On June 24, I received my copy of Atlanta-based rap metal purveyor Stuck Mojo’s new album, Here Come The Infidels. This release raised a lot of red flags for longtime fans, including myself, as just prior to its inception the group saw a massive reformation from the classic Rising-era lineup, which had played several extremely well-received reunion shows, to a lineup that features two brand new faces. Many fans were upset, or simply confused, at the exit of bassist Corey Lowery and frontman Bonz; myself included. I’ve been a fan of Rich Ward’s for long enough, however, to give anything that he’s doing a fair chance, as often it pays off. So, with that, I opened my ears to this new Mojo incarnation, featuring Ward, Frank Fontsere [drums], and the new inclusions of Lenwood Sonnier [bass], and frontman Robby J.
I think the biggest question that long-time fans of Mojo face with this album is this: Does Robby J. measure up to Bonz? Bonz is a true menace on the microphone. His acerbic words, lashing out and cracking as quickly as any whip, left many fans in awe over the course of the band’s earlier albums. Following his departure several years back, he was replaced by Lord Nelson, whose style was much more paced and deliberately delivered. To my ears, Mojo was still a force with which to be reckoned. Robby J. goes back to a much quicker conveyance, spitting rhymes with seeming effortlessness. As he states in “Verbal Combat,” he’s not a rapper; he’s a lyrical machine. Rather than compare the two then, it’s better that we simply listen to the music and see if it moves us.
Rich Ward has never been one to shy away from speaking his mind, especially through Stuck Mojo. Whether it’s politics or social commentary, he wears his heart on his sleeve. I find it ridiculous when people say that musicians shouldn’t express their political views in their music, as politics often affect important aspects of our lives. Now, that’s not to say that I agree with everything that I find here. In some instances I share his perspective, and others I’m surely on the other side. But, musically, all of it is awesome! With a title like Here Come The Infidels, you’d expect that it was painted heavily in anti-Islamic sentiment, but I have heard little to nothing that broaches the subjects of Islam, or even jihad. The title track that opens the release is rather a proclamation to listeners that the Four-Piece Of Doom has arisen. What follows that track is, quite simply, a damn good album.
There will surely be listeners who will not like this release, either because they don’t want to give it a chance, or because it occasionally ventures outside of what you’d expect from a Stuck Mojo album. I, personally, don’t want a rehash of Rising or Declaration Of A Headhunter, no matter how much I love those records. However, long-time fans should easily connect with the pummeling aggression of “Rape Whistle” and the rhythmic swagger of “Charles Bronson,” which certainly feel like they could have been on Rising. The high speed bludgeoning of “The Business Of Hate” should put a smile on many a face as well. At the same time, it might take a little longer for them to come to terms with “Destroyer,” whose high chorus vocals brought to mind [Ward’s rock band] Fozzy’s song “New Day’s Dawn,” and “Fire Me,” which is a rafter-raising rock anthem. But, if they can acclimate their minds into giving these and the rest a few spins, I have no doubt that more spins will follow.
Here Come The Infidels is not the record I thought we, as fans, were going to get. I expected the reunion line-up would come together to release one album before something went awry and they fell to pieces. Then we’d be left with not only questions of “What went wrong?” but an album full of possibly great material that would unlikely ever be played live and be dipped in a vat of bittersweet feelings. Instead, I’ve been greeted with a truly wonderful, aggressive, passionate revival of a band that I’ve been a fan of for years, which appears ready to put all their weight behind delivering one hell of a show. Stuck Mojo has never been a band to dismiss. Here Come The Infidels is no exception.