/ 17 October 2012

Death Grips like you have never heard them before

Record label Epic had released Death Grips' previous album
Record label Epic had released Death Grips' previous album

Even more so when it emerged that the artwork for the album featured an erect penis with the album title No Love Deep Web scrawled on one side.

What better way to reinforce your point to your label that you are in control than shoving your dick in their face?

The band's record label, Epic, had released Death Grips previous album, The Money Store, in April so the label obviously felt that October was too soon for another one.

The band took matters into their own hands with a stunt that created tons of publicity and reinforced the band's punk aesthetic.

There's nothing more punk rock than telling your record label to fuck off, and the fans loved it.

Menacing and dangerous
"@DeathGripz is the punkest shit I've heard in years. The Money Store was good but No Love Deep Web is fucking insane #guerilla," tweeted one fan who goes by the Twitter handle @BLKBLKBLKBLK.

But let's put all the controversy aside for a moment and talk about the music because, after all, that's what the band has done – released an album.

Opening with a squelching deep bass beat, No Love Deep Web establishes its aesthetic feel, pretty early on.

This is Death Grips like we have never heard them before.

The album is dark, menacing and dangerous with a killer electronic backing that blurs the boundary between an in-your-face punk attitude and banging dance floor groove.

Electronic music hasn't sounded this dangerous since Aphex Twin's Come to Daddy.

It's clear that while Death Grips hark back to an older generation of confrontational hip-hop, in the mold of Public Enemy, they are also driven to push hip-hop into a new future.

Pioneering new sounds
To simplify, it's about bringing real attitude and integrity back to hip-hop as the genre's megastars rap about million-dollar lifestyles, and also pioneering new sounds.

No Love is the album's first major highlight finding a sound that is somewhere between industrial noise and hip-hop, with frontman MC Ride spitting some antagonistic rhymes over the sonic assault.

"U're fit ta learn the proper meaning of a beat down / Madness chaos in the brain / let my blood flow make my blood flow through you mane / You got no business questioning a thang," spits MC Ride.

Another highlight is World of Dogs, with its repeated refrain "it's all suicide" and dirty electro beats, it is reminiscent of early Tricky, although sonically a lot more abrasive.

Lock Your Doors is another banger with its chorus of: "I got some shit ta say just for the fuck of it / Them thangs them thangs don't even ask me".

Later in the song MC Ride spits, "Com on stick me /cut me/drain me/suck me/drink me/ take me down".

It's clear Death Grips is on the warpath; its new album is wrapped up in severe dollops of aggression and it has a fearful, paranoid feel to it.

MC Ride sounds like he is rapping on the edge of the abyss, not sure when he's about to go crashing down.

Hunger Games is a slower groove with industrial flourishes; Stockton is more standard hip-hop fare, while Popis anything but.

Its groove, which sounds like revving motorbikes, gives way to psychedelic electro synths, before the machine-grind returns to ride behind the vocals.

Artificial Death in The West is another highlight.

Clocking in at almost six-minutes, it's a more moody atmospheric piece that sounds like Joy Division making hip-hop, and packs in your face lyrics such as: "She shoot pussy through your chest / You die."

Death Grips are true visionaries and while their albums and stunts may be getting rave reviews and tons of publicity, one gets the feeling that we will only truly be able to assess their worth many years from now.

Only time will tell if they impact music they way other underground pioneers like Can, The Stooges, Velvet Underground, Public Enemy, George Clinton, Sonic Youth and Suicide did before them, but my bet is they will.

Death Grips are not game-changers, they are game-breakers.

For more in-depth album reviews, see our special report.