Album Review: “Bottomless Pit” by Death Grips

If you have never heard of Death Grips, or have and just aren’t that familiar with them. Well, now is the perfect time to take a swan dive into their music, because the long awaited Bottomless Pit has finally been released to the world.

death grips

Death Grips Photo by Madeline Robicheaux

Death Grips
Photo by Madeline Robicheaux

The California rap/rock/punk/electronic/noise trio has just released their fifth studio album. Death Grips has been called the most important band of the century, and heralded by even the most scathing of music critics. Admired by the likes of the late David Bowie, Odd Future figurehead, Tyler, the Creator, and Bjork who has even gone as far as collaborating with the trio. The band is known for many things, such as blowing off highly anticipated festival performances, putting certain male organs on their album covers as a middle finger to their record label (these antics did in fact get them kicked off of Epic in 2012) and then self releasing said album. Led by the enigmatic MC Ride, who is known for his always aggressive, yet varying style of delivery. The maniac of a drummer Zach Hill is known for his off kilter drum patterns and aggressive percussion, while synth played Andy Morin who co-produces alongside Morin, is known his uncanny mastery of live sampling.Each member in his own way is always exciting, always aggressive; Bottomless Pit is no different. The thirteen track LP finds the band playing with some new textures, as well as old, to create one of the most compelling albums from the group since their sophomore release, The Money Store.

Death Grips Photo by Madeline Robicheaux

Death Grips
Photo by Madeline Robicheaux

The album opens with a title refrain of “I keep giving bad people good ideas,” delivered by Cherry Glazer’s Clementine Creevy that makes you stop and think for a moment whether you clicked on the wrong album or not , but that thought only resonates for a single planck time, before descending into the all too familiar pure anger that is Death Grips, Zach Hill hammers out a double bass comparable to any of the premiere hardcore Metal drummers, there’s even the sound of what I will consider a guitar (very seldom is the instrument used in their music, besides Fashion Week and Jenny Death When). The opening track is followed by “Hot Head,” one of the standouts of the album, it possess the same punk rock attitude of “Giving Bad People Good Ideas,” but also has the electronic charm of Grips earliest releases. The song drifts between the two distinct sounds and makes huge strides in confirming the genre-less-ness of their music, showing they have no preference of whether they start a riot or a rave. “Spikes” shows that the trio still appreciates the hardcore bump of electronic production, the chorus sounds like something straight out of the Excision catalog or early Skrillex. The song abruptly ends, much to my chagrin, as it’s one of the most energetic songs throughout the album and makes hardcore Death Grips fans recall classics like “Guillotine,” “The Fever (Aye Aye),” “Anne Bonny,” and “Big Dipper,” all standouts from their respective albums. “Warping” sounds just like the American Horror Story intro, with these eerie synth ribbons that eventually give way to these high hats that sound like they were borrowed from infamous Miami basshead, Otto Von Shirach, who is just as weirdly unique as Death Grips. MC Ride sounds like he’s a giant looming over the production in some of the darkest lyrics appearing in the album’s forty minutes.

Death Grips Photo by Madeline Robicheaux

Death Grips
Photo by Madeline Robicheaux

My favorite song through my first listen of the album, “Eh,” has probably the least abrasive and most digestible production present on the album. It opens with a booming break-beat bassline and sci-fi synth keys, and then comes MC Ride with his verse as clear as day, he’s letting all of those who don’t understand him and his music, know that he doesn’t give a single solitary, well you know. This might be why I find this song so enjoyable, I usually have to google whatever Ride is screaming through the mic, but on this particular track it’s extremely easy to hear the lyrics and you really get to see Ride’s lyricism without the barriers of the system blowing production. Perhaps his vocal clarity is due to this being by far the calmest Ride is throughout the album, despite him screaming near the end of the track; regardless this is the song the really allows you to delve deeper into their music. On “Bubbles Buried in this Jungle,” MC Ride comes off as a man possessed throughout the track, no seriously, I read the lyrics, he might be possessed. Spitting over a production which goes from abrasive to downright noise, Ride somehow  manages to navigate through the chaos to deliver his message of furious animosity. The production of “Trash,” evokes memories of early Chemical Brothers and their lo-fi sound, which is appropriate considering the group released the single via hotline which is still up and running as I’m writing this, so call 1-844-278-7255 and press 1. On this track Ride, pardon the pun, trashes society, referring to the amount of useless content we upload daily (Running Man Challenge for example) as one of his many objections to the status quo.

Death Grips Photo by Madeline Robicheaux

Death Grips
Photo by Madeline Robicheaux

“Houdini,” is probably the most equivocal a Death Grips song can be to contemporary rap, albeit it at a minimum. It has the all too typical ad-libs trailing every couplet, but that’s about as far as the similarities go. Zach Hill’s percussion speeds the whole song to the near dizziness, while Ride’s distorted vocals make the disorientating feeling all the more intense. “BB Poison” has these waves of synth that constantly envelop the listener before receding, just to repeat the pattern. Ride’s style delivery is similar, the title is a play on their social media handle @bbpoltergeist, and is about their insane cult like following of fans. “Three Rooms in a Good Neighborhood” is another standout on the album, it just makes you want to release whatever is pent up inside and scream along with the ridiculous lyrics like “I’m all up in my gloryhole/S-O, no, no, no/ Three bedrooms in a good neighborhood/ On fire like a margarita made out of wood.” However, there are moments on the track where Ride makes all the sense in the world, and beyond it when he references using a blank tarot card to break into the most dangerous prison on Earth. The next track, “Ring a Bell,” is one the strangest I’ve ever heard from Grips, there’s this Ratatat-esque guitar/synth flourish, that sounds beautiful, not something I thought I’d ever say about one of their tracks. The lyricism is filled with disdain for women who lust after Ride, as he just brushes them off and compares them to a person lost in the desert. It’s also just a further example of the group’s prowess to seamlessly navigate diametrically opposed spectrums of music; it may have those pretty elements, but that’s only in the chorus, otherwise it’s pure animosity coming through the speakers. “80808” has some of the most crisp production, with it’s hulking ribbons of synth and it’s eerie high pitched twinkle it’s create this dark ambiance that climaxes each time with the chorus, when all of sudden the synth transforms into this fazed out synth reminiscent of “No Love,” from No Love Deep Web. The album closes with the title track, which finds the group moving back to the Iggy and the Stooges sound, which is pretty convincing. The band seems just as comfortable playing a full on rock song as they would some of their earlier music. On this track MC Ride delivers some very sexually violent lyrics, claiming to have split another in half whilst, well you know.

Overall, this album meets all expectations and surpasses them. The whole album is full of differing textures, and allows the band to show how far they have progressed by further expanding their ever expansive creative space within which their music lives.  MC Ride gives arguably his best performance on this album, varying his vocal delivery to the point that it has the listener on edge as to what he will do next. Zach Hill and Andy Morin perform just as well on this album, as they seem to have perfected the art of creating animalistic, predatory, aggressive music. Death Grips has consistently delivered music beyond any contemporary comparisons, and they continue this tradition on Bottomless Pit. The album is a solid 9.2.

I really hope you liked the album, and what I thought about it. I know that I’ve been waiting on this one for half a year, and now that it’s finally here I think it has definitely lived up to the hype I gave it. I’d love to see what everyone else is thinking about this album, so please leave a comment below! Thanks for reading, and happy listening!

Just a man, and his record player… and headphones, spotify account, and a growing student debt.

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