New Jersey hip hop/punk mutants Ho99o9 are set to release their debut album United States of Horror on 5th May via Toys Have Powers; and it’s a vicious, politically charged uppercut to anyone who denies their militant rage or self-autonomy. Together, theOGM (Jean) & Yeti Bones (Eaddy) have created what they describe as ‘Deathkult’: a sound which blends the visceral elements of punk, rap, industrial, metal and hardcore music. It infiltrates their record from the offset; from opening recording ‘U.S.H’ in to the first track ‘War Is Hell’, through jagged samples and defiant lyrics the pair identify their outsider status: “N****rs like me go to hell” / “we’re living on the edge of your government”.
The duo have become infamous for their uncontrollable live performances – their SXSW show was shut down by the police this year, and I got a black eye at their Old Blue Last gig – and with tracks like the formidable ‘Street Power’, it’s easy to see why. The song combines hip hop verses with visceral, manic punk choruses, and it bleeds into the equally provocative ‘Face Tatt’, which is crammed with ranting vocals, and candid anti-establishment lyrics. There’s a brief interlude of calm, haunting female vocals on ‘When Death Calls’, but it’s quickly forgotten as soon as the equally as brief ‘Bleed War’ kicks in. The track is doused in corrosive beats and ends with a warped recording sample.
Anti-hymn ‘Moneymachine’ is followed by ‘Splash’, which is full of off-kilter hip hop rhythms, but it’s not until ‘Knuckle Up’ that the album’s momentum picks up again. The track is a call to arms inciting “motherfuckers” to release the rage they suppress in the mosh pit. You’ll be screaming “we don’t take no shit” in unison with the Deathkult leaders until ‘Dekay’ kicks in. The song’s mangled beats and corrosive lyrics will “burn holes” in your earholes (listen out for the Donald Trump reference, too).
Musically, Ho99o9’s album is raw and brutal (although sharply produced), but their Deathkult ideology is rooted in a serious, urgent need to be heard by the current Trump-led American government who ignore the voices of the marginalised. Some of the briefest tracks on the album contain the most powerful, observant lyrics. On calmer interlude ‘Feels Like…’ the candid line “White begins, the sentence wins” acts as a potent reminder that this record is charged with racial awareness and the pair’s anxiety of being unheard: “I hope I drop my album before I die”.
Songs like ‘City Rejects’ and ‘Hydrolics’ act as distractions from this serious cause, but ‘New Jersey Devil’ is a return to Ho99o9’s knockout form, with aggressive drums and nightmarish vocals. It bleeds in to eponymous track ‘United States Of Horror’ which asks listeners to “pledge allegiance” to Ho99o9’s oath to stamp out racism, police brutality, and corrupt government. The menacingly slow ‘Blaqq Hole’ closes the album, proving these “self-proclaimed savages” don’t give a fuck about backlash, they will tear the stage and the streets apart in their attempts to be heard.
United States of Horror is the sound of the outsider, the sound of counter-culture, the sound of society screaming out for change. Wide-eyed and open-mouthed, Ho99o9 are coming at you full speed, and they’re not for the faint-hearted. Their raw and obvious talent is in no danger of burning out.
United States Of Horror is released on May 5th via Toys Have Powers. You can pre-order it here.