From South St. Louis emerges a multi-hyphenate artist veiled in ghostly energy.

“80 on the dash, bitch I’m in the fast lane” raps South St. Louis artist Metal Slug calmly on ‘4DALUVOFMONEY’. The line wouldn’t feel out of place in any modern trap song, but in the context and surroundings of Metal Slug’s artistry it is a mission statement, a commitment to staying ahead of the curve and competition.

On a larger scale, ‘4DALUVOFMONEY’ (produced by BMB Loko Los) is the perfect introduction to Metal Slug’s personal brand of controlled chaos. The bass is booming, explosive even, but doesn’t overwhelm the mix, allowing the raw synth melody to carry the song’s intense energy. The song’s melody sounds ripped straight out an EDM track, with descending echoes of further synths an octave or so above, creating the illusion of a downwards spiral. Despite this the percussion is rapid, vocals pitched up, and lyrics positive; “I just love the money I been counting all day”. Slug walks a tightrope between serious and fantastical throughout his work, coating his brand in a translucent layer of irony which the listener can choose to ignore or analyse; both choices offer different but equally exciting experiences.

As a visual artist as well as a musician, Metal Slug directs his aesthetic with multi-sensory control. His artwork is full of inverted colours and pixelation, purposefully obscure and mysterious. The cover of ‘TRILLSHT3k20’ works into the mythical – two unicorns clash as light begins to emerge from the battling horns, representing the energy Slug and collaborator Krxxk unleash on the song. The verse is brief but slots perfectly into Krxxk’s melodic synthetic swirl. The track is tagged ‘Trance’, unconventional but accurate to the song’s intoxicating flow. The stutter of the song being chopped up and repeated makes each moment unpredictable and engaging. Across from ‘TRILLSHT3k20’ stands ‘SHIN GOUKI’, a fully instrumental piece that offers a view into the breadth of moods Metal Slug captures. It still has vibrant melodies and thunderous bass, but the lighter, rapidly moving synth leads create a more lively tone. The 808s hit a little less densely here which allows room for the melodies to really capture the listener.

#RELOADED_’ taps into peak 2000s internet culture for its artwork, the classic Gangster Spongebob. The instrumental itself is marked by bouncing synths, cleaner percussion than anywhere else in the discography and lighter use of bass, which is refreshing after such a deep dive into the dark trap found all over Metal Slug’s work. ‘#RELOADED_’ offers another look into Metal Slug’s take on duality – the artwork references a meme locked to a specific era but the music itself can be seen as timeless as most instrumentals can; Metal Slug seems to put considerable effort into crashing opposing ideas into each other to create something new.

It’s this same ideology that Metal Slug applies to visual art also. Some of it is overwhelmingly hazy and difficult to comprehend. Other pieces are simple collisions of influences to create a moodboard style effect. All of it gels to the auditory side of Slug’s work – hazed, pixelated and mysterious.

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Metal Slug has carved out an ironclad niche. His work pits light and dark against one another in short, instantly replayable tracks and mysterious artworks. On Soundcloud he offers a great deal of variety through a collection of loose tracks and longer mixes. As this wave of dark trap continues to develop, how Metal Slug expands and refines his artistic output will definitely be something to pay close attention to.

Follow Metal Slug on Soundcloud and Twitter, and check out his store on Traktrain.

– Jamie (@youngjade1216)

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