With grime being one of the most popular musical genres in Britain in recent years, it was only a matter of time before an act made an attempt at merging it with a heavier rock sound. The first band to do so with any great prominence are Cardiff’s Astroid Boys, who have dropped potentially the most interesting release of the year so far in debut album ‘Broke’.
One thing needs to be made clear from the outset, if you’re a rock purist this categorically isn’t the release for you, with the balance of the grime/rock crossover on offer weighed heavily in favour of the former. Every second of this release resonates with grit, street smarts, and authentic, lived in intelligence and social commentary. The unmistakable Cardiff accents, and unflinching references to their native city all add a defined sense of place and identity, and differentiates them from the glut of samey grime stars from London.
Opener ‘Cheque’ sees intense hip-hop beats combine with distinctly ska feeling keys and ‘Meteora’-era Linkin Park style guitars sliding slickly in and out of the mix, to create a sound that firmly underlines the diversity, raw spirit and flawless execution that’s to come. ‘Razz’ keeps proceedings rolling in similar style, underscoring an even sharper flow and outlook from vocalists Traxx and Benji. Elsewhere, the Brexiteer and Republican baiting ‘Foreigners’ drops plenty of scorching, sharply critiqued home truths over a stylish, sparse electronic and beats arrangement that brings a slice of Northern Cali hip-hop to Cardiff Bay.
‘Dirt’ provides ‘Broke’’s most out and out rock moment, crunching guitars combining with a distinctly live feeling vocal to round lot a track that sparks with menace. Later ‘Kill’ brings brooding grime beats, taught metal riffs and stark rhymes about prison and street life together with affecting results.
‘Broke’ sees Astroid Boys simultaneously state their arrival as a force to be reckoned with on both the rock and grime scenes. They manage to bridge the genre divide effortlessly, ticking enough boxes on each side, to potentially act as a major gateway act between the two worlds. All while being entirely authentic in each. Genuinely riveting stuff.
‘Broke’ by Astroid Boys is out now on Music For Nations / Sony.
Words by Dane Wright (@MrDaneWright)