Wednesday, 10 October 2012

Death Grips - NO LOVE DEEP WEB

Dropping an album with genitalia themed artwork completely out of the blue, in seeming defiance of the powers that be at their label would be quite the statement from most bands other than Death Grips. But with two albums of bludgeoning noise and psycho trauma-tinged lyrics under their belts, it's fair to say the shock value of Death Grips had perhaps run it's course when NO LOVE DEEP WEB (All caps, of course) surfaced. That may have been on the consensus on the face of it anyway, but in fact this album provides more dark and twisted turns than either of their previous releases. 

The focus here is less on the impact of sound and unadulterated noise, but instead shifts towards the group's paranoid talismanic frontman character MC Ride aka Stephen Burnett. On both Death Grips' previous efforts: Exmilitary and The Money Store; MC Ride screamed and barked obscene boasts that put every cliché from modern hip hop in a blender, and then blasted the bloody remains at people's eardrums over mesmerising drum patterns (courtesy of Zach Hill) and some of the boldest and loudest synth and sample based production possibly ever. In contrast on NLDW, much of that production has been stripped back with minimalism being embraced to allow a more personal and often terrifying platform for MC Ride to vent and conspire against anyone who dares cross him.

His vitriol is apparent from the off on 'Come Up And Get Me', a lurching track centred around ideas of suicide in isolation as Ride spits "Fuck the world fuck this body" in defiance of living and the human condition while experiences "epiphanic amnesia" in "Jimmy Page's Castle." (Interpret that how you will). The track 'No Love' meanwhile, is possibly the most affecting and unrelenting song on the record, as MC Ride this time details the impossibility of controlling his psychotic impulses. He jests about killing a man while checking his phone, after asserting beyond doubt that he is not to be messed with in the most blood-curdling way " You're fit to learn the proper meaning of a beat down, madness chaos in the brain. Let my blood flow, make my blood flow through you mane."

The forays through death (Artificial Death In The West), murder (Whammy) and running from the police on drugs (Stockton) are totally enrapturing in a sick yet compelling way, just as on Money Store tracks like 'Lost Boys' and 'I've Seen Footage'. However, a criticism that is fair to level at this album is the lack of hooks to subdue the sheer nastiness of the lyrics. There were certainly moments on The Money Store where you forget you're even listening to a song about murdering someone or overdosing on drugs because the choruses were so damn catchy, usually with really memorable perhaps even danceable beats behind it. On NLDW though, you don't forget the song's subject matter and for the more weak stomached, listening to these songs more than once could be rather unsettling and bizarre without any real melody to soften the blow except on the odd vaguely catchy tracks like 'Lil Boy', 'No Love' and 'Stockton' (Ride's almost comical delivery of the lines "I'm bouncing, whoop whoop" are not easy to get out of your head).

Right off the bat, NLDW attaches and demands the attention of the listener like a virus. It's lyrically perverse right the way through, but is delivered from the point of view of the character MC Ride, an essential thing to remember that this is largely if not completely an album telling a mainly fictional story. The album replicated what Death Grips have always done so well, in that they appeal to the deep dark sub-conscious of humans and make them want to listen and delve further into the taboo and unknown. For this reason, NLDW is their most intense album yet, plunging the depths of human extremity and promoting an image of dread and fear not just of others, but of the human condition and that loathing or regret people feel in themselves. It's not always a pleasant listen, but it's certainly a heart-stopping and eye-opening one.


Toby McCarron

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