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Cannibal Ox is the latest brainchild of Company Flow's El-P, whose lumbering, aggro-electro production on this album is as unique as a signature. Down-tempo and discordant, the beats sound like trip-hop gone to heaven and hell--some songs, like "A B-Boy's Alpha," have an almost angelic feel to them even as El-P soils his tracks with grit and grime. Others, like "Raspberry Fields," are chaos forced into unstable order--snaking synthesizer whines struggle to break free, rhythm sections run amok. This is a taste of the apocalypse turned aural. The music of The Cold Vein is so distinctive that, for a moment, you might forget that Vast and Vordul are actually rhyming on it, which is paying El-P a compliment rather than dismissing the two MCs. Vast's commanding baritone stands out in sharp distinction to his partner's, as his deliberate flow punctuates every line. It's hard to categorize what they speak on, as their songs mix the surreal and abstract with street-level commentary. But they're definitely taking reality rap on one helluva acid trip. -- Oliver Wang
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