Full disclosure: I’ve been a fan of Ho99o9 since hearing their first album “United States of Ho99o9” a few years ago. Their mesh of punk-fueled chaos, metal aggression, dark hip hop and trap elements and industrial sleaze was exactly the kind of kitchen-sink creativity I’d been craving since diving into genre-fluid music almost 20 years ago. Here was a band who finally realized what The Beatles and Bowie had been trying to tell us since the 60’s and 70’s; genre is dead. It’s all ideas. Music is simply an amalgam of ideas and that’s all it ever has been. And boy, do Ho99o9 bring the ideas on their sophomore effort, “SKIN”. Whatever I found worthwhile on what they’ve done up to this point as prepared me for this; a fully realized Ho99o9. The world is not ready.
Filled with features from noteworthy artists from Corey Taylor to Saul Williams, this album not only has something for everybody, but manages to congeal all those somethings into a cohesive whole; still the tried and true trick of genre-fluid music. Genre-fluid doesn’t mean you have no identity, and this hip hop/punk/metal/freak-show duo have that in spades.
Proceedings begin in earnest right out of the gate on first track, “NUGE SNIGHT”, with an industrial-tinged, Pitchshifter-esque drum’n’bass beat and layers of synth noise, samples, and chaos. By the way, if you wonder why all song titles are capitalized in this review, that’s because that’s how they’re typed out on Spotify. Ho99o9 are yelling at you, and they want you to know it and feel every syllable. “BATTERY NOT INCLUDED” is a strong track with a hilariously ironic sample at the beginning, but feels more like a segue into the Corey Taylor-featured, “BITE MY FACE”, with Taylor’s signature Slipknot-bark trading lines with the now-as-iconic distorted punk vocals of the band’s two main artists, The OGM and Eaddy (fleshed out here by drummer Brandon Pertzborn and producer Travis Barker, who delivers above and beyond at the sonic level).
It’s hard to point out a lot of highlights other than the “BITE MY FACE” and “SKINHEAD” which begins with some major Heavy Metal Energy before disintegrating into a characteristically vulnerable spoken piece by Williams over some light, bassy ambiance. The reason why is this is an album lover’s album. That’s it. It’s an ALBUM. Bravely made in an ADHD-ridden musical landscape where a single can’t be out for five minutes before being “irrelevant”. So rather than do the cliché’ music journalist thing and go down every rabbit hole of every song, I’m going to tell you whipper snappers how you need to experience this album; put your phone on do not disturb, get some nice headphones, sit in the dark, press play at track one and then do not touch your phone until it’s over. Will it take some commitment and time and attention on your part? Absolutely. But it’s high time the younger generations learn and reap the rewards of experiencing an album like you would a film, and may the First Angel bless bands like Ho99o9 who brazenly remind us of that, damn the consequences.
This album moves, ebbs, flows, takes you up, down, below, within, without, and everywhere in between. It’s an experience. It’s a world. It’s a statement. A lost art. One I’m highly encouraged to see being embraced by current artists once again, and am absolutely here for. Check out the album on Spotify HERE!
Ho99o9 are also currently on tour.