Polarising opinions surround British rapper Scarlxrd (pronounced “scarlord”), the solo pseudonym of ex-Myth City frontman, Marius Listhrop. With five digital albums and public intrigue behind him; ‘DXXM’ marks his first physical release and major label debut.
Distinct from the UK hip-hop scene, favouring screamed vocals and industrial soundscapes – something that’s being tipped as “trap metal” – Scarlxrd uses ‘DXXM’ as a conduit for aggression, nihilism, and raw honesty.
Grinding guitars build towards a trap beat to kick off ‘BXILING PXINT’, as screamed vocals tear through a double time verse. Aware that his vocal performance may become one note all too quickly, Scarlxrd plays with beat to maintain focus. As instruments drop in and out, chanted vocals drive the chorus home before bypassing conventional song structure to allow a call-and-response to take over.
After the furious salvo of ‘BXILING PXINT’ and ‘CHXKE’, we’re greeted with a palette cleanse with ‘dx dead pexple dream?’. Soft, detuned synths slide along a clean beat as triplet rhymes move the energy forward. Juggling between clean bars and harsh screams becomes cohesive due to the elongated structure of the verse.
‘PRISXN PLANET earth’ continues with the stylistic choices, using a string sample in a more conventional manner. Using modulation and glitched samples allows the beat to continue to evolve alongside nihilistic undertones. Scarlxrd uses the subtle soundscape to jump between fast flows, clean vocals, ear piercing screams, and low growls to demonstrate the versatility he possesses.
Not content with allowing his distinct sound to carry the record, tracks such as ‘immaculate SHAME’ showcases his flow being switched routinely, jumping from within the beat to outside of it alongside an a cappella led double time rhyme scheme.
Two tracks that sum up the duality of the record are ‘A BRAINDEAD civilisatixn’ and ‘we came frxm the DIRT’, the former working alongside a piano led melody as a bass line drops in and out, enabling a fast flow to dictate proceedings. The latter, on the other hand, plays with overtly compressed kick drums, a distorted square bass line, and throat ripping screams, launching headfirst into a frenzy of clattering beats and raw emotion.
Whilst the album stays within it’s niche, it does contain a punk energy that becomes infectious very quickly. With ‘DXXM’, Scarlxrd has produced a sonically unique and honest record, whether it’s recognised for this instantly or a few years from now remains to be seen.