At the finale of their double album last year, Death Grips teased rebirth. Nine months after announcing the end of Death Grips in between releasing the two halves that made up The Powers That B, the Sacramento experimental trio not only released the fantastic second half, Jenny Death, but announced an extensive tour to coincide with their completed fourth full-length. Fans still questioned whether The Powers That B would be the band’s final album as previously stated; considering Death Grips’ “fuck everything but the art” attitude that inspired their cynical and carefree way of creating and releasing music, nothing was final. Plus, Jenny Death’s penultimate track featured MC Ride promising fans that he’d stick around despite his misgivings, followed by an instrumental finale simply titled “Death Grips 2.0”. Promises were kept, and Death Grips have returned anew.
Bottomless Pit finds Ride (aka Stefan Burnett), producer Flatlander (aka Andy Morin), and drummer Zach Hill in their most cohesive and incendiary form since 2012’s The Money Store. Flatlander obfuscates and annihilates seemingly insurmountable soundscapes with the help of Hill’s passioned and precise drumming, as well as Ride’s occultist and misanthropic rage. All of this is focused through a new lens where the band’s actions no longer dictate their relevance — Death Grips are Death Grips because of what they make, not what they do. Bottomless Pit is Death Grips 2.0, as promised.
The band’s backlash against fans and critics alike who purely see them as a gimmick is tangible, too. “BB Poison” finds Ride mocking fans who wildly speculate over the band’s tweets, saying, “Zach hit them off like, ‘It won’t lit,’ they shit bricks.” Not content to stop there, he taunts them: “I’m in your house like, ‘Oh shit, I own this’/ I’ll kick your ass out, don’t bitch, bitch, it’s winter, bitch/ Take my trash out real quick or live in it,” he adds, calling back to “Trash”, a track that connects 21st century world-weariness to our constant contact with the overflow of ultimately fleeting content. On “Eh”, Ride shrugs his shoulders and brushes off egotists and sycophants alike. Finally, with eyes wide and arms out, Ride challenges on “80808” with a striking “Fuck with me.” All of this approaches an intense level of irony, considering that Bottomless Pit contains some of the most accessible tracks in the band’s history.
Hooks catch quickly and forcefully. Clementine Creevy’s guest vocals that open the album on “Giving Bad People Good Ideas” remain with you despite a sudden explosion of Hill’s best grindcore drumming paired with a blackened wall of fuzz brought on by Tera Melos’ guitarist Nick Reinhart. Reinhart guested previously on Jenny Death’s crowning achievement, “On GP”, where his riffs breathed life into Ride’s reluctant renewal, and his return on Bottomless Pit is a blessing. He traverses his pedalboard to provide goofy riffs and grimy weight to “Ring a Bell” and gets bitcrushed for the sake of skate punk fun in “Bottomless Pit”.
Ride’s vocals are the catchiest they’ve been since The Money Store, too. He explores his range on the unpredictable and unsettling “Hot Head”, going from rapid “Get Got” style shouting to laying down slow and steady hooks articulated with a cool arrogance. “Warping” finds him showing off a similar versatility, while “Ring a Bell” sees him almost favoring a melody over his usual shouting.
Death Grips pride themselves on constantly shifting and progressing from one release to the next. That unfortunately sometimes outweighs cohesion, but Bottomless Pit is tighter, more daring, and catchier than that. Even if this 2.0 iteration is fleeting (which, really, who knows what’s next), at least we’re all enjoying ourselves on this uptick in life’s great downward spiral.
Essential Tracks: “Giving Bad People Good Ideas”, “Eh”, and “Bottomless Pit”