After settling down to listen to a nice heavy metal album — the cover featured a barely clothed pin-up girl with a pentagram belt, wrangling three leashed hellhounds before a mountain of skulls and guitars — I was shocked to find that nothing even remotely like that was coming out of my speakers.
Swamp Thing’s latest album Firedogs is a rap album. The collaborative effort out of Toronto was put together by artists Timbuktu, Chokeules and Savilion, artists who have each been on the scene for over a decade, working with other artists and groups before coming together to work on this project. Firedogs is the combination of the group’s sound engineering prowess and lyrical skill. The group has brought in several other artists to make this album not only a demonstration of their skills, but of those of their friends and collaborators.
The opening track “The Altar,” featuring D-Sisive, sets the tone for the album. It sounds like a collaboration between Linkin Park and Eminem, with a unique soundscape and creative, hard-hitting and smooth-flowing lyrics. Each track leads right into the next and brought the album together as a complete, unified whole. One of the sounds that comes up frequently throughout the album, as in the track “Damages,” is a selection of vocal clips from what seem to be 1920s radio shows and newscasts. These clips soften the melody behind the beats in each track to balance the music with the harder lyrics over top.
Although the cover art is misleading, Firedogs is a feat of hip-hop sound engineering. Unique, endearing melodies, hard-hitting beats and smooth lyrics come together to form a cohesive, exciting Canadian rap album. Firedogs is an excellent showcase of Swamp Thing’s talents.