- Shogun Audio has long had its bread buttered on both sides. When they released their first Way Of The Warrior compilation in 2011, they were "at the forefront of experimental and underground drum & bass." But boss man Friction is also a fan of the poppy stuff on Radio 1, packed with big vocals and bigger drums, a sound they've been flirting with for the past few years. On Way Of The Warrior 2, this mainstream aspect takes center stage, with troubling results.
To be fair, there are some some top-shelf bangers here. Icicle and Mefjus both turn in tracks more taut and deadly than ever before—the drums sound like they could fly off the rails and take out an eye at any moment. But too often on Way Of The Warrior 2, this feels like the only mode the label is any good at anymore. Total Science's "Positive Vibration," Optiv & BTK's hopelessly cheesy "Picture Perfect" and Rockwell's obnoxious "Sick Of It All" are all lifelessly glossy, blown-up to stadium proportions with all the Neanderthal aggression that comes with that territory. Even the label's two new signings, Joe Ford and the four-piece band Fourward, aren't much to get excited about (if Ford does have potential, you wouldn't know it from "Stride," a track built on Skrillex-style bass growls).
Three tracks in the album's mid-section offer a glint of the old Shogun magic. SpectraSoul throw in two morsels of their usual crystal-clear brilliance—the spaciously dubby "Slippin" is like an oasis amidst the album's mindlessly pummelling percussion. Technimatic, meanwhile, offer up the string-loaded stepper "Bristol," which, though not terribly impressive, stands out by virtue of its delicate textures alone.
Way Of The Warrior 2 makes sense if you've been paying attention to Shogun Audio this year. Big-tent tracks like Friction's "Kingpin" and Rockwell's "Detroit" are obvious precursors. But it's still disheartening to hear such a bold label sound so one-dimensional. Hopefully it's a temporary detour instead of a complete shift. Either way, this one feels like a step in the wrong direction.
01. Optiv & BTK - Picture Perfect
02. Icicle - Anxious
03. Friction & K Tee - Jupiter (Mefjus Remix)
04. DLR – Sleep Talk
05. Total Science - Positive Vibration
06. Addison Groove & Sam Binga - Rzor (Friction Remix)
07. SpectraSoul – Slippin’
08. Technimatic - Bristol
09. Spectrasoul - Hearts
10. Rockwell – Sick Of It All
11. Joe Ford – Stride
12. Fourward - On A Knife Edge