Terror Danjah was a key player in the birth of grime a decade ago, vitally influential in adding a sense of rambunctious fun and funk to the darkness and weirdness that characterized its early beats. More recently, he has led the charge in bringing the scene’s producers out from behind the egos and shouting of rappers, and pushing the sound as party-rocking electronic club music in its own right. His Gremlinz compilation and his first artist album, Undeniable, planted the flag in the ground for grime as a style that could make stars of producers, with guest vocalists there as support, rather than to steal the limelight.
If Gremlinz was a consolidation of his early efforts, and Undeniable a statement of intent, The Dark Crawler is the album where Terror Danjah fully matures as an artist. From the movie theme atmospherics of “Dark Crawler Intro,” which lead into the chillingly beautiful “Mirrors Edge,” there is a new level of confidence to the way his tangled rhythms and synth grooves weave with real instruments and vocals. On Undeniable he tried out different styles other than grime, and lost a little of his musical personality doing so, but here every track sounds like Terror Danjah, even without the trademark sampled gremlin cackle that appears as his signature on each.
So “Rum Punch,” “Air Max 90″ and “Baby Oil” can take on London’s carnival house rhythms, “You Make Me Feel” with Meleka can update vintage the R&B of Timbaland and Aaliyah, and “Delicately” with Ruby Lee Ryder goes right back to TD’s rots in jungle to create a soul-stirring lovers’ rave tune, while still sounding like the product of a singlar creative vision. Throughout, the glossy, menacing title track appears again and again with different vocals from two generations of MCs – a reminder of just how far both Terror Danjah and grime have come.