(Third World / Harvest, 2016)
In my case, with “Exmilitary” and “The Money Store”, Death Grips instantly became one of the most exciting new acts out there, blowing my mind with basically every delightfully minimalistic yet psychedelically complex and intense song on these albums. Coming from a background of extreme Punk and Metal as well as oldschool Hip Hop and various styles of Electronic music, the music this trio (consisting of Zach Hill’s percussions, Andy Morin’s electronics, and MC Ride’s vocals) was giving birth to clicked perfectly with my musical tastes. And altho many seemed to find Death Grips to be too “insane” for their membranes, I felt right at home when it came to the multifaceted twisted beats, sounds and rhymes the band was at this point known for.
While “No Love Deep Web” went more synthetic and even etherial in its approach and delivered perhaps a bit more catchy songs compared to the first two, “Government Plates” was a bit too artsy (and in this case boring) for my taste with its large yet kinda weak arsenal of electronic sounds, but then again the instrumental album “Fashion Week” hit my good spot while being mostly electronic in nature as well. In any case, the double album “The Powers That B” has been to many perhaps the pinnacle of the evolution and career of the band, gathering all their past experimentation and honest insanity in eighteen songs.
As the band is no stranger to controversial behaviour such as releasing albums for free online or cancelling tours (and even cancelling a breakup), it has often felt every new Death Grips release is a kind of a miracle to behold. Every time a new album is announced, two things usually come to mind: Is it really gonna happen and when, plus are they gonna top or overdo or reinvent themselves yet again?
With great pleasure I can say this album is not by any means a disappointment. All the deranged vocal fury, the often overwhelming yet controlled rhythmic chaos, all the right usage of weird minimalistic or massive psychedelic electronics at the right places still holds up to the standards of the band, going even further in many areas.
The album has many similarities with the previous album “Jenny Death” when it comes to repetitive lines and swirling intense soundscapes, but this album is not by any means as chaotic as the first song which became available, “Hot Head”, hinted. In fact most of the songs have a very certain personal atmosphere and quality to them, making this album perhaps for many a bit more pleasant listen music-wise when compared to some of the band’s previous releases.
Still, pleasant is not a word that first comes into most listeners minds when describing the atmospheres of this album, as it is again filled with very intense almost hallucinatory parts and scenes, reminiscent of bad psychedelic trips. Meaning the band will most likely not gain new fans with this release, but that has probably never been their main agenda anyway.
“Giving Bad People Good Ideas” takes a pretty comical spoken sample and turns it into a synth/instrument, industrializes a very Black Metallic riff and a blast-beat, throws in some weird electronics, and tops it with Ride’s furious shouting rhymes. What a great Death Gripping way to start the album. “Hot Head” switches between a section which could be the most chaotic and Breakcore-like shit ever heard on a Death Grips record, and a calmer slower more vocal-driven part, making it a very personal song as well.
“Spikes” is a very classic Death Grips sounding piece with glitchy fuzzy electronics and whipping beats. “Warping” takes likewise a very traditional approach (considering the band’s standards) consisting mainly of slow and groovy dizzy straightforward jamming, being still a total banger. “Eh” is a very airy yet energetic song with a classic IDM-mentality (in my opinion) and thin snapping beats, making me think of even Aphex Twin, while the vocals are clear and audible, full of cool little ideas of performance.
“Bubbles Buried In This Jungle” has some fuzzy noisy wobbly synths working together with a Trap-like beat and vocoder-parts, making it perhaps a very “current” (considering the trends of the music world) song. “Trash” has a fizzing and airy electronic feel to it in that “Get Got” and “Artificial Death In The West” kinda way, with the addition of massive noisy brasses. Cool.
“Houdini” again offers musically nothing new to the band’s repertuare, but sounds like metal wires moving and tightening and snapping in a very reverberated hall, functioning with its cool lyrics as a very cool atmospheric breather at this point in the album. “BB Poison” has rubbery, bubbling and zapping synth and drum sounds spiced with rocking organic guitar parts. Once more nothing too special but sound-wise very cool. “Three Bedrooms In A Good Neighborhood” picks up the pace being a vigorous groovy piece full of cool details in all areas.
“Ring A Bell” brings back the heavy and phasing, flangy and twangy electric guitars sampled in various cool ways, familiar from previous songs like “On GP”, making it the most organic song on the album sound-wise.
“80808” is synth-sound driven ominous and eerie song full of calm fear and heavy aggression, before the title song “Bottomless Pit” finishes the album in style. The heavy noisy accelerating synths mixed with the steady energetic beat and tireless vocals make this song sound like an IndyCar speeding on the edges of a hurricane with Punk Rock blasting from its speakers.
In general, the soundscapes and mixing of the album is again pretty much along the same lines with the previous releases, with electronics ranging from heavy fuzziness to thin airiness, with pounding or snapping drum-sounds and various effects in the vocals, from multiple layers of well-managed chaos to stripped minimalism, perhaps this time around improving from past gritty rawness into a more thoughtful and better-produced whole.
While “The Powers That B” featured songs with some really personal lyrics from vocalist MC Ride, “Bottomless Pit” is possibly the most personal album lyric-wise the band has in their catalogue. All the mental delirious ranting rhyming insanity Ride spits and shouts is still here, only this time he often opens the door to his inners (and also to the band’s inners) more than before. Or at least that’s how it seems.
Altho personal-sounding, all the songs are pretty much equally good in my opinion, making it hard to pinpoint any favourites or clear highlights on the album, making this a steady release of high quality. While taking the organic freshness of “Jenny Death”, “Bottomless Pit” combines all the best elements of “The Money Store” and “No Love Deep Web” and adds a few new brilliant ideas, making this a solid, strong, familiar, high quality Death Grips album, and I’m bound to have many intimate and delirious moments with it. Loving it, as always.