Death Grips albums

Band Members:

Stefan Burnett (vocals, lyricist), Andy Morin (production, keyboards, synthesizer, programming, bass, visual artist), Zach Hill (production, drums, keyboards, synthesizer, programming)

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Best Album:

Bottomless Pit

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Biggest Influences:

Public Enemy, Mark Stewart, Jane’s Addiction, Aphex Twin, Butthole Surfers, Dead Kennedys, Ministry

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Albums Chronologically:

2011 – (5 / 5) – Ex Military

2012 – (4.5 / 5) – The Money Store

2012 – (2 / 5)  No Love Deep Web

2013 – (2 / 5) – Government Plates

2014 – (3 / 5) – Ni**as on the Moon

2015 – (4 / 5) – Jenny Death

2016 – (5 / 5)+ – Bottomless Pit

2018 – (4.5 / 5) – Year of the Snitch

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2011

Ex Military (5 / 5)

            Death Grips debut record was probably their best, looking back on their whole career. While other records expanded their sound and eventually it all became an issue of style over content (just look at Government Plates from 2014), the first record kept the samples classic and everything under some kind of control. Even though they used more recognized samples (Pink Floyd, Jane’s Addiction, Black Flag, etc) the raps are still full of angst and frenzy and the beats ad samples are still killer. “Known For It”, “Takyon”, “Culture Shock”, and “Beware” are probably the greatest and most influential songs, but there is plenty to love on Ex-Military. It’s a good title for an album as well, as some people say this sounds more like metal than rap because of all the militant shouting and repetitiveness. they have point but in reality its just hardcore- metal, punk, rap, honestly it all kind of blurs together for me and becomes genreless. But if anything it harks back to albums like It Takes A Nation of Millions to Hold Us Back, or even something like Cypress Hill’s self titled debut, where the production (again Zack Hill) is so dense with samples that it begins overpowering what is being said by singer Stefan Burnett (shouter). Hardcore hip hop, or however you want to classify it, does not get much better than this in the 2010’s.

Best Tracks: Known For It, Takyon, Culture Shock

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2012

The Money Store (4.5 / 5)

            Death Grips are unique in hip hop: a band that is as entertaining as it is political and hard hitting. A single like “I’ve Seen Footage” says it all: Death Grips are educating against false media and praising the free communication world we live in, while having a super catchy chorus. It that way, they are like an odd mix of Rage Against the Machine and Prodigy. And we never even knew we needed a band like this! But here they were for a brief time, everything that is great about the duo is there on the second album: the drumming and track work of Zack Hill (coming after beautiful work with Hella and Marnie Stern) meets the hard-hitting left-wing rants of Stefan Burnett. This is probably a funner album than the debut as well as a great entry point for novices. “The Cage” sums it all up: extreme noise with extreme raps and extreme pathos. It will definitely expand your mind on what is possible in rap rock.

Best Tracks: Hustle Bones, The Cage, I’ve Seen Footage

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2012

No Love Deep Web (2 / 5)

The second record released in 2012 alone, this album plays like a collection of B-sides to the much better Money Store before it. That fact combined with the provocative album cover (an erect penis….?) proves that being too prolific is not a good thing in Death Grips case. It should be said that this is a much more hip-hop orientd album though, the sound effects add just backdrop beats for Stefan to rap over….but it all feels kind of weak. A couple of tracks stand out since these guys are very talented:

Greatest Songs: No Love, Lock Your Doors, Deep Web

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2013

Government Plates (2 / 5)

               With this release the band is hanging around with some decent tunes but not really making great albums anymore. The music needs to be there and is sorely lacking, the answer: regroup and with what makes things work once again!

Greatest songs: Two Heavens, Birds, Govt Plates

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2014

Ni**as On the Moon (3 / 5)

            After a supposed break up and canceling of tour dates, Death Grips threatened to reform and come back better than ever in late 2014. The first album of a sort of double album concept released over two years (so is it still a true double album?), this hilariously titled record has some fun moments and new kind of perfection of sound production from Zack Hill. Starting with the one-two punch of “Up My Sleeves” and the ethereal “Billy Not Really”, its quite the intimidating start. “Black Quarterback” is actually the best thing the band has done since the first two albums, a horrifying take on what goes on in the mind of a football player on the field as he is being chased after. Unfortunately, its kinda downhill from there, and thought a few songs still work (“Say Hey Kid” and “Voila” aint bad) the album barley reaches 30 minutes and you gotta wonder what’s in store for the future.

Greatest Songs: Black Quarterback, Up My Sleeves, Billy Not Really

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2015

Jenny Death (4 / 5)

            The Second album of a sort of double album concept released over two years (so is it still a true double album?), this album really works and redefines the importance of the band. With this release, the best album they have done since the first two, the band once again combines great music with amazing and satirical lyrics. “Pss Pss” is an example of getting right what the band does well, a funny take on rap rock that makes fun of itself. “I break Mirrors with My Face in the US” is a great opener, displaying a dance rock vibe that has been lacking somewhat on the band’s last couple records. The industrial and dance music vibe is strong here (think prime Ministry), coming through in “Death Grips 2.0” as well as the hilarious “Why A Bitch Gotta Lie”. “Inanimate Sensation” is a crazy sample mess, harking back to Ex-Military times, and proving the band has what it takes to be great again. “Turned Off” is a song that refuses to keep a solid beat, as ideas come and go and collapse over each other like a parade of crazies raiding a grocery store.

            The only drawback this time around is the second half of the album pales in comparison to the first. Only “Beyond Alive” and the insanely fast closer really match the first 5 songs, and we wonder if the best of Jenny Death and the best of N**gs on the Moon might have made one cohesive listen. But for better or worse, the collective of Death Grips seems to be here to stay this time. I will say the return to rock n roll sounds on “Centuries of Damn” is a lot of fun, even if it’s a bit long for what it has to say. Let’s hope they can keep on making great records with distinctive sounds such as this one in the future.

Greatest Songs: Pss Pss, Beyond Alive, Turned Off, Why A Bitch Gotta Lie

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2016

Bottomless Pit (5 / 5)+

       My favorite album of 2016 is by a band that has been at it for quite a while, and that many say are too prolific for their own good. Despite the multiple albums per year at times, the no-show live shows, the break ups and reunions, Death Grips at its core is a band that needs to be unstable to work. I mean, does it surprise anyone that a band capable of this music is a little crazy? Zach Hill and Stefan Burnett make a beautiful team, altering sound effect upon sound effect in a way that is completely listenable. Each listen to Bottomless Pit is a build in intensity, to the point that all of it sounds great after fully absorbing. It’s not overkill like some of their past records ( No Love Deep Web) and not lacking for ideas either (Government Plates comes to mind), this album is Death Grips as they were meant to be heard.
             Though the album as a whole is better than the sum of its collective parts, there are songs that stand on their own against the bands killer catalog so far: the perfect timed echoes in “Spikes”, the compact cynicism of “Three Bedrooms in a Good Neighborhood”, the stroke inducing intensity of “Bubbles Buried in the Jungle”. To quote from past acts and influences, Bottomless Pit combines the wild abandon of Butthole Surfer’s Psychic Powerless and slams it into the hardcore perfection of Bad Brains I Against I. Zack Hill, Stefan Burnett and Andy Morin make up one of the greatest band ever, as the lines between hip hop music and rock n’ roll become completely blurred. The world needs a band like Death Grips to remind them that rock n roll is supposed to be dangerous, and Bottomless Pit’s final wail of “I’ll fuck you in half” should be taken completely seriously.

Greatest Songs: Three Bedrooms in a Good Neighborhood, Spikes, Trash, Bottomless Pit

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2018

Year of the Snitch (4.5 / 5)

            Death Grips are the perfect kind of prolific, only releasing an album when they feel they have enough good ideas for the album. Seriously, the fact that nothing comes off as half assed is pretty impressive, as a follow up to one of the greatest albums I have ever heard (2016’s Bottomless Pit) it still stunning in completely new ways. The production is cleaner, and the thoughts are far more well pronounced than any past Death Grips released, as songs such as “Little Richard” or the stunning “Dilemma” could be taken seriously for contemporary radio hits. However there is plenty of controlled chaos to be had, whether it’s the madhouse ramblings of “Linda is in Custody” and “Hahaha”, the scary power of “Black Paint”,or miniature tunes like “Outro” (which summons up the past madness of The Who’s “Boris the Spider”) and “The Horn Section” which still leave an impression despite their brevity. One of the best bands of the decade for sure, even though I never completely understand what they are yelling at me about.

Greatest Tracks: Black Paint, Little Richard, Linda’s in Custody, Dilemma