Six years on and one Dirty Bastard down and the Clan are back. 8 Diagrams, Wu-Tang Clan's 5th studio album was long in the making and comes with the expected dose of controversy and talking points you'd imagine from this group. Leading up to the release of 8 Diagrams Raekwon stirred things up with a much publicised interview where he openly critisised producer RZA for the direction he was taking the group and accused him of being a "hip-hop hippie." Then like a bunch of bickering little girls Ghostface Killah weighed in protesting the timing of the record which was due to be released at the same time as his own The Big Doe Rehab. It's clear from the first listen of this record that Raekwon and Ghostface Killah don't know shit. RZA might have taken the Wu sound in a more subtle direction but in doing so he's created one of the hip-hop albums of the year.
Since their first release Enter The Wu (36 Chambers) way back in 1993, The Wu Tang Clan quickly established their own unique sound and all the many solo projects that followed have only served to elaborate on this. RZA, with his fingers in many pies would never have been content to continue this progression so despite the twittering of a few back-benchers he's rejected the hard-hitting beats of old and painstakingly crafted a record dripping in mood. It's a dark, reflective and densely produced piece of work that uses strings, guitar, live instrumentation and more soul vocals than ever before. It has no clear single and will alienate many die hard Wu fans but RZA's new, introvert style of sound provides richer pastures for his band of merry MC's.
Campfire kicks things off with a beat that oozes through your speakers like molasses, while Get Them Out The Way Pa is smoother than any Wu sound you've heard. This easing off the heavy beat pedal doesn't soften the impact that this group have been keen to cultivate but lets it sink in slower and more profoundly than before. The thick, plodding beats and rich instrumentation shifts the emphasis away from violence to menace and fear. So when the big guns do come out they are sharper than ever. Rushing Elephants and Unpredictable are the proud figureheads of this record and inject a sense of urgency with their apocalyptic beats and epic heist-movie horns. The production goes from minimal to claustrophobically complex and the MC's raise the tempo with furious spitting. Unfortunately this tempo is not maintained and throughout the middle section you start to think that maybe RZA's critics had a point. The beats start to go from brooding to just plain soft and the focus on melody and singing comes dangerously close to diluting the Wu ethos. Gun Will Go embodies this perfectly - it counts itself in with a rhythm that promises greatness then is smoothed over with soft melody and the`tantalisingly old school snare simply fades away.
Thankfully, RZA is anything but self indulgent and always has a plan. He cleverly manages to steer his crew out of this slow patch and they emerge triumphant, in fact he starts by going solo over a slow jazz background in Sunshine then continues to bring this album back to the dark side with steady cuts like Weak Spot and and Tar Pit. The late O.D.B's presence is definitely felt on this record with the tribute song Life Changes and the closing track 16th Chamber.
8 Diagrams is certainly not what you'd expect from a group such as this after a 6 year absence but who needs another thugged-out beat-fest? These guys created this genre so who better to lead us out of it into a new dawn? Thankfully this is no sunrise and the gloom still hangs heavy over Clan territory. 8 Diagrams might not be as head on as albums like 36 Chambers, but it's weight will eventually seep through and it will, in time, emerge as one of the hip-hop albums of 2007.
18th Dec 2007 - Tumblr4
Fairly one-sided Police doc about the seemingly dislikeable trio.
7th May 2019Read more 2.5 star reviews
Decent, but slightly muddled parenting indie.
28th Apr 2019Read more 3 star reviews
Forgettable re-imagining of a not totally unforgettable Disney classic.
27th Apr 2019Read more 3.5 star reviews
Solid stop-motion animation that’s light on plot, but high on charm.
12th Apr 2019Read more 2.5 star reviews
Surprisingly stylish sequel that drops the ball in classic straight-to-VHS style halfway through.
6th Apr 2019Read more 3 star reviews
Opaque Alaskan thriller from Jeremy Saulnier, with little regard for convention.
1st Apr 2019Read more 3 star reviews
Low key indie spin on Rambo, as a father and daughter try and live off grid.
28th Mar 2019Read more 3.5 star reviews
Fun biopic that runs out of steam about when the band did.
25th Mar 2019Read more 3 star reviews
A diminished remake of Deadpool 1. Occasional LOLs.
25th Mar 2019Read more 2.5 star reviews
High concept sci-fi that stretches its concept a little thin.
19th Mar 2019Read more 3 star reviews
Unremarkable, cliche-ridden actioner. Utterly lacking in suspense.
17th Mar 2019Read more 2.5 star reviews
A disjointed patchwork of homages, nods and rip offs from dozens of other movies, with little to offer of its own.
11th Mar 2019Read more 2 star reviews
Laborious, high-concept alien horror. While the concept is good, the beats are all well telegraphed.
2nd Mar 2019Read more 3 star reviews
Witty, if a little obvious, post-meta rom-com.
1st Mar 2019Read more 3 star reviews
The Second Part
It’s literally a re-hash of all the themes of the first one with a few less jokes.
23rd Feb 2019Read more 3 star reviews
Slight, but sometime engaging iPhone feature.
26th Jan 2019Read more 3 star reviews
Decent modern spin on Mary Poppins. Bit uneven, but a nice soundtrack helps things along.
20th Jan 2019Read more 3.5 star reviews
Bog standard entry into The-Rock-action-movie genre. As much personality as a computer game.
3rd Jan 2019Read more 3 star reviews
This time it’s really, really serious. Seriously.
27th Dec 2018Read more 3 star reviews
It’s a musical ...but slick direction makes it just about bearable.
24th Dec 2018Read more 3 star reviews
Pop-culture bouillabaisse, hampered by numerous terrible accents.
24th Dec 2018Read more 3.5 star reviews
Pacey, emotional, old-fashioned indie pic. Beautifully observed.
15th Dec 2018Read more 4 star reviews
Surprisingly underwhelming biopic that doesn’t find its feet until 20m from the end.
24th Nov 2018Read more 3.5 star reviews
Utterly derivative / thoroughly enjoyable ‘Heat’ rip off.
21st Nov 2018Read more 3.5 star reviews
Well crafted character study, with some nice touches.
10th Nov 2018Read more 4 star reviews
Brutal revenge thriller. Stylish and violent, with plenty of explanation left to the imagination.
4th Nov 2018Read more 3.5 star reviews
Intense indie drama from Netflix. Impeccably acted and directed.
27th Oct 2018Read more 4 star reviews
Disappointingly unoriginal superhero movie, complete with dull CGI action.
27th Oct 2018Read more 2 star reviews
Continually clichéd rock romance that never breaks into originality.
13th Oct 2018Read more 1.5 star reviews
Dry Morrissey biopic that gets arty by avoiding using any Smiths songs.
7th Oct 2018Read more 3 star reviews
Decent rehash of vintage indie movie tropes.
7th Oct 2018Read more 3 star reviews
Mumblingly wordy western that’s big on self-importance and low on drama and tension.
25th Sep 2018Read more 2.5 star reviews
Muddled biopic with occasional moments of eccentric comedy madness.
22nd Sep 2018Read more 2.5 star reviews
Like a long episode of Girls that’s all about one of the more boring characters.
16th Sep 2018Read more 2 star reviews
Slightly confused slice of post-Michael Mann LA crime.
7th Sep 2018Read more 2.5 star reviews
Sympathetic retread of Single White Female, with added #hashtags.
26th Aug 2018Read more 3 star reviews
Welcome to the Jungle
Fun updated reboot with added Breakfast Club.
26th Aug 2018Read more 3 star reviews
Low-tide mark for super hero movies. I only finished watching to see how bad it could get.
14th Aug 2018Read more 1 star reviews
It’s a cover version of every other Mallick pic, but the setting is inspired and the improv from Gosling is enjoyably enthusiastic.
8th Aug 2018Read more 3 star reviews
Well written, well paced sequel. Surprisingly competent and heartwarming.
4th Aug 2018Read more 3.5 star reviews
70s pot boiler that lazily meanders through a series of mediocre set pieces.
23rd Jul 2018Read more 2.5 star reviews
Enjoyable change of pace for the super hero genre. Comedy wins.
21st Jul 2018Read more 3.5 star reviews
Great concept, but shoddily directed and utterly devoid of jeopardy.
17th Jul 2018Read more 2 star reviews
Small scale wartime espionage flick. Decent, but a bit laboured.
15th Jul 2018Read more 3 star reviews
Sub Roland Emmerich swill, with Gerard Butler saving the world from crazy weather.
13th Jul 2018Read more 2 star reviews
Derivative but fun romp through 80s CIA drug and gun running.
12th Jul 2018Read more 3 star reviews
Brutally sincere, painfully thin yakuza flick. Jared Leto goes full Gaijin.
6th Jul 2018Read more 2 star reviews
Huge misfire from Tomas Alfredson, with a multitude of bizarre choices. Like a bad 80's VHS rental.
6th Jul 2018Read more 1.5 star reviews
Brutally violent, post-Tarantino western. It’s all a bit mechanical.
2nd Jun 2018Read more 3 star reviews