This release was a long time coming… Killer Squad, the first full EP from the mighty Russian trio since last summer’s Hyper Space EP has been among us for a few weeks now. Expectations were very high, especially considering their never-ending stream of mind-blowing singles, EPs, and remixes in the last few years, which for me started with their album The Dark Defender as Paimon and Place 2B in 2012. Pretty much every Drum & Bass song these guys have released since that album served to put them on a pedestal few others have reached (the usual suspects being Noisia, Phace & Misanthrop, and Mefjus).
The EP was built on the interesting concept of the Teddies collaborating with other notable producers on each track, namely June Miller, Gridlok, Audio, Icicle, Annix and Counterstrike.
Does it live up the to massive expectations placed upon it?
Well… some of it is pretty damn awesome! And some of it is kind of disappointing, in my opinion, my personal expectations for it being very high.
I really love the first and last tracks, Outer Space with June Miller and Horror Story with Counterstrike. The former has everything it needs to be one of the most massive tunes of the year: a beyond epic intro, which is something both outfits have mastered, featuring a speech by JFK on the Nuclear armament race of the Cold War and the eventual need to find a new home should ours be destroyed by said weapons. It also sports a drop that is to neurofunk what John Holmes’ Johnson was to porn…. Yes I went there! An immense, heavy yet complex drop with a lot of twists and turns that make its replay value shoot through the roof! And a second drop that switches things up with some jungle breaks and Metal-like start-and-stop rhythms. Everything we love about both the Teddies and the Millers is present here and it is a pure joy to listen to.
Horror Story starts off in pure Teddy Killerz fashion with some eerie, tension-filled, Psycho-like strings and it’s not long before it kicks into full gear and utterly smashes everything in its way! The rhythm is incessant and the heavily edited call-and-response basslines make this track sound like the Snowpiercer train headed straight for the apocalypse at 174 BPM! While I don’t know much about Counterstrike, besides a live set I am currently listening to at the moment of writing, the track isn’t as Metal and Hardcore and influenced as their work seems to be (which I dig, being a former metal-head), but it definitely has that meNtal vibe the Teddies are infamous for and you’ll want to keep playing it in a loop for hours!
Stuck in the middle of this EP is their collab with Audio, Bugs! From the intro to the drop, it definitely sounds like an Audio, much more so than a Teddy Killerz tune. At first this disappointed me, because I really imagined a full on crossover of both acts’ sound. But upon further listening I am beginning to enjoy more and more and little “ih-ya-yao” vocal stab that punctuates the bassline is now burned into my brain! But overall, it is a very good, wildly energetic tune that barely takes any time to slow down and let the listener breathe!
Then there is the song I didn’t like so much… but really wanted to!
Sputnik, made with Gridlok is off to a great start with a fantastic intro chock-full of distorted, time-stretched sounds mangled beyond recognition. The sound design work in this intro is rather incredible! Which is a shame because when the drops hits, it’s like we aren’t even listening to the same tune because the energy really takes a dive, the bass is lacklustre, the are just drums plodding along and the high squealing sounds really didn’t do it for me. I usually love Gridlok’s work and I’m sad to say I did not like this track, save for its intro, breakdown, outro and drum fills, which are quite tremendous.
And then the ones I really didn’t care for…
Louder, made with Icicle and featuring DJ Craze in some indistinct capacity, is a hip-hop-ish halftime tune the kind of which I do not like. The second half is DnB but the only thing they bothered to change was the beat. It sounds incoherent and lacks energy and inspiration and is a big let down, considering the pedigree of those involved.
My verdict is pretty much the same for their collab with Annix, Leap Of Faith. I enjoyed quite a bit of their album Forever, released earlier this year. And while this track has some good ideas and some fun little sound bites here and there, it is marred by its most prominent element! The freakin’ vocal squeal that repeats ad nauseam throughout this track really made it unbearable for me and only now while writing this paragraph have I actually mustered the courage to listen to all of it (during which I noticed the fun little sounds interspersed in the background during which the squeal finally stops!).
So is it worth your spending money? Have a listen, because this is my opinion and being a fan of the Teddy Killerz and of pretty much every act enlisted to collaborate on this EP, I was let down quite a bit. But as explained earlier, some of this disappointment is attributed to the massive expectations I had, and some is just borne from my subjective interpretation of the music on display here… but I think it’s definitely worth getting the June Miller, Audio and Counterstrike collabs.
For more information Ram Records… crawl from under the rock you live in. =)
but if you insist… www.ramrecords.com