CRIMZON INK – 5150 GALLOW HILL – GONZO DIV. REVIEW - C.T. Herron

I’ve been given a lot of rap albums to review lately, but that’s all right cos’ I like hip hop when it’s done well, and most the local talent have started nailing it in recent years, so consider this the fourth instalment in an (increasingly inaccurately named) trilogy of rap reviews, Jackal Trades, Loki, Ciaran Mac and now Crimzon Ink.

Crimzon Ink is a name (a great name by the way) that has emerged on my radar only recently, through my rapper friends sharing his stuff, I’ve not got around to checking any out yet, though I’ve been meaning to, but maybe that’s a good thing, cos’ now I unexpectedly get to hear the full works with virgin ears, after the man himself sent it to me…
So, with my trademark joint (though judging by the number of tracks, nineteen in total, I might need two) I download my copy and set ears to stun. If all nineteen tracks can pull it off, then this should be glorious…

It promises to be dark, judging by the macabre album art, and the strange Luciferian intro only solidifies that feeling. The groove that follows has a Cypress Hill sorta’ vibe to it, but that’s all smashed by the harrowing phone call and stygian rap that proliferates it, not a review for me to eat mushrooms during this time…

…But it is appealing to the dark, gothic, metalhead and punk that sit on both my shoulders with pitchforks. Disturbing, with sick flow, it’s good, I like it, this guy’s being real, and true to himself. He who dares sins. That’s not a lyric, I came up with it inspired by the song, like it? Thanks… Or did I receive it from the lyrics subconsciously, no time to get paranoid Chris, maybe I shouldn’t have wrote this on a Monday… The music is paranoia and a bad trip personified, but a good track.

Seriously though, it’s pretty good so far, the melody at the beginning of the next track is deceiving because the lyrics pour the darkness back into it. Some good metaphors being spat out, and a skilful handle on the lines he’s linking together like sausages. The sounds of a ‘manic depressive having an episode’, I like it! The drug references are appealing to me too, albeit freak-out references, it makes a nice change to rap the negative side of drugs I suppose. Speaking as a man who’s had a few himself, this song is a good depiction in words of an O.D. It’s an O.D ditty (an oddity)… I’ll get my coat.

That track was ‘Down’ and it was a downer (in a cool way, like when you’re chilled on vallies), the next song’s called ‘Up’ and guess what… Pretty uplifting track, obviously this artist wants to take you through the peaks and troughs of his bad and good trips respectively, he’s rapping the vicissitudes pretty fucking well here. Brilliant self-affirming track (just in case you were freaking out, he’s talking you back down).

‘Beauty in the Pain’ is a strangely soothing title for a strangely soothing song, with some nice lyricism that paints imagery in the flower of your mind. A chill-out choon, to light this joint in salute of. There’s some nice poetry in this smooth mellifluous track, as the name suggested.
With the next offering, it’s time to ‘Wyle Out’! It’s got a foreboding sound to it that I like, and very slight ragga undertones. As a fan of the sick side of things I’m really digging a lot of the psychopathic lyrics in this tune. This song is an auris vermis, it will get stuck in your head…
‘The Archaic Revival’ is a nice interlude, with a cool soundbite, that leads into the next track ‘Who Are You?’ it reminds me of an Edinburgian version of Gasp, with its grittiness and in-your-face deliverance. There is very little information about Crimzon Ink online, he’s enigmatic, his music is plenty available though, as he’s letting the music just speak for itself, the bio on Facebook simply says ‘listen to the tracks’ and so that’s what we’re doing, and taking it at face value.

‘Achmed’ is a brilliant slice of music, with a nice piano riff and mournful violins, telling a tale of war refugees, that weaves a narrative with raconteurial skill. It’s a spoken word gem of a track, with well-placed soundbites, a heart-rendering piece, revealing a sensitive, altruistic soul within this album’s haunted exterior.

From Achmed to Amelia and more storytelling of the dark underbelly of society (it stares at you from the bathroom mirror). Another poignant, emotive song that takes you on a journey from another perspective, the perspective of one of the many ‘victims of the system’ - with savage themes of paedocide and cannibalism aplenty, that I’m told are based on a true story. Not a song for the weak-stomached among you then.

‘Dr.Scarface’ is another horror tale of torturous murder, creative writing in a rap song, or so it seems, until you learn that this one is also based on reality! This track is like a darker version of Cypress Hill with eerie sound effects and a beat that lurches like a zombie. Lighting my second joint of the horror-themed album I realise the article’s getting a bit long at 860 words, but that was bound to happen with nineteen tracks to digest, and I like to give an artist my full attention, full appreciation of their work. I sit and chill for a few tracks, letting the stone and the music envelop me.

Lots of really good storytelling punctuates this record, the murderous, ominous feel make it to the hip hop world, what Cradle of Filth are to the rock world, with its almost satanic themes at times, coruscating with anecdotes of overdoses and breakdowns and social commentary interwoven among the gory tapestry. This record comes at you from a variety of angles, like a Scroobius Pip album.

‘Hip hop is not just a culture it’s a new civilisation’.
Distinctive, unique, unhinged, uninhibited. It’s inspired me enough to write a 1,403 word article so that’s always a good sign, shows the album has plenty of depth. ‘Hold Up’ is a great track, aggressive and sinister in its deliverance ‘nobody fucks with this hip hop shit we put our heart and our soul in it’ and like Scroobius himself said ‘Hip hop is art, don’t make another pop hit be smart, take it back to the start, like KRS and Rakim use passion and heart’, and that’s what Crimzon Ink is doing.

No pop hits here, just music-to-murder-your-mother-in-the-bath to, and I like it. Most these tracks are based on true stories, as I have it, from the mouth of the artist, so that serves to make it an even more terrifying tale of tragedy and treachery. The music contained within will guarantee to take you on a rollercoaster of emotions one way or another. I have read and considered the album prepared by the offending artist, which sets out an alternative to your average hip hop record. Some may say the album is too “out there” but I am not bound to follow that recommendation. I’ve made my decision on the basis that the tracks within were violent, aggressive, and displayed a woven pattern of “worrying” behaviour, therefore I will impose a custodial sentence of repeated listens!

I may have portrayed this work as really dark, like that guy in the Fast Show that starts going mad and painting everything black, but there are plenty of positive, uplifting moments interwoven through the fear-drenched soundscape. The soulful ‘Start Where You Stand’ is a good example of that.

If Crimzon Ink is releasing projects that are nineteen-songs-long he’s obviously got plenty of creativity flowing out of him, so I’m sure there’ll be a lot more to come in his future, but in the meantime this opus is plenty to be getting on with.

I can recommend this album with a Gonzo Div. seal of approval to any fan of hip hop, local music, dark stuff, or anyone looking for something a little different. You can buy it for pennies at three pounds here https://crimzonink.bandcamp.com/ very much worth the asking price that’s for fucking sure, it was free but Crimzon ran out of free downloads so it’s £3 for a digital copy, £6 for a shrink-wrapped hardcopy, a fucking bargain I’m sure you’ll agree. I Think I’ll get out to see Crimzon Ink’s unique style live as soon as possible, and until then I’ll seeya’ in the pit…

C. T Herron