Since 2001, veteran grime DJ/producer Terror Danjah has unleashed hundreds of badman street anthems, recognizable by the robotic demon baby laugh that is his signature. Like Timbaland (from whom this laugh idea is presumably lifted), he is first and foremost a rhythm don, providing bloodthirsty instrumentals that have provided a weighty backdrop for the scene's top MCs and their rapid-fire chat. Terror is arguably at his best when working with vocalists—the right cadence can elevate his haunted synths and industrial drums into something sublime—and on "Dark Crawler," he travels with one of the best: grime godfather Riko.
With a menacing ragga flow that recalls the glory days of Bounty Killer, Riko Dan sets the dance on fire with terrifying warlord lyrics about flying bullets and killing family members over a relentless construction of gunshot snares, kicks to the head, and bloody stabs, with some ambulance sirens thrown in for good measure. Against the current backdrop of trap's laid-back swing and new-school grime's buzzing instrumentals, "Dark Crawler" goes hard enough to strip paint, with a violent and visceral temper that recalls Terror's early days with Nasty Crew and Aftershock Records. (American brethren: If you liked those Vice grime compilations, you'll like this.)
On the flip, our dark soldier draws for a surprisingly sunny and tropical beat on "Fruit Punch," a doozy sangria of shakers and congas dancing a futuristic samba around bleeping techno pulses and hammering bass notes. This is UK funky house done the Terror Danjah way, so it's far from light—unusual percussion forms a stiff-limbed skank while intensive bass ensures this rum punch is stronger than it seems.
These two tracks are a teaser for Terror Danjah's Dark Crawler full-length (his second for Kode9's Hyperdub label), which drops September 25. The record is due to have appearances from singer Ruby Lee Rider and MCs Trim and Kossie, as well as collaborations with scene stars (and labelmates) D.O.K. and Champion. If the beats here are any indication, it promises to be a riveting assault from the harder edges of UK bass.