Though some of the songs exemplify the duo's lyrical chops, Spirit in Stone gets bogged down in lots of filler: The bows to reggae ("Fever," "5th Horseman") and the anti-war tirades ("Resist," "State of the World/Apocalypse/War"), for example, seem superfluous. If we lower our expectations, however, some parts of this album become reasonably enjoyable and even buoyant; for instance, we can't help but root for Jumbo when he promises to "leave you muted like a Tibetan monk's e-mail" on "Head Exercise." At other times, the MCs' cleverness and sincerity lead to some catchy, even moving conceits, such as Vursatyl's battle with several overblown egos -- including his own -- on "Hellohihey," and the spiritual closer "Me." But the scattershot and uneven nature of the album proves ultimately frustrating.
Lifesavas have a ways to go before their flow truly grips their audience. Granted, the MCs truly and dutifully uphold the hip hop tenet of keeping it real, but Spirit in Stone leaves us feeling that the act is made up of a bunch of really cool guys, rather than impressive or profound artists of lasting import. And in a congested MC market, cool will only get you so far.