Album Review: Death Grips – Year of the Snitch

Steam Year of the Snitch hereThis is the 6th full studio album from hip hop trio and enigma, Death Grips, consisting of front man and lyrical genius MC Ride, drummer extraordinaire Zach Hill, and visionary producer Andy Morin. Since their 2012 breakout record The Money Store, the group has garnered an intensely loyal following but have also become easily one of the most polarizing sounds in music. Their incredibly abrasive production, and unparalleled aggression has turned many listeners away. Like them or not, the group has been one of the most influential names in hip hop since the release of The Money Store and has led to a number of Death Grips copy cats and introduction of punk and industrial into many mainstream hip hop artists’ sound. Death Grips has continually put out one incredible critical success after another with each one turning over a new artistic leaf for the group, exploring new sounds, and constantly keeping fans guessing at what comes next. Their discography includes the enormously abrasive, arresting, and at times terrifying sound of No Love Deep Web. An intensely cerebral and colossal mix of industrial and hip hop that truly sounds like nothing else. It’s apocalyptic, crushing, and claustrophobic, as if at any point during the album MC Ride himself would break down your door and beat you to death with his bare hands right then and there. Or the endlessly abrasive yet catchy and punky Bottomless Pit, cover to cover with sticky hooks, layered synths, roaring guitar and as always, the primordial drumming of Zach Hill – a very similar sound to that of The Money Store. Or the Bjork sample heavy album about them being on the moon which was followed up release of Jenny death a post-hardcore and metal inspired spin on their industrial hip hop roots to complete the 2015 double album, The Powers That B. Their latest project released prior to YOTS was a 22-minute “megamix,” Sterioids (Crouching Tiger Hidden Gabber), a colossal mix of gabber, krautrock, and trap blended together with their aggressive, synthetic, and abrasive industrial sound.Going into this, I was a little worried, I was a little back and forth on a few of the singles released prior to the full album. They weren’t nearly as otherworldly as I was used to the group sounding and I worried that the overall product might be watered down and uninteresting in comparison to the rest of their discography. I can gladly report that I was wrong.The opening track “Death Grips is Online” sounds like going to a rave on a pound of cocaine and a bad LSD trip. It features a haunting, almost carnival-like synth jangle over a buzzing baseline, bustling drums, with a danceable EDM inspired beat with Ride delivering these quick, tense bars. To my surprise this EDM inspiration runs much of the length of the album, returning for tracks “Streaky,” “Disappointed,” and “The Horn Section”. The next track is “Flies”, a very No Love Deep Web sounding synthetic and almost terrifying track with Ride half shouting and half speaking his bars about death, decay, and whatever other crazy shit is hidden buried in the lyrics. The next track “Black Paint” features a blending of arena and krautrock, a lot of record scratching, and Rides hoarse shouted vocals. It’s totally infections, blood pumping and fight inducing; one of my favorite cuts off this album. This album has near perfect flow from track to track. Either perfectly complimenting the sound of one track with the next like “Hahaha” and “Shitshow” or the complete contrast on “Black Paint” and “Linda’s in Custody.”One of my few quarrels with this album is with the track “Little Richard.” It feels like an overly drawn out interlude track that doesn’t do a great job of holding my attention. Other than that, this album is impeccable. I love the total cacophony that is “Shitshow,” the driving arena rock sound of tracks like “Black Paint,” and “Dilemma,” the danceable EDM/IDM inspired tracks like “Death Grips is Online,” and “Streaky,” the colossal and terrifying sound of “The Fear,” “Flies,” and “Disappointed.” The album overall is exceptional and everything I wanted without knowing I wanted it.  Surprisingly, despite how intensely abrasive Death Grips has been keeping their sound album to album, this is a fairly easy listen (in comparison). There’s no “You Might Think He Loves You for Your Money but I Know What He Really Loves You for It’s Your Brand New Leopard Skin Pillbox Hat,” “Lock Your Doors” or “Hot Head” kind of tracks; the kind of tracks that sound like Death Grips has gone completely off the deep end. It’s definitely not an easy listen but I would say it’s the least abrasive in their discography by a big margin.The group has seriously flexed their artistic and creative ability on this album, with their completely off the wall blend of genres, incredibly dense and cerebral production, tight song writing and album flow. They somehow managed to make the creepy and disturbing cover come to life through the sound of the album. Cover to cover, Year of the Snitch is a work of art and even if you have been turned off by Death Grips in the past, I highly recommend you give this album a listen because there is nothing that sounds like it.9.5/10-Alex(Also if you are wondering about the meaning of the title of the album, though Death Grips has never been open about the meaning of their music or art, the community has gleaned this. Based on the release date of the album, the title of the track “Linda’s in Custody,” the name of the album itself, and the band’s long running influence from to and sampling of Charles Manson and the Manson family, it does appear that it is an elaborate 69 joke because it was released on Linda Kasabian’s (the snitch of the Manson family) 69th birthday which is honestly simultaneously the dumbest, most in character and hilarious thing for them to do.)