On Crimewave’s Latest, Death Metal and Hip-Hop Join in an Awkward Marriage

The Tacoma artist’s ‘Cage W/Mirrored Bars’ EP attempts to innovate, but lands in a noisy jumble.

Tacoma has been producing a steady stream of moshy hip-hop, with artists like BBE’s Ghoulavelii and Yung Fern dropping death-metal-inspired trap records. Fellow Tacomans Crimewave and Prison Religion’s False Prpht and Poozy joined forces on a new record, Caged W/Mirrored Bars, that attempts to take this dark trap sound to another level. Rather than simply drawing inspiration from death metal, the experimental EP tries to more literally fuse metal and hip-hop by combining bass-laden gothic synth instrumentals with distorted screaming vocals.

While it’s understandable why the decision was made to go for the extreme vocals, the actual execution falls short. The tracks sound like the artists shouted their verses, then digitally altered the vocals to level them with the instrumentals, resulting in a garbled sound that may have been intentional but which renders them extremely hard to understand. The effort to create an authentic death-metal sound ultimately results in a soup of undecipherable lyrics that pure hip-hop-heads likely won’t appreciate. “GLASS,” for example, clouds a minimal drum beat with screeching chants containing multiple “fuck niggas” and “triple sixes” among a slew of muddied howls. The track quickly descends into a jumble.

While picking through the lyrics is a daunting task, the instrumentals are a bright spot on the record. Sonically, the EP holds its own with bass-heavy boom-bap beats hiding behind a mask of eerie synths. “ONSIGHT” exemplifies Poozy’s talent as a producer—an airy beat comprising a strong bass line complemented by spooky keys with well-timed stoppages that allow the track to breathe while the artists shriek grainy a cappella bars.

Stylistically, Caged W/Mirrored Bars has similarities to Ghoulavelii’s Sleazy Season. The tracks on this project are relatively short for hip-hop, with most hovering around two minutes. These short, punchy tracks are aimed at high-energy performances, and the vocal chants throughout encourage crowds to sing along. “BORN 2 DIE” is a 38-second buildup to 30 seconds of lyrical mayhem. Its first half features a liturgy of the phrase “I don’t need my life because I know I’m going to die” followed by repeated incantations of “Born to die!” The 1´05˝ track plays like a guaranteed neck-breaker.

Caged W/Mirrored Bars is a science project of a record experimenting with a chemical fusion of two distinct genres. The result may work for its niche target audience, but will likely go over the heads of more traditional hip-hop enthusiasts, many of whom are still embroiled in heated debates over the merits of mumble rap. crimewave420.bandcamp.com

More in Music

Musicians Rally for a Free #SaveTheShowbox Concert at City Hall

The event corresponds with the City’s public land use hearing regarding expanding the Pike Place Market Historic District.

Angel Olsen: Always worth a closer inspection. Photo by Taylor Boylston
The Bare Bones of Angel Olsen

Seattle Weekly chats with the reflective singer-songwriter ahead of her Seattle solo show.

Album Premiere: Lizzie Weber – ‘You’

The Seattle folk singer-songwriter pens potent and poetic breakup songs on her new EP.

Labor Day weekend, Bumbershoot style.
A Look Back at Bumbershoot 2018

Thoughts and photos to recap the annual extravaganza.

Knife Knights emerges from the woods to play its first public live set at Bumbershoot. Photo by Justin Henning
Bumbershoot 2018 Picks

Music headliners, comedians, and local favorites: These are the acts to seek out at this weekend’s festivities.

Best of Seattle 2018: Arts & Entertainment

Best Musical Act Thunderpussy After years, 2018 finally (finally!) saw Thunderpussy put… Continue reading

Jessica McKenna and Zach Reino get a touch melodramatic about not needing a script for Off Book: The Improvised Musical podcast. Photo by Robyn Von Swank
‘Off Book’: Silly Story Singing Sans Script

The Broadway-worthy hijinks of ‘Off Book: The Improvised Musical’ podcast come to Bumbershoot.

Whitney Ballen Is a ‘Shooting Star’

The destinctive-voiced Isaquah singer-songwriter comes into her own on her new album ‘You’re a Shooting Star, I’m a Sinking Ship.’

Death Cab for Cutie Doesn’t Connect on ‘Thank You For Today’

While it’d be a fine record for most bands, the group’s new album falls short of its own standard thanks to questionable production and sequencing decisions.

Eddie Vedder at an earlier 2018 Pearl Jam show. Photo by Raph_PH/Flickr
Pearl Jam As Rock Archivists

The Home Shows at Safeco Field weren’t about the band’s legacy, but that of the genre as a whole.

Photo by Josh Kelety
City Council Passes Temporary Historic Protection for The Showbox

With a lively crowd on hand, the Council unanimously voted to delay any demolition of the venue by 10 months.

The 10 Best Moments From SPF30

A look back at the high points of Sub Pop’s 30th anniversary blowout.