Monday, November 05, 2012

Back from the Dead

At long last I have returned from my extended stay in the darkest recesses of Mouse Country.

Okay, I kid; it wasn't that bad. Spending my Halloween at Walt Disney World was actually a solid choice because A) it's the off-season and B) mu'fuckin' Haunted Mansion, y'all! I had a great time and the wife had a great time and the children had a great time and we somehow managed to finagle a free meal plan, which means we got to eat on property without getting totally hosed by those outrageous prices. So, yeah, it was a rare win for Team Z.

But enough about that shit. The only thing weirder than being totally sheltered within the walls of "The Most Magical Place on Earth" during one of the biggest storms the East Coast has seen in recent memory was not writing for so long. I mean, aside from the random tweet I was pretty much silent for an entire week.

Yet that didn't mean the world stopped turning. There was a ton of musical news in my absence, and, while I won't endeavor to backtrack and cover it all now, I need to at least point you toward one notable Halloween-themed release that I managed to miss in my pre-vacation coverage.

It's the latest from my friend Mikal kHill, but it's not just his general brand of bleak hip-hop. The Walking Dead is part rap concept album, part audio novel and all southern zombie apocalypse. It has also been a labor of love from kHill and the various other members of the slowly widening NOFRIENDS circle over the past several months. A family affair, if you will.

Zombie epics are currently a dime a dozen and a zombie themed album isn't exactly unheard of either, but the difference is all in the way that Mikal presents the story. There's no camp here, there's no B-movie breaking of the (lyrical) fourth wall. It's a first-person narrative of desperation and hopelessness. It's a tale without heroes, absolutely devoid of noble Mary Sues. I won't spoil the ride for you, as it’s the storytelling itself that really makes it something special, but suffice it to say that the door message from the television show of the same name likely sums up the ultimate fate of most of the project's characters.

Speaking of, you'll hear from many of your favorites on The Walking Dead. kHill's longtime partner in rhyme Sulfur is there, as are Adam WarRock and Jesse Dangerously. Tribe One lends his voice on one of my favorite tracks, and you'll hear shades of other artists like cecilnick, DJ Empirical and Stemage is you listen closely. Hell, even I make a brief cameo – which, I'll state here explicitly, isn't the kind of thing I'd usually do. But kHill's my brother, and I realized after revisiting the album's roots that I wasn't just signing up for some schlocky monster movie parody here.

The Walking Dead is a tragedy told in 12 tracks. It's… well, I started to write "truly fucked up there," but I think that's an oversimplification. Instead I'll go with "uncomfortably personal," "oddly revealing" and "genuinely disturbing."

Yeah, those all work better.

It's available for a mere 10 bucks right now via Bandcamp. Or you can stream it for free, which you should definitely do anyway.

Halloween has come and gone and zombies have all but become passé. But human drama and living (or, y'know, not) with the repercussions of tough decisions? That shit is always relevant.

And Mikal kHill? He's like the Randy Newman of hip-hop horror.

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