ANGRY PEOPLE SAYING ANGRY THINGS
Ho99o9 (pronounced Horror) is a Los Angeles noise rap duo that has been making some waves in the past few years through some significant mixtapes, the most recent being Dead Bodies in the Lake. I’ve my reservations about this crew when I first heard them as, my first impression was “Hey, another Death Grips rip off group except they seem to like Bad Brains a little more”. And perhaps I was being unfair with them but it’s hard to not hear the similarities in the vocals and productions, as well as all the other Death Grips rip offs that have sprouted since Exmilitary came out. But with this new album, Ho99o9 seem to have carved a nice little niche within the Noise Rap genre that feels a little more fresh than before. And with 46 minutes of material, compared to Dead Bodies in the lake which was just over twenty minutes, they’re giving themselves a lot more room to make a statement.
The album starts off with a short intro and then heads into a song that disappointed me at first, War is Hell, mostly because of how sludgy it is and it just didn’t feel like much of an intro to me. Not that it’s bad, as it isn’t at all, it’s actually kinda catchy. I just would’ve preferred the second song, Street Power, to have switched places with it, which is a much more high powered and varied song with an atmospheric and airy beat that switches quickly into this hardcore punk instrumental as the duo screams: STREET POWER. And this album has a much sharper punk edge than others ,although, I’m not sure if they combine punk instrumentals with industrial and noise in a very fluid way. There are the punk songs and then there are the noisy songs. Few songs like Street Power do have both sounds within the songs but they are utilized with sudden beat changes between both rather than a combination of the two.
This isn’t to say that songs don’t have variety as it very much does. Every song has a specific identity and sound that really impressed me. There are few songs that come and go that aren’t easy to remember. Whether it’s the manic and glitchy Face Tat or the creepy-as-fuck and ethereal Moneymachine or the Bad Brains worship of City Rejects. Although all songs feel fresh, some over stay their welcome and become drab rather quickly. Knuckle Up is a good example, even though it is one of my favorite songs, it could be thirty seconds shorter and it would only make it tighter. Moneymachine is an even better example as quite honestly, it should’ve been like two whole minutes shorter as it quickly becomes redundant and boring once the novelty of the song wears off.
Now I said that Ho99o9 has made a new niche with this album and I stand by that. Although it is still clear that Death Grips is still a principle influence with songs like War is Hell and Dekay, it seems that they are pulling from farther back now on most tracks. I’m getting strong hints of Dalek and Nine Inch Nails from this record, particularly the song Bleed War in relation to NIN. This combined with their evident worship of 80s hardcore punk, it presents a feeling unique that is difficult find elsewhere. There is even a very strong mainstream trap influence on some of these songs like Hydrolics or Splash that quite honestly, barring subject matter, aren’t too far away from radio-friendly in terms of sound.
This album does have a much more distinct identity than other recent noise rap albums but it still isn’t very tight or polished. In addition to the redundancy of some tracks, some end out of nowhere to play some pointless interlude that just kills the momentum of the album. Just as Bleed War is getting it’s most intense, it cuts off to a skit of Death receiving a wrong number call. Like what the fuck. It’s kinda funny but it is still irritating because it seems like this album is trying to be a more holistic experience with these interludes and skits but it ends up making the whole thing feel scattered and unfocused, with no momentum ever being built from song to song. Which is a shame, because the only songs that are blatantly bad are United States of Horror and Blaqq Hole, which just so happen to end the album off. United States of Horror has some incredibly lame and cliche lyrics and although I enjoy the chorus and I would love to see it live, it just kills the album for me when he’s screaming these somewhat triumphant lyrics about never giving up and being yourself when the rest of the album is so nihilistic and cynical. Blaqq Hole is just a very inconspicuous ending that just lets the album fizzle out like a burning fire instead of an explosion. Also the vocals are stupid. They sound like: BLUB BLUB BLUB BLUB BLUB BLUB BLUB BLUB BLUB. And I just can’t help giggling when I hear it.
All in all, this album has consistently great songs on it that either get ruined by poor sequencing or abrupt endings. If I was to just judge the songs on the album, then this album is incredible, but as an ALBUM, it feels like it lollygags and wanders around aimlessly. I will undoubtedly return to my favorite songs on this album, like Knuckle Up, Bleed War, and Street Power, but I’m not really interested in listening to the whole album in its entirety.
6.5/10- Mostly good.