"Death, madness, murder, mayhem, it's the real haunted mound in your town." Butcher House is the new mixtape by 22-year-old NorCal rapper Sematary. Heavily influenced by 2010's Chicago Drill, early SoundCloud rap, and witch house, Sematary packages these elements in a black metal and slasher film aesthetic that's as much Chief Keef and Yung Lean as it is Jason Vorhees. This unique witches' brew of sounds and visuals has garnered Sematary and his collective, The Haunted Mound, a loyal underground following since their debut in 2019.
The opening track, "Haunted Mound Reapers," is heavily distorted with ominous synths and lyrics that are as sinister as they are humorous. In the next track, "Babayaga," Sematary evokes Slavic folklore and likens himself to a mythical ogress, with True Religion jeans and a box cutter, of course. Herein lies the genius of Sematary's music: it never asks to be taken seriously. The over-the-top and excessive nature of the music makes for a sound and attitude that's as eccentric as it is compelling.
With punk rock inflections and a hard-edged delivery, Sematary shows a willingness to experiment with his vocals on the track 'In Tha Field Where I Found U.' Combined with the catchy, anthemic chorus, it's simple and effective. 'Hallowed Be My Wrist' is my favorite track on the mixtape. The energy is infectious, and the Silent Hill references and slasher-film scream on a standalone track.
While long-time fans might miss the searing-hot wall of sound on Sematary mixtapes like Rainbow Bridge 3, this mixtape is lighter on the distortion and less abrasive than previous releases, making for an easier and more accessible product. Despite this sonic departure, it still manages to stay true to the sound and aesthetics of Sematary and the Haunted Mound, just in a way that's more welcome on the aux.