Quest For Fire by Skrillex | Album Review
The Dubstep powerhouse returns with his first full-length album in 9 years
I never would’ve guessed I’d be reviewing a Skrillex album in 2023. If you rewind back to just over 10 years ago, Sonny Moore dominated the music scene during the dubstep era of the 2010s. His rise in the industry was rather quick and swift, I can remember how engulfed both myself and my friends were with Scary Monsters & Nice Sprites and Bangarang back in 2011. Fast forward to now and Skrillex has moved away from the dubstep scene (as did a vast majority of people) and found himself more so on the production side of other artists like Justin Bieber, or collaborating with fellow EDM producers such as Diplo.
Quest For Fire is Skrillex’s first full-length project since 2014’s Recess. It’s also one of two albums Skrillex dropped last week, a sister album titled Don’t Get Too Close was released just after Quest For Fire. Whereas the former album is a more straightforward, emo-rap-influenced project, Quest For Fire leans heavily towards house and garage music. Certainly not what I was expecting from Skrillex but it’s a welcome surprise nevertheless. Also considering the recent uprise in house music within mainstream music (Beyonce and Drake to name a few) This switch away from his typical EDM/dubstep sound feels like a natural progression.
Based on the title alone, Skrillex takes listeners on a literal quest to find different sounds. This album will keep you guessing in terms of production. With each track on Quest For Fire Sonny subverts expectations, bouncing from one idea to the next. You might be listening to the grimy bass of the dancehall-inspired “Rumble” one minute, then suddenly shift to the glitched-out, Middle Eastern soundscape of a song like “XENA”. A majority of the album is spent focusing on groove rather than festival levels of bass drops. This is where I find that the more house-influenced cuts (“Don’t Leave Me Like This”, “Butterflies”) tend to shine. These few examples merely scratch the surface of the depths Skrillex reaches on this new album.
The guest list on Quest For Fire is equally as surprising. Skrillex pairs up guest vocals and fellow producers in ways that on paper would sound confusing, but in practice, they turn out remarkably well. Rap’s king of melodies Swae Lee works with the post-punk aura of Siiickbrain on “TOO BIZARRE” (whose version on the album is a remix of the original). Missy Elliot flexes on the hip-house banger that is “RATATA”, while fellow producer Mr. Oizo brings a few elements of underground, French techno. Fellow electronic producers such as Dylan Brady, Noisia, and Sleepnet also make appearances on the album. Including their own styles of hyper pop and D&B on songs like “Tears” and “Supersonic (my existence)”. In many ways, these combinations shouldn’t work yet miraculously, Skrillex’s knack for curation does its job here and the payoff is great.
While I commend the album for its style and overall production, the album’s faults however lie in its length. There are a few cuts off of Quest For Fire that drag on for much longer than needed, quite a few times I found myself hitting the skip button as songs such as “Still Here (with the ones I came with)” tend to overstay their welcome a bit too much. While not detrimental to the whole album, I feel that it would have benefitted from shorter run times on a few tracks.
Overall though, I’m quite impressed with Quest For Fire. As Skrillex’s first full-length album in 9 years, he defies the odds and gives listeners a collection of vibey and groovy songs that proves that his talents as a producer extend beyond his dubstep roots. The guest vocals and producers add more sonic elements to the album, making each track a wholly unique experience. While the runtime is a bit much for my taste, I can’t say I didn’t enjoy this album for what it offers.
I’m giving Skrillex’s Quest For Fire a solid 7/10. Electronic music fans from all avenues like EDM, house, etc are surely going to get a fair amount of enjoyment from this new project. The varying sounds and styles certainly contrast with the more accessible Don’t Get Too Close, but if you’re eager to hear just how expansive Skrillex can be, Quest For Fire will almost certainly show you how.
Final rating: 7/10
Favourite Tracks: Leave Me Like This, RATATA, Butterflies, TOO BIZARRE (juked).
Listen to Quest For Fire: Apple Music | Spotify