Album of the Week 52-2011: 24-7 Spyz – Strength In Numbers

Don’t tell me you didn’t see this one coming after the last post. ‘Strength In Numbers’ is easily one of my all time favorite albums, because it combines my favorite genres of music in such an exciting and powerful way that it’s impossible to escape. Now, 24-7 Spyz has always been responsible for a fluent fusion of Heavy Metal, Soul, Funk, Hiphop and bits of Reggae, Punk and Ska, it’s just that ‘Strength In Numbers’ is the moment that the New Yorkers outdid themselves.

First of all, ‘Strength In Numbers’ presents the best lineup of 24-7 Spyz. Alongside guitarist Jimi Hazel and bassist Rick Skatore are now drummer Joel Maitoza, who obviously has a background deeper rooted in Hardcore and Metal than his more Punk-Funk based predecessor Anthony Johnson, and the best singer 24-7 Spyz has ever had: Jeff Broadnax. His soulful tone enhances Hazel’s powerfully pounding riffs rather than contrasting them, which makes the already amazing songs downright perfect listening experiences.

You’d have to look no further than the opening track to hear what these guys are all about. ‘Break The Chains’ starts out with some lovely clean guitar strumming, only to turn into a typical New York Hard Rock/Heavy Metal track with rather atypical, but beautiful soaring vocal lines courtesy of Broadnax, paired with some Hardcore styled backing shouts in the chorus. Wonderful guitar solo by the ever brilliant Hazel as well. Check out this song if you don’t know the band and need an introduction.

Basically every song on this album is a winner. 24-7 Spyz is more focused than ever, slightly toning down the Reggae references for a more Soulful Funk Metal type of sound, combined with a lyrical rawness that is typical of the gruff street wisdom that is typical of many underground music from New York, Hiphop, Hardcore and Thrash Metal alike. The band isn’t afraid to tackle subjects such as racism (‘Understanding’, one of the albums few Reggae moments, and ‘Last Call’), drugs (‘Purple’), police discrimination (‘Crime Story’) and record label pressure (‘Stuntman’) with an in-your-face honesty that increases the occasional violence in the musical department.

Still, there’s one song in particular that I’d like to emphasize and that is the sheer Soul/Rock bliss that is ‘Room #9′. Remarkably more positive in tone than the rest of the album – lyrically as well as musically – it’s a song that seems to celebrate music itself. I can’t help but smile upon hearing this song and not singing along is no option. Hazel’s riffs, Skatore’s swinging bass parts, Maitoza’s playful rhythms and Broadnax’ smooth yet powerful vocals…it all just makes sense. This is one of those songs you can’t explain why it’s so damn good, but the music itself says enough.

24-7 Spyz’ forthcoming European tour will take place with this lineup and is centered around this album. Yours truly couldn’t be happier. If you want the perfect introduction to one of the best and most open-minded bands on the planet, ‘Strength In Numbers’ is your album. Wounded Bird released this album combined with the preceding EP ‘This Is 24-7 Spyz’ a few years ago and despite dropping the alternate version of ‘Stuntman’ while retaining the double inclusion of ‘My Desire’, that is a release worth seeking out. I can’t say it any better than the music can: HMS4L!

Recommended tracks: ‘Room #9’, ‘Stuntman’, ‘Break The Chains’, ‘Purple’

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