'A pandemonium in our ears’
Sophie Walker
15:11 3rd October 2019

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Scarlxrd basks in what our senses strive to reject. The 24-year-old from Wolverhampton turned his back on deified YouTube stardom, and instead inhabits a profane sonic underworld. His work is godless: a genre-collapsing fusion of blown-out trap and the unbridled rage of heavy metal. Scarlxrd’s latest album IMMXRTALISATIXN is staggeringly his eighth – the second this year alone. He invites us into a hellscape of twenty-four levels: a pandemonium in our ears.

Scarlxrd is undeniably the most hyperreal character of the SoundCloud rap saga, holding his aesthetic in the same, high regard as his sound. Donning garish anime-inspired costumes, with a pointed rejection of the letter ‘o’, there is certainly a sense that Scarlxrd demands total immersion and nothing less. His disturbingly high creative output, however, brings quality into question. Scarlxrd often teeters on the edge of being a one-trick pony: his coarsely-textured screams threatening to tip over into a ball-fisted tantrum. Yet the instrumentals charge through, warrior-like, carrying the record through.

The arcade-game synth of ‘GXING THE DISTANCE’ and its insidious bassline gives some flavour to the usual haemorrhaging trap hi-hats. The genres Scarlxrd toys with often breed repetition, with trap and metal being impactful on the first hit, but rarely able to pack another punch in his hands. But this record thrives best when Scarlxrd vaults into hip-hop territory. ‘ASK’, with its soulful, distorted samples taps into classic, head-nodding hip-hop drum patterns, gives texture to Scarlxrd’s sound without overwhelming it. Although he dips into textures that are genuinely interesting - and though he has proved he has the guile to choose them - there is simply too much. The sheer volume of tracks on IMMXTALISATIXN suffocates their impact and snuffs out their individuality before they had a chance to breathe. While excess is Scarlxrd’s strong suit, it is also his greatest limitation. 

IMMXRTALISATIXN is released on 4 October 2019 via Island Records.

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