“Bottomless Pit” has a lot of depth

courtesy of pitchfork.com
courtesy of pitchfork.com

On May 5, experimental rap group Death Grips dropped their fifth studio album, “Bottomless Pit.”  Almost all of the 13 tracks drip with their signature mashup of rapid-pace lyrics, furiously heavy percussion and dense layers of instrumentation. This album echoes the dark electronica of their 2012 album, “The Money Store,” but incorporates a lot of metal and alt-rock guitar riffs reminiscent of tracks on the “Jenny Death” disc of 2015’s “The Powers That B.”

Putting Death Grips into a single genre is almost pointless, as their albums never play within the conventional limits of any particular category, and this album is no exception. Its aggressive lyrics and high variety of cues from other genres make for complex tracks that can’t be tied down to a single style. As usual for Death Grips, this album has tight songs that reward repeat listens. Although the more intense tracks like “Hot Head,” “80808” and “Bottomless Pit” may sound chaotic and disorienting on the first pass, successive listens reveal well-crafted, complex rhythms and lyrics. Just when you think you’ve got a track figured out, you’ll hear a rhythm or riff you totally missed the first time.

This record’s main weakness comes as a result of how it stacks up to the rest of Death Grips’ work. Although the highlights have the group’s usual complexity, they lack the ambition that was characteristic of their earlier work. They’re not bad tracks, but they don’t break the mold or strive to do something new in the way that their earlier work did. The weakest tracks, “Houdini,” “Eh” and “Trash” aren’t very complex or engaging, unlike the rest of the album. On the bright side, they are forgettable at worst and pass quickly enough that they don’t drag the stronger songs down. If you’ve never picked up one of their albums before, you should start with this one, as it only gets better from here.

Rating: 4/5

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