It’s been nine years since the last Skrillex album, but he has had a presence throughout music since, whether from his influence or a series of beats and singles spread out. So when Skrillex announced two albums getting released this year, his fans rightfully rejoiced, especially with singles amassing hype through the sheer visceral multidimensional production they have. Quest For Fire, the first of two albums, delivers on that hype, despite floundering with a few subpar tracks. On it, Skrillex takes us through varying directions, going from EDM to Trap, House, and Drum-N-Bass, all with clean transitions that don’t make the lesser tracks feel like outcasts, more just middling disappointments, comparatively. The blaze of Quest For Fire ignites fiercely, only to quickly taper thrice, but growing again with powerful sequences that keep you engaged with its atmosphere and vibe. It allows listeners to feel immersed through curiosity in this electrifying world filled to the brim with creative shifts from his co-producers and captivating performances from its featured artists.
As Quest For Fire shifts between genre complexions, we get a taste of Skrillex’s evolution within the electronic music genre. Though Skrillex, at first, was seen as a dude-bro DJ/Producer who made dubstep for a specific crowd. Yet, Skrillex has shown amongst releases some great depth in his musical production, like “Stranger” off Recess or “El Chapo” with The Game on The Documentary 2. Continuing on Quest For Fire, we hear a series of monstrous tracks with visceral depth in how it blends different elements to create the whole. The beats are hectic and rooted in these bombastic overtones like on “A Street I Know,” “Rumble,” and “Good Space,” which, like many, have a big focus on hard-hitting multi-layered drums patterns that create a flow with the featured artist. It gives us these eloquent tonal shifts that aren’t constantly pounding and keeps a consistent feel for the percussion’s importance in guiding this listening journey, made more so by its transitions.
When “Rumble” transitions to “Butterflies” or “Supersonic (my existence)” into “Hazel Theme,” the production leans toward more melodic-driven drum patterns, giving the external electronic notes like synths in the former, the guitars on “Supersonic (my existence)” or the piano notes in “Hazel Theme.” “Hazel Theme” and “Leave Me Like This” become pivotal as the former transitions into the closer, and the latter has to keep the hypnotic drum beats with contrasting success. The tempos between each keep it engaging, and its transitions don’t deter you as it’s cleanly boasting the engagement had between tracks. It’s the same when it shifts into the somewhat irrelevant skit, a quick interview with Skrillex (Sonny Moore) and Pete Wentz at Warped Tour ‘05, which has more to do with nostalgia than the focus of the album. Positively speaking, it’s how Skrillex keeps surprises in between tracks that weren’t released prior, like the dance and trap-laced “Good Space” to the experimental-bass “Supersonic (my existence),” a remix of the song of the same name by Josh Pan and Dylan Brady.
Though its production is the inherent strength of Quest For Fire, sometimes songs miss the mark because either vocal samples in certain ones aren’t as potent or the remix isn’t as gripping due to the original being less so. It shows with the contrasts between the less refined delivery in “Tears” to that of the energetic and melodic “Inhale Exhale” and the effectiveness between “Supersonic (my existence)” and “TOO BIZARRE,” his track with Swae Lee and Siiickbrain. Though “Tears” has slick production, the vocal samples don’t keep you engaged, almost wanting something to match that of Aluna’s (of AlunaGeorge) vocal samples on “Inhale Exhale” or with the potency of the final track, “Still Here (with the ones that I came with).” “Still Here (with the ones that I came with)” eloquently blends vocals and sounds from three different records, like “Time” by Snoh Alegra, while incorporating more live instrumentations. However, the original vocal performances have the most impact on the album.
We get fantastic performances from Bobby Raps, Flowdan, Starrah, Beam, and Eli Keszler, ranging in style as they keep the listener engaged. From Starrah’s house-influenced melodies, Flowdan’s rap flows over the dubstep/jungle/drum-n-bass “Rumble” or Bobby Raps’ poppy vocals on “Leave Me Like This,” its constant stylistic transitions don’t alienate you from the musical modus operandi. Quest For Fire is more bombastic; it’s an album filled with wicked club bangers that make the percussion a secondary artist to Skrillex, as they serve us these vibes reminiscent of a massive rave, even with the modest introspective “Hazel Theme.” Fortunately, his co-producers bring forth an understanding of it, whether it’s Fred Again… on “Rumble,” Noisia with “Supersonic (my existence),” or Joyride on a few like “Leave Me Like This,” it’s a consistent balance. It is how one can seamlessly get through it with ease.
Quest For Fire is triumphant behind the boards and lacking in specific departments; however, it’s a beautiful stream of musical consciousness that keeps you devoid from hearing these mediocre moments instantly. It’s bombastically astute and creates an encapsulating synergy that hits harder when you remove some weaker songs like “TOO BIZARRE” and “Tear,” as well the skit that is neat but oddly placed within the album. Skrillex fans will have a lot to indulge in and like, and relative newcomers will see the dynamic range in his craft as the music takes hold and leads you on a journey through luscious synths and various drum patterns.