Music

Death Grips Produce Another Fun Ride on 'Year of the Snitch'

Experimental hip-hop act Death Grips returns with a more straightforward and direct offering in the rock-infused Year of the Snitch.

Year of the Snitch
Death Grips

Third World / Harvest

22 June 2018

Death Grips is one of the acts that have defined the current decade. Founded in Sacramento in 2010, the trio featuring Zach Hill, Andy Morin, and Stefan Burnett aka MC Ride, has produced a series of excellent works that have expanded the vision of experimental hip-hop and experimental music in general. By adapting the harsher elements of industrial music, hardcore, punk, and synth-punk aesthetics, Death Grips has produced one of the most impressive trilogies of releases, which includes The Money Store, No Love Deep Web and Government Plates.

Taking the strange decision of ending the band in 2014, Death Grips soon reformed and produced a couple more albums in The Powers That B and Bottomless Pit. Especially in The Power That B, Death Grips dove deeper in the experimental world, structuring the album around Zach Hill's drumming and vocal samples from the great Bjork (first half of the record). Bottomless Pit , on the other hand, saw them returning back to their original form, especially in The Money Store, in terms of the album's structure and explosive delivery. Now, they take things a step further with Year of the Snitch.

The new album does feel like a return to the early days of Death Grips, with the trademark genre-bending attitude that the band displays. The various forms of electronic music, power electronics, hip-hop, and hardcore are still present and act as the foundations of the record. The hip-hop element remains the focal point, and it is even explored in a more straightforward way than we have come to expect from Death Grips. "Streaky" is an example of this attitude, featuring a more refreshing tone with a very bouncy progression. Similarly, the electronic experimentations are present, and are responsible for some of the more delicate moments of this album, in the likes of "Little Richard" which arrives with a captivating aura as the processed vocals add a different dimension to this experience.

But, there's also a more pronounced turn towards rock music in its various forms. An obvious example of this approach is the opening track, "Death Grips Is Online" as it arrives with a hazy shoegaze-like tone. The sound appears to encapsulate all elements around it, and it provides this distorted warmth that only shoegaze can awaken. It is something that contradicts the overall colder and more brutal sound of Death Grips, but the band manages to merge the two into a solid result. And then there is the even more pronounced punk rock aesthetic that comes into play. The relentless "Black Paint" is one of the tracks displaying that attitude, reaching an anthemic level with some very catchy guitar riffs. It really feels like one of these songs that will kill in live performances. Similar is the case with "Hahaha", which features a very rock heavy style that brings an entertaining and energizing tone to the track.

Of course, within these structures more strange ideas evolve, and it's not as if Death Grips have transformed into a straight-out rock band. The electronic experimentations are still here, while slight drops of jazz elements see them take some more adventurous steps in that direction. Similarly, this trademark sickening tone is still present just beneath the surface, be it in the repetitive, dystopian mantras of "Flies", the circus-like intro to "Linda's in Custody" or the playful attitude in "The Horn Section" and "The Fear".

Overall, Year of the Snitch feels like a personal experiment for Death Grips, but tilting towards a more mainstream sound. Not to say that the band has compromised its experimental attitude, but there is a definite leaning towards a more straightforward form, which in this case arrives with the heavier implementation of rock music motifs. And that is also the main element that makes the album the band's most entertaining and fun release yet, albeit not its best.

7
Music


Books


Film


Recent
Music

12 Essential Performances from New Orleans' Piano "Professors"

New Orleans music is renowned for its piano players. Here's a dozen jams from great Crescent City keyboardists, past and present, and a little something extra.

Music

Jess Williamson Reimagines the Occult As Source Power on 'Sorceress'

Folk singer-songwriter, Jess Williamson wants listeners to know magic is not found in tarot cards or mass-produced smudge sticks. Rather, transformative power is deeply personal, thereby locating Sorceress as an indelible conveyor of strength and wisdom.

By the Book

Flight and Return: Kendra Atleework's Memoir, 'Miracle Country'

Although inconsistent as a memoir, Miracle Country is a breathtaking environmental history. Atleework is a shrewd observer and her writing is a gratifying contribution to the desert-literature genre.

Music

Mark Olson and Ingunn Ringvold Celebrate New Album With Performance Video (premiere)

Mark Olson (The Jayhawks) and Ingunn Ringvold share a 20-minute performance video that highlights their new album, Magdalen Accepts the Invitation. "This was an opportunity to perform the new songs and pretend in a way that we were still going on tour because we had been so looking forward to that."

Music

David Grubbs and Taku Unami Collaborate on the Downright Riveting 'Comet Meta'

Comet Meta is a brilliant record full of compositions and moments worthy of their own accord, but what's really enticing is that it's not only by David Grubbs but of him. It's perhaps the most emotive, dream-like, and accomplished piece of Grubbsian experimental post-rock.

Music

On Their 2003 Self-Titled Album, Buzzcocks Donned a Harder Sound and Wore it With Style and Taste

Buzzcocks, the band's fourth album since their return to touring in 1989, changed their sound but retained what made them great in the first place

Reading Pandemics

Chaucer's Plague Tales

In 18 months, the "Great Pestilence" of 1348-49 killed half of England's population, and by 1351 half the population of the world. Chaucer's plague tales reveal the conservative edges of an astonishingly innovative medieval poet.

Music

Country's Jaime Wyatt Gets in Touch With Herself on 'Neon Cross'

Neon Cross is country artist Jaime Wyatt's way of getting in touch with all the emotions she's been going through. But more specifically, it's about accepting both the past and the present and moving on with pride.

Music

Counterbalance 17: Public Enemy - 'It Takes a Nation of Millions to Hold Us Back'

Hip-hop makes its debut on the Big List with Public Enemy’s meaty, beaty manifesto, and all the jealous punks can’t stop the dunk. Counterbalance’s Klinger and Mendelsohn give it a listen.

Music

Sondre Lerche and the Art of Radical Sincerity

"It feels strange to say it", says Norwegian pop artist Sondre Lerche about his ninth studio album, "but this is the perfect time for Patience. I wanted this to be something meaningful in the middle of all that's going on."

Books

How the Template for Modern Combat Journalism Developed

The superbly researched Journalism and the Russo-Japanese War tells readers how Japan pioneered modern techniques of propaganda and censorship in the Russo-Japanese War.

Film

From Horrifying Comedy to Darkly Funny Horror: Bob Clark Films

What if I told you that the director of one of the most heartwarming and beloved Christmas movies of all time is the same director as probably the most terrifying and disturbing yuletide horror films of all time?

Reviews
Collapse Expand Reviews

Features
Collapse Expand Features
PM Picks
Collapse Expand Pm Picks

© 1999-2020 PopMatters.com. All rights reserved.
PopMatters is wholly independent, women-owned and operated.