iLUMiNATiVE – Shapeshifter – EP Review
That’s quite the roar that this record starts with – it’s damn near intimidating to listen to!
Of course…perhaps that should be expected – we are dealing with Nu-Metal here today after all – and when it’s done RIGHT, you get intensity like you’ll find on iLUMiNATiVE’s new EP called Shapeshifter. Pushing play on this record was a real hit & reminder of what made the genre as giant as it became, and maybe even an indication of its resurgence to come – LISTEN to how LARGE “Ascend Hell” is will ya? iLUMiNATiVE hits his bars with extreme precision, purpose, and passion – the dude’s got a WHOLE LOT to say in this set of five cuts extended to seven for this EP…and full respect straight off the drop, I’ve got nothing but love for that. If I believed in…like…you know…anything – I’d probably want it to sound like this record does – there’s no doubt the man’s got the FIRE inside him, and he’s ready to drop verbal knowledge bombs on ya right outta the gate. Conviction, commitment…precision and professionalism – all that good stuff is right where you wanna find it – from the lefts to the rights, the hooks to the bars, “Ascend Hell” makes it crystal clear that iLUMiNATiVE ain’t here to fuck around, you feelin’ me? Love the grind of the guitars…love the production on the beat at-large…and more-so than anything else, I just freakin’ love the sound of iLUMiNATiVE’s VOICE – the dude seriously brings the heat & the heart to the microphone in a way that we can hear it. Sure he’s growlin’ at us…sure he’s gettin’ all kinds of beastly on us with his bars…I get it – but hearing the craft in this guy as he pivots & shifts through the structure of his first song is truly something else. Much of this record goes on to get more noticeably politicized & polarized – but at the start, iLUMiNATiVE plays his opening track with a bit more accessibility on display. He ain’t pushing anyone away with this track, and he’s giving you every reason to tune in & turn UP for this record…not much more that you can ask for than that dear readers, dear friends. He’ll give you a couple of flashes & glimpses of what he’s got to say without giving it all away…he’s saving that for later on in the lineup of Shapeshifter, but make no mistake, when the moment calls for it, iLUMiNATiVE has no problem whatsoever spelling out everything as clear as day for ya…and he’ll go on to do exactly that.
From what I understand, this is the 4th official record from iLUMiNATiVE – so don’t be surprised by the fact this dude from Australia sounds as locked in & professional as he does – he’s no stranger to the studio or the m-i-c at this point in his career, and the quality of the music completely reflects that. We’re talkin’ about hard-hitting, COMPELLING energy that comes out swinging for the fences, and proves to be capable of cracking homeruns straight on over the wall track after track – I mean…a single, solitary spin through the title-cut would confirm everything I’m saying to be the raw, unfiltered truth. Thanks to iLUMiNATiVE though, a single, solitary spin ain’t gonna be ENOUGH…this is music designed to make ya want MORE and reach for the volume to turn this record straight UP. LISTEN to that BURST of pure sonic FIRE comin’ atcha just prior to the first minute wrapping up will ya? This dude’s got the vibe and he’s got the spark of inspiration workin’ heavily in his favor…he’s also referencing the Matrix at points along the way too…so don’t get me wrong, while there are multiple points later on in this record where our points of view become extremely divergent, there’s definitely many points where they intersect and we’d fully agree on some of the wack stuff about society too. He’s making no bones about being well read and perceptive and aware and probably hella smarter than us all…I’m just one of the sheeple, so I really wouldn’t know…as I’ve told ya many times & will continue to do so, I just know what sounds good. I don’t know if iLUMiNATiVE is going full-on LIZARD PEOPLE with us here in this track, but you’d kind of have to assume there’s somethin’ goin’ on with all that based on the artwork coming along with this record and its subsequent singles. “Shapeshifter” sounds absolutely extraordinary to listen to – I’m not gonna be the guy to claim I fully ‘get’ or can keep up to everything iLUMiNATiVE has to say, but I can tell ya there hasn’t BEEN a time where I’ve spun this EP at anything less than full-on MAX VOLUME.
I think…given the fact that Nu-Metal & Rap/Rock has a…hmm…reputation let’s say, for not quite knowing where ‘the line’ is – “No Means No” helps to clarify the fact we can’t ever paint an entire genre, style of music, any artist, or really anybody with a single stroke. You can always find people that buck the trends with the courage of their convictions…artists like iLUMiNATiVE that are unafraid to blaze their own trail and set the record straight in pursuit of what they believe. He’s taking his “power back” here – and hell, I’m all about that! I mean…I wish that was a thing and that the illusion of control wasn’t all we’ve ever had, but right on…restore them powers homie, you do you! He’s got the right perception of what real government is all about as far as I’m concerned – self-government is the only one that’s ever mattered. It’s a real tough line to walk…and in my opinion, you gotta go the whole mile with it – like, I’m not one of those people that’s going to believe any “freedoms” have been taken away from us when we either:
A) Never had them to begin with
B) Still have ALL of them, and they’ve never in fact, been taken away at any point, ever.
Can’t go into a building without a mask? Who says? Do it! Can’t murder a person in cold blood? Who says? Do it! Can’t graffiti your office building where the 9-5 is located? Why not? Do it! How about mowing your neighbor’s lawn at 2am in the morning? Fine by me! Of course, there’s always gonna be consequences to any of those actions etc. etc. in what we call a “civilized” society – but whatever right? Freedom! There’s a shit ton of things that people or BIG GOVERNMENT will tell you that you CAN’T DO – and not once has that ever meant you have to comply. Heck, I sure ain’t forcing anyone to commit to living by “the rules” set out by anyone other than themselves…I believe in Roman Law more than almost anything else if I believe in any kind of laws at all, which I ultimately, do nott. I believe we have always had the freedom to choose what we want to do, all the time, full stop. You’re all welcome to disagree with me on that – I still like ya – but if you’re just going to tell me that you can’t do something because someone said that you can’t, I’m simply going to point to a No Parking zone with a car parked in it to disprove your point. Some shit we wanna do costs a hell of a lot more – but it’s still YOUR call to make as to what you do with the one life you got. Do I wish the whole system was entirely different than it is currently? Hellllllllllz YES I do – but it ain’t gonna be. You can call that a defeatist attitude if you wanna and I’m cool with that too – I’ve literally got no time or space or will or desire to argue it all out with those that don’t get it. All that political stuff being said…”No Means No” and I get that too – I mean…just go ahead and try to tell me that I can’t do something and see what happens! Opinions and advice…all that stuff has gotta come from a place that matters or that we respect to begin with…and if it doesn’t, it probably falls completely flat & on deaf ears. Kind of like me now from iLUMiNATiVE’s perspective…he can tell which side of the political spectrum I’d fall on now – so why should anything I have to say mean anything at all right? Of course, that means all the good stuff I said has gotta go too. Maybe I should just keep it surface level and tell you that YES, this beat ROCKS, and the performance that iLUMiNATiVE puts in is practically award-worthy…that’d make everyone happy – but I prefer honesty, and I’ve always felt that anything a song or music makes you think about is valid commentary. Ball’s in your court now homie…I suppose here’s where the rubber meets the road, as they say, and we find out how far the notion of freedom is applied, and how far that courtesy genuinely extends, right?
We don’t NEED to agree to find common ground when it comes to the art of making music. I’ve got mad respect for what iLUMiNATiVE is creating and how he’s creating it…the passion, the focus, the skill – it’s all there. If he believes in the whole ‘new world order’ stuff and the Illuminati or whatever the heck that fable is all about, then right on man…I’ve got no issues with that – I just can’t spend any time on that stuff mentally…because if that IS really a thing, believe me when I tell ya folks…owning the majority of our mental capacity would be how they’d win the war long before it even officially started. At least, that’s my perspective on it – I’m aware, I’m conscious, I might even be a thinker…but if believing in something like Covid-19 takes me out of the running for a whole lot of people’s respect, so fuckin’ be it – I’m not offended, and I truly couldn’t care less. I promise ya…I sleep the exact same way every night no matter what anyone says, always have, always will. Do I think that iLUMiNATiVE is onto something with what he’s got to say in “This Is War?” Hell…I think he actually makes a whole bunch of valid points along the way to be truthful with ya…and other points that I’m happy to consider as well. Would I prefer to be listening to a song that’s about anything other than this stuff? Probably (See aforementioned Sheeple commentary). But that’s kinda the thing…it’s not like we’re hearing a whole lot new added to the argument or in how iLUMiNATiVE is creating awareness – maybe some of ya are, but me, I’ve heard it – we’re not even post pandemic yet and I have heard ALL of the Covid-songs and its influence take over & dominate the material of some incredible artists out there. If that’s where you wanna spend your time, like I said, so be it – but just remember that when you put it out there, you get to deal with what comes back to ya in response. I’ll say this…as far as I understand it from the folks I know over there in Australia, they’ve gone through much tougher restrictions than most places throughout the past couple years – a whole lot less death as a result too of course, but whatever…statistics are what they are, don’t let BIG NUMBERS get to ya. All I’m saying is that it makes sense that iLUMiNATiVE would see much of this stuff from a different perspective than my Canadian bacon would…we had a small & sad “freedom convoy” that went absolutely nowhere and disrupted the lives of a whole shit ton of normal folks just trying to get by. Some folks are ready to go to war – and if that’s you, again, I say hey, right on. It’s not war to me…I maintain, your freedoms have either always been there, or they always haven’t been – it’s one of those two and nothing more. From my perspective here in Canada, everything has been exactly the same as it has been and this world is just as crazy, fucked up, and strange to me as it has been and always will be. If “This Is War” to you, then I say right on, so be it – I’ll be over here chillin’ until the machines come to stomp my bones or the sun scorches me to a fine crisp when there is no water to be had anymore. If there’s something that can be done to stop those scenarios, I’d love to hear about it. What THIS IS for sure…undeniably…is INTENSE material iLUMiNATiVE! And that good sir, I appreciate.
“Only nature can protect you when all your things are gone” – I mean…sure! That’s true enough as far as I can tell – but let’s be real about the fact that nature can also take any single one of us the fuck right out at any given time too if it wants to. iLUMiNATiVE brings up the ‘great reset’ here…which is…a thing. Sigh. According to everything I’ve read about it, the theory generally hinges upon what’s supposed to happen this particular September – so believe me, when my vaccinated ass ends up writing to ya in October, I really look forward to the time we can all agree that this was a fun story that passed some time here on Earth, and not much more. Do I have any issues with post-apocalyptic times? None whatsoever. Could I stand for there to be a whole lot less of these ants we call people crawling around on this planet of ours, busying themselves with whatever Amber Heard & Johnny Depp are doing? Sure – you bet. I’ve been looking forward to an emptier planet for about as long as I can recall having a thought process of my own homies – as to ‘how’ that happens, I think we’ve got different theories on all that…and again, that’s more than okay with me. I ain’t here to tell ya what to believe in, I’m just here to tell ya what sounds good. iLUMiNATiVE knows I’ve been listening…he’s seen the statistics on his playlist in addition to knowing he’s sent my synapses firing in this direction and that direction as I listened based on everything I’ve had to say. Do I wish nature was going to supply the answer? Sure! It ain’t though. We’ve fucked that up so badly as a society already that there’s no going back to fixing it now. We’re in that point where we’ve shifted away from what’s important to what’s convenient…and yep, I’m with ya – that SUCKS…but it’s also reality. I ain’t saying start throwing your fast food wrappers right in the middle of the street – do what you CAN…but fighting the machine of BIG CORPORATE GREED is probably very, very futile. Do we NEED a “great reset?” No. We NEEDED one – a long, long time ago. Anyone that thinks that’s gonna be the answer at this point is missing the point in my humble, lefty-ass opinion. Do I wish I had the ideals and conviction that an artist like iLUMiNATiVE has and displays on “Natures Raw?” 100%. But alas, I do not. A very small percentage of us were born to change the world if that’s even something that hasn’t been programmed by the Matrix to begin with…and I simply am not one of’em. I’ve lost everything I owned in my mid-20s…a lack of ‘things’ isn’t something that would ever scare me and it’s something that I feel like everyone should have to experience at least once in this life to get an understanding of what’s really important. Maybe iLUMiNATiVE has…I don’t know one way or the other – but yeah…I mean…it’s a lot harder to rap out there in nature and have the world hear it. I’d suggest puttin’ down the mic, running out of the studio full speed & heading straight out into the woods if that’s the case…nothin’ stopping anyone from doing that as far as I know, but maybe I’m wrong? It wouldn’t be the first time. I’m probably wrong a lot and a whole bunch – but oddly, I’m okay with that. “Natures Raw” as iLUMiNATiVE will tell ya…and we’re addicted to modern convenience, every one of us. You can hear around the 4:15 mark of this song and that particular verse that the optimism in iLUMiNATiVE is still alive & kicking, thriving & thrashing – and I fully salute that! I wish that I was the same way. Chances are I’ve just got a whole lot more grey in my beard these days is all. Whatever time that I might have been able to change the world is way behind me now, but don’t give up the good fight.
But we do have to take a pause and appreciate the irony in how the ‘elites’ silence folks speaking out on what ‘the truth’ is, and how a record like this still finds its way out into the world, do we not iLUMiNATiVE? I’m just trying to find the consistency in the logic is all…if they’re so conscious of dissenting opinions, censoring them and oppressing them without any hesitation – how is it that Shapeshifter ever gets made? Is it fair to say that we’ll only find this on the internet until BIG ALGORITHM finds you and takes this record down? You see what I’m saying, right? As far as I can tell, you’re free to express your opinion in whatever way you’d like to – and personally, I’m thankful you’ve chosen music because it sounds fucking AWESOME…but yeah man…no one’s comin’ for ya. I wish that we were that important, but we’re just not…and I think to think otherwise might be more of an indication of the ego at work than we potentially realize, you follow me? Here’s what I’ll tell ya…I’m practically nihilistic in every belief I personally have, and pretty much believe in simulation theory as being real at this point in time – as in, nothing & no one really exists at all, to me. So if you DO believe in something in this world, I’ve got nothing but high-fives for ya – and I wish you nothing but the best in pursuing whatever that might be. Stand up for whatever meaning you can find on this hollow planet – iLUMiNATiVE is, and I think this place is genuinely BETTER for it, believe it or not. At the very least, he’s given you a record entirely stockpiled with thought-provoking words and music well worth turning UP to the freakin’ rafters…the guy’s undeniably gifted when it comes to the art of expression & making music – I’ve honestly enjoyed this entire EP from start to finish, even if I don’t agree with half of what the dude has to say. Am I supposed to just not dig on tracks like “Natures Raw” or “No Means No” because I don’t believe in what he believes? Cause that’s not possible – tracks like this were designed to be turned UP as loud as they can go – and whether or not he likes what I have to say, I’ve enjoyed every moment that I’ve spent with his music and had an incredible time considering everything he’s had to say. I’d even go as far as to say that he’s even beaten the odds with how I feel about a song appearing twice in the lineup of a short record – when both “Natures Raw” and “No Means No” come back with their “Radio Edit” versions at the end, I’ve been spinning them loud & proud as I have been with the rest. Though…again…I’ll admit…it seems strange that a dude like iLUMiNATiVE would cater to whatever it is the radio would want…unsolicited self-censorship or bowing to the desires of BIG MEDIA definitely wouldn’t be the answer to the problems he’s highlighted throughout the set-list of Shapeshifter…just sayin.’ Anyhow…irony is dead. Lots of great music to be found on this record, lots of fantastic points to think about along the way…I’ll happily spin Shapeshifter while the world burns towards its crispy destiny, and hopefully I’ll be the last cockroach left to enjoy a few more re-runs of my favorite shows in peace & do a bit more shopping at the mall without so many freakin’ people around – cheers to you all, I love ya!
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