Maxim – Hell’s Kitchen

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Album Review by Mark Bayross

MC Maxim Reality has added a real sense of urban gothic menace to The Prodigy’s more hip hop moments before Wu-Tang Clan had even sharpened their blades (POISON, MINDFIELDS…), providing the perfect foil to Keith Flint’s satanic clowning.

Now, with Leeroy Thornhill literally going solo, Maxim has followed Prodigy head honcho Liam Howlett in making a solo album. Unsurprisingly, the music isn’t a million miles from the Prodigy (Howlett even twiddles the production knobs on a couple of tracks).

If you liked the fantastic debut single CARMEN QQUEASY, which sets Skunk Anansie singer Skin’s soaring vocals to a brooding industrial slab of guitars and beats, this will float your boat. The title track repeats this trick, but minus the vocals, while nefarious vocals from Poetic from The Gravediggas and Diamond J add menace to the dark hip-hop beats of WORLDWIDE SYNDICATE.

While most of HELL’S KITCEN is dark and grimy, the relatively sweet-sounding SCHEMING provides some light relief, although Trina Allen’s melodic vocals are later coated in searing guitars on SOUL SELLER.

If this album has a flaw, it’s that Maxim’s oooh-scary! vocals really don’t match the power of the music, a fact that is only highlighted by getting Divine Styler and Blood Of Abraham to show off their vocal dexterity on SPECTRAL WARS and UNIVERSAL SCIENTIST respectively.

The album finishes with BACKWARD BULLET a slow-burning graveyard creep-out with Sneaker Pimps. It sounds like what Marilyn Manson would have recorded if he lived on a South London housing estate.

HELL’S KITCHEN provides fewer thrills than The Prodigy, but has some moments of exhilaration. It’s not quite the gothic masterpiece suggested by CARMEN QUEASY, but it’s a decent enough soundtrack to an urban nightmare.

Talking of nightmares, no sign of the Keith Flint glam-punk solo effort yet…

4 stars