Review: Death Grips, “Bottomless Pit” (2016)

death grips

Aggression, Nihilism and Anarchism.

I’d never heard of Death Grips before this album. They’ve only been around since 2010, broken up and then reformed for this and a string of other, more-electronic and experimental albums in 2016. They’re made up of MC Ride on vocals, drummer/producer Zach Hill and Andy Morin. They’ve been classified as ‘experimental hip-hop’, yet this album covers many styles including hardcore. But just how good can aggression sound?

The opening track ‘Giving Bad People Good Ideas’ opens with Clementine Cleevey from Cherry Glazer singing ‘I keep giving bad people good ideas’ to the sudden sound of pulverising guitars and ultra-fast drumming – it’s unrelenting. The next track, ‘Hot Head’ opens with a series of arpeggios and a huge wind-up synth and a sudden barrage of dub blasts and chaotic sounds. ‘Blo Blo Blo/Hot Head/Oh no/Pedagogue grab the microphone, ease up’ Mc Ride frantically exclaims. He then gloats at a foe that makes the unfortunate mistake of messing with him, as he sings in the chorus: ‘Self-inflicted/What’d you tell them?/I just told ’em hell’s existence/But you know me/Don’t nobody know my business/My presence flog your confidence/Who want a brand new complex?/Now on, I’ll call you, go fetch’. These kinds of lyrics makes more sense in line with the band’s apparent antagonism with fans and fame (this is more apparent in the apathetic song ‘Eh’). Subsequent songs like ‘Spikes’ and ‘Warping’ carry on more heavy, hip-hop inspired beats. My personal favourite ‘Bubbles Buried in the Jungle’ opens with a hardcore chant: ‘F*** weak/No respect/No chance/Wick Wick cease and desist when I chant’ and a head banging drum beat filled with delightfully busy triplety high hat action. It’s one of many addictive beats. 

The album ceases to be as interesting around the middle mark, but picks up again with ‘Ring A Bell’ with a huge wall of sound and a driving rock beat. The final track ‘Bottomless Pit’ enters with a more industrial guitar sound and punk beat. The song deals with quite explicit and violent sexual imagery which is quite disturbing.

Bottomless Pit is filled with MC Ride’s cryptic lyrics that move between anarchism, nihilism and plain old being angry. It is a fairly unrelenting album that moves around so many different genres, which is why I think it strikes a chord for me: it touches on the most interesting developments of electronic music and then fuses them with hardcore and hip-hop sensibilities. In many ways, the band seems to bring out what those genres really have in common. They do what RATM did in showing us how similar funk rock was the same as hip-hop.

Drummer/producer Zach Hill puts together some really interesting arrangements that sometimes feel so disconnected and frantic and dissonant, yet pull together in something extremely memorable and catchy. I haven’t tired of listening to the album since my first exposure to it months ago.

Not for the faint of heart. 


Richie Thomas 

Reviewed from Spotify Premium

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