Review: Bottomless Pit

Sriya Varadharajan 22 May 2016

Death Grips are a group who have built their house on a foundation of unpredictability and reinvention. They’ve been confounding audiences and critics alike since their 2011 breakout mixtape Exmilitary. This led to a swift rise to fame, surprise albums, not turning up to their own shows, a sudden break up, and an equally sudden reforming. Bottomless Pit is their first album since this reformation and it proves that they still want to push the boundaries of their own sound, all whilst making a lot of noise.

Bottomless Pit takes its influence from intriguing places; whilst Death Grips have always attracted fans of genres like black metal for their extremity and intensity, here we can hear a distinct metal influence. The most obvious examples would be the blaring wall of guitars on Giving Bad People Good Ideas and the distortion heavy riff that plays over jungle style beats on the chorus of Spikes. Another intriguing influence is that of shoegaze; the instrumentation is often delightfully fuzzy and there are many points, such as the intro to Ring A Bell at which this combines with Zach Hill’s slowed drum beats to surround you with a beautifully textured cage of noise.

Bottomless Pit is definitely at its best when it brings the noise. The raucous Three Bedrooms in a Good Neighborhood ranks among the best songs that Death Grips have ever produced, whilst the more toned back entries of Eh and Trash fail to excite, dropping the momentum in the middle of the album with little to show for it. Though the entire album is very well worked, with every detail of the production clearly thought about for a long while, the aforementioned track, along with the trudging BB Poison just feel lazy and not worth nearly the same amount of attention as the high points.

Bottomless Pit’s good songs are so good that I can very easily look past the tracks that underwhelm me. Death Grips are still very much a group on the vanguard of experimentation in hip-hop. Whilst this experimentation can yield some utterly brilliant results, it’s also likely to produce a few duds; it comes with the territory. Not the perfect album that people will say it is, but it might just be their best since The Money Store.