FROM: SACRAMENTO, CALIFORNIA
SOUND: EXPERIMENTAL HIP HOP / PUNK / NOISE
Death Grips have had a colourful history to say the least. Vocalist Stefan Burnett and drummer Zach Hill were once infamous on the live circuit, giving furiously unhinged performances on the occasion they did appear at scheduled gigs. The shows that they didn't attend were almost as notorious, shunned audiences frequently tearing apart venues and shattering drum kits. Death Grips are explicit album art, dogging their own labels, Reddit sensations and Anthony Fantano favourites. A bizarre phenomenon in modern music that made their own messy mark on the industry.
Instantly assaulting, ‘I Break Mirrors With My Face In The United States’ is pure synth and percussive aggression. “I don’t care about real life,” Burnett sneers, spewing forth his bizarre beat poetry over synthetic thrash punk. ‘Inanimate Sensation’ urges itself into life with a twisted ramp-up howl that gives way to a lecherous interlude and ominous wobble that leeks menace and depravity. Triumphant and filthy, the song lopes along while Burnett paints a picture of the most deranged show on earth; “Axl Rose in a blender, Slash on Satan’s Fender, Rick James on the cover, running through your lover like mean Mr Mustard” and… All. That. Bass.
Spaced out and distorted guitars usher in a deadly backbeat on ‘Turned Off’. The presence of additional musicians helps to flesh out the sonic palette with live guitars and extra synths lending a harder rock sound to the typical electronic squall heard on previous releases. ‘Why A Bitch Gotta Lie?’ is what you might come up with if you had a Boosh-esque nightmare about punk robots. It might sound impenetrable at first but there is keen handle on dynamic tension and verse/chorus structure on ‘Jenny Death’ that makes it smoother, poppier listen than it first appears. “I can’t know what I’m about to do!” Burnett warns us on ‘The Powers That B' before everything collapses in an avalanche of noise. ‘Centuries Of Damn’ is sludgy downward spiral and ‘On GP' verges on psychedelic shoe-gaze with its tambourine and washes of feedback. Lead guitars tumble and drums thunder into a brief, beautiful Floydian snippet. The knowingly titled ‘Death Grips 2.0’ is one final pummelling burst from the band that is sure to keep the fires of creative speculation stoked.
Death Grips have had a colourful history to say the least.
Sitting at a laptop with headphones and a cup of tea, furiously air drumming, I can only conclude that punk isn’t dead. It just has a new name. Death Grips are adolescent, angry and tactile. This is an exhausting and invigorating listen. ‘Jenny Death’ is the sound of a band with nothing to lose and everything to leave behind. Anything could happen next.