while Panik brings a Rza-esque soundtrack on the angry Raw Deal. Whatever It Takes allows Crypt to reveal his true reasons for MCing, spitting, The belly of the beast, a feast is unreachable, gotta get this cheddar now, the youngns, they believe in you.
Guest appearances are used to Outerspaces advantage on Blood and Ashes, inviting their usual associates to match the duos verbal intensity. Cinematic strings power The Revolution, as Celph Titled fires off his always disturbed punch lines, such as, When it comes to machine guns, we fire Tommys like Sony. Sadat X checks in on the trumpet-heavy Top Shelf, while the intimidating abilities of Immortal Technique tear through Angels Of Death. Esoteric gets mic time as well, joining Planetary and Crypt over 7Ls avant-garde flutes on Far Greater.
With no truly weak selections to be heard, Blood and Ashes is a solid introduction for Outerspace. While an up-tempo number would have been welcome, the albums overall gritty nature stays true to the legacy their predecessors have sparked. With other underground acts like Chief Kamachi and the aforementioned Jedi Mind Tricks serving quality product, Outerspace furthers the strong presence of Philadelphias subterranean hip-hop scene.