Jan 192012

(Today, BadWolf begins a new ongoing series in which we focus on music that’s not metal, but it’s still metal, if you know what I mean. And if you don’t know what I mean, this first installment in the series may help you figure it out.)

Death Grips : Ex-military

I’ve made no secret of my life outside metal. My annual top 10 not-metal album list is consistently my most challenging—and therefore favorite—list to compile. The fact of the matter is each year a whole host of bands release albums every bit as noisy, chaotic, dark and heavy—if not heavier—than much of the drivel that passes for metal these days. With this in mind I will endeavor to expand your ears into realms of sound outside the borders of our beloved genre.

[Download Death Grips : Ex-military for FREE, HERE: http://thirdworlds.net]

Our first voyage is a free mixtape that’s already garnered critical acclaim outside the metal world—and inside of it. Death Grips play hip-hop… sort of. Of the three members only one, MC Ride, spits rhyme, and his style is so full of belly-growls and whooping yells that many hip-hop websites are dismissing his work as obtuse non-rap. In other words, he’s halfway to a metal singer already. His lyrics orbit around subjects with intense and bitter gravity—drug abuse, social injustice, Tacheons (or taking you on) and . . . DECAPITATION!!!

Unlike other hip-hop groups, Death Grips’ beats nearly refuse hooks. Ex-Military bombards the listener with distorted guitar samples (including a brilliant snippet of Link Wray—the inventor of the Power Chord and a spiritual forebear to Tony Iommi) and filthy digital noise. Production provided by Flatlander, whose resume is a mystery to me. Regardless, Flatlander has crafted a sonic engine that sounds more like the bastard stepchild of Public Enemy, Ministry, and Atari Teenage Riot than ANYTHING Timbaland or Kanye West has produced. His sound is the most evil the genre has produced in years: the band’s interests are “Poverty, Bass”, and their sound is “Post-Jesus, Post-Satan.”Also unusual for a hip-hop group, Death Grips frequently shift meter. To paraphrase Aesop Rock, they shoot crooked.

We can probably attribute some of that to the third member of Death Grips, Zach Hill. In a Nutshell, Zack Hill is to noise rock what Tuomas Haake is to metal: the man makes time signatures his sex slave, and goes harder with one bass drum and no triggers than most deathcore drummers muster with two drums, pedals, and pro-tools. He’s involved in various projects, most notably math-noise wunderkinds Hella, who may also be of interest to headbanger culture in general. Here, the drums sound triggered, unlike in Hella, but the production on them is reminiscent both of Nine Inch Nails glitches and of the drum machine onslaughts of Steve Albini’s Big Black.

If that doesn’t pique your interest, the damn thing is free. Let me repeat:


What the fuck are you waiting for? It sounds like a crazy homeless man/prophet hybrid, an industrial metal band, and a mathcore drummer making Eminem look like The Beach Boys! Go, download Ex-military and report back to the ‘Wolf. The hip-hop underground has all but completely rejected Death Grips, I think they would have a more loving home with us goat-throwers.

  11 Responses to ““THAT’S MUSIC” – BUT IT’S NOT METAL (NO. 1)”

  1. HOLY FUCK!!!!

    I haven’t listened to much hip-hop recently, but this is goddamn amazing!!!

    I think I’m gonna like this new column a hell of a lot.

  2. Great starting point, man. This is some seriously brutal hip-hop.

  3. Here is Death Grips, the EP (one thinks), which is possibly even more fucked-up and fucking-up than the full length (ExMilitary), and contains one’s second favourite (or favourite depending on one’s mood) track by them – Full Moon (Death Classic): http://freemusicarchive.org/music/Death_Grips/Death_Grips

  4. One seriously needs to check out Big Black now… And The Jesus Lizard… And perhaps even Butthole Surfers if one can get over the association that one seems to make between them and Phro now.

    Also, time for 24 hours each of Melvins and Swans. What do you guys think?

  5. A friend of mine emailed this vid to me a while back. http://youtu.be/KbW9JqM7vho It’s not as ‘heavy’ as the hip-hop in this post, but there is some pretty metal imagery.

  6. Yup. Death Grips are the shit. Ex-Military made my year-end list at the last possible moment, because it just plain blew my mind.

  7. Fuck.
    Stop being so goddamn awesome No Clean Singing writers, just stop!!!! You taking all the awesome from the rest of the internet!
    Thoroughly excited by this column.

  8. This is insane, and insanely good. It makes total sense that this album is on the Grindcore Karaoke Bandcamp!

    I added it to the Metal Bandcamp here http://metalbandcamp.com/2012/01/death-grips-exmilitary.html

  9. Hey Joseph, perhaps you’ll find “It Only Gets Worse” interesting.

    Intense dark electronica by Maurice de Jong (Gnaw Their Tongues). It’s kind of like black metal house on top of cold and bitter spoken word vocals

    Metal Bandcamp link: http://metalbandcamp.com/2012/01/it-only-gets-worse-ep.html

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