If the uprising of lifeless flesh ever does come to pass instead of looking towards a Rick Grimes or Ash Williams, Britain has the answer in the shape of Lord Lav. To be honest he may not save your life but on the evidence of debut album Lord Of The Dead, he will send you to your demise smiling with content.
Lord Lav is British rapper, producer, and DJ Martin Lavender and Lord Of The Dead a concept rap album about life in the middle of a zombie apocalypse. With a tongue firmly in its cheek, the release is a fun and mischievous adventure, but also a fluid merger of cinematic sounds and electronic colours with the rapping and lyrical uniqueness of Lavender, a mix littered with numerous skits which only add to the revelry. The self-released Lord Of The Dead may not be the best rap album you are likely to hear and yes it is no War of the Worlds, but the Night of the Living Dead meets Shaun of the Dead like encounter is definitely going to be one of the most enjoyable and accomplished propositions to play with your ears and imagination.
Hailing from Southampton Lavender combines his passion for hip hop and zombies for his first album, creating a hungry decay filled landscape of tantalising drama which equally reflects aspects of modern life, in the words of Lavender “In a nutshell, it is about living amongst the ‘brain dead’ people of society and trying not to ‘catch’ the same attitudes to life. It’s about always pursuing your dreams whatever they are, despite the loneliness and dangers that come with doing so.”
The opening Dead Rising sets the scene, the tale’s two protagonists, Lord Lav and Gaz, discussing the weirdness going on outside their four walls as a sinister ambience wraps the intrusion of the dead. The skit leads into first proper song They’re Taking Over where the atmosphere of the first piece instantly builds in tension and intimidation as the dead flood the scenery whilst the rapping potency of Lavender narrates and paints with an effect glazed delivery their expanding lust. With haunting theremin lures swarming around words and imagination as keys and violin cast their own distressed hues, the song swiftly has thoughts fully involved in its drama, a deadly theatre which flows into the following Vacate the Doom. Its shimmering sounds seduce and caress the raps falling from Lavender’s lips, keys a musty yet elegant oppression immersing senses and emotions as moments of visceral savagery intersperse the sonic picture.
The Door Won’t Shut sees the two friends start to make their escape one with a knife, the other a rolling pin. Yes smiles are never far from the face as Lord of the Dead continues, the piece emerging as Kill the Brain and the stressful fleeing of the pair. The track is an agitated jumble of aural emotions, Lavender punchy with his spits and expression whilst the music ebbs and flows in its pressure as a persistent and imposing ambience with an almost Hammer Films like hue to its incitement clouds the scene.
Another skit takes the listener into the brilliance of the almost vaudeville like The Mystery of Death. With a ridiculously catchy chorus flirting with ears and the pulsating and heavy also funky sounds around it, the track offers a delicious dramatic emprise with a mischief and lyrical prowess to match. Imagine Insane Clown Posse sings Ian Dury or vice versa and you have the album’s greatest moment. The next proper song Local Zombie Offy sees Lord Lav alone in an off licence quenching his thirst and reflecting on his needs and wants as dark throated pulses and sultrily smouldering sounds flicker and dance around his internal discussion. Vocals are just as bouncy in delivery as the reverb caressed atmosphere and intrigue surrounding his drift into unconsciousness, his awakening coming in the outstanding Way Through the Trees. The gorgeous velvety dark tones of maybe an upright bass or cello provide the first enticing in the imposing passage of the song whilst keys add an ethereal air to the further provocative reflection of Lord Lav. What emerges is a physical and mental jazz noir flight clad in immersive shadows and dark thoughts providing further shade and diversity to the album.
The dreamy mesmeric presence of the song is contrasted by the quintessential British air of the album’s title track, Lord of the Dead strolling with bold gait and aural nostalgia as Lord Lav becomes the lord of the manor with zombies his staff. The ever appealing and unfussy tones of Lavender contrasts perfectly with the sepia coloured and constantly shifting adventure of the music where twenties and thirties sounds collude with jazz and theatrical devilry within another imposingly throbbing bait of beats. Its surreal fantasy makes way for the melancholic When Loneliness Attacks where emotions overwhelm the Lord as beat box and keys embrace the verging on monotone delivery of Lavender’s rap. His slips into song within the fiery and bracing flames of sax add to the fascination whilst again lyrically Lavender has ears enthralled and thoughts broadening the text.
Wake Up and Break Free! is reality coming back to consume Lord Lav, the skit introducing Set Me Free, the characters ascent to a better place in a sonic haze combined with the theme of breaking free from life’s daily easy to consume monotony. It is a potent close to the album if without offering a final wanted snap to the adventure, but it is an epilogue to the apocalyptic journey leaving an already greedy appetite sufficed and emotions keen for more. They get that with bonus track Wake The Dead, a scuzz driven eruption of sound featuring guitarist Jude from Southampton band Hybrid 6.0 who provides raw riffs and licks to the vocal provocation of Lavender.
Lord of the Dead is one of those encounters which will either light a flame in your imagination or not, but one which certainly has hordes of great snarling reasons for rap and hip hop fans to give it a go. It definitely thrilled us with its persistently enjoyable and creative escapade and is an eager recommendation for anyone with a penchant for zombies, descriptive lyrical invention, and simply devilish fun.
Lord of the Dead is available now @ http://lordlav.com/topspin-store/lord-lavs-store/
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