Review Summary: for the very first time... again!
When Hot Head
first came out as a single from Bottomless Pit, I was quite thrilled and expectant for the new album. Not because the song itself was actually that amazing (it's not) but because it sounded like nothing the band had ever done before. It was maniac, feral, like DG usually are, but it was also fast as all hell, with some dashes of grindcore thrown into the mix.
It made it seem like the band was going in a totally different direction than they'd taken before, but this time even more alien, even more esoteric... They'd 1-up themselves one more time, even now, 6 years and 6 major releases later.
Suffice to say, I was very disappointed with Bottomless Pit.
After every track, and save a few exceptions, a not-so-nice feeling of stalement began to sunk in. Maybe this is Death Grips finally finding their zone, settling down. In its own way it sounds like the band looking for a house with '3 bedrooms in a good neighbourhood', an already paved and safe road leading to growth, but also to boredom and repetition (Bottomless Pit is full of references to these ideas, unsurprisingly).
It was a bitter feeling of conclusion. Bottomless Pit might arguably be their better performed record, with instrumentation, production and vocal delivery all in top notch form, but at the same time it's undoubtly their least risky effort, all muscle power going into fine-tuning their game.
Even when some fans appreciated this new work, I couldn't help but hear a band playing themselves into a mausoleum of stalement. The fact that it contains some of their worst songs (GBPGI, Warping
and Ring a Bell
are all terrible, sorry) doesn't help, either.
But boy oh boy, I'm so glad I was wrong. If More than the fairy
, the fast-and-funky single ft. Les Claypool was a light in the dark, this new Megamix/EP/Whateverthisis is a laser-beam of hope. Holy moley this slaps.
Beyond the obvious reference to gabber sound, with lots of bpms and dance-inducing synths, the more lo-fi production might turn off some but they'll be missing out on some killer performances.
Opening track, with the mantra-like 'ALL MY LIFE, ALL MY FUCKING LIFE' feels classic DG: urgent. A cry of war and of complete despair. Ride goes feral on this shit, but still pulls some killer hooks out of the proverbial hat.
Instrumentation is also looser than it felt on BP. Glitchy, rave-y, it twirls and convulses at times, it hits with metronomic strength at others. it's a crescendo of controled (and not so controled) chaos that manages to balance between complete noise and a clear sound. It's as intricate as ever, making re-listening to it almost obligatory to get the most out of it. It's intoxicating.
Where BP felt safe, 'Steroids' and its 7 distinct tracks feel fresh and new, where BP felt a little too much like home, 'Steroids' feels uncharted, but still rooted in what could be called the 'distinct' Death Grips flavor.
There's lots of nods to some older ideas present in their least analogic (and more experimental) works, especially Government Plates and Niggas on The Moon, but done in a way both unexpected and naturally consecuential. THIS is the Death Grips paradox. To remain the same, they must always be changing.
Even in the very concious decision of not separating the tracks from each other, making it a long 22 min piece there's a message to the listener:
This isn't about you. It's whatever the fuck we want it to be.