Twenty years ago, Stuck Mojo released its first ever full-length album. That album, Snappin’ Necks would be only the beginning for the Atlanta, Georgia-based rap-metal band. The band would go on from there to release five more albums an EP and a hits collection in the form of Violate This (2001). Of those recordings, front man Bonz handled vocal duties on all but two. That is because after the release of 2000’s Declaration of a Headhunter, Bonz parted ways with his band mates in what was allegedly a less than amicable split. He would go on to be replaced by Lloyd “Lord” Nelson on Southern Born Killers (2007) and The Great Revival (2008). Late last year though, Bonz and his band mates seemingly buried the hatchet and reunited for what many thought would be a one-time only show in Atlanta. Though, now the band also has another show planned for April 17th in Charlotte, North Carolina. Word is that this reunion is in fact just temporary as Ward and company still have their own projects going on as does Bonz. Bonz has his own band bearing his name and a new album to boot titled Broken Silence. That album was released last week via Pavement Entertainment. And for anyone that is familiar with Stuck Mojo’s sound, those fans will especially appreciate Broken Silence as it stylistically bears quite the similarity to Stuck Mojo’s ’95 debut from beginning to end. That is clear right from the album’s lead single and title track in which Bonz tackles the fallout from his split with his brothers in the self-proclaimed four piece of doom in the early 2000s. ‘Sinister Grin’ proves to be just as deeply personal in examining its lyrical content. There is a lot of pent-up emotion behind this song. He even goes after his naysayers in the heavy, headbanger ‘Take It Personal,’ essentially saying he isn’t ignoring them and that it’s them that makes him stronger. It’s another piece proving that regardless of whether he is recording and performing with his brothers in Stuck Mojo or with his new family in his own band, Bonz hasn’t lost any of the fire that was there nearly three decades ago when Stuck Mojo first formed. Whether for the songs noted here, for those not noted, or for the record in whole, Broken Silence proves to be a record that any long-time fan of Stuck Mojo and/or Bonz himself will appreciate.
Broken Silence is, as noted, a record that any long-time fan of both Stuck Mojo and Bonz will appreciate. That is due in large part to the coupling of a sound that harkens back to Stuck Mojo’s 1995 debut Snappin’ Necks and lyrical content throughout that exhibits quite the emotion and depth. The album’s title track is a prime example of how that mix of musical firepower and lyrical depth makes the album worth the listen. ‘Broken Silence’ utilizes song titles and lyrics from all of the albums that Bonz recorded as a member of Stuck Mojo to take on the fallout from his split with the band after the release of its album Declaration of a Headhunter in 2000. Right from the song’s outset, the similarity to Stuck Mojo’s early days becomes fully evident through the work of guitarist Curt Taylor, drummer Erin Stagg, and Bonz’s own vocal delivery style. The anger and frustration that obviously built up after Bonz’s split with his former band mates is just as evident in the ferocity of his delivery. He raps in this song, “Who’s the devil/On a pigwalk/Crooked figurehead saying it’s all my fault/Been violated/Even changed my ways…snappin’ necks from beginning to the end…Mental meltdown/Twistin’ my game/Monkey behind the wheel deciding my fate/Don’t get started/You left that out/Step up, step up what’s next out your mouth.” Bonz continues in this same fashion, citing Stuck Mojo’s body of work to verbally assault one of his former band mates. Anyone with any knowledge of the split between Bonz and the rest of the band can only assume that the target of Bonz’s lyrical attack here is guitarist and Stuck Mojo founding member Rich Ward. Making the song even more interesting is the very fact that now Bonz and company have reunited at least temporarily. So one can’t help but wonder if the animosity expressed by Bonz has been tempered at least to a point and the proverbial hatchet buried. Regardless it makes for a solid anchor to Broken Silence and an equally look into the fallout from Bonz’s split from Stuck Mojo for any fan of both sides.
Broken Silence’s title track makes for quite the introduction to Bonz’s new album. This is especially the case for any fans that might have wondered what Bonz has been up to and where he has been ever since the two sides split. It serves as such a solid introduction (or re-introduction) for audiences because of it searing honesty and equally powerful musical side. For all of the musical and lyrical punch offered throughout the course of the song, it is just one of the album’s songs that exemplifies the emotions that Bonz has felt over the years. The album’s opener ‘Sinister Grin’ displays just as much musical and emotional power. Bonz raps against Curt Taylor’s full throttle shredding and Erin Stagg’s machine gun-precision drumming, “How do I smile without a sinister grin/I grab my pen and then the lyrics begin/How do I smile without a sinister grin/The enemies used to be my friends/How do I smile without a sinister grin/I grab my mic and the lyric then begins/How do I smile without a sinister grin/Friends, success imagine my chagrin/I’m reminiscing about those b!&@%#$/Steady a$$ kissin’ always on a mission/I hear ‘em hissin’, swearin’ and wishin’…” He goes on in this similar fashion through most of the song, even going so far as to verbally stand up to the subject(s) of his verbal punches saying that he has nothing to hide unlike said figure(s). It could easily be a misinterpretation on the part of this critic. but considering the venom that he spit in the album’s lead single, this song seems to lyrically follow the same pattern, attacking his former band mates in Stuck Mojo. Of course that is again merely the interpretation of this critic. It would be interesting to find out the full story behind this song and see if it gels with that interpretation. Right or wrong, it still proves both verbally and musically to show even more just how much power Broken Silence boasts both musically and lyrically. And considering that, it shows even more why Broken Silence proves to be a good introduction and re-introduction to Bonz.
Both ‘Broken Silence’ and ‘Sinister Grin’ show in their own way what makes Broken Silence a solid introduction and re-introduction to Bonz and the music that he’s crafted since splitting from Stuck Mojo. They also tell quite the interesting story of what he’s gone through at least emotionally since those days. That is thanks to their mix of music and lyrics. Both songs serve as excellent examples of what audiences have to expect from Bonz and company on the band’s debut release for Pavement Entertainment. While both songs serve as excellent examples of what Broken Silence has to offer in their own right, the band offers another equally solid example of what makes Broken Silence a solid return for Bonz just past the album’s halfway point in the song ‘Take It Personal.’ Rather than focusing his pent-up emotions on his former band mates here, he puts his crosshairs on his naysayers in general. The musical backing offered by Bonz’s band mates in this song will make the purest of purist headbangers happy. [Curt] Taylor’s guitar line and Erin Stagg’s drumming in the song’s chorus conjure thoughts of certain sludge/doom bands while Don Leslie’s bass work expertly accents Bonz’s own verbal skills in the verses. Speaking of those verbal skills, Bonz adds his own impact to the song as he raps, ‘Here’s a middle finger/Now you got a clue/That I don’t give a damn who the hell are you/B-O-N-Z man you cannot boo/No we ain’t goin’ down and play the fool.” Bonz goes on in similar fashion throughout the course of the song’s nearly four and a half-minute run time, shooting verbal missiles at his critics and at those of his new band. Bonz’s stylistic approach in this song is almost methodical in the verses. He makes his point entirely clear throughout the verses without having to be forceful, saving his energy instead for the song’s chorus sections. The juxtaposition of the two vocal styles coupled with the work of Bonz’s band mates leaves no doubt as to why this song is one more solid addition to Broken Silence and one more part of what makes Broken Silence in whole an album that any fan of Bonz and/or Stuck Mojo will enjoy.
Broken Silence is a solid introduction and re-introduction to Stuck Mojo’s original vocalist. That is evident in the songs examined here. While all three songs play their own part in the success of Broken Silence, the album’s remaining seven songs–including the live take of ‘Take It Personal’ that closes out the album–each present their own examples as to why fans of both Bonz and Stuck Mojo will appreciate this record. Whether for those songs or the pieces noted here, the album in whole proves to be one in the end that any Stuck Mojo fan should hear at least once regardless of whether they are fans of the band or of its outspoken front man. It is available now in stores and online. More information on Broken Silence and any upcoming live dates from Bonz is available online now at:
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