Death Grips have captured both my attention and imagination over the last few years. The mystery surrounding the project of MC Ride, Zach Hill and Flatlander has helped to foster a cult-like following (a cult I would probably consider myself a member of). From their no-shows at their own gigs, to their bizarre ‘break-up’ and reunion; Death Grips could have so easily veered into self-parody on several occasions. Yet, fortunately, their music has been able to silence much of the criticism that their personas have generated.
I’ve waited eagerly in-between releases to hear any musical offering that Death Grips happen to produce; be that seminal full-lengths like The Money Store, or surprise-released instrumental albums such as Fashion Week. For my money, Death Grips have consistently produced incredibly interesting, challenging and, ultimately listenable records. Bottomless Pit continues this trend. It is loud and abrasive, but it is also intensely enjoyable.
we find Death grips at an ever-aggressive but, at times, melancholic point
Death Grips’ sound is difficult to categorise, and thankfully has remained fresh due to the constant changes to their sound that arise from record to record. On Bottomless Pit, we find Death Grips at an ever-aggressive but, at times, melancholic point in their musical trajectory. MC Ride’s lyrics are as cryptic as ever, and are (as is so often the case) difficult to discern above Flatlander’s pounding soundscapes and Hill’s driving percussion; which is the real heart of the album. “Spikes” perfectly encapsulates these elements; with Flatlander’s electronic wizardry providing the hooks (that’s right, there are hooks on this album), while Zach Hill’s staccato, free-form style behind the kit helps to keep the feral nature of Death Grips at the forefront; Hill’s ability is truly astounding.
“Eh” is a great slice of Ride-centric Death Grips, with his vocals being delivered above a more minimal, spindly instrumental; which enables the self-referential lyrics to take centre-stage. Ride’s flow elevates the track to great heights and highlights his obvious strength as a rapper. With all of the attention that surrounds Ride’s on-stage performance, it’s great for him to reiterate his ability to perform as a rapper on record, and not just as a somewhat psychotic front-man in the live environment.
Bottomless Pit is unquestionably heavy throughout. While some might find the almost caustic relentlessness of the record exhausting, I found it exhilarating. It is an intensely exciting album, and it possesses great depth, which provides an incentive for repeat listens. I found myself replaying the album over and over, and discovering new elements on different songs again and again; elements that I could not have noticed on the first listen due to Bottomless Pit‘s almost overwhelming nature when you first engage with it.
The production of the record is gritty but it has an undeniable sheen to it; the electronics glisten when they need to, yet the guitar parts on the album are crushing and dirty when they’re used. The production is testament to an album that provides enough slight variations and versatility across its run-time to keep you captivated, without losing its central sound that keeps the album locked together in a tight flow.
With this album, I can think of no shortcomings. Having had it on repeat I can say that at no point did Bottomless Pit bore me, and at no point could I think of any real criticisms; there are great songs here, truly great songs. While not as hook-heavy as The Money Store or as experimental as Government Plates, I would unquestionably class Bottomless Pit as one of Death Grips’ greatest achievements. I could go on and on about how captivating all of Death Grips’ musical output is but in the end that’s up to you to figure out; listen to Bottomless Pit and join the cult.