Perhaps the 20th anniversary of Rage Against the Machine’s debut album got Epic Records excited about the prospect of signing another transgressive Californian act that combines hip-hop swagger, punk-schooled aggression, and industrialized noise.
But in acquiring Death Grips, Epic found themselves with something even more problematic than a crew of outspoken militant Marxists—a band that signs to a major label and then proceeds to swiftly release their next album for free online without the company’s knowledge or consent. Needless to say, the relationship ended badly, though it’s unlikely Epic is fretting too much about what could’ve been.
Where last spring’s The Money Store offered some hints of electro-rap crossover aspirations, No Love Deep Web is unapologetically harsher, more despairing, and more gruelling: synths are tweaked to queasy, bowel-rupturing frequencies and digi-beats poke and prod like invasive surgeons, while ticking time-bomb MC Stefan Burnett’s gruff bark blurs the line between rhyme and arrhythmic rant.
But No Love can be as absorbing as it is abrasive—what it lacks in cathartic, dancefloor-quaking bangers it makes up for with a thoroughly realized dystopian vision that suggests Death Grips have grander ambitions than simply making life miserable for their A&R rep.
Playlist picks “World of Dogs,” “Lock Your Doors”
Death Grips play Wrongbar (1279 Queen St. W.) on Nov. 18. 416-516-8677, wrongbar.com.