Ho99o9 (pronounced “Horror”) were on my short list of bands to see at Iceland Airwaves 2015, but unfortunately the closest I got to experiencing them was seeing the guys in the crowd at the Reykjavíkurdætur show at NASA, which they appeared to be enjoying quite a bit. I’m still pissed I didn’t catch them, and looking back at the schedule I can only guess that the reason was I just called it a night, as their one on-venue show was at 1:20AM. I’m getting soft in my old age.
What is not soft, however, is Ho99o9’s sound, a blend of hip hip and hardcore (check out “Sub-Zero”) with a splash of industrial (“Bleed War”) thrown in for good measure. The lyrics, whether about being hard on the streets or critiquing the socio-political order, are dark and violent. Personally I’m not a big lyrics guy, instead more focused on the sound and flow. That being said, it’s hard in this day and age to be shocked by anything. The idea of something like “Cop Killer” even being a blip on the radar seems almost impossible, though back in 1992 you’d have thought Ice-T should have been thrown in prison for writing a song given the outrage it caused. Today? That’s just par for the course. Stifle a yawn and click on the next YouTube clip. Rinse, wash, repeat. So while Ho99o9 are at times quite aggressive, it doesn’t feel particularly outrageous.
I like the sound, though. The distinctly different vocal styles of theOGM and Eaddy offer a lot of possibilities, and the duo explore them all, blending styles on the fly (there’s even some rockabilly on “City Rejects”) and holding it all together effortlessly.