Trip-hop was plenty bleak to begin with, but Massive Attack's third album reached new extremes of desolation. The beetle on the cover is a good indicator of the menace inside. Tempos crawl. Vocals are pitched between a whisper and a growl. Even the milk is black in their midnight world. Hip-hop beats and dub bass come cloaked in paranoid atmospheres, but the all-encompassing sense of dread is never anything less than electrifying. On "Teardrop", featuring Cocteau Twins' angelic Elizabeth Fraser, the storm clouds briefly part—a reprieve that only accentuates the heaviness of the rest.

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