By Greg Kennelty, June 19, 2018
Front to Back Album Review: Dr. Octagon - Moosebumps: An Exploration Into Modern Day Horripilation
- Released: April 6, 2018
- Label: Bulk Recordings
- Producer: Dan the Automator
1.5 Play Buttons
Everyone please welcome back Dr. Octagon, the world's only time traveling alien surgeon and gynecologist from Jupiter! The doctor originally landed on this planet on Kool Keith's 1996 debut solo album Dr. Octagonecologyst and was promptly killed in 1999 by Dr. Dooom on First Come, First Served. Being a medical professional of sorts, Dr. Octagon revived himself only to be slain once more in 2008 on the album Dr. Dooom 2. The multi-talented doctor is back now a third time on a brand new record titled Moosebumps: An Exploration Into Modern Day Horripilation, which unfortunately is a testament as to why he maybe should've stayed dead.
The album opens up with Octagon Octagon where Dr. Octagon mastermind Keith Thornton spends four minutes chronicling his absurdly octagon life. Think Eiffel 65’s 1999 hit Blue but with octagons. The track could've been interesting and quirky enough as a short introductory skit, but at the length it runs, the song gets painfully repetitive pretty quickly. The beats and instrumentation on Octagon Octagon were done by Thornton and Dan The Automator are hokey imitations of Cage’s 2002 album Movies For The Blind, or even one of Eminem's first records.
Songs like Black Hole Son and Operation Zero sound like something you'd hear being blared from a boombox in 2001, and not in a good way. Doing music purposefully retro in 2018 is the "in" thing to do, but Moosebumps: An Exploration Into Modern Day Horripilation sounds accidentally dated and out of touch. Then there are some downright strange songwriting choices in addition to the album’s datedness, like the inclusion of Exodus guitarist Gary Holt on two tracks. Holt appears on Power of the World (S Curls) and Karma Sutra, both times sounding like an afterthought. Holt's contributions don't add anything substantial to either song and instead simply opt mirror the instrumentation Dan The Automator already has going on. It doesn't help that Holt's scratchy guitar tone stands in screeching contrast with just about anything else that's going on with either track.
Adding insult to injury is Bear Witness IV, a four minute instrumental that constantly feels like it's on the verge of breaking into a verse without ever doing so. Bear Witness IV is essentially one long introduction to nothing that Operation Zero doesn't bother to build on. One brief standout to the album is 3030 Meets The Doc featuring Del the Funky Homosapien as his alter ego Deltron. 3030 Meets The Doc employs quiet synths and a jazzy drumbeat alongside dissonant piano that when combined sound pretty otherworldly, and the wordplay between Delton and Dr. Octagon is just downright fun. It's also one of the few tracks on the album where Thornton isn't constantly making sexual references and innuendos. They get old quickly and man, are they prevalent.
The production on Moosebumps: An Exploration Into Modern Day Horripilation sounds exactly as dated as its beats, loops, and music. The album comes off flat and lifeless, as if it were stacks of clips formed into songs but without any real effort made to tie them together. If Moosebumps was marketed as a long lost demo album that preceded the first Dr. Octagon album in 1996, it would've made a lot more sense and the criticisms above would be a lot more forgivable. Instead, Moosbumps comes off like a half-baked demo that frankly isn't very interesting.