As if out of the blue, Phoenix, AZ rapcore outfit Busticles has released their latest album Fresh – an album that rides on the basic characteristics of what we’ve come to expect rapcore to be – at a time when post-screamo and Christian emo seems to be dominating the airwaves. A good thing? Not necessarily.
Like their rapcore equivalents Limp Bizkit, P.O.D. and Anthrax, this South Western quartet, removed from their Cincinnati, OH origins, follow the well-known “rapcore” recipe – hallucinogenic vocals, funky bass rhythms, intense guitar lines, and slanting drum beats. Vocalist Mike Ward spits on the mic like a juvenile Mike Shinoda married to a hyper Brandon Boyd, while drummer Brandon Weil, bassist Sunir Patel, and guitarist Jon Weil perform the rapcore formula as monotonously as the genre itself.
Maybe it is the scene itself – a scene that spawned lackluster acts like fellow Phoenix-ers Phunk Junkeez – that allow such indolent comparisons to take place. And while there are some remarkable bands within the rapcore scene – Incubus, Biohazard, 311, Linkin Park, and Rage Against the Machine – Busticles seem to move more like Crazy Town than they do, let’s say, Linkin Park.
It’s not to say that Busticles, or their album Fresh, isn’t a hit of sorts. For fans of all things rap-metal, Fresh will fit right into their CD collection – just listen to the tracks. “Mule is Body” works like a reworked Limp Bizkit track with traces of early Incubus, circa S.C.I.E.N.C.E, “Buddhapest” plays like every P.O.D. album seasoned with a bit of Sevendust, “The Vote” is a throwback to the days when Rage Against the Machine still had some meaning in their music, and “Think Healthy” sounds like 311 in slow-motion. This is not to say that the tracks on Fresh are ghastly. Quite the contrary, the sounds you hear on the album are catchy and before long, someone will be swaying to the rhythms. The issue, however, is with the originality of their songs.
Maybe if Busticles would have made it bigger, then they could be considered pioneers. After all, they began their musical journey in the mid-90s and solidified their line-up in ’99, so if they were just a little bit more known in the rapcore scene, would their talent be questioned?