ALLA XUL ELU: Mauxuleum
Release year: 2020
Label: Majik Ninja Entertainment
Horrorcore is an interesting form of rap music. Now, I’m not an expert in the field and cannot expertly trace the evolution of the style, and detail just how it has evolved and, to some extent at least, detached itself from the more mainstream branches of rap and hip hop music. However, some of its manifestations have come very far indeed from the urban commentary of classic rap. Axe murderers, ancient demons and sexing up the dead don’t figure much on the classic rap albums, right!
Case in point: Alla Xul Elu from Ohio (apparently). This relative newcomer to the field have carved a bloody and gore-filled place to the forefront of the genre with lyrical imagery of ancient gods, black magic, murder and death – lyrical content not too far removed from death metal, come think of it! True, an artist like Necro has explored the same lyrical themes since the 90’s, but this trio clad in dead skin masks (clever Slayer reference there, yeah?) take the concept to even further extremes.
Mauxuleum is the trio’s fourth full-length album, second released by Majik Ninja Entertainment, run by horrorcore stalwarts Twiztid. Like the preceeding EP Church Of Xul, this sees the trio fully flesh out their darkly occult, viscera-drenched but also blackly humorous imagery and style. The beats are filled with horror organs and violins, eerie synths, the chiming of distant bells, disturbed cackling and moaning and all sorts of mischief, creating an authentic horror feeling. Augmented at times by heavy electric guitar and whatnot, these truly are backdrops suited to tirades about Lovecraftian deities, zombie plagues, homicidal mania and souls being trapped in Hell.
The vocal delivery fits the lyrical concept as well: with rhythmical expertise, the trio of Billy Obey, Joe Black and Lee Carver sound convincingly menacing and vicious with lyrics spat out with the vitriol of a hardcore vocalist. Of course, it’s not all doom and gloom – and even when it is, there’s always a mischievous hint of black humour in there. Not wanting to make the album too heavy and somber, the trio have added a steamin’ hot love song to the album: Rigor Erectus is an ode to undying love and lust – and corpsefucking.
Still, it’s the darker and less in-your-face humorous stuff that’s the real draw on this album. Title track Mauxuleum with its tapestry of jilted voices in the background truly echoes the sounds of the bottomless pit, whilst the odes to mindless mutilation and classic horror-movie murder sprees Random Axe Of Violence and Mask Made Me Do It are every bit as morbidly enticing as the best death metal lyrics – delivered with suitably driving beats. And existing somewhere between delightfully twisted and oddly insightful, Rituals Of Rot is a fine take on the zombie genre, complemented by an awesome production leaning heavily on an arpeggiated bass synth.
I know horrorcore is a much maligned genre, not least because of its ties to all things juggalo. And yeah, whilst there’s obviously a lot of easy piss-takes to be taken on a subculture as flamboyant and self-confessedly freakish as juggalos, it’s a well run dry long ago. If you ever heard of beating a dead horse, juggalo-bashing and horrorcore-hatin’ approaches beating not only a dead horse, but the ground-down bones of said horse.
In fact, there’s no reason whatsoever to ridicule an act as delightfully odd and musically powerful as Alla Xul Elu. Awesome music, fun imagery, and nothing but top-notch quality make Mauxuleum a veritable tour de force of the darkest and the humorously sickest rap has to offer. Alla Xul Elu’s discography so far has been strong, and the direction has been in the right direction ever since the band’s 2015 duo debut Sci Co Volume 1. So far, this album and the aforementioned Church Of Xul are, in my opinion, the most developed and best representations of Alla Xul Elu’s sound – and outstanding releases.