Most records that have been made over the last two years have illustrated the calmness and melancholy of living through a pandemic, depicting a world stood still while a virus spreads from country to country. Ho99o9 had different ideas. Well before Coronavirus laid siege to our lives, the New Jersey duo garnered a reputation for giving zero fucks about genre while having a wanton bloodlust for all things noisy and chaotic. If it’s anti-social and abrasive, you bet this twosome have skin in the game. Whether that’s punk, metal, industrial electronics or hip-hop, Ho99o9 have a multitude of aural-tricks up their sleeve.
theOGM and Yeti Bones hunkered down throughout 2020 and 2021, working with Travis Barker on what would eventually become their sophomore record ‘SKIN’, a record that channels the tumultuous start of this new decade through the power of relentless sonic bombardment. Joining the Blink-182 sticks-man on a slew of guest slots is Slipknot frontman Corey Taylor, Bun B, Saul Williams and Jasiah.
‘SKIN’ is the embodiment of a record that’s being pushed to its limits, as it’s clear to see its architects have a complete disregard for volume and for how many musical touchpoints they can cram into one song. This isn’t an album where a punk track follows something resembling electronica and then hip-hop, nah, Ho99o9 chuck it all in a blender and let the flavours batter your senses without warning. There’s even the occasional pockets of serenity, albeit these crop up briefly. ‘BATTERY NOT INCLUDED’, a song that starts with a guy ranting about how much he hates techno, lurches into, you guessed it, a hefty dose of frantic techno-like beats, before ensnaring a sound that melds punk and metal. Just as the tension feels like there’s no let up, the track dips down into a dreamy mid-section for a quick breather before a grinding metallic outro caps things off.
‘SKINHEAD’ featuring Saul Williams is a collision of frantic punk-rock that flits in and out of something that resembles lounge music. Williams’ acapella, spoken-word outro is proceeded by a jazzy palette cleanser, before next track ‘LOWER THAN SCUM’ offers up another bludgeoning via death metal growls and a volcanic eruption of raging drums and squalling guitars. Corey Taylor’s guest slot appears on another ‘SKIN’ moment that flips the bird at genre. Dirty beats and fiercely delivered rap verses envelope Taylor’s brutal choruses that act like a battle of the bands mid-song, as Death Grips-esque hip-hop locks horns with Slipknot’s metallic bedlam. There’s also enough time and space to squeeze in a swooning soulful coo, which is quickly eaten alive by the next wave of venomous noise.
Even when the chaos is dialled down a fraction it feels like you’re bracing yourself for another acerbic barrage of sound. ‘SLO BREAD’, featuring BUN B, is a queasy skip through trap beats and murky electronics, where rap braggadocio is delivered by the dollop-load “Feeling like a king/and all I need is my throne.” ‘DEVIL AT THE CROSSROADS’ bobs along with a similar aesthetic but with an extra helping of wooziness that comes courtesy of a sound that resembles a Theremin flowing throughout. That all being said about the album’s flirtations with some less abrasive moments, ‘SKIN’s blueprint is constructed around confrontational noise and let’s put it this way – its foundations are rock solid.
With 2022 not showing any mercy as far as tragic worldwide events goes, ‘SKIN’s birth couldn’t be timelier. An album built on anger and fury, in time to be angry and furious about.
Order Skin by Ho99o9 HERE
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