Beyond the pale of death and a special trade agreement with Harvest/Capitol Records, there lies a new world. A Third World. It’s flesh-colored, sticky, smells like poison, and consists of dicks getting waved around in your face while you descend endlessly through the black and breezy vortex of a Bottomless Pit, helpless to take any action toward salvation, other than flailing your limbs as you enter deeper, deeper, deeper. You can stare as closely as you want into the nothingness, praying that eventually the abyss will begin to gaze back into you, but the eyes of the pit belong to Death Grips, and this is not a conversation. We’ve hit the final level, the oblivion we’ve been promised since day one of knowing this beyond-art, beyond-human pack of blood dancers. Bottomless Pit isn’t a new method of rebellion, and it’s not a pitiless, succulent blast to the jaw. It’s a photograph of rage, of an ending in becoming, of movement that has become trapped, of genuine and unromantic self-destruction. It’s Death Grips from the other side.
Much like the films of Gaspar Noé, Death Grips have maintained a wealthy stock of haters throughout their shockingly short lifespan. And much like Noé himself, Death Grips embrace the physical qualities of annihilation far more than their theoretical ones and, on more than one occasion, have built a new language of sensuality and pain by transforming fear into a spiritual enterprise. Ever since their falling out with Epic Records over the release of NO LOVE DEEP WEB, Stefan Burnett, Zach Hill, and Andy Morin have refined and transcended their vision by continuing to turbine their collective sound rather than filtering it via the PVC tubing of songwriting. Throughout all of the controversy, the tour cancellations, even the band cancellations, they have remained a project that has been invigoratingly free, consistently inspiring, and impossible to truly anticipate.
But something changed post-JENNYDEATHWHEN. As Death Grips have settled into their comfortable “broken-up” period, the question of what they’re aiming their energies and rebellion toward now is more prevalent than ever, and in lieu of a clear mission, the sonics have become uglier in order to make good. Bottomless Pit is a full assault from beginning to end, from the blackened strikes of “Giving Bad People Good Ideas,” to the petrified “Warping,” to the neo-metal march underpinning “Ring A Bell,” with “Eh” being the only real moment that chooses to glide rather than hammer itself ever further into the muck. Even when Death Grips diversifies the field of sound as on “Hot Head” or “Trash,” the effect is still cancer-like, as if the change from a sickle to a power drill makes a difference when trying to cut through the very air itself.
Contrary to these critiques however, to demand explicit purpose from a project so thoroughly bathed in nihilism would be hypocrisy, and even the act of following these three to the furthest ends of their own masturbatory slaughter is dazzling purely on its own merits. “BB Poison” bounces and pops in bubbles even as MC Ride’s lyrics become the fully instrumental fabric they had always threatened to be, and “Three Bedrooms In A Good Neighborhood” toes an exhilarating line between brutal simplicity and twisted construction, toying with tension and release on a slight but powerful level. Even with the full awareness that there is little on Bottomless Pit that hasn’t been done before by this band, there is a thriving passion at the heart of Death Grips, a restless need to burn the fuel that drives this project even in times when their larger purpose remains obscured.
Though it shrouds itself in chaos, Bottomless Pit is ultimately Death Grips’ most straightforward, morbid, and brutal report from the deep end yet. Like watching a great beast eat itself, there is little in the way of elegance or grand design to this music, yet it remains throttling nonetheless, as relentlessly blunt as it is overwhelmingly meaningless. It’s impossible to know if these three will go on making music together into the future, but who could even take their word now if they claimed to be finished? We’ve entered a purgatory with this band, a space where conflict seems to have come to an end, and yet still this group fights on, trading conceptual examination for all-out warfare, slamming themselves again and again and again at a brick wall, perhaps just to feel the blood start to tear out from their veins and mingle with the cum, sweat, and drool gathering underneath them somewhere farther down the pit. Does this hole truly never end? Are you really falling if there’s nowhere to land? Is there ever a reason to stop screaming?
“Dear Bottomless Pit,
I need you here to undo me. I wake up in a deep search for intent and belief in myself. But the day is intense. Driven with some euphoria…I’m thinking now, I’ve never been bored until this moment. And this moment is gone. Forever.”
— Karen Black, words by Zach Hill