This was the best hip-hop album of 2001, period.
From the menacing opening beeps of Iron Galaxy to the feel-good coda of Scream Phoenix, Vordul Megala and Vast Aire Kramer rip on more levels than any debut I can think of. Not even Public Enemy or Tribe came out this strong.
One thing that makes this album brilliant is the complementary but different styles between Vordul and Vast Aire. The former employs a quick flow predicated on internal rhymes and sick imagery, as in "murderers is like handles that clap sandals
hand sand off tools and I can't stand on two (ridiculoid). It's almost like Illmatic-era Nas on meth...but better.
Vast Aire uses a slower flow filled with puns and analogies. He sounds like the guy who hustles at the pool hall, and beats you down when you don't pay up quickly. On paper, a line like "you were a stillborn baby. mother didn't want you, but you were still born...(iron galaxy)" but coming from this guy's mouth it sounds deep, fresh, and intelligent, in other words, real as real gets.
Another thing that vaults this project into the Vallhala of hip-hop is EL-P's ridiculous beats. Not to play the race card, but there are not many white guys on this planet who understand the funk like EL-P. Thing is, EL strains his funk through a messy Black Sabbath come Blade Runner thing...which, again, sounds a little strange on paper, but you're ears will understand, and the Cold Vein will change your life. I'd also highly recommend grabbing EL-P's 2002 masterstroke, Fantastic Damage.