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It's been four years since Minneapolis rap group Doomtree put out a record. It's not as though they haven't been busy, but with seven members, each with their own solo careers, it's difficult getting the group together for long enough to record anything other than a single. For that reason the group rented a cabin in the middle of nowhere to remove all distractions and the result is the appropriately named All Hands.

Despite the rustic surroundings this is probably the group's most electronically focused record yet. Thick punches of bass underscore almost every track, with doom-laden synthesisers providing the key melodies. This hard-hitting duo is offset with some bright, sparkling keys, but the overall atmosphere is one of claustrophobic oppression. Unfortunately it means that the album can feel a little one note - more than that though, it means we aren't treated to the kind of musical variety we've come to expect from the group.

'Final Boss' establishes the album's template with Sims, Dessa, Stef and Mike taking alternate verses. Lyrically they all seem to be saying the same thing - they've worked hard to get where they are and aren't backing down now. This is punctuated by big hands-in-the-air choruses that are stirring but leave little impact once the song's over. 'My Own Nation', which immediately follows, brings a sense of déjà vu due to rhymes focusing on "my way" bravado and another group chorus. It really only serves to weaken the album's opening rather than bolster it's sense of accomplishment.

'.38 Airweight' and 'Gray Duck' go some way to reversing this disappointing opening by delivering a salvo of politically charged rhymes and some seriously crazy beats. Built around a falling synth line and an electronic siren, '.38 Airweight' has a sense of impending disaster, all the more appropriate for a track which references Charles Manson and Bernie Goetz - the title itself is a reference to the gun Goetz used to shoot four black men on the New York subway. Many of the lyrics also allude to the event and similar violent attacks, particularly in Sims' line, "Let me counter with this / not with a whimper with a bang," which not only recall T S Elliot's The Hollow Man but seem to suggest ideas of a killing spree.

'Gray Duck' meanwhile sets itself up with a frantic, synth hook which seems to imbue the group with furious energy. '.38 Airweight' might be their smartest track on All Hands, but 'Gray Duck' is definitely their most powerful, with each member seemingly in competition with the rest of the group. Mike's opening salvo, for example, includes some truly tongue twisting lines that are delivered with blistering speed, whilst the track's chorus shows how effective one can be when backed by some impressive beats and breathtaking rhymes. The beat slows down, transforming into an electronic stuttering for the final chorus, but it's clear that 'Gray Duck' is sure to be a highlight of the group's live show.

Other highlights include the propulsive '80 on 80', which opens with a grandiose cavalcade of rolling drums, before shifting down to darker, more menacing beats for a couple of verses. Amongst this is a whirring synth lead, sampled house-style vocals and a scattering of guitars - but these are just textures around the percussion which takes centre stage. 'Cabin Killer' is another track worth attention, if only because of the way the group marries abrasive synthesisers and brighter arpeggios to great effect.

As the eighth track on the record it's like an oasis, as by this point All Hands is already starting to wear thin. A lack of musical variation can really make an album feel tired towards the latter half, but Doomtree's reliance on relatively similar, yet harsh synthesiser sounds and beats quickly becomes tiring and results in a lot of forgettable tracks. This is particularly the case at the tail end of the album where many of the tracks start to blur together and fatigue sets in.

Where the songs are noticeable they often end up feeling obnoxious, such as in the case of 'Generator'. Despite an interesting opening it leans too much on a headache inducing bridge beat that is neither thrilling, nor does it help tie the verse and chorus sections of the song together. 'Generator' is probably the weakest track on the record, but the others aren't without their faults. The following track, 'Off In The Deep', seems to reuse the same bass synthesiser featured in the opening of 'Generator', whilst many tracks have interchangeable choruses.

It's a real shame as previous Doomtree records have always been something to look forward to - something to go absolutely wild for - but on All Hands the group's flirtation with a new sound just hasn't hit the mark. It's not a terrible record, but given the weight of expectation and the creativity we've seen from them before, this just feels like a step backwards. When it takes a band so long to get together and put something out, that just makes it feel a whole lot worse.

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