Tuesday, 23 October 2012

Death Grips - No Love Deep Web Review

Death Grips - No Love Deep Web [Experimental Hip-Hop]

Very late review, but hey. Death Grips leaked the album on their own when their record label expressed doubt on whether they could release the album this year on their schedule, putting Death Grips on a league of their own. Willingly putting up their first and stunning album on Youtube earlier this year, 'The Money Store' was one of my personal favourite albums in the first half year. Blending alien soundscapes, angry as hell vocals from Stefan "MC Ride" Burnett and free-form hard drumming from experimental metal drummer Zach Hill, who has worked with the likes of Mick Barr of black metal band Krallice, certainly made for one of the most refreshing sounds on a genre plagued with cash cows and general idiocy by the mainstream radio. Not just pushing the boundaries of rap and hip-hop, but simply pointing the middle figure to the music industry and indirectly at society as well, The Money Store was an epic statement.

So how does the follow-up act up? While The Money Store was simply brazen in its attack, No Love proves to be one hell of a complex beast to configure. With dizzying schizophrenic vocals/lyrics, multiple musical influences that stretch as far as to industrial or death metal, No Love is riddled with suicidal and self-injuring tendencies. Production as heavy but spacey, something black metal bands should take note of. The atmosphere sounds as powerful as it is uncertain. Electronic flourishes by Flatlander and Hill come up as sharp and lively, there is something grim in the overall sound. This doesn't undermine the anger that Death Grips is famous for, opener 'Come Up And Get Me' is exactly what its title implies, and with minimal drums and electronics, there is a serious psychotic threat to Burnett's vocals, before he suddenly breaks down after the verse:

"I'm in an eight high abandoned building

no daylight one midnight lamp lit twenty-four seven
murdered out windows two exits
street or nosedive to the next life in seconds
and suicide aint my stallion
so I'm surrounded
geiger count it not goin out shits bout to get kamikaze"

Whilst Money Store thrived on explosive choruses and colourful soundscapes, the songs on No Love have little changes in tempo in terms of melody, no crescendos or rush of excitement, which may anger fans of the highly volatile debut, but there is some real depth to the songs here, emotionally. The icyness of the music keeps the listener constantly outside the themes, more like an onlooker instead of being part of the music, again another absolute innovation, and this creates some truly pitiful perspectives on Burnett. The scream on 'Lock Your Doors' come across as frightening instead of keeping up with the pacing of the rap, which is itself dubiously ambiguos: Light the candle, burn the wax/ Before me dies, in scorch uprise/ Can't deny it, no way back. What is the source of all this paranoia?

Nevertheless, while it may not strike a chord with fans who liked Money Store, with the absence of hooks or the heavy, inhuman, prison-like atmospheres, No Love is definitely the cold, lonely deserted twin of its predecessor. Full of minute details, with elements from as vast as jazz, club and death metal, this is truly one of the most unique releases of 2012. You may not like it. But this is definitely a classic that requires some serious listening.

★★★★☆ Good - Strong flow, immediately grabs you

JE's take:

Before we delve into this section of the review, let me first say that hip-hop in all its myriad forms is one of my least favourite genres ever. However, 'No Love Deep Web' brings something different to the table especially in terms of sound production and vocal style.

The lyrical content on 'No Love Deep Web' is angsty and defiant and makes for a good solid listen; the album is rare for its genre in that you can actually finish the whole thing in one sitting (of course, the fact that there exists a compilation of the entire album on the tubes does help).

However, the music can get repetitive after a little while and that detracts from the enormous potential of this album. The tracks are good in and of themselves but their arrangement/alignment definitely needs working on. Still, it takes some serious quality in a hip-hop album for me to sit through it in one shot.
Rating: ★★★★☆ Good - Strong flow, immediately grabs you

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