Classic Album Review: Death Grips – The Powers That B

On this double album, Death Grips proved their instrumental versatility; demonstrating the punk-core elements they are famed for as well as experimenting yet more with electronic sounds and high-quality synth lines. The joyride these two albums create makes for an ethereal combined experience.

After an alleged break-up in 2014, Death Grips told their fans that a double album would be on it’s way despite the group splitting, that came in the form of The Powers That B in March 2015. It consists of two discs, titled N***** On The Moon and Jenny Death. These would form the group’s fourth and fifth studio albums but for the purpose of this review we will be looking at them as the double album they were made into.

The first disc is perhaps Death Grips’ most intriguing and experimental project to date, mainly because the instrumentals were performed solely on a Roland V-Drum Kit by Zach Hill and it features chopped vocal samples from singer-songwriter Bjork throughout the duration of the disc. Because of these production choices we are treated to yet more of the group’s wacky sonic explosions and MC Ride does a typically solid job riding the wave of the beats to evoke his messages, particularly on the opener Up My Sleeves and the eloquently titled Have A Sad Cum BB. The former of those two tracks has some of the best production I have ever heard Death Grips produce and the sampled vocals add to the electronic hysteria already crafted by the group.

What I enjoy most about N***** On The Moon is how well it flows together, making it sound almost like one song rather than eight separate ones. The cohesive nature of these tracks come mainly from the instrumentation which, as mentioned before, is a glowing example of the sheer brilliance of the group in that regard. It is surely a massive middle finger up to critics who accuse their sound of being nothing more than shock factor and loud, rather than intensely crafted sonic masterstrokes; they really are some of the best in the business in that regard.

Disc two comes in the form of Jenny Death and well, it makes it very clear that we shouldn’t be expecting the same as we heard on disc one; particularly opening with a song like I Break Mirrors With My Face In The United States. Yes, it is as mental as the title suggests but it brings back that punk sound that the group had been evolving over their time in the industry, with this being one of their finest examples of such. Following that is the only single from this double album Inanimate Sensation and this song really felt like the Death Grips of old, I feel like you could hear this kind of sound on any of their first projects and at a hefty six minutes long, there’s plenty of it to enjoy.

This side goes from strength to strength really as it goes on, with songs like Why A Bitch Gotta Lie and Beyond Alive taking this punk rock theme and running with it, using loud and brash drum beats along with huge guitar riffs and loud bass; while also maintaining the brilliance of Zach and Andy’s electronic prowess in the production. The album closes with perhaps the two best songs on the both sides with On GP and Death Grips 2.0, perhaps signalling a new era for the group after this. On GP has some gorgeous guitar riffs on it and as for Zach’s drums? Just wow, his talents truly know no bounds and this is possibly the finest example of that in the Death Grips discography.

All in all, it is a very strong double album which left fans wondering if this could truly be the end of one of music’s most important experimental outfits, but when Death Grips 2.0 hits it becomes clear that we will probably be getting more yet. If I had to pick one side I preferred I would probably say that Jenny Death edges it simply because there are some of Death Grips’ best songs on there, although all of it is excellent and you have to truly admire the daring attitudes to even attempt what they did on N***** On The Moon. The album is loud, space-age and ahead of it’s time, signalling that the dawning of Death Grips’ new chapter was only just beginning.



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