“Blood Money Part Zer0”: How a Niche Band Revives a Dying Genre


Screengrab from Dope’s “Believe” music video.

Almost everyone who lived through the 1990s will tell you that they were a wild time. One such person would be Brian Ebejer, better known by his stage name of Edsel Dope. In 1997, he created a band, aptly named Dope. For 26 years, the band has been combining the dead genre of nu-metal and industrial grit, with a spirit for obscene lyrics. This streak continues with their seventh studio album, “Blood Money Part Zer0,” released on Friday, Feb. 24, 2023.

This album features more of the usual recipe for Dope music. There’s shouting, intense vocals by Edsel, smart-yet-expected guitars and drums, and lyrics that allow the listener to just rock out and feel the rage leaving their body after a stressful day. This album offers songs for both anger and sorrow.

First teased in the summer of 2022, the album was first shown with two singles during the announcement: “Believe” and “No Respect.” These songs showed the album’s duality. “Believe” is introspective and looks at how life can cause all of us to change. This can be reflective of Edsel’s life, as he announced with the album that he is now a father. He is also no longer the man who sold heroin to buy band gear like he did in the early days. That change coming about from good or bad is up to the individual, and this song looks at both sides of the coin. Meanwhile, “No Respect” is aggressive, giving you the strength to chastise someone who’s done you dirty. The other singles include more anger and more emotional outpouring from Edsel as well as a cover of the track “Lovesong” by The Cure.

The non-single songs include the fury-filled “Choke,” which takes aim at cancel-culture and shows that Edsel doesn’t agree with it and how it seems to be encroaching on his fun. The track feels like Edsel really showing his age by saying things like “Cancel everybody, everybody cancel everyone” and “Squeeze until they f***ing choke / On all this stupid f***ing woke.” These lines make it seem like he is afraid of being canceled, which doesn’t seem to be the case, as he hasn’t had any accusations of misconduct thrown against him. “Row” is a perfect companion to this. It has a thrash sound and lyrics which look at Edsel’s anxiety and regret for his past mistakes. The angry and punchy “Wide” serves as the final track, Edsel’s desire to get his aggression out.

The album continues a common musical motif across most Dope albums, and it works surprisingly well. The album feels like a good reflection on the band’s past while also giving slight hints at what lies ahead. The guitars don’t feel outdated or old, and Edsel’s voice switches from screaming to melodic depending on the songs. Vocal shifting isn’t very common with the band, but it fits this album and its songs very well. Edsel seems to realize his age and how he should reign it in a bit compared to his past self. Coming at a time in the year when most bands don’t want to release albums, Dope still won’t conform to society’s standards and simply continue doing what they do best: the unconventional.

The band advertised the album in a very unconventional way as well. They gave it away for free. In a day and age where digital downloads cost around $10 USD, the band acknowledged that this music deserves to be heard by the masses. Therefore, digital versions of the album are free for anyone and everyone to download and can be found on streaming platforms as well. The band also has physical versions of the album for sale for collectors.

Overall, the album is a solid 7.5/10. The instrumentals bounce off each other, and Edsel’s voice lifts the entire experience to new heights. However, Dope seems afraid to step outside of their comfort zone, relying on the side-project Drama Club to guest on the tracks “Misery” and “Lovesong.” This would work if not for Edsel revealing that he is one half of Drama Club, meaning that he is guesting on his own songs. This feels like a copout to avoid distancing themselves from the angry material they’re known for. The track “Choke” also drags the score down, as it seems to not bring any real effort towards Edsel’s argument against cancel culture. The song just sounds like Edsel being an old guy angry at time advancing without him. That being said, this album is still a great return from a terrific band.

“Blood Money Part Zer0” is out now on all streaming platforms. In support of this album, Dope is joining Static-X, Fear Factory, Mushroomhead and Twizted on the Rise of the Machine tour, which began on Saturday, Feb. 25 in San Francisco, and will go until Apr. 15, ending in Los Angeles.