Avoiding exaggeration, it has to be said that Death Grips are the most important band of the 2010’s: in a decade dominated by technology and the paranoia is instils, there’s no act who have managed to match this worry in both production and lyrical content quite like MC Ride, Zach Hill and Andy Morin have. Influencing the influencers (David Bowie, Kanye and Biffy Clyro are just a few acts to name the Sacramento hip hop outfit as having an impact on their recent work), a ranking of the band’s discography won’t be an easy task but by enlisting the help of Sean Hannah (@shun_handsome), Karsten Walter (@boc_maxima ), Josh Adams (@jxshadams ) , Jake Cordiner (@jjjjaketh) and myself (@blnkclyr), it should be far easier and fairer. So without further ado, let’s fuck the music and come up with a conclusion…
Quick disclaimer: This is, like, our opinion or whatever, dude. Disagree? The comments down below will house whatever rage you’re feeling.
6. Government Plates (2013)
Jake [6th]: I genuinely can’t remember listening to this at all.
5. The Powers That B (2015)
Karsten [6th]: To me, Jenny Death is by far the better CD here, but still overall this double release just screams…eh. There’s the odd song on here that I really really enjoy, even on NOTM, but for sadly the vast majority of the album, I’m left thinking “this is kinda alright”, rather than what I usually expect from Death Grips – a massive fucking “wow”.
Jake [4th]: While I don’t dislike this album by any means (it has some of my favourite DG tracks ever in Billy Not Really, Why A Bitch Gotta Lie and Death Grips 2.0) it just feels a bit… bloated? That being said, the first half’s “gimmick” (for lack of a better word) of using Björk samples works unbelievably well.
The second half of the record flirts with a rap metal sound that isn’t exactly my cup of tea, but that doesn’t necessarily make it bad per se. On the weaker side of DG’s discography for me, but to be fair a good Death Grips album is better than most of your favourite band’s best albums.
Sean [5th]: The Powers That B is perhaps Death Grips’ most challenging record (for fans, anyway). Its first half is a glitching song cycle based around a collection of Bjork samples, while the second record flirts with rap-metal in a way that marries the two genres with more tact than Fred Durst ever could. I personally have trouble with Jenny Death because part of me can’t shake the Limp Bizkit vibe, but I’m consistently impressed with NotM.
Even if it’s one of the most divisive entries in the Death Grips oeuvre, I will eternally testify to the brilliance of “Black Quarterback” and “Billy Not Really.”
Liam [3rd]: I think this album gets unfairly shat on by a lot of die hard death grips fans. In terms of style and sound, this is in my top three: that Bjork sampling mixed with some of the fucking weirdest sounds and lyrics MC Ride has ever spat made NOTM far different to how aggressive and tumultuous JD is.
Josh [5th]: This one just sort of “exists” for me. jenny death to me is undoubtedly the better half, but i have no strong feelings on “moon” – it doesn’t stand out for better (bottomless pit) or for worse (government plates) amongst their other albums in this level of ranking. everything’s solid, but by numbers. good, not great. imaginative, but uninspired.
4. Bottomless Pit (2016)
Liam [5th]: Being the newest record out of the lot, it’s no surprise that it ranks lower than the rest due to it not having as much time to resonate and while I think it has the second weakest tracklist out of any DG LP, it’s still remarkably solid and lives up to the title of being “Money Store 2.0” when you magnify everything.
Karsten [4th]: When this album dropped it really surprised me. I wasn’t expecting such a fufilled and remarkably adamant statement from the band. This is their most polished and consistent record since The Money Store, and in my eyes, although isn’t a massive step forward in their musical progression, is still a significant one – the more constant use of live instrumentation gave the band more ability to show pure aggression. Hot Head is pure evidence of that.
Sean [4th]: When I interviewed Cherry Glazerr recently, I asked Clem Creevy about working with Death Grips on “Giving Bad People Good Ideas.” She may have been lying to me when she said she recorded the song in a pink room teeming with candy and stuffed animals, but the dichotomy of comfort and alienation in her story embodies much of Bottomless Pit. Here we have Death Grips navigating between the polarizing, metal-influenced sound of Jenny Death and the more familiar synth-driven style present on the group’s previous records.
But because Death Grips thrive on tension, the result is an album that’s steeped in the band’s past while also looking forward in terms of musical direction.
Josh [3rd]: Put simply: a return to form. the increasing use of live instrumentations gels nicely with the group’s signature use of abrasive electronics and mc ride’s rhymes have never been more memorable. i feel like what with the naturally bloated nature of the powers that be double album, bottomless pit is the shot in the arm the band’s career needed to stop them fully sinking into a source for patrician memes, and put them back on top as one of popular music’s most daring rascals.
Of course, it’s not perfect, but it has giving bad people good ideas, and that’s good enough.
Jake [3rd]: This is the album that Death Grips needed to make after The Powers That B. A sonic bullet to the brain to the naysayers who claimed the group were losing their touch, this album couldn’t have proved them more wrong. This has, in my opinion, some of Zach’s best drumming ever on it (his performance on Hot Head fucking blows my mind).
I honestly thing a few years down the line Bottomless Pit will creep up on people and be hailed as one of the finest pieces of work in Death Grips discography.
3. Ex Military (2011)
Liam [4th]: Ex Military, while a great record, is probably the most conventional out of their entire discography. This isn’t an insult to the album (it still sounds great and has a few of the band’s best songs) but MC Ride is probably at his weakest on here, sticking pretty much exclusively to shout rather than the eerie delivery he dips his toes into on future releases.
Some of the sampling on here needs commending for adding to the DIY, quirky vibe.
Josh [4th]: IT GOES IT GOES IT GOES IT GOES surprisingly well rounded debut with memorable tunes. obviously, it suffers from some of the standard first album tropes, what with some of the songs feeling skeletal and the lyrics being general and unfocused, but like an aggressive dog, it does have its charm.
An excellent foreshadow of what was to come.
Karsten [1st]: Ex-Military is by far my favourite record by the three, simply down to the fact there isn’t a track I can even begin to dislike on it. The sampling on this record is magnificent and ecplises all other efforts from them, and is our first real glimpse into the raucous and enraged world of Death Grips.
The perfect example of a band finding their feet in a wonderful way with their debut, before going onto achieve far greater things.
Sean [2nd]: When Exmilitary dropped seemingly out of nowhere, the only recognizable name attached was Zach Hill’s, primarily known at the time for his work with Hella. Much of the album’s allure at the time came from the mystery surrounding the evasive Death Grips. Few bands would have the temerity to open their debut mixtape with a soundbite from Charles Manson.
Even fewer have the talent to do so without coming off as gauche, but as the aggression ensues on Exmilitary’s subsequent tracks, we quickly understand that Death Grips are anything but.
Jake [5th]: A solid groundwork for all of Death Grips future releases to build upon, however it’s definitely the most basic of all of their projects. That being said it’s still a fucking ballsy record. Not many band’s would elect to have a Charles Manson sample as their opening statement to the musical world, so it has to be commended for bravery and sheer brassballedness alone.
Again, not by any means a bad record, it just pales in comparison to almost all of their subsequent releases.
2. No Love Deep Web (2012)
Jake [2nd]: Another BANGER from the boys. Includes some of my favourite MC Ride lines (“I’M IN JIMMY PAGE’S CASTLE” fucking WHIT?). The album artwork is, for better or for worse, downright iconic and SURELY the uncensored version is the most attention grabbing album cover in music history.
The production on some tracks (Stockton and Artificial Death in the West in particular) is quite spacious and less suffocating than Death Grips were known for up to this point (for the most part), and it really works well. Allowing Ride’s scatterbrained flow space to breathe and really come into it’s own. a cracker.
Sean [3rd]: The album whose surprise leak got Death Grips dismissed from Epic Records, NLDW proved that the group were still more than capable of subversion after the shock and awe of The Money Store. With its priapic album cover, whose alternative art is similarly salacious, NLDW further established Death Grips as a combative new band more than willing to push the limits of good taste.
Liam [1st]: Following up The Money Store was never gonna be an easy task but much like Radiohead decided to go more abstract after OK Computer, Death Grips descended further into their own self created madness. NLDW has MC Ride at his best delivery wise, sounding utterly delirious to a point that it’s almost unnerving. The production can be shoddy at points but I feel like that further adds to this charm: a NSFW archive of darkness, crudeness and insanity.
Karsten [3rd]: No Love Deep Web is maybe the most interesting record from Death Grips for me – they created a soundscape that was somehow more indecent and unpleasant than their previous efforts, with an album cover is the height of obnoxiousness. The intense production and lyrics throughout the LP only match this.
Josh [2nd]: no love deep web is actually my personal favourite death grips – although i think the money store is better. this one just grips me from start to finish, being more of everything i loved about the money store and ex military. the context of its release also adds to the band’s mythos and further cements their place as one of this century’s most important groups.
1. The Money Store (2012)
Liam [2nd]: It’s no real surprise that this ranks in at number one: it perfectly encapsulates what makes Death Grips, well, Death Grips with that paranoia, sleek and experimental production and wall to wall industrial bangers.
Josh [1st]: The money store, whilst their most accessible, is ultimately their best – because it shows each band member at the peak of their powers. MC ride’s lyrics are at their most deranged (before they descended into parody), whilst the production matches the visceral nature of the words. A game changer, simply.
Jake [1st]: This album is the benchmark through which all subsequent Death Grips releases is judged. A perfect storm of the digitised fury that DG are known for. MC Ride at his most earthfuckingly angry, Zach Hill pounding on his drums like a primal man possessed and Andy Moran behind the decks making their angriest record somehow their most accessible. A modern classic.
Karsten [2nd]: This is the most accessible and clean Death Grips record to me. They condensed nearly every aspect of their previous (and future) work and created what is their most consistent and assured record, where every track bleeds outrageous production and raw emotion. Although not my personal favourite record by the trio, it’s certainly their best overall.
Sean [1st]: The Money Store’s album art is a fitting representation of what’s to come here: A transsexual engaging in BDSM with a dominatrix. One’s smoking nonchalantly as the other holds a grocery bag. On TMS the extreme meets the everyday as Ride and co. explore the desires of the id with an almost unfazed disposition.
Even as Ride screams, “Grab you by the chain and drag you through the bike lane,” to him, it’s more quotidian than horrifying.