Mel D. Cole


ho99o9’s latest ‘cyber warfare’ is an invitation to the pit

August 16, 2019

Pretty much since the mainstream-DIY-raiding of the ’90s, punk has often been locked in a weird reactionary paradox. Bands whose politics are as forward-thinking and radical as possible are judged by how closely their aesthetics resemble ’80s scene stalwarts. (“I’m sorry, the third pin from the left on your denim jacket is neither punk enough nor ironic enough to pass inspection. We’ve refunded your $5 admission. Come back when you can recite all the Crass albums both chronologically and alphabetically.”) And while I fully admit that if you tell me a band sounds like “Minor Threat mixed with …” I will buy that 7″ without asking a followup question, there’s something exhausting about the whole thing. What the fuck are we playing at? The fact that they don’t just not care, but that they thrive on confronting that reactionary bullshit is the venom that makes Ho99o9’s music so powerful. Their latest EP, Cyber Warfare feels like a brick to the punk “establishment.” It’s thrilling, visceral, ugly, confrontational, and absolutely bullshit-free.


Leading off with the thrash-tinged “Master of Pain,” Ho99o9 takes everything that worked about their single with Ghosthemane earlier this year and turns it up a notch. It jumps from a Crypt Keeper sample into an epic speed metal riff that gradually devolves into feedback-looped chaos, reemerging in a massive self-destructing breakdown. Over it’s 5 -minute runtime, the song is like a thesis statement for the record, sowing the seeds of the all-killer-no-filler 2-minute cuts that follow.

“Plexiglass” plays up the industrial hip-hop vibe with its apocalyptic musings: “When you pray for rain / You get mud.” “Shadowrun” takes a distorted riff over a lightspeed hardcore beat before they switch gear for the 808-led “Yellow Tape.” It’s a song that draws a straight line from punk police to police violence: “Fuck all your leaders and your rules / Bodybag for your whole crew plus you and / Momma said a dead cop’s a good cop / And a good cop’s a dead cop.”

Unsurprisingly, the collab with JPEGMAFIA is pure gold. “Simon Phoenix” turns down the volume, but doesn’t lose an ounce of the intensity, with Peggy, theOGM and Yeti Bones each trying to one-up each other in sheer nihilism. Closing pair “WiFi Punx” and “F.O.G.” are a straight-up invitation to the pit. The sweat-drenched closer taunts critics with the reminder “you’ll never be like me.” Industrial guitars twist and mutate as the drums pummel harder, screams of “Flesh! Of God!” distort into nothing, and the whole thing is enveloped in feedback. Ho99o9 may have constructed the perfect set-closer with “F.O.G.”

Check them out next week at AFROPUNK Fest in Brooklyn.