As a prequel to their forthcoming fifth album and a sure fire key to get the juices of anticipation going, metal hip hop crusaders Senser release their Biting Rhymes EP on Nov 27th via Imprint Music. The release is a five track compilation of unique covers of hip hop classics from artists that inspired and influenced them, the UK rap metalers giving their homage to the makers of the music that lined and filled their lives and journey into becoming Senser. The band themselves say in the press release for the EP, “This is really the music most of us grew up with, to us early Hip Hop represents a parallel with folk music, or the Jazz standards – a lexicon of classics”
Bringing three brand new covers, a remastered all time favourite of the band and a remastered live cut, Biting Rhymes shows affection and respect for the originals whilst being steeled with Senser’s distinct and powerful essences to result in a release that will satisfy rap and metal fans alike. There is a recent move from bands it seems to bring out releases with a spattering of covers of songs from their strong influences with recent offerings from As I Lay Dying and Whitechapel springing to mind, but there are not many that hit the mark as acutely and impressively as on Biting Rhymes. To be honest there was a little caution before going into the EP, a ‘more covers? Sigh!’ mentality, but as soon as the opening track states its purpose and unveils its quality the reticence is replaced as guilt for not trusting Senser and their hearts.
The three new covers consist of ‘Don’t Believe The Hype’ (Public Enemy), ‘Follow The Leader’ (Erik B & Rakim), and ‘Mama Said Knock You Out’ (LL Cool J). The first of the three opens up the EP with the band bringing a faithful and beefed up interpretation of the original through a stalking deep bassline which skirts around and through the track instilling the strong intent they bring to all their original sounds. Senser actually sound very much like 90’s UK band Honky on the song with the vocals of Heitham Al sayed and the songs eager groove. The third of the trio ripples with attitude and belligerence, the song standing sure footed in front of the ear, chest beating and throwing its weight around. Again the track is a more muscular version of the original, the band bringing their own distinct flavouring in equal measure to their respectful use of the original sounds.
Those two songs are split by the release’s best track ‘Follow The Leader’. With a darker intent and rippling menace the song is immense, and whereas elsewhere the songs offered are on a virtual even par with their sources here Senser outshine the original easily. Even watching the classic gangster video from Erik B & Rakim at the same time as playing Senser’s version of the song, it pales in comparison to the intensity the UK sextet infuse into the track.
The release is completed by firstly ‘Channel Zero’ (Public Enemy) a song the band has adored and brought to their live shows since the beginning, the samples from Slayer’s ‘Angel Of Death’ that vein the track an easy fit with Senser’s own metal strengths. The song is noted by the band as being one of the most important tracks in the band’s development into being and there is a sure extra energy from the band within it that backs that statement up. The track carries the trademark Senser heavy slashing guitar sound and aggressive rap vocals and instantly is a fit to the Stacked Up album era.
‘Looking Down The Barrel Of A Gun’ (Beastie Boys) finishes the EP, a live track taken from way back in 1994 from a gig at Reading University. Despite its age the song still sounds fresh and is a pretty faithful version that raises the spirits even if matching The Beastie Boys is impossible, for anyone.
Biting Rhymes is a great and extremely enjoyable collection of sounds and insight into Senser’s strong acknowledgement to their inspirations and loves. It is also a fine teaser and the trigger for the eager anticipation for their album to go into overdrive.