After 9-year hiatus, electronic artist Skrillex releases albums back to back with new sound

On Jan. 6, I was sitting in bestie Tyler’s jeep when I heard him exclaim “it’s finally released?!” He changed the song to the long-awaited and newly released lead single “Rumble” becoming my first taste of the wave of music about to hit. 

After a nine-year wait for his first album, Skrillex blessed fans with two subsequent album releases, “Quest For Fire” and “Don’t Get Too Close.” 

The first hint came way back in 2022 when artist Fred Again, a collaborator on Skrillex’s lead single, played the unreleased song for his fans at a London show. Fans were in love and immediately spread concert recordings. Then, this January, Skrillex released an official snippet of Rumble alongside the cryptic text QFF/DGTC 23, hinting at the two albums shortly to come. 

On Feb. 17, Skrillex released “Quest For Fire.” The next day, Skrillex, Fred Again and Four Tet performed together in Madison Square Garden. While fans awaited the legendary trio, Skrillex surprised them by announcing his second album: “Don’t Get Too Close.”

Additionally, Skrillex has disclosed his recent battles with mental health, finding purpose and coping with his mother’s death. He shared on Twitter how he has grown a lot from the head space he has been in for the past few years. He proved this to the world with his new music and more importantly, a new haircut that takes him from the middle schooler we knew to a Greek god of dubstep.

The music from these two albums is a step away from the grainy and extremely distorted dubstep which originally characterized Skrillex. His newest music showcases the evolution and mastery of his craft with musical choices and sound effects that are unique and polished which makes for an exhilarating and satisfying listening experience. The quality of the deep and echoing bass he uses in the mixing provides a spatial and almost sinister feeling to his songs. 

The first album and my personal favorite, “Quest For Fire,” is characterized by strong, dark and energizing melodies that really punch. On the other hand, “Don’t Get Too Close” is more pop and hip-hop-inspired with broader appeal.

While Skrillex has grown a lot since the music that first put him in the mainstream, he includes homages and shoutouts to his older styles, such as screams and sound effects on the opening track “Leave Me Like This.”

Skrillex’s senior status in the music industry is evident in his collaborations with a sea of talented critically acclaimed artists and vocalists, including Justin Bieber, Swae Lee, Porter Robinson, Trippie Redd, Missy Elliott, Bladee, Kid Cudi, Yung Lean, Chief Keef and Don Toliver, among other talented artists. One of the strongest elements of his new music is the space Skrillex allows to highlight vocalists in each song — a stark difference from his previous album “Recess,” which lacks major collaborations. It is evident that Skrillex has used his fame and notoriety to follow his inspiration.

Although Skrillex collaborates with household names, he also makes room to collaborate with lesser-known talents like native Palestinian Nai Barghouti on the song “XENA” which is a hauntingly beautiful track that illustrates Skillex’s ability to incorporate dramatically different styles of music while maintaining its integrity. While Skrillex cannot be credited with originating this mix of traditional Arabic music and dubstep, he has brought it into the spotlight.

Another notable collaboration features rap trailblazer Missy Elliot in the song “RATATA,” a homage to her hit song “Work It.” Skrillex masterfully showcases the swagger and strength of Missy Elliot’s lyrics with catchy, invigorating mixing that scratches the right part of your brain and will have you speeding down Palatine hill on a weekday morning.

After breaking into fame almost a decade ago with the dubstep first wave, he was heavily criticized for not making real music and being a button pusher. Upon reflection, it is now evident that Skrillex was a trailblazer for so much of the music in the mainstream now. 

Leave your preconception of Skrillex and dubstep behind and enjoy the hour and a half of some of the best electronic has to offer today. There is something for everyone, but if you don’t have time to listen to the whole album, make sure to check these songs out: “Rumble,” “XENA,” “RATATA” and “TOO BIZARRE (juked).”

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