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Artist: Swollen Members
Album: Balance
Label: Battle Axe
Production: Alchemist, Avidence, Del, Kool DJ eq, others
Guests: Iriscience, Evidence, Everlast, Divine Styler, Del, Saafir, Sondoobie, Aceyalone, others
Stats: 1999, 18 tracks
Reviewed by: Datsun

Prevail and Madchild (the two lyricists who make up the group) are Canadian cats. Interesting and something different... The album is 18 tracks strong - mostly driven by clever rhyme schemes and evil beats. Not content with bragging about their skills, which seems to be the most common subject amongst rappers these days, Swollen Members give us all types of crazy stories. We are transported through dragon lairs,witness witches brewing their cauldrons and pan across scorched battle fields.The imagery is pretty dark and intensely creative. "What nature divides - the spirit unites and dreams are mad of this".

The collabs with other vocalists are another highlight with the featured guests giving stellar performances (with the exception of Son-doobie, who'se chorus on "Committed" becomes tired quickly). This definitely adds variance to the album and helps keep the listener interested. Track after track is blessed with Prevail and Madchild's cool, well-delivered vocals and it's evident that a whole lotta work went into each of the joints lyrically. I personally hate albums where MC's aren't saying anything interesting or new, fortunately there's hardly any of that on "Balance". If you're looking for some conscious-styled Hip-Hop check out "Consumption" and "Counter parts". And the beats? The beats are great - productions is tight and menacing. The many producers have chosen the beats well to interact with the dungeon and dragon imagery presented by the MC's. There are a lot of church organs, samples from gospel chorus', humming, harps and high-pitched piano loops.

When you find yourself in the 18 century with evil lurking all around, your only weaponry is your lyrical sword and sharp necksnapping beats - know that you've been listening to "Balance". The Swollen Members have created an album full of clever compulsive music. Here's one last rhyme in an attempt to get you to peep this album, taken from my favorite track - the bass heavy, scary "out of range" - "I choke him with strings of show and the carnival is open, We just finished stringing the cardinal from the ropes, And the poles and the hooks of the tent. To sound crash and packed intense dents from materials dense." The album is worth every cent you spend, if your music store hasn't got it,order it. [7.5/10]

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