Crimson crows in the boondocks

BOONDOX: Krimson Crow

Release year: 2020
Label: Majik Ninja Entertainment

Lately, I’ve been on a bit of a horrorcore rap trip, listening to more stuff of that genre than is healthy for ya. I guess it all started with discovering Alla Xul Elu, but since then it’s expanded – or more like exploded, with me lapping up anything I can find. It’s not like it’s a new genre to me, Necro and Insane Clown Posse and some other classics names were familiar from before, but there’s something in this (slightly) newer breed of artists that really hits home with me.

Boondox is an interesting artist in the field, because whilst by and large fitting into the confines of horrorcore, his expression has considerable breadth. Apart from straight up horrorcore, you’re wont to find country and southern rock influences, pop-tinged melodic rap and who knows what else on his albums – cut from one cloth, this ain’t.

Krimson Crow is, at the time of writing, the newest album by Boondox; according to Discogs, his sixth album since 2006. In comparison to many of his colleagues, that’s quite a moderate pace with an average of almost 2.5 years between albums – seems like many rap artists churn out at least one album per year. Maybe there’s nothing to it, but I feel tempted to say that on Krimson Crow you can hear that Boondox doesn’t hurry his releases – in a positive way.

The cover of the album seems like your typical horrorcore album. It’s actually a very neat cover, dark and ominous and rife with the rural horror imagery Boondox usually employs. However, the disc itself contains again a far larger spectrum of styles. The album begins predictably with a full-on horrorcore track with a definite backwoods tint; Red Clay Crazy certainly sets the mood with twangy guitars and harmonicas. To be sure, there are plenty of tracks that evoke the same imagery of boarded up rural towns, demented murderers lurking in dilapidated shacks, eerie woods and fields of corn. But also something else: the highly catchy Wild Horses, which in my mind is one of the strongest tracks on the album, takes a far more down-to-earth and personal lyrical approach. No horrorcore here, but a lot of modern country rock feel. It’s definitely a departure, but a succesful one – and not out of character for Boondox. At other times, the album veers in an almost pop direction, with melodic, autotune-laden rapping and very soft backing. And at yet other times, things are amped up a bit with distorted guitars playing driving rock riffs, giving the album a slightly more in-your-face aggressive feel.

And it works. As the idiom goes, variety is the spice of life. Considering the album runs for over 50 minutes, it might easily become a bit tedious if all Krimson Crow offered was viscera-drenched violent horrorcore. As it is now, there’s variety and balance, resulting in an album that stands repeated listening. Boondox himself is in fine form, delivering his lines with his trademark style; he is complemented by several guests, many of who add valuable contributions to their tracks in the way of variety in the vocal department. Blaze Ya Dead Homie gives a particularly good feat on Born To Lose – his guest spots usually stand out, thanks to his unique style.

As a whole, Krimson Crow is a nicely balanced and varied rap album. Whilst it is obviously labelled a horrorcore album, in reality it extends far beyond at least any narrow-minded definitions of the genre. Comparing to his previous discography, both albums and singles, I feel that Boondox’ habit of switching up his expression and incorporating different styles works better on Krimson Crow than many other times.

This album may not be his best, but it is a strong release nonetheless. That’s my simple bottom line here.

Summary: Though nominally horrorcore, Krimson Crow extends beyond subgenre confines – and makes it work.

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