It is unnecessary to reiterate that Chris Palko (Cage) has endured a life rifled with horrific predicaments. His previous effort, Depart from Me, was considered a horrific predicament in the eyes of many disgruntled supporters who shuddered at his new sonic direction and longed for the basement-hidden snuff tape nostalgia of old. It Is in the interest of full disclosure that I reveal I am probably one of the only people you know who genuinely enjoyed Depart from Me; if this serves as a baseline, Kill the Architect is an unclear step in an uncertain direction as Cage drones on in a worn-out grumble that suggests he is sick of it all in a really bad way.
Cage’s tyrannical post in the rap underworld has served us well, and his reunion with DJ Mighty Mi would suggest a return to Eastern Conference mid-season form where the limbs stack upon the page and all nearby veins are infected unmercifully by the drugged-out psychopath we love. The reality we confront here is far more flaccid and bland than imagined; Cage stumbles through 14 tracks worth of dreary soundscapes and manages to sound unmotivated on every effort. Where Cage manages to channel his depressed notions into anthemic redemption on the Hell’s Winter of yesteryear, Kill the Architect only sounds depressed and delivers a truly boring effort in establishing or even reinforcing the decade-plus-old narrative of piecing oneself back together and coping with the demons that remain.
“Lamb of Nothing” starts with an attempt to reinforce that the evil is still at work, only to dash its own hopes with the refrain of “Took a dump last night, now I’m on some next shit/ Fucked a girl last night, she might’ve been infected”. By the time we get to “The Hunt”, it becomes evident that the ol’ shoulder-nudging shock value is too dull and unoriginal to register a gasp like “Most people don’t follow their dreams and they feel fine/ It’s probably why I don’t; I stalk, rape, and kill mine”. (At press time, no Reebok sponsorships were lost in the making of that line.)
There are scores of examples of Cage’s recycled horror tropes sneaking their way into the eardrums, but not shouting loud enough for them to bleed. There’s evil Kool Aid, prostitutes, pedophilia, God and all his inverted crosses, peyote, cocaine, cannibalism, and several lobotomies; none of the aforementioned stand alone to bring the listener to the slightest trigger. By the time we get to “They Suck”, Cage sounds more like a weathered veteran than a grizzled one. A wise man once said: “They suck your dick… even though they really hate you”. This incites the symbolic stage dive off the independent pedestal Cage effectively places himself on, lending a note unfortunate and dated bitterness at everyone instead of himself for churning out such an inconsistent performance.
Despite the horrible tidbits one can easily cherry-pick over 42 minutes, Mighty Mi’s trip-hop-esque grooves crawl along in a hazy sludge that meets the vocal monotony halfway and gives the album many opportunities to be greater than the sum. “The Hunt” provides an amazing sliver of chaos that outshines its subject matter, and “Precipiss” provides one of the brightest spots on the album with an ominous twinkle of a piano juxtaposed with fresh jihad and an above-average second verse that stands out in the wreckage (“If the son of God jumped out of the cunt of Madonna/ I would stab Dave Grohl in the face to get to Nirvana”). Like Depart from Me, you will either find something to love or a lot to dismiss about the boards; I found myself more dismissive as some of Mighty Mi’s efforts fall by the wayside of cheesy or forgettable.
A sufficient Cliffsnote to Kill the Architect comes from Cage himself: “No one invented me/ I made my overdose an art form / Suck my dick if I’ve offended thee.” In a state of hip-hop that’s post-MCHG and post-MMLP2, there is a current wave of watching our legends fall before our eyes. It is easy to call this album the cherry atop the suicide note for our beloved Smut Peddler who craved new ground at the expense of the familiar. Maybe we’ve seen the movie one too many times and memorized every scare in the script (which isn’t all Cage’s fault). I’m not one for calling for remakes of eras and personas that will never return, but if there’s any hope to reclaim the crown of thorns he once clutched with calloused hands, he can never release another album that makes us as bored as he sounds or shamelessly tries to catch you with every easy jump.
2 out of 5
You can buy Kill The Architect on Amazon.