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With a barrage of lurid lyrics, NYC's Cage spits the sort of storyboard rhymes on Hell's Winter that sound as if they're ripped from an underground graphic novel. The dreary war-zone backdrops come from El-P, RJD2, and Blockhead, and their nimble, diesel-charged compositions help drive Cage's reckless imagination over the edge. The foolish inclusion of Dead Kennedy Jello Biafra in "Grand Ol' Party Crash" detracts from an otherwise stinging indictment of President Bush's senselessness, but no flaws can be found in the autobiographical newsreel narrative of parental drug abuse in "Too Heavy for Cherubs" and the grisly girlfriend-death yarn of "Subtle Art of the Breakup Song." Cage sells uncomfortable moments like the neighborhood weed vendor, and some prime stuff has just blown into town.

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Dominic Umile

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