With the return of Jus Allah to the Jedi Mind Tricks lineup, many would probably expect A History of Violence to be their greatest accomplishment since Violent By Design. Those people, however, are gonna be disappointed, because while Vinnie Paz finally broke out of the violence rap stereotypes with his impressive performance on Servants in Heaven, Kings in Hell, Jus Allah's lines seem to have not made any growth in the past 8 years. Still, even when, lyrically, Jedi Mind Tricks had almost nothing going for them (which actually has been most of their career), it was Stoupe's first-rate production that kept their albums afloat, and if a fan focuses on that here, as they probably always have in order to be a fan, then they'll find Stoupe as focused as ever, delving even further into elaborate classical samples and keeping his vital reputation intact. Still, the first half is noticeably underwhelming, coming off as too predictable for comfort, with the minor exceptions of "Deathbed Doctrine" and the two instrumentals.
But as soon as the echoey "Seance of Shamnans" begins, the album enters a flawless second half. "Godflesh" slaps with hooks, "Butcher Knife Bloodknife" turns a wall of minor-key opera choir exercises into a frightening onslaught and a consistent symphonic crescendo makes "Terror" a horror-core assault on the ears. Plus, the pensive "Death Messaiah" instantly makes it to the top of the band's greatest dirges. The lack of growth and pocket of mediocrity at the beginning means it's a step down from their last effort, but for your Jedi Mind Tricks fix, A History of Violence completely satisfies. (Aron Fischer)
For fans of: Wu Tang Clan, Cannibal Ox, Aesop Rock, Dalek, El-P, Ill Bill