by Robby Beck
our many, many posts on them, for your health. The saga of Death Grips' 2012 include, but are not limited to, signing to a major label and announcing two albums for this year, releasing The Money Store to great critical acclaim, planning a tour, cancelling that tour, creating an entire alternative reality game around this very album, and culminating (so far) with bypassing their record label's decision to not release this album until next year by releasing the album themselves for free via SoundCloud, YouTube, and various filesharing sites. All the while building one of the most devoted followings a "buzz band" has seen in recent years. But now that I have that out of the way (I really couldn't do a review without going over some of that), let's get busy with what's at the eye of this cluttered storm, what the point of it all really should be: the album.
If you go into this one expecting "Death Grips as usual" (if there is such a thing)or a repeat of any of the sounds and vibes they've been working with, you'd be sorely mistaken and surprised. "Come up and get me" sets the stage for No Love Deep Web; it's a cold, minimal, paranoid, and lumbering piece of music with Stefan Burnett's MC Ride persona really taking center stage here. He gives one of his most impassioned, angry, loud, and even anguished performances yet on this track. He's eight stories high and ponders whether or not he should "nosedive to the next life in seconds" and if you think that's the only reference to suicide throughout this album, you'd be wrong.
In fact it's the element of anguish along with the depressive, cold electronics that separate this album the most from its predecessors. Throughout this album the character Ride has been playing for the entirety of Death Grips' trajectory has found himself in a rock bottom place; he's lived his life is such abuse and excess that there's nothing left for him anymore. The darkness on this album makes Exmilitary and The Money Store look like summer albums in comparison. While those albums definitely didn't glorify the behaviors discussed, they were definitely the high compared to NO LOVE DEEP WEB's low, low, lows.
As I relayed earlier, the music here is certainly darker, but Death Grips said in the official announcement of this album that "the material is cold , bass heavy , minimal , rock & roll influenced and could simultaneously fit into a rave or dance club context". Pay attention to that last part, because there is a huge element of club music on the production of this album; you could maybe even hear "Lil Boy", "Black Dice" and more at your local dance club.....er, if that dance club is located in Purgatory, that is. But in all seriousness, coldness, darkness, and minimalism are really the names of the game when it comes to the sound on this thing. While some of the tracks here are just massive ("No Love" in particular), the electronics here are nowhere near as intricately detailed as in previous Death Grips releases, and that was an intentional move. As well as the album being not nearly as hook-oriented as Death Grips were before; explosive hooks akin to tracks like "Hacker", "The Fever", "Guillotine", or "Get Got" won't be found here. In fact when the album does get hooky, it's on tracks like "Hunger games" and "Stockton", where the hooks are so awkwardly timed and have such strange rhythms that I think it's just as alienating as the rest of the album.
Where this album succeeds, to me, in a way that this group's previous full lengths haven't to this level, is in the narrative. More than either of the band's other albums, this album flows like a story, like a grimy pulp novel. We're witnessing the lowest days of MC Ride's character, and with vivid, vivid detail. Even if it's something ridiculous and seemingly nonsensical, like him being "the coat hanger in your man's vagina", there's still something so disturbingly poetic about it. The final track, "Artificial death in the west" has the most subdued, depressing, and mournful tone of any track on this album, or any Death Grips track for that matter. The refrain, "where you running now" is repeated often, and it shows MC Ride's character at an end, not knowing where to go anymore. You can see where this is going.
In this humble reviewer's opinion, NO LOVE DEEP WEB is Death Grips' most cohesive, thematic, and fully realized work yet, and while it doesn't have the immediacy or accessibility of The Money Store, it's just as much of a rewarding listen, if not more so. It seems like this is a band that just keeps getting better, and for me, this is their crowning achievement.
Score: decent-strong 9
(Where you running now? Well hopefully to Robby's Twitter account @ClydeNut! ;D)