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Ho99o9’s Skin: hip hop/punk riotstarters are out to f**k with your head

Corey Taylor and Travis Barker join in the chaos as Ho99o9’s step into new realms of the weird on second album Skin

Ho99o9: Skin album sleeve
(Image: © DFA Records)

Ho99o9 were confrontational from the start. One of their first music videos, for 2015’s Day Of Vengeance, showed rappers OGM and Yeti Bones dismembering a body and shoving the blood-splattered organs into a suitcase. A few years later, as main support to Papa Roach on their 2017 UK tour, the duo openly taunted a bewildered Brixton Academy that came for bangers and were instead subjected to an undefinable confrontation of nightmarish electronica, hip hop and venomous punk.

As we approach their second album, those words ‘undefinable confrontation’ are as relevant as ever when it comes to describing Ho99o9’s savage assault. While their 2017 debut, United States Of Horror, was notable for upping the emphasis on the heavier elements of their sound, equal parts Bad Brains, Death Grips and Cro-Mags, seething at social injustice and police brutality, Skin’s experimentation takes them deeper into a wholly unique realm.

Hyper-aggressive highlight Bite My Face, which opens with the intonation ‘She said my knife too sharp / She said my clothes too dark’ and features steroidal vocals from Corey Taylor, disintegrates into a serene interlude of twinkling piano keys. Speak Of The Devil sounds like Code Orange covering Type O Negative. After a minute of retched screams and Minor Threat-style battery, Skinhead segues into soft and soulful brass, and a hypnotic spoken-word verse from visionary Saul Williams.

It’s safe to assume that when Ho99o9 announced Skin’s first single, Battery Not Included, a collab with Blink 182’s Travis Barker, many thought it would pull the duo up to his slick, effervescent level. Instead, the duo have yanked him down into a disorientating storm of ruined beats and guitars. Skin is a headfuck and a half, but never once feels disjointed. It’s the sound of a band who sound like no one else in the world.