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Man…where the fuck does one even begin when talking about a group like Death Grips?
Vocalist/lyricist MC Ride (real name Stefan Burnett, which is a far less cool stage name), drummer/programmer Zach Hill and keys/bass player Andy Morin have made some of the noisiest and most polarising music out there for the past six years or so. However, just because your music is unique and each song is very different in its own right, that doesn’t mean you automatically get a free pass for it being good… but Death Grips just make it over the line.
This noise/experimental hip-hop band, or “noise-hop” if you will (please don’t quote me on that), dropped their album ‘Bottomless Pit’ this month and when it comes to this Cali outfit, you’ve got three groups of listeners. The first camp is full of “normies” who don’t know who Death Grips are and who think Bring Me The Horizon is as heavy as it gets. The second group consists of the people who actually listen to Death Grips for fun, for you know, leisurely pleasure (yes, they do exist). And the third camp is where we reside, in which one knows the band, listens to them occasionally in order to be a part of the current zeitgeist, and does so to see just what the actual fuck all the buzz is about.
Now, this writer’s past experience with the group has always been mixed as it felt like there were too many musical elements blended together. Essentially, when the band found their feet in a particular section, they’d pull a 180-degree shift and change it up, because…they…could? Well, regardless of the reasoning, ‘Bottomless Pit’ is more of the same from the band – weird, dissonant and almost atonal music with some fantastic production (of which a documentary on would be ace).
Musically, it’s got that all over the shop drumming that weaves between tight, head-bobbing grooves, and fast fills and messy, free-playing. Concurrently, there are also overbearing, harsh synths; heavily effected guitars and phat bass lines, with a large mix of modulated samples; and a mix of booming yells, fast rapping and percussive scatting and sharp spoken word. When the lyrics can actually be made out, though, it is almost nonsensical gibberish and seemingly deranged in nature. Yet, all of that is basically the sole charm and appeal of Death Grips.
‘Giving Bad People Good Ideas’ (which may very well be the most accurate self-fulfilling prophecy we’ve ever heard), ‘Hot Head’ and the closing title track all embody these aforementioned sounds very well. While those songs aren’t quite fantastic, they’re not terrible either. But we probably could’ve done without the rather forgettable ‘Trash’, and the bland and repetitive ‘8080808’ and ‘BB Poison’. Moreover, ‘Houdini’ and the fuzzy, distorted title track, while not bad songs, would be better for us if they had different lyrics, very minimal vocals or were maybe just solely instrumentals. But even with our handful of caveats for this record, it’s pretty solid and does contain our favorite songs.
For instance, the pulsating ‘Spikes’ and the surprisingly catchy and melodic ‘Warping’ (no, no really) are two jams that we wish would never end. Alongside those two, the trance-inducing ‘Eh’, the actually danceable banger ‘Three Bedrooms In A Good Neighbourhood’ and the truly surreal standout, ‘Ring A Bell’ (holy shit, that guitar riff though!) are what really make this album great and worthy of your time.
But you know, maybe, just maybe we’re out of touch and we can’t fully appreciate the sheer brilliance of this record. Hmmm… No, it is the children who are wrong.
Look, last year’s dual album ‘The Powers That B’, was pretty damn cool (don’t forget ‘Fashion Week’, either) and you know what? ‘Bottomless Pit’ is pretty solid as well, and while we don’t think this is the Album of the Year by any means, we think this represents the kind of creativity and don’t-give-a-fuck attitude that a lot of other artists could take some notes from…although don’t imitate them – one Death Grips is enough, thanks.
If you haven’t heard of this band before, or maybe you’ve got a very open mind and are on the prowl for some new music, we could almost recommend this album just for the sheer experience of listening to it alone. But no matter what your experience with this album, just remember that listening to Death Grips doesn’t make you any better than anyone else, no matter what you tell yourself at night.
1. Giving Bad People Good Ideas
2. Hot Head
6. Bubbles Buried In This Jungle
9. BB Poison
10. Three Bedrooms In A Good Neighborhood
11. Ring A Bell
13. Bottomless Pit