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“Game of Thrones” gets its second experimental musical counterpart

The sophomore mixtape from hip-hop artists and metal outfits is understandably lopsided

The Apr. 12 premiere of the fifth season of HBO’s “Game of Thrones” has triggered a heartwarming reconciliation between the genres of hip-hop and metal. With “Catch the Throne: The Mixtape, Vol. 2,” a GoT-themed work, the masters of modern music — metal artists — have finally acquiesced to recording on the same tracklist as what some might deem an inferior breed of sound. But the result is a rather imbalanced work consisting of four metal masterpieces and eleven pieces of hip-hop that range from mediocre to messy.

The hip-hop portion of the album is most informative. Snoop Dogg and Method Man instruct the masses on the correct pronunciation of “sword.” I applaud these eminent scholars’ idea that “sword” is actually pronounced with an audible “w,” but I believe — along with many English dictionaries — that this is incorrect. These two artists nonetheless conjure up alarmingly catchy beats and vocal melodies. A warning: while backtracks such as the one in “Lannister’s Anthem” may possess “swag,” keep in mind that a computer program is laying down the track’s foundation.

Real-life humans start playing music on the fourth track of the record, with Killswitch Engage’s “Loyalty.” A tip of the hat to the series’ House Martell, this song starts with a snippet from the show — Oberyn’s vow of revenge over his sister’s death at the hands of the Lannisters. While the structure of the verses is as dry as the Dornish sands, other Western-sounding elements are more redeeming. Adam Dutkiewicz’s guitar licks in the bridge offer up the image of a cowboy-sheriff showdown and Jesse Leach’s rustic rasp surprisingly fits the theme, despite an infuriating mix that also afflicted the last proper Killswitch album.

Returning to the hip-hop segments of the mixtape for a moment: Kap G proves that the genre is most bearable when executed with spitfire verses. Raquel Sofia’s “Legends” floats along with a rather soothing ambience and a pleasant English-Spanish lyrical combo. However, most of the other hip-hop tracks are largely lackluster, relying on mediocre vocal hooks.

This plague of hip-hop is cured by Anthrax and their “Soror Irrumator.” Despite the nasty topic (which I shall not translate into English), the New York quintet delivers some pretty clean-cut thrash metal that Mastodon proceeds to juxtapose on their contribution, “White Walker.” This track has none of Killswitch Engage’s hot fury or Anthrax’s lunacy, instead projecting a somber isolation that befits the ice-cold White Walkers of Westeros.

“Among the Crows” by industrial metal band Mushroomhead closes the musical circus that is “Catch the Throne: The Mixtape, Vol. 2.” Cryptic percussion and turntables abound in this tribute to the Night’s Watch. The nine-man group adequately conveys the creepiness that defending a continent against a horde of supernatural beasts would generally convey. But guest/touring vocalist Jackie LaPonza is the clear highlight here. As a vocalist who is both talented and titillating, LaPonza menacingly calls out “all the crows yet to bleed,” the first line of a chorus that gets distorted and echoed in neo-gnarly fashion near the middle of the track. While the song’s gritty production crafts a cacophonic craze reminiscent of Slipknot, it does so at the risk of sometimes sounding immature.

“Catch the Throne, Vol. 2” is as diverse in its offerings as it is in its quality. There are the good metal songs and the bad hip-hop ones. But all sarcasm aside, the mixtape does showcase how people ranging from leather jacket elitists to uppity teeny boppers can come together around an epic facet of culture such as “Game of Thrones.”