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Album reviews
Artist:
Backxwash
Album:
Stigmata
Release year:
2020
Label:
Grimalkin
11 August 2020 / by Alexander Ramsay (author)

genres: experimental hip-hop, horrorcore, noise

 

With Stigmata, Ashanti Mutinta once again brings a huge, abrasive sound and raw energy that recalls Danny Brown and JPEGMAFIA. Frequent collaborators Adi Rook and Devi McCallion (of noise pop duo Black Dresses) return here to contribute production and backing vocals while Mutinta continues to find the perfect balance between the energetic thrash of her noise rap contemporaries and the threatening drone of Lingua Ignota, Pharmakon, or even David Lynch. Finally, Mutinta is still welding religious iconography into her work, perhaps most obviously on the EP’s cover, featuring a blood soaked Mutinta wearing a crown of thorns (much of Stigmata is based around samples of Christian metal bands).

 

For all the similarities between this new project and God Has Nothing to Do With This... however, Stigmata stands apart thanks to Mutinta not being afraid to slow things way down. Even during its heaviest moments, few songs on her last project were nearly as sludgy as the titular track here  God Has Nothing to Do With This... and 2019’s Deviancy felt like the punk side of Backxwash and still managed the occasional ‘fun’ song amongst all the darkness. Stigmata meanwhile, sees the grim industrial metal that has been an underlying current in her discography bubble to the surface.  On the aforementioned 'Stigmata', it sounds as if the Melvins' Buzz Osborne contributed to the project while the unnerving clang of the beat on 'Demons' sounds like an unreleased track from an Einstürzende Neubauten record.  

The final track of Stigmata is the EP's lowest point simply by virtue of having none of Backxwash's vocals yet it still manages to be admirably atmospheric. Mutinta saves the final track for a two-minute interlude via Montreal-based musician Joni Void, one that wouldn't sound out of place in a slasher movie. It's an underwhelming but fitting finale to a project that feels dredged straight out of the nightmares of the famous Washington Wives. 

 

Rating: 8/10


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Alexander Ramsay

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