As wet and eerie as a blood-soaked slaughterhouse...

The Alchemist is known for the dusty thumbprint he continually leaves on hip-hop’s underground, and equally for how he envelops himself into any artist’s framework like The Thing. Over the years, he’s cultivated a Turkish Bazaar of collaborative releases, but a scintillating team-up with New York rap duo Armand Hammer offers the kind of jewels reserved for the unorthodox hip-hop customer.

The best tracks on 'Haram' come together with crooked production that twitches with sharp samples and cuts, and AH’s billy woods and Elucid filling the space with pointed flows. The boys are stiff-nosed and mean-mugged, tightly rapping about dead bodies and vulgar sex to such a degree, it could classify as vore fantasy. To match, Alchemist crosses his signature style with crimson atmospheres that are as wet and eerie as a blood-soaked slaughterhouse.

However, the record’s true vice lies in its choppy final third and most obtuse ideas, such as the nauseating chokehold of horns on ‘Peppertree’ or the obnoxious half-singing on ‘God’s Feet’. Another outlier is ‘Stonefruit’, a last-orders soul track whose raspy babbling treads a thin line between endearing and exhausting. The faults are nonetheless part of the experiment, and we can be grateful that Alchemist’s collaborative spirit managed to reach the depths of Armand Hammer’s lair.

7/10

Words: Nathan Evans

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Related: An Original Strain - Armand Hammer Interviewed

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