A lot of people probably remember the first time they heard “Scary Monsters and Nice Sprites”... Either you hated it, or a little smile brushed across your face as you thought “what IS this?” How could someone make something so sonically awful yet so catchy at the same time?
On Quest for Fire, Skrillex’s brostep roots are never too far away, with little nods to his origin story sprinkled throughout the album, however with a mass of twenty-five eclectic guests over fifteen tracks, Skrillex is here to prove he isn’t just a pioneer of the dubstep genre, he’s an electronic music revolutionary. From collaborations with IDM legend FourTet, rap goddess Missy Elliot, Dylan Brady from hyperpop group 100 Gecs, Palestinian singer Nai Barghouti, UK DJ Fred again.. and Flowdan, this sophomore album is an absolute mixed bag of goods. Is there an overarching throughline to the tracklist? No. Does it need one? Absolutely not.
The opener “Leave Me Like This” is a nice taster of what to expect, or not expect, from the next fifteen tracks. However, the song that will get listeners excited is “RATATA” with Missy Elliot, a bouncy electronic scramble that leads straight into the dark and jarring “Tears” with producer Joker. Moore seemingly pins together unrelated musical ideas throughout the tracks which result in an incoherent listening experience that keeps you on your toes. There is no way to relax into Quest for Fire.
If you frequent the internet, you would’ve seen how Fred again.. and Skrillex took over the EDM world with their track “Rumble” with Flowdan. A filthy grime-inspired track that features Fred again’s signature drum rhythm. This is then followed up by “Butterflies”, a more mellow house-inspired track with FourTet.
Skrillex, Starrah & Four Tet - Butterflies (Official Music Video)Skrillex
In all honesty, some tracks do feel like filler when queued next to the big hits, such as the incredible “XENA” on which we are graced with Palestinian singer Nai Barghouti’s ethereal vocals before the track turns into a rattling techno workout played on metallic drums. Who could’ve expected the track to go like that? Speaking of unexpected, the Chicago-style juked-up track “Too Bizarre (Juked)” blends EDM, grunge and screamo, featuring Swae Lee and a lightspeed screamo verse from Siiickbrain.
Energy starts to dwindle as we approach the last five tracks... there have been so many genre changes and throwbacks that listeners will probably have whiplash at this point. Amongst the last tracks, Moore includes a fun but seemingly pointless interlude of his interview with Pete Wentz of Fall Out Boy from Moore’s time in post-hardcore band From First To Last (”Warped Tour ‘05 with pete WENTZ”). The penultimate track “Hazel Theme”, opens with ”Almost there guys, sorry; one more minute of this” as if Skrillex is apologizing for the absolute rollercoaster we’ve just been on. As the only solo track on the album, “Hazel Theme” attempts to find a moment of solace before flowing straight into “Still Here (with the ones that I came with)” with Porter Robinson. Although the album seems all over the place, perhaps the way Skrillex mixed the album in his basement DJ set is the ultimate way to experience it...
SKRILLEX - QUEST FOR FIRE Basement SetSkrillex
There is no lie, Skrillex is still here, he has always been here, and Quest for Fire is proof that he is going nowhere. You can’t call it a comeback if he never left...
P.S. If that wasn’t enough Skrillex for you, a day after release, Moore also dropped Don’t Get Too Close, a follow-up album to Quest for Fire.