Reviews

Ho99o9
United States of Horror

(Toys Have Powers)

8/10

Ho99o9’s sonic palate, a seething collision of anarchic hardcore punk rock and industrial charged death rap, has always been an unpredictable, coarse and volatile one. So it makes sense the L.A via New Jersey duo of theOGM and Eaddy have worked with multiple producers on their debut album to bring out their many, many. TV on the Radio’s Dave Sitek is one such notable producer. The resulting album, whilst intentionally jarring, discordant and vicious in parts, actually flows with real purpose and intent. The brutality of the electronics that feel like they’re set to burst, the ground-shaking bass and the manic vocals create a template that is surprisingly adaptive to the multiple genres that Ho99o9 blitz through with often equal parts dark humour (the album opens with a recording of a child pledging allegiance to the United States of Horror) and savage vigour.

The group are at their most potent, effective and progressive when in rap mode, as opposed to the familiar thrash of metal-tinged hardcore punk, and the weighing up of the tracks suggests they are aware of this, too, with the guitar-led numbers less prominent than on previous EPs. The ferocious ‘Knuckle Up’, for example, with its almost Nine Inch Nails-like backing of sputtering rhythms, captures the visceral intensity of the group that the rapid-fire ’80s hardcore just can’t quite muster (as on misfire ‘New Jersey Devil’). The contemporary twitch and rattle of ‘Hydrolics’, which even employs autotune, is then a leap-out highlight with rich bass that sends a deep vibration humming through the core of the track as the vocalists leap in and out of one another, moving from a restrained and melodic flow to a wild and violent spit.

The album’s 17 tracks generally fly by at asteroid pace, greatly aided by some of the intriguing and interludes that connect the tracks throughout. One such moment, ‘Feels Like…’, is the most groove-driven and traditionally hip-hop the group has ever been and it works startlingly well, offering a brief glimpse into yet another side of their capabilities. Ultimately, though, the pace, intensity and frequent brutality of ‘United States of Horror’ (see the nightmarish ‘Dekay’ for some nose-bleed intensity) can feel like being locked in a basement and having your senses tortured – a bonus for these very literal horror fans.

The real skill that this duo has managed to display here is in creating a distinctive sense of personality around whom they are and what they do whilst operating in a self-imposed ever-shifting musical landscape, in which standing still appears to be a crime.

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