Warning: most of you are not going to like this. Death Grips are one of the most abrasive, polarising, rough and cacophonic acts you’re ever likely to hear. A harsh, edgy, ballsy, amps-turned-to-11 hip-hop/rock/hardcore crossover, they will not be everyone’s cup of tea… but for those of you who are into it, the new Death Grips album ‘The Money Store’ (stream below) will probably be one of the most amazing, intense, mind-blowing things you hear in 2012.
Death Grips is the Sacramento-based project for Stefan Burnett (MC Ride), Zach Hill (drummer extraordinaire who made his name with experimental rock outfit Hella, and more notably, Omar Rodriguez-Lopez’s solo project, and Wavves) and Andy Morin. Forming in December 2010, the group first came to attention in March 2011 with single ‘Full Moon,’ before the absolutely stunning free mixtape ‘Ex Military’ in April 2011.
An outline: Death Grips play a glitchy, frenetic, frenzied hip-hop/rock crossover, harsh on the ears but totally mind-blowing in its complexity. But before you go thinking of “hip-hop/rock” as a Rage Against The Machine or Limp Bizkit-type situation, you might want to take a listen to ‘Takyon‘ from ‘Ex Military.’ No, seriously, click the link. Come back when you’ve taken a listen.
You done? Good. By now, you’re either suffering a migraine, bleeding from the ears, or had your tiny brain warped and/or exploded into a thousand pieces. Their sound is based around three elements; Hill’s militaristic-style drumming, Morin’s glitchy keys, and MC Ride’s demonic vocals. It’s at once both overpowering and frighteningly sparse, confrontational, nightmarish in its intensity (reference: ‘Guillotine‘) yet unnervingly stripped-back with a hugely DIY, off-the-cuff, home-recording vibe. They’re being touted as ‘the next Odd Future,’ and while the musical comparison is well off the mark, its not an unfair parallel to draw; DIY underground projects, seemingly begun with no intention other than to make music for fun, put out free mixtapes online and pick up huge momentum almost instantly.
After picking up massive underground and critical praise for ‘Ex Military,’ Death Grips have (presumably) picked up a pretty decent record deal with Epic Records (affiliate of Sony) and will release two albums in 2012; ‘No Love’ later this year, and ‘The Money Store’ next week. Cuts from ‘The Money Store’ have been appearing online for several months now, with three tracks from it already released with videos, and a fourth ‘I’ve Seen Footage’ dropping just yesterday; watch it below (the video itself is pretty interesting as well. Comprised of many hundreds of single photographs, go through and hit ‘pause’ at random intervals and see what image you stop on; there’s some incredible photography in there).
Already, it’s evident that the Death Grips sound has been polished and smoothed around the edges somewhat; comparing ‘Takyon’ to ‘I’ve Seen Footage,’ it’s instantly evident that the new material isn’t as harsh, brutal, ear-shredding or nightmarish, with ‘…Footage’ much clearer, more coherent, and infinitely more listenable. They’ve clarified their sound, cleaned it up, and (perhaps) just gotten more confident in their work that they don’t have to hide it behind walls of distortion and rage-filled screams.
Incredibly tight, catchier than before, a hugely powerful sound and with a massive chance of actually achieving a mainstream popularity, ‘The Money Store’ has already been attracting amazing reviews around the world, and with its release next week, is set to bring Death Grips – a project seemingly designed to alienate and repel listeners – into a whole new world.