Grime maverick returns...

To hear the news that both Terror Danjah and Royal T were to release albums this summer was quite incredible. A united front under the Butterz label moniker, Royal T's debut LP with Rinse would easily be the biggest news of the summer had it not been for Terror's second with Hyperdub; both are solid proof that grime is enjoying its finest and arguably most telling resurgence yet.

Terror's 'Dark Crawler' is his first outing on Hyperdub since the release of his 'Undeniable' album back in 2010, an album he concedes "went over a few peoples heads" - "I wasn't playing out back then, I was just guessing really and wanted to prove that I wasn't just your typical grime producer. I'm glad I did it because it showed I could do more but I much prefer what I've tried to do with this album."

It is sometimes easy to forget that Terror's career in music has spanned over a decade. The mere fact that he wanted to do something different with grime back in 2010 shows just how far ahead of his time he's been along the way. From working with everyone who's ever been anyone in grime to scorching ahead with Butterz, as well as working closely with Hyperdub and Planet Mu, his vision has arguably transformed the fortunes of instrumental grime and whilst Undeniable may have leant away from his roots, 'Dark Crawler' is the perfect testament to them.

The album itself just exudes the back-to-basics quality that was seemingly lost with Undeniable. There are measured elements of experimentation throughout but rather than work from a blank canvas, grime is very much at the core of everything Terror has tried to showcase. There are notable features from Champion, long-time collaborator and fellow Butterz/Hyperdub alumni D.O.K. and Ruby Lee Ryder, who provided the vocals for 2011 smash 'Full Attention' as well as a slew of guest MC features.

Aside from an unusual percussive intro which eventually sets the tone accordingly, the album begins with 'Mirrors Edge'; wonderfully melancholy, complete with some great piano notes, sci-fi beats and trademark vinyl crackle, it explodes in and out of a series of complex breakdowns - it has actually grown to become my favourite track on the album. 'Gremlinz' featuring D.O.K is next up and far more in-line with club-banger than album track, tying together heavy bass stabs with an array of outer-wordly sounds and samples in raucous fashion. 'Air Max 90' on the other hand, a tribute to Terror's trainer of choice, is perhaps the most striking track on the album. A collaborative effort with Champion, it is a bass-laden funky onslaught from the off that ends in a monstrous house-style breakdown akin to Champion's 'Crystal Meth' single - incredible.

Title-track 'Dark Crawler' featuring Riko is next up and having already been released as a single by Hyperdub in the run-up to the album, has been on heavy rotation over the last few months. Raw, rugged and bass heavy, the instrumental feels almost purpose built for MCs and Riko's unique sound and energy a made him an obvious choice for the single. Further versions also make their way onto the album too with Trim and Kozzie teaming up on one and Mayhem, Deadly and Saf One joining forces on the other, a move, as Terror explains, that was inspired by US rap / hip-hop albums; "I got the idea from Lil Wayne's 'The Carter IV' - he'd included the same version of a few beats just with different rappers so I thought it'd be good to do that with Dark Crawler."

Terror Danjah ft. Riko Dan - Dark Crawler

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The choice of MCs is also a talking point with Trim representing the old school, Kozzie the new and Mayhem, Deadly and Saf One confirming Birmingham's influence on new school grime. "I've worked with a lot of MCs in my time but not many who are breaking through now", he explains. "I worked with Trim on his breakthrough track 'Boogeyman' and there's obviously the Butterz link up, as well as having the same agent so it made sense to have him on a version. I actually wanted Kozzie and Sox too because of the Lord of the Mics comeback but Kozzie is probably the emcee of now. It'd be silly not to have him on it because he's a snapshot of what's happening at present and he's been a key MC since back in 2010."

Alongside showcasing vocal and more typical 140 cuts, there is also room for experimentation on Dark Crawler and none come more so than 'Delicately' featuring Ruby Lee Ryder. Incorporating elements of jungle, garage and grime in a track that starts at 120 and at points reaches 174 BPM, it is a glorious fusion of styles complimented perfectly by the Ryder's dreamy vocals. 'You Make Me Feel' featuring Meleka is also similar in it's conception, although more geared towards Terror's original 'Rhythm 'n Grime' / slow jam thinking, a facet of his earlier work that remains hugely popular.

The album also presents us with a heavyweight twist on his 'Fruit Punch' instrumental in 'Rum Punch', 'Full Hundred', a fascinating down-tempo drum beat affair and 'Baby Oil', a less intense, dubstep-tinged offering as well as 'Moschino', a jungle-edged, arcade-themed club stomper.

The verdict? Brilliant. Terror has embraced his roots and gone back to basics to create a grime album, that similarly to Royal T's, pushes boundaries without sacrifice. Experimentation in parts is excellent too with nostalgic harks back to his jungle days providing welcome variety and Champion's influence on 'Air Max 90' has produced a genuine masterpiece in my eyes. Content aside, a big debt of gratitude must also fall at Hyperdub's feet because as Terror points out, without Kode9, he'd have been forgotten about:

"I've got my own space to breathe on the label which is nice. I'm so lucky to have Kode9 behind what I'm doing because without him, I'd have got nowhere really, I'd have been forgotten about. I feel I owe a lot to them because they took a chance on me and its not like grime's selling millions of records the world over. It was actually Swindle's remix of my track 'Zumpi Hunter' that got things working with Planet Mu but everything came good in the end. To be honest, we'd all lost our way a bit after the MCs had left but over the last few years, we've pulled it back. We've got the nights at Cable, I'm playing all over the world and going on tours - it used to be a dubstep dream but it's a reality now and hopefully we can carry on."

Long may they carry on.

Words by Tomas Fraser

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