As is to be expected at this stage, Death Grips’ sixth studio album is a bracing listen. Its textures are loud and distorted, and the overall sound is frequently so lo-fi that the frenetic drums and spasmodic synths blend into an abrasive mulch. Turntablism is an interesting new addition to their sound, with DJ Swamp scratching samples from previous Death Grips songs throughout the album, and The Rolling Stones were a major influence on tracks like Black Paint as well as the disconcerting album cover.
Year Of The Snitch opens with the breakbeats and techno synths of Death Grips Is Online, which features rapid but relatively low-key MC Ride verses that give way to a screamed hook. It’s one of the more conventional tracks on the album, with the chaos of tracks like Shitshow and The Fear only hinted at briefly. Flies follows with detuned synths and morbid lyrics (“should the opportunity arise, vomit me flies / flies vomit me, together’s unwise, sever all ties”), as well as rhythms that swing from intricate to shambolic and back again.
Dilemma is an album highlight, as a mysterious spoken word introduction by Shrek director Andrew Adamson (perhaps a reference to the meme-ification of both Shrek and Death Grips?) prefaces an intense rock groove and nonsensical but infectious hooks. The lyrics throughout the album are deeply abstract, sometimes muffled by design as on Linda’s In Custody, and the interplay between modes of delivery can be intricate: see Disappointed, where each syllable of the verses is said then shouted in rapid succession.
Death Grips are in a place far removed from any other major rap acts, and Year Of The Snitch feels totally alien. It is an exhilarating release that doesn’t let up, and proves that six years on the group are still a force to be reckoned with.