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Death Grips - Bottomless Pit LP
California-based avant-garde hip-hop group Death Grips were last on the radar in 2015 when they released Jenny Death, the anticipated second part of their fourth full-length effort, The Powers That B. Now the widely revered powerhouse of industrial hip-hop returns with its fifth LP, Bottomless Pit. The album is standard nihilistic Death Grips, with some extra clarity thrown in with the vitriol, courtesy of producers Zach Hill and Andy Morin. It's another full-on audio onslaught, abrasive and rancorous, comprising 13 tracks of electronic fury, all brought together with the most crystalline production in their catalog so far. Opener "Giving Bad People Good Ideas" consists of some of the most frantic, unwavering drum work heard on anything considered "heavy" for a while. Led by an irresistibly catchy vocal hook from Clementine Creevy, the track both intimidates and sets the table for the subsequent noise, leading listeners into the jagged and claustrophobic number "Hot Head," which takes "grotesque" to new heights. MC Ride spits caustic lyrics over incoherent drum patterns and stringent digital synths before the mix segues into a more coherent structure, his vocals becoming more melodic yet still anchored with the same ferocity exerted in the song's earlier half. Ride's lyrics are littered with surreal and threatening imagery throughout, occasionally more self-referential than others. A track like "Eh" seems to encapsulate the MC's possible frustration with his own profile. It's actually one of the calmer tracks on the record, his vocal performance more indifferent than antagonized. Tracks like these are clearly indicative of Death Grips flexing their creative limbs. "Warping" consists of a lulling, hard-hitting beat and groggy low-frequency bass that rips throughout each bar with Ride languidly yelling over the mix, as if in a drunken haze. It's difficult to select highlights, as the whole record is a cohesive and excellent blast of noise, although some definite shining moments are still here. "Ring a Bell" is a number that comprises urgent, segmented strings washing around a staggered, explosive beat with a quite basic yet huge and incendiary guitar riff punctuated by blaring harmonics, while "Three Bedrooms in a Good Neighborhood" exemplifies what the trio does best. Filled with stuttering reverse snares and a huge, reverberated chorus littered with broken melodies, the track is a good example of just how good they are at hijacking popular mainstream sounds, turning them inside out and reconfiguring them. It's a track that is dominated by another catchy hook, reflecting most electronica with chart success, yet with a fast injection of Death Grips vigor. Before this release, much of their following consistently seemed to agree that their best to date was their debut LP, The Money Store. This is almost a return to that point in their career, taking that formula and turning it up to beyond 11. Everything sounds so precise, crisp, hard-hitting, and indomitable. For that exact reason, Bottomless Pit is an ideal effort for longtime fans and newcomers alike. Needless to say, whatever the type of listener, it won't be forgotten.