They’re revered as the Godfathers of Aussie hip hop, bringing the homegrown scene onto the international stage over a 17-year career with their exhilarating blend of smooth rhymes, banging beats and poignant storytelling. Bliss N Eso have proved once again why they lay claim to such a title.

With their highly anticipated new album Off The Grid, the revolutionary trio have overcome incredible adversity in the years between 2013’s acclaimed Circus In The Sky and their sixth full-length output, definitively assuring us of their return.

The album’s radical mix of soothing, singalong vocals, insanely satisfying beats and utterly elevating hooks are in stark contrast to its lyrical focus; a raw, revealing dissection of more present events, contrasting their back catalogue which looks to the group’s inception and personal philosophy as thematic drivers (sing it: “peace, love and unity“.)

Off The Grid will have you gripped from the opening title track, with many of the songs taking you into a euphoric trance, most notably lead single Dopamine. Yet there is definitely a darker and more expressive tone to the overall album, with each song taking you on a different melodic and emotional journey, vibing on elements of soul, trap, reggae, blues, rock and funk in an expansive sonic palate.

They’ve teamed up with a star-studded run of guests – electro-soul Sydney artist Thief, Gavin James, ‘60s soul legend Lee Fields, R&B star Mario, slam poet Watsky, Dizzy Wright and more – to create a seriously empowering album that will have you hooked from the first spin.

MC Eso (Max MacKinnon) opens up about his battle with alcoholism on Devil On My Shoulder, with MC Bliss (Jonathan Notley) creating a touching tribute to Corey Perez on Blue, who lost his battle with cancer at the beginning of April. Friend Like You becomes a retrospective tribute to Johann ‘Yogi’ Ofner, who was fatally shot on the set of the track’s music video in January. The video was later released with a new treatment featuring interviews with his friends and family, as well as shots of Ofner’s six-year-old daughter Kyarna spinning the decks at the Gold Coast tribute show, which raised over $40,000.

In keeping with their MO, Bliss N Eso style the album as a nostalgic reflection as well commenting on the current moment. Off The Grid, true to its title, encourages contemplation on inter-personal connections; to unplug and see the world with our eyes instead of our screens.

With the dark album art featuring their signature hooded figure holding a skull sprouting a golden rose, their message of beauty from darkness has never been more relevant.

4.5/5

Bliss N Eso – Off The Grid

Released: 28 Apr 2017 via Illusive/Flight Deck