Album Review: Scarlxrd – Infinity
The world of SoundCloud rap may share a penchant for facial tattoos with Oli Sykes, but only one of its practitioners got asked to join Bring Me The Horizon’s All Points East line-up. Step forward Scarlxrd, a 24-year old from Wolverhampton who dresses like an anime character and, evidently, hates the letter ‘O’. Incredibly, Infinity is his seventh album since the autumn of 2016, an achievement possibly linked to his past as a YouTuber, where maintaining a constant stream of content is crucial. This prodigious work rate aside, it isn’t hard to see why Scarlxrd’s profile is increasing exponentially, cutting across genre lines in the process. This is attention-grabbing music, marrying insistent trap beats with a vocal delivery that obnoxiously shreds the distinction between rapping and screaming his arse off, the latter element perfectly placed to turn the heads of Horizon fans who miss the days before Oli started singing properly.
Despite time fronting rap-rock outfit Myth City, undoubtedly a key point in his transition from jovial social media star to relentlessly dark trap MC, it is perhaps possible to overstate the metal content of Scarlxrd’s work. For example, on Infinity, only I CAN DX WHAT I WANT features heavy guitars, and even on this track they’re way down in the mix. But through atmosphere and lyrical intensity, it’s still clear that this is music as influenced by the nihilism of Slipknot as the misanthropy of Eminem: All Hxpe Is Gxne, anyone?
The mood throughout the album is unremittingly bleak, as evidenced by song titles like I WANT TX SEE YXU BLEED, YXU MAKE ME SICK and STFU, none of which are likely to make the playlist at your nan’s next birthday party. But while there’s certainly a formula at work, as well as a tendency towards minimalism, Infinity isn’t the one-note descent into negativity that it could have been in the hands of a lesser artist. BERZERK and HEAD GXNE show that Scarlxrd can cut it on more straightforward hip-hop tunes as well as the screamers, the latter sounding uncannily like peak-period Cypress Hill. HXW THEY JUDGE and DEMXNS AND ANGLES are melodic tunes rendered entirely unpretty by the wounded vocal howls being retched up all over them, putting the screamo into emo rap. Single SX SAD even introduces an element of playfulness to proceedings with a cartoony beat, making it the closest this iconoclastic artist has come to crafting something with mass appeal.
It’s this willingness to expand the parameters of his vision that makes Scarlxrd a genuine one-off, not just in the rock world but also when compared to the flimsier talents of his SoundCloud rap contemporaries. Watch him go to Infinity and beyond.